How to Get a Luxury Car for Less

Monday, December 21, 2020

Leave it to 2020 to keep throwing curveballs. Like many of you, life as we knew it changed drastically in a few short months. After finding out that we were pregnant, we quickly realized that we had a major purchase on the horizon as well...a new car. My lease was slated to expire in the midst of a global pandemic, and we had to decide what was going to be the right fit for our growing family. Always exciting, right? I personally hate all things car-related...Enter my car-loving husband. This post is in collaboration with him because the topic is truly outside of my wheelhouse, but so many of you wanted to know more about our experience. I hope you find these tips helpful! 

So, here's a bit of background for context.

We had leased a 2017 Volkswagon Tiguan Limited about 6 months before our wedding, when my Honda Accord's lease was up. I've always leased my vehicles, so the thought of buying for the first time worried me. Leasing always made cars more affordable and required minimum maintenance. I know, financially, the experts say buying is better, but leasing just always fit my lifestyle and financial restraints. Prior to my VW, I only ever drove Hondas. I think Hondas are amazing cars, by the way, if you are in the market. Once I drove a VW vehicle, however I fell in love with how German cars drove. I knew going forward, I really only wanted to explore German brands. 

We test drove a ton of car options, safety, of course in the early to mid-Fall months. We had a decent laundry list of items, namely a high-quality, mid-sized SUV that was all-wheel drive with safety features, a roomy interior and great trunk space. For years, we discussed a BMW, if the opportunity ever presented itself for the build, design and craftsmanship, particularly since we were going to buy this time around. My personal reason for agreeing to buy, as my husband recommended, was to alleviate the stress of constantly watching the odometer. Once COVID is behind us and baby girl is here, I anticipate traveling to New York at least monthly and taking many family trips state-side, since I do not see us getting on a plane any time soon. We also live in a state where places we like to shop and areas we enjoy frequenting are several miles away. Those things really add up. While the new car was technically mine, it was really going to be a family vehicle, since my husband drives stick and I literally can barely turn his car on...haha! After months of research and test-drives, we ultimately purchased a 2020 BMW x3 in white with mocha interior that had 7k miles on it. It was truly an amazing deal and I feel so fortunate because we did not settle. 

With all that in mind, here are our tips:

1) Shop towards the end of the year, if possible, since the dealerships are much more willing to negotiate, or during economic downturns, like COVID, in our case.  

2) Know you numbers. When buying, you always want to put at least 20% down and do not go beyond a 5-year loan agreement. Should you be unable to do that financially, look for a different car within your budget. You'll be underwater otherwise, especially with the accelerated depreciation on vehicles. 

3) Look for vehicles that were part of the dealership's loaner program. This is really the crux of how we got our deal. A loaner car is owned and used by the dealership when a customer comes in for service and requires a vehicle to use for a few days. They generally have very low mileage and are newer, so they're still under warranty; however, it should be noted that it may not qualify as a certified pre-owned. These are very rare to come by, so you might have to sacrifice some "wants" for the sake of the deal. We, thankfully, were able to find exactly what we were looking for. We just had to travel to Maryland to get it. 

4) Do not pay for any excess fees. There are only a handful of items you are legally required to pay. This is state-specific, so you'll have to do a bit of googling to figure that out. Remember: the finance office always houses the best negotiator in the building. That's where they'll corner you. DO NOT let them up sell you on extra warranties, document fees and such. 

5) Make sure any discounts are off of the MSRP, not the bottom line. This is how dealerships manipulate the transaction to make you think you're getting a bargain. Be sure to check out cars.com, edmonds.com, autotrader.com, etc. to determine what's fair and learn competitors' pricing. 

6) Play hardball, even if you really do need a car that day. The sales guy, while very nice, doesn't need to know your every detail of your personal history and current circumstances. Be as direct as possible, and do not show extreme emotions. Once they know they have you, you're done for. For example, when we were at the BMW dealership, we acted like we were more interested in the Q5 and vice versa. Also, do not share any specifics about your finances early on. They'll use that to manipulate the numbers against you (see tip #2 and #5). 

With that, we are thrilled with our purchase. Honestly, it was both an exhausting and rewarding process, like any car-related transaction. Ultimately, do your best not to settle and remember that you're (pun intended) in the driver's seat. 

Lauren xo

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