Get the Best Car Deal: 15 Tips for Buying a Car

A young woman in deep thought with thought clouds coming from behind her head showing that she is thinking of what the best tips for buying a car is near Seattle 

Buying a car is a significant purchase. Whether you are a first-time buyer or you have already experienced the car buying process, you'll eventually be in the market for a new or used car and conducting research before you start shopping.

The last thing most people want to do is deal with overbearing, pushy car salespeople that don't listen to your needs.

We hope these tips will help you with your car purchase and provide you with a useful strategy into the entire car buying process. Not only to reduce some of the headaches sometimes associated in a new car purchase but to make your experience much more comfortable than you ever thought possible. Plus, the more involved you are in buying a new car, the more likely you'll be able to get the best deal.

1. Research Before You Buy A Car

Since you are reading this, you are already ahead-of-the-game my friend. One of the most important things to remember is to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible before you head out to buy a new car.

·         Want vs. Need

It's a big mistake to visit any car dealership without knowing precisely; the car you want, how much it should cost, and how much it will cost you per month (don't forget to factor in insurance). With the help of the Internet, it's simple to get all the specs you need on a selected model before you walk-in to buy a car. Researching before the purchase of a new car is smart but there is also a lot to know when it comes to buying a used car as well so tailor your search accordingly.

·         Use the Internet

The Internet is also your friend when you want to shop multiple dealerships. Instead of traveling to each one, you can work out your purchase price online. If you plan to buy a used car, be careful using places like eBay Motors or Craigslist. Both of these platforms leave you open to online scams. Plus, you don't know exactly what condition a vehicle is in. Just because it looks great on the outside… You are far safer buying a used car from a trusted dealership than purchasing from a stranger.

·         Check the Used Cars Value

If you are planning to buy a used car, then take a look at the resale prices of the specific model. A better purchase price or lower car loan term can add up to huge savings. Knowing the value of a used car before you buy can save you thousands in the long run. Kelley Blue Book is a great site to help you price a new or used vehicle and learn your current car's trade-in value before making the final purchase.

·         Know Your Trade-In Value

If you decide you want to trade-in your current vehicle, make sure to get the trade-in value before you head out to buy a car at the dealership. While you can't expect to receive top dollar when trading in a used car, it's an excellent way to know its worth. Remember; Trade-ins on a used car can lower the amount of the car you want to buy even more!

2. Look at Pre-financing Options

When buying a new car, it's typical to get financing from the dealership. Check the rates at your local bank and credit unions as well. Sometimes, this relationship you have with them pays off with substantial savings.

·         Learn Your Credit Score

Many automotive calculators can give you an idea of how much you are looking to spend per month and the total cost of the car you are looking to buy. Learning your credit score before buying a car will help you make strategic adjustments so you will have an idea of what your monthly payments will be ahead of time. Slight adjustments in the down payment, term length, etc. could also lower the overall cost.

3. Shop for Deals

Holidays bring car buy specials. When you're in the market to buy a car, many times you can get specials offering no money down or 0% APR for qualifying vehicle purchases. Ask our sales representatives about our newest specials!

View New Car Specials

4. Negotiate


A close up view of a car salesman and a customer negotiating a new car purchase ending in a handshake at Bowen Scarff Ford near Seattle 

When you buy a car at Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln, we give you the lowest price the first time you walk in. Here you will not experience the headache of having to negotiate the price down. This is one of many great ways that we are different than other dealerships near Seattle. The car buying process is one of the most important purchases you'll likely make outside of shopping for a home. We understand that it might take several years to pay off the car loan which is why we work closely with you to make a wise investment.

·         Purchase Price

First, consider how much car you can afford. When you buy a car, a good rule to follow is the 20/4/10 car buying rule which is 20% down, a 4-year car loan term, and total monthly expenses (principal, interest, insurance) totaling no more than 10% of your gross annual income. At Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln, we will work with you to get the best purchase price that fits your lifestyle.

·         Monthly Payment

As we said before, ideally when you buy a car your monthly payment should not exceed 10% of your annual gross income and this includes the principal, interest, and insurance costs. Good car salesmen work with you to help you find a vehicle that suits your needs and budget. At Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln our salesmen will ask what your ideal monthly payments are then, match you to a new or used car deal that fits your needs.

·         Length of the Car Loan

Ideally, a four year or 48-month auto loan is recommended to save you the most in the long run. Some people, however choose to go with a longer term to lower their monthly payments. Just remember, the sooner you pay off a vehicle, the less interest you will pay overtime. When considering a certain monthly payment over 60 months, ask if there is a vehicle for that same amount over 48 months.


When you walk into our dealership let our salesperson know approximately what car you are looking to buy. If you're not sure, we can help you find a car that fits your budget and needs. At Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln, we are happy to work with you.

5. Compare New and Used Cars

It used to be true that purchasing a used car was the best way to save money. This is due to the fact that new cars depreciate when they leave the lot. Depending on your situation and individual needs, buying a used car may still be the best option.

Over the years, however, used car supplies have decreased. This trend is owed to the fact that many people are holding onto their cars for longer periods of time. As a result, the prices on used cars have gone up significantly. With that in mind, it may be more practical for many consumers to consider buying a new car.

View Pre-Owned Specials

6. Compare Dealerships

It's not only great to compare pricing on new and used cars it's also good to compare pricing at different dealerships. You want to shop around with an open mind before buying a car.

Sometimes the best deal is not right across the street but at a dealership within your local area. Be prepared to do your research before buying a car. Crunch all the numbers and determine what the best option is for you.

Remember, sometimes a better deal is just around the corner in a nearby city/town. If you are looking for dealerships in Seattle, consider driving to Kent. A 30-40 minute drive to a local Seattle dealership could save you thousands on a car purchase in the long run.  At Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln we offer a wide selection with comparable pricing.

7. Buy According to the Purchase Price

As we discussed earlier, it's a good idea to understand the monthly payments on any car you purchase. Buying a new car with a low monthly rate is great but if you are looking at a 72-month payoff term it may cost more in the long run. Keep in mind also that rates vary based on the vehicles age, the auto loan length, your credit score, the down payment, and the lenders risk in offering you the loan. Remember also that car payments in the beginning of a car loan include more interest charged than toward the end of the loan. That means less is paid toward the principal of your loan. Overall the longer the term of your loan, the more you pay for the vehicle.

·         Beware of Additional Costs

When looking at buying a new car, you need to factor in all the extra costs. This includes taxes, delivery fees, car preparation and dealership costs. Make sure that the total purchase price you negotiate consists of all of these aspects. Take note and ask as many questions as you can before committing to purchase a vehicle.

8. Don't Forget About Car Insurance


A zoomed-in angle of the front of a black used car parked on a cobblestone lot near Seattle at Bowen Scarff Ford 

Car insurance is another important thing to consider along with the cars purchase price. Buying a new car means full-coverage insurance and how much that insurance is going to cost you will help you avoid financial surprises. Get some car insurance quotes online to see where your total payments might fall ahead of time.

·         GAP insurance

Even if you have full coverage you will probably want Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP). Why? Because full coverage doesn't always mean your vehicles loan is fully covered and, it costs pennies a month.

Why doesn't full coverage mean full coverage? The answer: New vehicles depreciate in value the moment you drive off the lot. This means they lose an average of 20 percent of their value the first year.  In the event of an accident, most auto insurance policies will only cover the depreciated value of the car or current market value of the vehicle, not the amount of the original loan. This means that if you purchase a 10,000 vehicle and it gets totaled within the first year and the current market says your vehicle is only worth $7,000 then your insurance will only cover $7,000 leaving you with a $3,000 out-of-pocket expense.

What is nice about GAP insurance is that it will cover the remaining balance owed on the loan and usually it adds only a few extra bucks to your monthly payment-- sometimes only $3.00 extra each month which is very reasonable.

·         Sports Cars Mean Higher Rates

Remember that purchasing a sports car also increases your car insurance rates. Some cars just feature higher prices in general because of their resale values. That's why you want to do thorough research beforehand. If you are looking for a lower insurance payment, sports cars generally have a high purchase price and come loaded with add-ons that will increase your overall costs.

9. Avoid Add-ons

It's no surprise that the cost of add-ons will jack up the price on your new car significantly. If you are looking to keep the purchase price down, you might want to consider avoiding some of the additional options. Do you really need heated seats or a portable GPS unit? Ask yourself what you really must have to get the best car deal.

10. Never Impulse Buy

It doesn't matter if you are in the market for a new car or plan on buying a used car, don't make the purchase impulsively. Buying a car is a major transaction that with a little effort can be done well. You don't want to invest a good deal of money only to find out that you didn't get what you wanted.

Research the make and model of your car extensively. Find out what other consumers have to say about it. By doing the research now, you'll ensure that you have a great relationship with your new car for many years into the future.

11. Evaluate the Extended Warranty Option

Extended car warranties make the price jump dramatically on your new car. Sometimes, the coverage is limited and not worth the expense. If you're buying a new car, it will come with a standard warranty that might offer enough coverage for you.

When you purchase a used car at Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln, rest easy that our warranty will provide you with protection. In some cases, it's also possible that the car still falls under its manufacturer warranty.

If you finance your new car, you'll probably want to stay away from extended warranties. Everything you add to the loan will require that you pay interest on it. You don't want to pay more for an assurance that you might not need on your car purchase. Discuss your concerns with our salesperson and evaluate if the additional coverage is something you really need.

12. Test Drive Before You Buy the Car

Most people will test drive a vehicle before purchasing it, but there are still a few that won't. Don't be one of these people. You want to make sure that the car you buy is comfortable to ride in before you purchase it. The way a car handles on the road and feels to the driver is a huge differentiator and helps you make a final purchase decision.

If you plan to use the vehicle for family travel, then take your children along for the test drive as well. It's just as crucial that they feel comfortable in the backseat. Otherwise, you'll hear lots of "Are we there yet?" complaints along the way. Don't regret your car purchase, always test drive before buying a car. Children also have a knack for being honest about everything, so they will make a nice critic. If you don't have children to take on the test drive, consider asking a friend to come along for a worthy opinion.

Before buying a car evaluate these aspects:

  • Idle - ensure that your car is quiet and smooth.

  • View - you want to have a superior view from all your mirrors. Make sure you also have a straight line view of your dashboard gauges.

  • Controls - try out the turn signals, test the air conditioning and flip on your windshield wipers. Make sure every accessory works the way it was intended. Some people find that their fingers aren't suited to some of the levers, buttons or switches located in the car.

  • Braking and Handling - you want the car to respond when you push the accelerator and brakes. Test these out in real-world situations. First, you should take the car where you plan to drive it. If it's on a commute to work, down the highway or over a hilly road; try it out. Then, head to an empty parking lot and test out the brakes at various speeds to ensure you'll have the safety you desire.

13. When Buying Used, Get a Mechanic

If you plan to buy a used car, then you'll want another person to look it over. Getting a pre-purchase inspection from a qualified mechanic can save you a lot of money down the road. They will check the entire car over thoroughly for any mechanical concerns or wear and tear that you didn't notice.

At Bowen Scarff Ford-Lincoln, our mechanics fully inspect each used car that joins our lot. You really can't go wrong with this investment. We also offer a 3-day, 300 mile guarantee on all new or used vehicles.

14. Buy A Car You Can Afford

Many people will get themselves into debt buying a car before their other one is paid off. While it's possible to do this, you have to ask yourself if more debt is a plausible answer.

Instead, if you hold off on buying a new car until your current loan is paid off, you give yourself the best chance of staying out of debt. During that time, set aside some extra money that can be used for a down payment or save it and use it to pay for the new monthly car payments when they occur. This gives you the additional resources you need to stay on top of your bills.

For example, if your current car payment is $150 a month and you want to roll that into a new car loan which would be $350 a month, you could save $200 each month until you purchase that car. The only difference with the money you save versus the money you would have used on the loan is that amount will go right toward the principle when you are ready to buy a car instead of paying on interest. In the long run, you'll pay less for your new or used car.

If you want to purchase a high-end car and you have the money to do so, that's great. Just remember to buy wisely and stay within your means. Buy a new car that suits your finances. It's much easier to stay out of debt than dig your way out of a hole later. Wouldn't you rather live a stress-free life and drive an average car than constantly worry about the money it takes to drive a car that you can't afford?

15. Consider Buying a Manual Car


A close up shot of the gearstick of a manual new Ford car near Seattle at Bowen Scarff Ford 

If you know how to drive one, manual vehicles tend to cost $3,000 to $4,000 less than the same model in automatic. If this is your first car and you're up to the challenge of learning how to drive a stick shift, buying a manual car might be a great option for you. Some people feel they have more control over the vehicles speed as the car tends to respond quickly and accelerate/decelerate faster. More control can also help save on fuel costs.

We Won't Lead You Astray

At Bowen Scarff in Kent, Washinton. We believe in providing you with great service so you remain our loyal customer.  Therefore we strive to offer you the best price the first time you walk in to buy a car. We will work with you to find the best option that works for you. Our primary goal is to ensure our customers buy a new or used car that suits their lifestyle and we have many new and used cars to choose from.

We offer the lowest prices so you don't need to spend your days negotiating. This makes the new car transaction easier and more relaxed for our staff and you. Our friendly staff is what makes our car dealership the place to go when looking to buy a new car. We've been conducting business for over 55 years and received prestigious awards for our service and car sales achievements. That's why our clients continue to trust us when they need to purchase a new car.

Our extensive selection of pre-owned trucks, SUVs and cars offers more than just Ford and Lincoln to the mix. We have all the used car models you are searching for, and if we don't, we will get it for you. If you don't feel like traveling to the car dealership to do your shopping, feel free to browse our car inventory online from the comfort of your home. You'll see the same car pricing that you would at our lot.

At Bowen Scarff we also offer a 3-day guarantee on all new or used vehicles. What other dealership provides that kind of warranty? If you don't like it, simply return it within 72 hours and up to 300 miles and we will take it back for a full refund or exchange. Contact us today and let's work to get you behind the wheel of a new car you can be proud of.

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