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December 20, 2011

Top Tips for Surviving Holiday Shopping at the Car Dealership

Ap-Holiday-Shopping-TipsSome of the best days left to get a great deal on a new car will fall between now and the end of the year, so if you've been waiting to buy a new car, now is the time to get the best price. If you'll be venturing into dealerships during December, we want to offer some tips to make that shopping experience as good as possible, given that the holiday shopping season can be hectic, regardless of whether you’re buying a blanket or BMW.

Dealers want to clear their lots of excess inventory so they can earn their end-of-year bonuses and avoid paying taxes on unsold vehicle stock. They do this by offering sizeable cash-back rebates, super financing discounts, and special lease deals, which means great pricing with discounts of up to 30% on some models for new car shoppers who want to buy a vehicle before January. Most consumers are aware of this, so car dealerships get just as busy as retail stores during the holidays; be prepared for crowds and delays at the auto malls too.

Holiday Car Buying Tips:

1) Keep the Kids Happy:

Some dealerships have secure play areas to occupy kids while their parents shop. To make it even more enjoyable, be sure to bring toys and snacks to keep the kids amused while you’re doing paperwork.

2) Be Prepared for the Weather:

You’ll most certainly be walking around the dealer’s lot to find the car you test drive, so don’t forget to bring a jacket and umbrella when the weather is wicked. This is the perfect time to evaluate the benefit of cold weather features like heated seats and steering wheels, so be sure to turn those on during your test drive.

3) Stay Connected:
Nearly all dealerships have free Wi-Fi, so bring your laptop or iPad to keep up with the Christmas shopping list during any downtime that might occur while the dealer is preparing paperwork, washing the car, or installing any last-minute options.

4) Get a Home Delivery:
Keep in mind that some dealers will deliver that new car to you, so you may not even have go back to the dealership to take delivery. Be sure to ask if they might be able deliver your car to you during the very busy holiday season.

5) Time your Shopping Carefully:
Shop at the dealership during their low volume time so you get their full attention, try 9-11 am during the week. Avoid the most busy times, late afternoon and early evening during the week and Saturdays. The absolute busiest week of the year for dealers is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so even though you might be able to get a bigger discount on these days, if you want the most time and attention and the best selection, you’ll be better off shopping before then.

6) Don’t Wait Too Long:
Jesse Toprak, Vice-President of Industry Trends and Insights for
TrueCar.com warns, “Even though you might be able to get a better deal if you wait until December 31st, the car you’re looking for may not be in inventory by the time you get there.” If you’re looking for a specific model, you may want to do a little telephone shopping ahead of time to find out what the dealers still have on their lots.

The Most Important Tip of All:

If you’re shopping for a new car during the holiday season, be sure to visit The American Express Auto Purchasing Program before you head to the dealership to save both time and money. The American Express Auto Purchasing Program offers buyers low upfront, no-haggle prices on new and used cars, and Certified Dealers committed to excellent service! And, you can buy with confidence with our new car Low Price Guarantee. Using the American Express no-haggle, upfront pricing puts you in charge and can save you hours in negotiations by showing you what the dealer will charge based on the Manufacturer’s invoice for any car in their inventory!

Happy Holidays! 

BrandyBrandy Schaffels 
Content Manager at TrueCar.com 
Brandy Schaffels is an automotive journalist with more than 25 years in the automotive industry. Previously an editor at MotorTrend.com and AskPatty.com, Brandy is now the Senior Editor for the consumer-focused website, TrueCar.com, a website that provides transparent new vehicle pricing based on actual local transactional data, allowing consumers to know what others have paid for their vehicles. They also help connect dealers with buyers at a set, no-haggle price.

Brandy currently drives a brand-new 2011 Ford Fiesta  she has nicknamed "Sunshine."


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