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Buying a Car: How Do You Minimize the Time You Spend at a Dealership?

Just because you’re interested in buying a car doesn’t mean you’re interested in spending hours of your weekend at a dealership — or taking a day off work to complete a deal. So how can you minimize the amount of time you spend at the dealership when you’re buying your next car? We have a few tips and suggestions for drivers who want to spend the least amount of time possible at a dealership when they buy their next car.

Know What You Want

One way to especially minimize your time in a dealer is to go into the car-buying experience with a good idea of what you want. While we highly recommend visiting several dealers and test driving various different models, you should have your decision completely finalized when it comes time to actually buy the car. This includes items such as trim level, options, color choice and accessories. If you aren’t sure on these points, it’ll add to your time in the dealership on the day you buy your car.

Another aspect of knowing what you want is knowing what you want to pay. If you go into a dealership with a little uncertainty in your budget, you may have a harder time deciding on the model you want — and how much you want to spend. But if you’re firm with your budget, you’ll know when it’s time to leave if a dealer can’t meet your ideal figure.

Have Everything Ready

Another way to minimize your time in a dealership is to have your financing ready before you walk through the door. While some drivers get financed through the dealer, many others get pre-approved at a bank or credit union before buying a car. If you do this, it’ll save you a lot of time and hassle once you arrive at a dealer. Instead of waiting for the dealer to run your credit, contact banks and give you various interest rate and monthly payment quotes, you’ll have a check ready to go when you walk in — and that will cut down on the number of things you have to do before you drive off the lot.

If you’re trading in your car, you should also have that ready, too. Remember to bring the title with you so you can transfer it to the dealer on the spot. And remember to clean it out before you arrive so you don’t have to spend a long time at the dealer moving things from your old car into your new one.

Don’t Let the Dealer Waste Your Time

Another key piece of advice for drivers interested in buying a car on a tight timetable: Don’t let the dealer waste your time. One effective sales strategy is to ensure that shoppers spend the most amount of time possible at a dealership. The theory here is that the more time they invest in the process, the more likely they will be to buy the car. But we strongly suggest that you don’t play this game. If negotiations go on too long or if the salesperson and the sales manager keep going back and forth on a price for hours, remember that you can always just leave. There will be another car out there for you on a different day.

Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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  1. I had the delay tactic pulled on me when I purchased the last 2 vehicles, and I paid cash. Irritating, doesn’t begin to cover it. Both dealers also did a credit check.
    What’s with that? I can see calling the bank to make sure the check is okay, but a credit check for a cash purchase???

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