One of the scenarios was an upstate New York shopper could pay airfare and go to Miami for a car and save about two grand. I literally laughed out loud.
Honestly, I don't see this happening for most people. Sure, $2,000 is a lot to save, but there's the long drive home. You're not going to save on sales tax. Your home state is going to hit you up, for sure! This happened to us when we bought a car across the state line in Maryland. It was what we wanted, so we bought it at a dealership there. We still had to pay our state's sales tax and deal with temporary tags and having to get our car plated in Virginia.
Having driven to Florida and back recently, even from Virginia, you're looking at a close to 12 hour drive. Further north, just add on tons more hours. You're going to need a hotel room or two to rest just to stay sane. Ever drive 95? Yeah, not a picnic. Plus, if you have a regular job, you're giving up time you could be working. Why waste vacation days on driving a car a long way home?
A more realistic option is to check to see if they can ship the car north to you. Carmax can sometimes ship particular cars between dealerships. There are advantages to owning southern cars, mainly being that they don't see road salt. As the mechanic who inspected my Pennsylvania car upon our move to Virginia said, "Y'all's not from around here.... you car is rusting out!"
Better ways to save money on a car
Think long-term. Know your credit score and if you're rocking a high score, know you can go in there and negotiate for a good rate. That's right. Car dealers work with a variety of companies. Don't take the first financing offer they provide you. Know what your bank/credit union will offer and keep that quiet as you sit and wait for their offer. They don't want you to walk out --- they are afraid you won't come back! Use your bank's rate to have them look harder for a better rate for you. A low rate will save you the most over the term of your loan.
Good cop/bad cop. Negotiate in pairs. One of you plays the good cop and the other plays the bad cop. They know they have to get both of you to agree to a purchase. Balk a little bit. Don't be afraid to hedge on the price offered and try to get it down a little more. There's more play on used cars. Plus, they know that there's tons of apps out there that track prices. They can tell who has done their homework and who hasn't.
Warranties. If your car already comes with a warranty, really think about the warranties they are pushing on you. Do you need it? Know exactly what's covered and what's not. Routine maintenance is not covered. Think about what you've spent historically on your cars and whether it was routine maintenance or not. I kid you not, we were offered a bumper to bumper warranty for $2,900 and it suddenly came down to $1,900 just by carefully considering and saying no the first time (we still didn't take it.) Dealerships make money on warranties and other add-ons. I, personally, have had bad luck with warranties. Whatever breaks is somehow not covered!
Shop around for car insurance, just in case. After you've bought the new vehicle, get it added to your policy right away so that you're covered. If it's financed, you'll be required to have it insured anyway. However, that doesn't stop you from shopping your car insurance needs around just to be sure you're getting the best price for coverage.
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