There’s a lot of bad news when it comes to car buying and selling. The so-called car gurus will lead you to believe they are experts in the car industry and even offer the “10 Best Tips” on where to go, who to turn to, and frankly, where to throw away your hard earned cash for your next car purchase.   That’s the ugly side of car shopping.

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I’m an automotive industry inside with more than 20 years experience as a public relations person, journalist, salesperson and digital products specialist.  I have seen this industry from all angles – at its ugliest and at its, well, not quite as ugly.

The single most common question I receive from friends and family is “got any good tips for buying a car?” My answer has always been yes, and then I inundate them with about 25 or so really solid tips, culled from my years doing this.

Here’s some good news about car shopping and a few insider tips that may make a difference for your next car shopping experience. For you, I’m going to keep it simple. Ready to write this down (yes, I am very old school, I still write things down)?

Best Tip: Find something or someone you trust, and stick with it. If you have a salesman that you particularly like, go back to them. If they are not selling a brand you are interested in buying, ask for their opinion on cars and if they know a dealer or a store where you might get the same treatment.

If you have a dealership that has always treated you fairly, go back. While variety is great, comfort can sometimes be better.

Best Tip: Get Referrals. If you have friends that have had a particularly good experience with a dealer or a salesperson or a brand, listen to them and check out where they went.  Salespeople will bend over backwards for a referral and will treat you as well as they treated your friend.

Trust is key to making a purchase as financially large and personally momentous as this.  There is no reason to leave it to chance.

Which leads us to online car shopping and buying. There are so many sites out there that claim to provide clarity and transparency into the shopping process that it really takes a fine toothcomb to discover what will work best for you in your search.  Sites like TrueCar offer you upfront pricing with a promise from the dealer that you will be treated well, while sites like AutoTrader provide you the tools to do the search yourself.


Then there is Car Lister, a combination of those traditional sites with the added benefit of providing an entire social network – kind of like Facebook for car lovers.  Aside from a search engine powered by dealers and their online inventory, as well as independent sellers, the site has its own social site that allows car lovers and car shoppers to communicate and build a community.

It goes to the whole trust thing. The idea that there is an entire community of people who love cars, old and new, and are talking about them on a regular basis, makes me believe that if I am curious about what car might be best for me or what dealer might provide the best sales experience for me, I will get some trustworthy answers.

Personally, I like the freedom of searching from the confines of my computer or mobile device while having friends to discuss the smaller points.


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