7 ways to avoid stress, survive the holidays and still buy a car

Each holiday season seems to get crazier.

As Thanksgiving wraps up, lines of Black Friday shoppers not only drive to their favorite retail stores, but bring sleeping bags and canteens along to camp out overnight in anticipation.

When morning comes and “open” signs light up, droves of shoppers burst through retail doors hunting for the best items on sale before anyone else can get their hands on them.


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Similar scenes occur at car dealerships across the country on Black Friday and usually continue through the end of the year. As dealerships start filling up during the holiday season, the car buying process inevitably gets longer and the risk of losing out on that vehicle of choice grows higher.

While this season makes for great opportunities to find deals on new vehicles, it also can become an overwhelming and stressful experience if a shopper goes in unprepared.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take that help ensure you don’t lose out on a great deal and that you survive the holiday rush unscathed: 

I know. You thought you would never hear those words again. But yes, any preparation or research that can be done before visiting the dealership will only make the experience go smoother. Going online, you can calculate an affordable payment and study possible vehicles to buy. When it comes to holiday shopping, the more that can be done from home, the better.

With full-time jobs, errands, families, obligations, etc., getting to a car dealership during the week can be difficult, but weekdays can offer a great opportunity to visit the dealership without having a long wait time. You’ll get in quicker and not have to worry about being rushed by other customers.

If it’s still more convenient for you to make the actual purchase on Black Friday or over the weekend, try making a pre-purchase visit during the week to see your potential vehicle in person and take a test drive.

Have your alarm set for an early wake-up call. Getting to the lot as early as possible will set you up best for the dealership to give you its full-on attention versus multitasking with all the other visitors. As the day goes on, more customers will be filling up the dealership.

The holiday craziness can make a place like the car dealership seem overwhelming. It’s impossible to predict what you’ll encounter, so try to prepare yourself for the unexpected, such as a customer taking a while longer with a sales associate or a delay in working through the paperwork. Being ready to roll with any punches will help you stay on plan and get you through the experience.

Even with the best-laid plans, the car-buying process can throw a few curve balls during the holiday season. Maybe the car you really want turns out to be unavailable; maybe you get to test drive your car and realize it’s not for you; maybe you discover some additional costs with the sales price. As you do your homework (Step 1), research two or three other vehicles within your price range that would satisfy you. That way, you’ll be ready for the unexpected and not left stranded on the lot.

The finance and insurance (F&I) office is where everything gets financially worked out and your car purchase is finalized. It’s extremely important to get this right, because once you sign on the dotted line, the deal is final. If you are buying a car on sale, make sure all of the deals are brought up with your F&I agent. If you notice a part of your sale wasn’t mentioned or are confused about any of the paperwork, don’t hesitate to ask!

Buying a car is a big commitment, so you want to make sure you get every part of your deal correct. It may take a bit of work and preparation, but in the end, few things will make the holiday season and upcoming New Year merrier than getting behind the wheel of your brand new car.