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Buying a car from a dealership can be a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be. Did you know that it’s possible to buy a car in less than an hour? It may sound impossible, but it’s not. Here are some tips for speeding up the dealership sales process.

Get pre-approved for an auto loan from a credit union or a local bank

We have said it and will say it again; get pre-approved for an auto loan first. You can apply with the bank that you normally do business with or find a credit union as well. Ask for a pre-approval application and determine what you can qualify for first. Doing so will put the power in your hands when it comes to getting the best interest rate and loan terms.

Work your car deal remotely

Customer looks at window sticker
Customer checks out the window sticker on a new car | Getty Images

Before stepping foot into a car dealership, work as much of the deal at home as possible. Doing so will give you the home-field advantage since the car dealer wants you to come to the dealership to discuss the sales numbers. However, playing by their game may get you stuck at the dealership for hours, and you may make a decision you’ll regret.

In fact, some dealerships train salespeople to keep their customers there as long as possible, whether they’re buying a car or not. The theory is that if customers see other people buying cars, they may also want to buy a car.

When working the deal from home, email a dealership with the car you want in stock. Talk to a salesperson via phone, text, or email to work out the deal as much as possible.

Make sure to talk about the car’s pricing and tell the salesperson that you have the financing part figured out. Just don’t tell them the interest rate that you have. Allow them the opportunity to find you a lower rate, which could save you money.

Also, let them know if you have a car to trade in. In some cases, you can send them the car’s information (VIN, odometer reading, etc.) and even email them pictures to get a rough estimate of its value.

Set an appointment with the salesperson and let them know your time constraints

Once you have the financing and sales numbers figured out remotely, now is the time to step into the dealership. However, don’t just drive down there and walk in. Instead, set an appointment with the salesperson you have been communicating with.

Let them know how much time you will have so that they can adhere to your time constraints. Although, you should keep in mind that it could take longer than you expect. Either way, letting them know what you’re looking to get out of the experience will allow them to set everything up for a smooth transaction.

Before going to the dealership, make sure you have everything in order

An exterior view of a Toyota dealership
Toyota dealership | Getty Images

Edmunds recommends that you have a valid driver’s license with the proper address, updated proof of insurance, and proof of income (if needed) before going to the dealership. Every car deal requires these documents, especially if you plan to finance the car. Additionally, proof of residence (a gas bill, a cell phone bill, or an electricity bill) may be needed.

Have the proper form of payment

If you’re planning to put a down payment, then make sure you have the proper form of money to do so. Ask the salesperson if the dealership accepts credit cards, personal checks, cashier’s checks, or wire transfers. Not having the proper form of payment can easily hold up the car deal for far longer than necessary.

Buying a car in less than an hour

A car salesperson talks to a customer on the lot.
Car sales | Getty Images

Although it might not sound feasible, it is possible to buy a car in less than an hour. The key to spending less time at the dealership is spending more time at home figuring out the car deal beforehand and ensuring you have everything lined up before going to the dealership.


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