Tips help car buyers navigate the new normal

Tips help car buyers navigate the new normal

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan International Auto Show in Grand Rapids gives car buyers a chance to check out what they may not find on dealer lots.

“Supply chain issues are still out there. They’re not existing like they were a year ago at this moment, but they’re still out there,” said George Sharpe Jr. of Sharpe Cars, which deals in BMWs, Land Rovers, Mini Coopers and Jaguars.

The lack of inventory on dealer lots may be disappointing to car buyers seeking more instant gratification by walking on to a lot, picking out a vehicle and driving away. The new normal has many drivers logging on to the automaker’s website to custom order a vehicle.

“So they get to pick all the options, colors, features that they would like versus walking into a showroom and working with, ‘Oh, I’ll take this one. It’s missing this, but I’ll work with it,’” Sharpe said. “You want to make sure that you’re starting the process early. And researching early. Giving yourself time for that order.“

But even custom ordering doesn’t guarantee the features you want are available, and that may require some flexibility on the part of the customer.

“Do you have flexibility in color? Do you have flexibility on the trim level? With some of these hot models in particular, there will be some constraints,” IHS auto analyst Mike Wall said. “Find a dealer you’re comfortable with, become their friend. Understand. Talk to those ordering managers, too. What are the key constraints with this particular vehicle? Is there something I should stay away from?”

If you’re not willing to give up on some features, you may need to demonstrate some patience. You may have to wait longer for that new ride. If the options aren’t available or the wait is too long, you can always put your purchase on hold. If you go that route, be prepared to pay more.

“The other consideration here is inflation. Prices are high. Interest rates are high and they’re probably going to be going up for a bit longer,” Wall said. “There is a cost to waiting, so realize if you do say, ‘I’m going to hold on the sideline and wait for that model, that trim to come,’ it might cost a little more.”