parachute into a new car dealer looking for the best deal on your
next set of wheels, take time to equip yourself with these commando
car buyers tips:
If you plan
on paying cash, dont say so until after youve negotiated
the purchase price
A big chunk
of the dealers potential profit is built into financing;
that means the salesman may be more likely to negotiate a lower
sales price if he thinks he can make it back on the financing.
Never discuss how youll pay for the car until after youve
negotiated the sales price.
Get it in writing,
shop on a weekend (or weeknights)
The law of
supply and demand doesnt work in your favor when there are
lots of other customers milling around; if you dont buy, the
odds are the next guy will. This puts you at a pyschological (and
possibly, real) disadvantage.
But when you
hit a dealership mid-week, especially in the afternoon when there
arent nearly as many (if any) other customers around, interest
in you and the potential sale you represent will go up. Youve
got a better chance of negotiating a great deal when the salesman
sees you as possibly the only game in town.
the monthly payment
the actual sales price of the car. This goes for leases as well
as purchases, since your monthly lease payment will be based in
part on the purchase price you sign onto at lease inception. A low
monthly payment does you no good if it is based on a higher-than-it-should
be purchase price with those low payments stretched
out over an extra year (or obliterated by an obnoxiously high balloon
payment to buy the car at the end of your lease).
about your trade-in
what you plan to do with your current car until after you
have finished negotiating the price of the new car. There
are two reasons for this. One, you dont want to add an additional
factor (negotiating your old cars trade-in value) to an already
complicated process before youve dealt with the first one
(negotiating the price of the new car). Two, if the salesman can
get you talking about your trade-in before youve come to an
agreement on the price of the new car, he may be able to shift your
attention to the great deal hes giving you on
the trade causing you to forget all about the not-so-great
deal hes giving you on the new car.
Focus on one
thing at a time; deal with your trade-in after youve tied
down the deal on the new car.
hear something that sounds too good to be true, it always is too
good to be true. No haggle is the same as walking into
a standard dealership and agreeing to pay the full MSRP sticker
price. You dont haggle. You just pay what they
tell you to.
This may be
less stressful for those who hate the back-and-forth of the typical
new car purchase process, but its far from being a great deal.
And: If the brand/car you want is only sold at a no haggle
dealership, that doesnt mean you cant negotiate. Youve
got nothing to lose by making a fair offer under the no haggle
price especially in todays market. Dealers are desperate
to move inventory and a sale (even if it comes with haggling)
is better than having the car sit on the lot costing the dealer
a buying service to handle the haggling for you. Yes, theres
a fee. But it will likely still be less costly overall than just
paying whatever the dealer tells you to pay.
incentives and rebates after you negotiate your best deal, not before
over your old cars trade-in value, its best to stay
focused on the Main Event and not confuse the issue by adding factors
that can distract you from negotiating the best possible price before
subtracting manufacturer incentives and rebates. If theres
a $1,000 cash back offer, you can subtract it from your final deal
(or just have them send you the check, if thats an option).
Remember: Its the sales price of the car that matters most;
everything else is secondary.
take the car home for the night
This is a common
gambit designed to get you emotionally attached to the vehicle;
to get you thinking of it as your new car before youve
come to terms on its price. Remember: Anything that clouds your
judgment or tends to make you emotional should be avoided. If you
buy the car, youll have plenty of time later on to gaze lovingly
at it and think how nice it looks in your driveway. Dont fall
into this trap before you get the deal nailed down.
Be like Mr.
Spock: Detached, unemotional.
are always negotiable
let yourself be talked into paying a couple hundred bucks above
the final sales price you just agreed to for things
like detailing (teenage kid washes the car) or paint
sealers (ten bucks worth of Turtle Wax applied by teenage
kid) and fabric treatments (a spray can of Scotch Guard
also applied by teenage kid).
The only extras
youre obligated to pay for, above the sales price of the car
itself, are any applicable sales taxes, title and vehicle registration
fees mandated by your state/local government (and payable to them,
not the dealership).
just say no. Be prepared to kibosh the deal if they get aggressive
Just as car
salesmen get you to drop your guard by getting you to think of them
as nice guys just trying to help you out with friendly
chit-chat, your cause will be well-served if you get the salesman
to like you as a person. Being needlessly hostile (or cold) adds
pointless tension to the process and should be avoided whenever
possible. Remember: The salesmans a human being, just like
you and most of us prefer doing business with people who
are warm and friendly. If it helps you get a better deal, being
nice pays for itself.
prepared to deal your trump card
Which is to
simply get up and walk away if the salesperson is pressuring you,
or you just dont like the way the deals going. Never
forget: You are under no obligation to buy the car until you
sign a contract. This is your number one ace to play. Be polite,
but tell the salesperson its not working out and that you
think its time to try your luck elsewhere. It helps if you
pretend to be really disappointed. Not mad just sad
that the deals not coming together. Sighs are good here. Ham
out of ten (unless you are being completely unreasonable) the salesperson
will do whatever it takes to get you back to the table and close
And in your
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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