Here are 10 tips for talking down a car dealer on price
Purchasing a new car is exciting, especially if it's your first time, but the process can be daunting, too, particularly so when it comes to negotiating prices with the dealer. Fortunately, there are many ways to squelch that anxiety through preparation and knowing how to haggle. Half the battle is won once you've done the legwork to preparing yourself before even meeting with a salesperson. If your goal is to avoid being ripped off, the best way to negotiate a new car price that suits you is to come armed with information. Below are ten tips and negotiation tactics for buying a new car.
Deciding to buy a new car can be a difficult process when there are so many choices out there, and not knowing exactly what you want could lead you to making an overly eager decision you may regret later. This is why it's important to narrow down your options by considering factors such as how much money you're willing to spend, the type of body style you want (sedan, hatchback, pickup truck, or SUV), what you need the vehicle for, and so on. Being sure of what you want will also help create a starting point for negotiations, and you'll be more confident when you talk to the dealer.
Buying a car is an emotional experience - the idea of owning your very own cruiser that you'll get to show off every day as you commute is really exciting. Plus, there are so many options available to you that you may feel slightly overwhelmed. You can't let your emotions get the best of you, as car dealers tend to use those emotions to get people to spend money on more expensive models. Your emotions could also lead you to making a hasty decision based on the excitement you feel on inspection of the car. It might help to think about it like this: buying a car is a business transaction and your priority should be purchasing a suitable car at the lowest possible cost.
If you've already done your homework on what car suits you best and have a shortlist of options on hand, be sure to do as much research as you possibly can on things like pricing. This way you'll have an idea of what you should be paying for the car. If your expectation of the price is skewed, you'll be easily taken advantage of. You will also want to find out the common problems for each particular car from websites, online forums, and consumer reports. Not only will this give you an idea of what to look out for when physically evaluating the car and taking it for a test drive, but it makes a good bargaining tool if you are aware of existing or potential problems. For used cars, you can also get the dealership to provide you with the full vehicle inspection report that includes a service history and important details like whether it's been in a crash. Negotiating the vehicle price becomes easier with information that directly affects how much you should be paying for it.
The question of whether to lease or buy often comes down to which one is cheapest in the long run. While leasing that Chevy Suburban you want so badly may mean smaller monthly payments, the car is never actually yours when the lease period is up. Calculating affordability is vital - find out what you can afford to pay every month, and then see what's available in that price bracket and whether leasing or buying is more to your advantage.
Don't go into a negotiation without knowing where you stand financially or fully understanding the differences in buying cash, leasing, or financing. You should always know exactly what you are signing up for, and if you're taking a car loan find out your credit score first. You will need to have a good score to get a loan, so think about establishing a good rating beforehand and come to the negotiation armed with your pre-approval for funding. If you don't have a credit history, or perhaps your score is less than ideal, you may consider a car dealer that performs no credit check or a dealer that will accept bad credit on car sales by making use of external lenders.
Remember, regardless of how you are buying a car, the actual price paid is not just what's on the sticker. Dealers may often focus on monthly costs instead of the total cost to sound like a sweeter deal. The smaller figure can easily fool you into thinking you're getting the best deal, but you should always keep the total price in mind. That means the MSRP, with financing fees, taxes, licensing and all the other extras added in. Also be wary of longer payment terms, as dealers often extend the payment period up to six or eight years, which elevates the interest paid significantly. One way to avoid this is to pre-arrange your financing with a bank or another lender before even setting foot in the dealership. If you're wondering what to bring when buying a car, this is a vital piece.
If you're thinking of trading in your car for another, be sure to work out its value using online resources before you negotiate with the car dealer. This will give you the upper hand in negotiating a better deal and prevent the salesman from structuring a value around their own goals of making as much profit as possible. You can also sell your car privately or to a dealership for the cash value, which you can then put towards a new car. Another strategy is to act unsure on whether you want to trade-in or not, the dealership will structure the deal as though you are not and you can then bring it up at the end of the deal to get a large discount on the final price.
Shopping around at multiple dealers is a good way to establish a sense of what you should be paying for a particular vehicle and getting the best deal on a new car. You can also easily compare prices and other factors to find the best version of the car you want; if you're looking at used models, you will want to consider the price to mileage ratio, for example, and whether or not it has the optional features you want. Thanks to the internet, shopping has become a whole lot easier, too, with online shopping allowing people to search for products from countless retailers from the convenience of their own homes. In this way, you can gather quotes and other relevant information to leverage when bargaining with different car dealers.
Most car dealerships and salespeople aim to reach certain month-end or year-end targets to earn commissions or bonuses. So, timing your purchase nearer to those points in time could be a good strategy to gain the upper hand in negotiations. This is only the case, however, if the dealership or the salesperson has yet to reach their sales goals, so it's hardly an ironclad strategy. There is also a myth that suggests that if you head up to the dealership nearing closing time, that the salesperson will quickly settle a deal so that they can close up and head home. However, a skilled salesperson isn't likely to skimp out on his/her commission, and you're more likely to just annoy them. The best tip in this regard is to be professional, polite, and respectful at all times; never talk down to anyone or be rude, but remain firm and resolute in your approach to what you want and are willing to spend.
When it comes to automobile-buying negotiations, the goal of the salesperson is to make as much profit as possible from the sale, while yours is to get as low of a price as possible. Once the dealer suggests a price, they can't go really go any higher, and once you suggest a price, you can't suggest anything lower either. By letting them set the ceiling rather than floor, you have more wiggle room to bring it down. But keep in mind that the salesperson is entitled to a certain amount of profit, so be reasonable. The negotiation will work around the vehicle's MSRP - the manufacturer's suggested retail price - and the dealer's invoice cost, as well as any additions you want.
Nearing the end of the buying process, the salesperson will try to convince you to throw in a bunch of extras such as feature upgrades, insurance coverage, new car warranties, and other products. Remember, you can get most things that dealership is selling from many other companies and accredited service providers at different prices, so be sure to do your research about whether there are cheaper options. You can also add these extras at any point in time, so while the salesperson will make it seem like an urgent matter, don't be fooled into making a hasty decision.
It's important to know that as the consumer, the power is in your hands. If the dealership or salesperson isn't willing to accept your offer, you always have the choice to walk away. Don't feel obliged to accept their deal just because they've been "nice" and don't feel embarrassed for any reason, even if you did take up a lot of time getting information and negotiating. Act with poise, too - don't get angry or emotional. Simply make it clear that you don't want to settle for what they've offered but that they are more than welcome to contact you at any time if they can find a way to meet your deal.
Now that you know how to get the best deal on a new car at a dealership, thanks to these car-buying and negotiating tips and strategies, you can proceed with full confidence, knowing that you can get the most bang for your buck.
Dealerships aim to make as much profit as possible by either maximizing their profit margin or by reducing their costs to a minimum. In a negotiation, the initial offer a dealer will present will be the figure that best optimizes these two factors. You will need to figure out whether the dealer is more willing to take less of a profit by lowering the price of the car, or more of a cost, by negotiating a higher trade-in value. It also depends on the dealership, the timing, and popularity of the car.
A brand new car loses about 10% of its value the moment it leaves the dealership and another 20% over its first year of being owned. The average car is only valued at around 40% of its original value after five years of ownership. Read our post on car depreciation for more information, here. This is great for those shopping in the secondhand market.
Don't tell the salesperson that you'll be paying cash right away. Dealers typically make a lot more profit on financing deals, so let them bargain on this mind set. You can then decline the financing deal later in the negotiations and take the price point with a cash deal.