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How to Negotiate a Car Deal

Posted by Charlie Maniates | Jun 6, 2019

The thought of negotiating a vehicle purchase with a dealer can be frightening, but there’s no need to fret; after all, a dealer needs to sell cars in order to make money. And, with thorough preparation, you can confidently negotiate a deal to your liking. Here are some tips to help you strategize:

1. Do Your Homework

Thanks to the internet, you have an unlimited wealth of information at your fingertips. It’s important to utilize it and learn as much as you can about each facet of the car-buying process. Assess the value of your trade-in, decide which vehicle you want to buy, understand its price tag, warranty and accompanying financing/insurance costs, find any valid incentives and evaluate all the available models near you. Maximizing your knowledge going in will help you secure the best deal.

2. Shop at Multiple Dealerships

Don’t back yourself into a corner by shopping at just one dealership. Contact several dealerships and compile details about each vehicle you inquire about. Compare features, contrast prices and use competitive offers to your advantage when discussing terms with each dealer.

Additionally, keep an open mind when it comes to options, features and colors. Flexibility strengthens the pool of models you can choose from.

3. Carefully Inspect Used Vehicles

Used vehicles can come with less-than-perfect conditions, and existing issues may be used to your advantage in a negotiation. Examine the exterior and make note of any blemishes, like dents or scratches. Inside the car, be sure to test every button, switch and plug, and scope out any imperfections in the interior’s upholstery.

Beyond the superficial qualities, test drive each vehicle and be wary about anything that doesn’t quite feel right. You should also have a trusted mechanic conduct an inspection to evaluate the car’s working order.

4. Get Pre-Approved for a Loan

If you’ll be financing your car, you should find out your credit score and contact direct third-party lenders before going to the dealership. Knowing your loan terms going in allows you to leverage them to negotiate financing through the dealership. In order to secure proprietorship of your loan, the dealer may match or offer better terms than the ones you brought to the table.

5. Know When to Hold ‘Em, Fold ‘Em and Walk Away

Follow the advice Kenny Rogers gives in his hit song “The Gambler” during your dealer negotiations. If a dealer offers you a competitive price that fits your budget, you should likely accept it. Or, at the very least, get the offer in writing to use for negotiating at another dealer. However, you run the risk of somebody else swooping in and buying the car while you continue to shop around.

On the other hand, don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t like the way the negotiations are progressing. You may have better luck at another dealer, or the dealer you walk away from may contact you later with more willingness to fit your price range in order to close the sale.

6. Be Respectful

As Tony Soprano once said, “Those who want respect, give respect.” Salespeople are people, too, and they deserve to be treated as such. They understand that you have access to an abundance of negotiation tactics via the internet and, like we said, their livelihoods depend on sales. So, they’re more likely than not to approach the negotiation process in a sensible manner for a friendly person.