Tips for Negotiating a Car Deal

December 16, 2013

Have you ever wanted to get into the head of a car salesperson?  It can be kind of scary.  But, when it comes to buying a new vehicle, having as much information before you go into the dealership is to your advantage - and will go a long way in helping you negotiate a car deal.There are the preliminaries that need to be decided before you set foot onto the dealer’s lot: Are you going for brand new or used?  If brand new, will you select from the lot or order one for delivery?  Will it be cash or financed?  Which “bells and whistles” must you have, or what can you live without?

Short of working at a dealership for three months to get the lowdown on price and profit margins, it’s difficult to know just where to start your first offer.  “Racers, start your engines.”  Game on.  May the best negotiator win!

Sure you want the salesperson to know that you are a serious buyer.  But, none of us needs to give away our money especially if there is interest involved.  So, here are tips for negotiating with that salesperson.

  • Online preparation is essential.  It arms you with facts so you will appear knowledgeable and ready to act if they have what you want and are willing to engage with you.  They know you are a real buyer and you’ll find out if they can meet your needs.
  • Know the ins and outs of prices.  Understanding and clarifying exactly how MSRP, invoice price, book value are defined helps clear the fog of car buying jargon.
  • Have your checkbook or financing ready.  If the dealership does the financing, it’s gonna cost you.

Whenever I think about negotiating anything, I always harken back to Ury, Fisher, and Patton’s “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.”  This watershed book about negotiation is centered around the simple principle of first discovering your needs as well as the other party’s needs.  So, discard the position-based thinking and focus on what it will take to find the common ground of needs.

Oren Weintraub, a professional auto negotiator offers these tips:

  1. It not always necessary to wait for the dealer’s offer; put it out there.  You may be surprised by the reaction.
  2. Be firm.
  3. Don’t succumb to pressure or intimidation

As the old fisherman would say, “If the fish doesn’t bite here, then it may be time to try another spot in the lake."  And, if the fish in another part of the auto dealership pond doesn’t bite, you may be fishing with the wrong bait or in the wrong lake.

Do you have a car negotiating success story? How about a horror story? Leave a comment!