Purchasing a new vehicle often involves haggling and negotiating to get the best possible car deal. Navigating discussions with salespeople can feel intimidating for many buyers. Follow these insider negotiation tips to master the art of the deal when at the car dealership.
1. Do Your Research Before Visiting
Before ever stepping foot in the dealership, spend time researching the specific make and model you want to buy. Look up the MSRP, invoice price, common rebates and incentives in your area. This gives you a target price range to use later during negotiations.
2. Get Pre-Approved Financing
Having financing already secured before negotiating vehicle price is powerful leverage. Get pre-approved for a car loan through your bank, credit union or an online lender. This allows you to focus negotiations on the bottom line price rather than monthly payments.
3. Take a Test Drive First
Before formally starting purchase discussions, ask to take the car for an extensive test drive. This shows interest in buying while also allowing you to assess the vehicle fully before negotiating. Pay attention to how comfortable you feel driving it.
4. Ask About Add-Ons and Extras
Inquire about any additional add-ons the dealership is including with the purchase, like window tinting, paint protection, extended warranties, etc. Negotiate the price of these items separately if not needed.
5. Make Your Opening Offer
Once you’ve settled on the specific car, make the first price offer below your max budget based on research. For example, “Based on similar models I’ve seen available for $29,000, I’m hoping to get this vehicle for $27,500.”
6. Listen to Their Offer and Counter
Let the salesperson respond with their first counteroffer, then continue negotiating from there. Use facts and data to support countering higher than their ask. Be prepared to make slow incremental moves up in price until you reach a deal.
7. Focus on Total Out-the-Door Price
Negotiate using the total drive-away price, factoring in taxes, fees, etc. This avoids going back and forth on different elements. Get any promises for free add-ons included in the final out-the-door written quote.
8. Consider Delaying Purchase Until Month-End
Ask when their month or quarter ends. Purchasing closer to the month-end can give you more leverage if they are trying to hit sales quotas. Time your negotiation strategy accordingly.
9. Don’t Share Unnecessary Details
Keep personal details that could weaken your position private. For example, don’t mention this is your first time buying, you need the car urgently, or you have a trade-in. These can shift leverage to the dealer.
10. Secure the Agreed Price in Writing
Once you’ve reached a deal, get all promises and the negotiated out-the-door price included in a formal purchase order document before signing. This protects you from surprising add-ons later.