25 Negotiation Tactics Buyers Should Use For Their Next Car Purchase

For most people, buying a new car is a nerve-racking experience. What makes it such a major purchase is the fact that buyers hope to drive it for years to come. They want to not only find the right car that fits their lifestyle but ensure they get the most bang for their buck. It doesn't help that cars are some of the most expensive purchases people make. So it falls on buyers to take advantage of any promotions car dealerships offer, especially around Holiday seasons.

There are even more consumers have to do though if they want to get a good deal. In almost all car buying situations, unless someone's family owns the dealership, they're going to have to play hardball with a salesperson. While the idea of this makes some nervous, as it will most definitely lead to some uncomfortable situations, it's not as hard as they imagine. There are some easy rules to follow before and during the car purchase anyone can pick up on.

While it does require some buyers to go outside of what they're probably used to doing in their day-to-day lives, these car buying tactics will help. The following are not only time-tested methods, but they improve one's chances of getting their dream car at a dream price.

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25 Decide What To Pay Beforehand


It's important that car buyers decide on a few things before ever stepping into a dealership. If they don't answer a few basic questions based on their preferences, they only set themselves up for failure. The first item buyers need to know is what kind of car they want. The next part is even more important: how much do they want to pay for it?

Everyone has a maximum value they're willing to spend.

According to The Washington Post, knowing the amount one is willing to pay can also help when it comes to negotiating a lower price.

24 Exercise Other Financing Options First

via greenamerica.org

While everyone looks forward to getting a new car, no one really enjoys the haggling process. There's no guarantee it'll pan out in the buyer's favor at the end of the day. There are steps every buyer can exercise though in preparation for a day at the car dealership. Instead of relying solely on a dealer's financing, a buyer can check with other loaning options.

According to Forbes, one can check with a local credit union or bank on what kind of car loans they're offering. Buyers may find that a financial institution has less of an agenda than a car dealership.

23 Don’t Rush The Process

via autobytel

Depending on when a buyer goes to a dealer can determine how long it might take. During holidays, a buyer can expect to be there for a very long time, considering how many interested buyers there are. Fortunately, dealers often try to make the experience as pleasant as possible, with some even providing free food trucks on sight.

Unless a buyer chooses to go the time-sensitive route where they're willing to storm out, it's better to take one's time.

Autotrader also notes all the paperwork dealers have to fill out at the very end, which can often take just as long as the negotiation phase. Expect to be there a long time and try to make the most of it.

22 Hold Off On Mentioning A Trade-In

via Pacific Standard

For those looking to get a new car, it's likely they have an old car to trade-in. Although dealers have trade-in offers, they'll do whatever they can to make it as little of a factor when negotiating the car price. They want the trade-in to benefit buyers in the least possible way.

It's better, according to The Washington Post to wait before bringing up the trade-in. Otherwise, buyers only provide dealers with more ammunition to use against them. A salesperson will have plenty of tactics to limit the value of a trade-in, where a buyer will want to get the most they can out of it.

21 Don’t Let A Salesperson Tempt With Unnecessary Features

via videoblocks

Salespeople are going to pull out all the stops when it comes to selling a car. That means they'll say a lot of things that sound good to buyers. As tempting as a lot of their offerings will be, it's important for buyers to resist.

One of the features salespeople will try selling people on, according to Money Crashers, are the extra tech and luxury items a car offers.

Features like GPS and infotainment systems are cool but available in one's phone at the end of the day. It's better to go the cheaper route and avoid any add-ons that give dealers the freedom to jack up the cost.

20 Let The Dealer Be The First To Name A Price

via Kiplinger

Buying a car often requires prospective owners to be aggressive. That's not the rule of thumb in all cases though. One way it literally pays to be more a beta than an alpha is in letting the salesperson go first when it comes to naming a price.

The Washington Post reports that when buyers name a price, it's usually harder to convince a salesperson to agree to a lower rate. By naming a price, it limits the buyer in their negotiation leverage. Instead, let the salesperson say a price and work off of that. It leaves more room for the buyer to walk away with more money in their pocket.

19 Focus On The Total Cost Of The Car Instead Of Monthly Payments

via Consumer Reports

Buyers should put off discussions about financing with a salesperson for as long as possible. Once it comes time to discuss the actual cost, a buyer should opt to talk about the price of the vehicle instead.

The Washington Post reports, it becomes problematic when a salesperson discusses monthly payments instead of the actual cost.

Since many buyers will end up with monthly payments that span up to seven years, dealers can shape monthly payments to their advantage. However, discussing the total cost of the car only takes away this advantage dealers often use when deciding on a price.

18 Bring Up Other Dealers And Their Offers

via autobytel

Don't be afraid to shop around. There's plenty of car dealerships out there with independent obligations and goals to reach. That car a buyer has been wanting may be the last one they're trying to get rid of at a dealership. While others may have an abundance and aren't in a rush to have buyers take them off their hands.

According to The Washington Post, it helps to tell dealers there are better offers elsewhere as a way of getting them to lower their price. A buyer doesn't even need to visit other dealerships in order to play this card.

17 Don’t Be Afraid To Reverse Out Of Decisions

via Mental Floss

Although salespeople tend to control the buying experience, buyers are the ones in charge. That should empower buyers to reverse on any decisions they've made until both parties agree on a final price. If a salesperson corners a buyer into their financing, there's nothing wrong with backing out of it.

According to Autoblog, it's even acceptable for a buyer to say they're interested in a dealer's financing early on, only to change their mind at a later point.

Until both sides come to an understanding, a buyer has the freedom to back out of anything that makes them uncomfortable.

16 Steer Clear Of Conversations That Involve Financing

via car.com

When talking to a salesperson about buying a new car, there are a few topics to avoid. One of them is how buyers will finance the car. According to The Washington Post, car dealers don't make money from car sales. Many times, their profits come from finance. The more expensive the car is, the more consumers will pay in monthly payments.

A salesperson will usually get a small percentage paid based on the finance consumers to end up paying in the end. A salesperson will want to focus on financing because that's what he or she is going to make, but it's not what buyers should gravitate towards.

15 Know Reasons For Buying A Car

via The Daily Mail

Hopefully, those considering a car purchase actually need a car in the first place. It's important that they ask themselves why they're getting the vehicle in the first place? If it's because of a friend or family member who got one, or an ad on TV, then they might be buying one for the wrong reasons.

Money Crashers reports, getting a car on a whim can lead to undesired results. It can even set someone up for failure as far as negotiating goes.

Buyers should make sure that they explore their motives for getting the car in the first place before heading to a dealer.

14 Look Interested In Everything

via GOBankingRates

Car buyers have to be willing to play a game when they bargain for a lower rate. Although buyers often go in with a dream car in mind, it's best for buyers to go in looking like they have an open mind. That way it's harder for a salesperson to gauge and predict a customer's motives.

According to The Boston Globe, taking an unpredictable approach has benefits. For one, it forces the salesperson to pursue a buyer instead of the other way around. If a salesperson gets up to speak with a boss, a buyer should feel free to do the same and peruse other cars. Behavior a salesperson doesn't expect helps a buyer's chances of getting what they want.

13 Don’t Fall For What The Dealer Always Says

via Imgur

Dealers are going to tell little lies if it means corning buyers into making certain decisions.

As Business Insider points out, certain details about the car may become exaggerations or outright lies. Even if a salesperson says a particular deal is only good for that day, chances are they're stretching the truth.

At the end of the day, they want to get cars off their lot. It's in the buyer's interest then to take all of what they say lightly. If buyers fall for everything a salesperson says, then there won't be enough wiggle room to negotiate.

12 Offer To Sign At The Desired Price

via videoblocks

For those who don't like negotiating may find this next tactic appealing. In order for this to work, buyers must know not only what kind of car they want, but at what idea price. This, of course, will require that buyer to do some research beforehand. Once buyers reach the dealership, there's only one simple thing to do.

Instead of negotiating their way to a lower price tag, Forbes suggests buyers tell dealers what they want and for how much. It's as simple as making an offer, leaving one's contact information and walking out the door. If the price isn't too outlandish, it can pique a salesperson's interest.

11 Take Advantage Of Deals Around Holidays

via Memorial Day Car Sales

It sounds like a no-brainer, but buyers should go to dealerships around three major holidays: Memorial Day, Labor Day and Fourth of July.

According to CNN, this is when dealerships are going to do whatever it takes to get buyers to shake their hand and walk out the door with a new car. Though it doesn't mean buyers won't need to negotiate.

If anything, holidays allow buyers a lower price to work with as a starting point. They should still take advantage though of all they can by talking a salesperson down even lower than the initial asking price.

10 Don’t Reveal The Payment Method Until A Deal Is Agreed On

via JooJoobs

Like other items throughout this list, there are some things that are better left for the end to bring up. Until the salesperson and buyer agree on a price, it's best not to mention the payment method.

For example, as Autoblog reports, paying any part in cash is not going to help a buyer's efforts in bringing the price down. A dealer will be less willing to budge on the cost if he or she knows a buyer is paying in cash. After all, paying in cash takes away from the overall monthly payment amounts and lowers how much a salesperson makes in the end.

9 Play Nice

via Star Tribune

Some buyers are so focused on playing hardball they forget to treat dealers with respect. At the end of the day, in spite of how uncomfortable and tense car buying can be, both parties should be as civil as possible.

As Forbes recommends, it's best for buyers to be polite, even if they threaten to leave suddenly.

Just because a buyer takes actions that may rub a salesperson the wrong way doesn't mean they have to do it in an antagonistic way. It's always best for buyers to stay calm and take a diplomatic approach with dealers. This makes for a more pleasant car buying experience and improves one's chances of getting a better deal.

8 Negotiate Over The Phone Or Email

via AIM Corporate Solutions

Here are two ways most people don't usually consider buying a new car: over the phone or online.

There are pros and cons to going this route. One disadvantage is not being able to see and interact with the car itself. Though if buyers do get a chance to test drive it, as The Boston Globe reports, then it frees them up to negotiate over the phone or email.

Buyers can employ most of the same negotiation tactics one would use in a dealership that they would over the phone. As long as buyers are polite remotely, their chances are just as strong of obtaining a car for a good price.

7 Look Dissatisfied With Their Offers

via Motor Trend

Emotions play a huge part in one's ability to get a lower price on the car they want, even if it’s for pretend. The Washington Post points out, it's beneficial to express dissatisfaction with a salesperson's offer.

If they say a lower price that still isn't within the range a buyer wants, it's best to look unimpressed. That will, in turn, push the salesperson to go even lower. Even if it's within the range a buyer could hope for, they should still show visible signs of disagreement to get the car at an even lower cost.

6 Don’t Be Afraid To Walk Out

via Edmunds

Buyers can't be afraid to get up and walk out at any given time during a car sale. That's usually what it takes to get the salesperson to go even lower for a buyer's benefit.

According to The Washington Post, upon leaving, buyers can cite the price being too high and not where they want it at. It also helps if the buyer says they have little time and a scheduled appointment later on that day. By making the meeting with a salesperson time-sensitive, it puts more pressure on the dealer to reach a deal than it does on the buyer.

5 Talk To The Salesperson’s Boss

via Shocktane

More than likely, at some point in a conversation, a salesperson will want to speak with his or her manager. It's an age-old tactic used by dealers to buy time and evaluate their strategy. According to News.com.au, this "higher authority" tactic is a tactic not only used in car buying but sales as a whole. There may even reach a point where the sales manager speaks to buyers personally.

It's important for buyers not to worry in this position. Not only is it common, but a step in the right direction. A manager is going to usually come down lower than a salesperson can anyways, so buyers are on the right track when this happens.

4 Resist the Urge To Say Yes

via CBT News

Buyers shouldn't be afraid to say no. In the end, it's better to put off buying a new car than it is to settle for a poor deal. It's not always a straightforward process. Many times, it can take several days or longer to secure a deal that's feasible. A buyer should resist the urge to say yes until they exhaust every option.

As Forbes points out, buyers should reach out to dealers as a follow up until they get the price they want.

There's nothing wrong with engaging several dealers at a time either. A salesperson will value a buyer's interest even if they say no multiple times.

3 Take A Test Drive

via Ford Lincoln of Cookeville

If someone plans on buying a car, they should set aside a good chunk of the day. They could end up being at a dealer for a long time. Sometimes it's necessary to stretch out a visit in order for buyers to get the ideal price and car that they want. One strategy that often works is showing up with only an interest in getting a test drive, nothing more.

According to Bank Rate, a buyer can even go for a test drive but come back the next day to hash out all the talk about pricing.

It's an effective way of showing interest while dragging out the process.

2 Don’t Forget About A Dealer’s Other Fees

via JD Power

Consumers often experience frustration whenever they encounter hidden fees. Tacked on at the very end before paying for an item, they can radically change the total cost in the end. It's the same for car dealers who find all kinds of extra fees to add on to the final bill.

According to Consumer Reports, some of these can include a title and registration fee, documentation fee and the state tax. Some of these can add a few hundred dollars more to the cost of the car. Be sure to find out what fees are avoidable or not before going into a dealership.

1 Breathe and Relax

via LifeXToday

Above all, buyers have to find a way to remain calm and collected throughout the car purchase. Otherwise, they may find themselves stressing out and overthinking it. As Autoblog notes, it's best to take a relaxed approach when entering a dealership. Although there's pressure and anxiety involved with negotiating the lowest rate possible, it's impossible to do when stressed.

When buyers go in relaxed, they have a sense of poise that will help them in the long run. While nothing will prepare car buyers 100% for the experience, having a carefree approach will set the stage for a pleasant car buying experience.

Sources: The Washington Post, Forbes, Business Insider, The Boston Globe, News.com.au

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