It’s exciting to get a new car, but the purchase process itself can be stressful. To get the best deal, you’ll need to have strong negotiation skills, otherwise you could end up paying thousands more.
Beating car salespeople at their own game isn’t easy since they negotiate all the time, but if you prepare properly, it makes a huge difference. Here are the six most important tips for negotiating a car deal.
1. Do Your Homework
Being an effective negotiator starts before you even set foot in a dealership. To get a good deal on a car, you need to research that car. Check that car’s value in an online guide to see how much it’s worth. You should also look for the dealer cost on a car to know how much the dealership paid for that vehicle you want to buy. That way, you can negotiate up from there instead of down from the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).
2. Contact Dealerships Online for Price Quotes
One nice thing about the internet is that it gives you the opportunity to request quotes from dealerships without visiting them in person or even talking to anyone on the phone. Just end emails to dealerships close enough to visit and ask for price quotes on the car you want. You can even try going back and forth with dealerships online to see if they’re willing to beat each other’s offers.
3. Negotiate Each Element of the Purchase Separately
A common car salesperson tactic is to try and negotiate everything at the same time, including the purchase price of the car, any incentives, and the value of a trade-in. If you let them do this, it will always work out in the dealership’s favor. Don’t even bring up your trade-in (if you have one) or any incentives until after you and the salesperson have agreed on a purchase price. Then you can start negotiating other elements to make sure you get a fair deal on everything.
4. Plan Your Offers
You don’t need to figure out your negotiation strategy on the fly, and it’s much better if you have a plan before you go in. Based on the research you did earlier, decide what your first offer will be. Don’t be afraid to go low here. The salesperson isn’t going to get insulted – after all, they still want to sell you the car. Throwing out a low offer gives you more room to negotiate whereas going with a higher offer means you either need to dig in your heels there or go up more than you may like.
5. Prioritize the Total Price Over the Monthly Payment
Another common trick that car salespeople will use to get you to pay more money is focusing on the monthly payment. It’s easy for them to adjust the monthly payment without getting you a better deal, and in fact, a lower monthly payment often means a worse deal for you in the long term. You’ll end up with a longer loan and pay more interest as a result. It’s important to have a monthly payment you can afford but figure out the purchase price first.
6. Be Willing to Walk Away
This is the ultimate negotiation tactic on your part, and it requires you to check any emotion at the door. If you’ve given your best offer and the salesperson won’t bite, or you just don’t like the salesperson, leave. Trust your instincts here. You could have better luck at another dealership or just returning to that dealership on another day and speaking with a new salesperson. Never feel like you need to make a deal that day, because when you’re desperate, you can’t negotiate as well.
Car salespeople may be professionals at negotiation, but you can balance things out with research and knowledge of the common sales tactics they’ll use. Stay calm throughout the process, stick to your guns and you’ll score a price you’re happy with next time you buy a car.