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How Should I Deal With A Used Car Salesman? How Do I Get The Best Price Possible?

Updated on January 13, 2013


Getting the best deal possible from a car salesman. There are numerous tricks, techniques, and secrets that are available. Learning the best way to deal with a sales representatives is the discussion in this series of articles.

With seventeen years experience in all aspects of the automobile industry the author is going to reveal things the dealer never wants you to know! This information is mutually beneficial to both the customer and the dealer. The dealer acquires sales easily (a well educated consumer actually makes the buying process easier), and the consumer does not pay anymore than they have to pay. Of course, the dealer will not make as much profit, which is why they do not want you to know these things. They want the customer to remain naive and vulnerable. But are they in for a surprise when you walk in knowing exactly what to expect.

So with that in mind, do not be afraid to haggle. Do not be persuaded to instantly stop your shopping research because of an overly enthusiastic sales force. Become knowledgable of the going market prices for whichever make or model you are considering buying. know what your current vehicle is worth for a trade-in. Above all else, be aware of the level of your own credit worthiness. The easiest way a dealer takes advantage of their customers is in the area of the financial aspects of the transaction. Making all the profit on the loan is a more simple way to deceive a customer.

A reliable vehicle is a neccesity in today's society.

Buying a new car can be an overwhelming experience.  Learn the best methods to deal with a car dealer.
Buying a new car can be an overwhelming experience. Learn the best methods to deal with a car dealer. | Source

Picking Out Your Vehicle

This article begins where we left off in the last installment. In the last article we discussed arriving at the dealership and being introduced to the staff. The process the dealer takes the customer through in order to qualify them for financing.

What Should I Do When I Shop For A New Car? How Can I Get The Best Deal Possible? What About The Salesman!

Once the qualification process is done the next step is deciding on a vehicle. With the number of makes, models, and trim levels available, this is the most important decision you need to make. The decision is yours, if you are not absolutely certain of your decision, do not hesitate to walk away.

"I know the perfect vehicle for you!!"

As if a person you met only moments ago would have any inclination as to your wants and needs. What he/she is actually telling you is:

"Let me show you the vehicles that I can make the highest commission"

There are many reasons that a dealer will pay the salesman a higher commission:

1. The vehicle has been in inventory for a long time and the dealership is offering a "spiff" which is a flat commission no matter what price the dealership takes for the vehicle.

Example: $500 to anyone who sells the 1994 Plymouth Acclaim.

Know what you need!

Do not be manipulated by a sales representative!
Do not be manipulated by a sales representative! | Source

2. The vehicle was taken in trade for an amount much lower than the actual value. The previous customer was either unaware of the value of their trade or they were deceived at the time of sale.

example: Grandma trades in her 1998 Taurus and the dealer takes $1000 off the price of the vehicle she is buying and they tell her she is getting the $1000 for her car. If she did not trade the old vehicle she could have bought her new vehicle for the same price.

This means that whatever the trade sells for is all profit minus whatever repairs and body work needed to be done to the car to get it ready for sale. This does not mean the vehicle is not purchase worthy, it is just something you should be aware of.

3. Due to your credit score or amount of money you owe on your current vehicle you might need to be in a certain vehicle to qualify for financing. The newer the vehicle and the lower the mileage the easier it is to acquire financing. When the balance on your current vehicle is higher than the actual value of the car, you either need to cover the difference in cash or roll it on to the principal of your next automobile. The dealer may tell you that you are "upside down" . In order for this to work the value of the vehicle you are purchasing must exceed the amount you can buy it for in an equal or greater amount than you are upside down.

In other words:

"You owe more money on your trade than your trade is worth."

If either of these scenarios applies to you then you might have to consider the vehicles that your salesman suggests.

"I can probably get you approved for financing on this one"

Sometimes, you need to have patience with a dealer. Many customers have the financing aspect of the purchase as their greatest obstacle. This does not leave the customer with many choices, the bank actually makes the decision. Finding an empathetic sales person will make this ordeal a little easier.

Do not be manipulated by the dealer.

Find out the average market price for any vehicle you are considering purchasing!
Find out the average market price for any vehicle you are considering purchasing! | Source

Where did the vehicle come from?

How the dealer came to gain possession of the vehicle is something they are required by law to reveal. Whether the vehicle was a former leased vehicle, a former daily rental (both considered program vehicles), or was the vehicle previously registered to an individual? Was the vehicle a trade in at the dealer towards another vehicle, or did the dealer purchase the vehicle at auction?

There are pros and cons to each of these vehicle types.

  • A trade in may have been dealer serviced and maintained. Or, it may have never seen a service department, not even to have the oil changed. A private owner is under no obligation to service their vehicle outside of the terms in their factory warranty.

  • A former leased vehicle does have written on to the contract that the automobile must be serviced upon the factory schedule in order to be considered available for reacquisition by the leasing company. People also tend to take better care of leased vehicles because they know they are going to be thoroughly inspected at the end of the lease. A big con is that many people will hold off performing repairs on vehicles that are going to have their lease terminated in the near future.

  • A former daily rental will often have miles which leave the vehicle under a factory warranty. They are maintained, cleaned, and repaired consistently. The disadvantage is that there are some that will abuse their rental vehicles. Although under warranty, some of this abuse will not lead to major repairs until much later in the vehicles road worthiness.

What do you really need?

Although a luxurious vehicle may be desired.  Reliability and affordability is perhaps of more concern.
Although a luxurious vehicle may be desired. Reliability and affordability is perhaps of more concern.

Know what you want, and what you need.

This should be determined well before your shopping begins. There is a drastic difference between what you want in a vehicle and what you actually need. Understand the difference, and be willing to compromise, be sure to be happy with both the vehicles options and its functionality.

NEEDS: You need an automatic, you need a two door etc... You should know if you want a 5-speed sports car, a luxury sedan, or a big beefy truck. Needs are the things that you will not do without in your next vehicle.

WANTS: You want a leather interior, you want a sunroof, CD player etc... These are the things you would like to have but it is not a deal breaker if your next vehicle does not have these options.

Before committing to an automobile!

Through self reflection, you should decide beforehand what your new car needs to definitely have for equipment. This will save you time and aggravation when shopping with car dealers. a great resource to use is the availability of online resources. Gazing at a dealers inventory prior to visiting will allow you to be more focused.

This gives you the opportunity to review the inventory of multiple stores from the comfort of your home. This will help you narrow your decisions to a few makes and models. You can also see the configurations of goodies available (sunroofs, leather). You can also determine if travelling to a remote dealer would be in your best interest. Perhaps a dealer several miles away has exactly what you desire.

Design a gameplan before leaving the comfort of your home. Know what equipment your new car must come equipped with in order for you to be satisfied. When it comes right down to it, if you are not content with your purchase, the price means nothing!

Understand the terms of financing prior to dealing with a salesman.

Contact your own financial institution to attempt to gain an approval for a loan before you begin shopping. This gives you a major advantage in your negotiations with the dealer. You will be able to compare the term, interest, and acquisition fees offered by the dealer with the terms offered by your own bank.

A general reference to be used to determine a monthly payment is around $20.00to $25.00 for every thousand dollars financed for a sixty month term. Thus, a $10,000 vehicle will have a 60 month payment of between $200.00 and $250.00 dollars. If you seek a monthly payment of $250.00, you will know to look at cars between $10-$13 thousand dollars financed. This does not include any down payment you are prepared to make.

Your the BOSS!

How to maintain control.

No matter how persuasive of a salesperson you have met, do not lose control of the purchasing process. Sales reps are trained to gain control and have you driving home in a new car before you realized what has transpired. A trick that is often used is to get the customer to obey questions without question. Statements such as "follow me", "sit down", "touch the fabric", etc, are all psychological tools to manipulate a customer. Asking questions that is sure to receive a positive response is another technique. "The car sure is pretty", "it gives a good ride", "could you see yourself driving this car", is another method used to influence buying prospects.

Being aware of the attempted manipulation negates the effects. You can smile, knowing that the dealer is trying to coerce you, remaining polite, but being conscious of their actions. If you ever fell uncomfortable, you can also play your own mind games to regain control. Leave, Leave, Leave, the greatest threat you could pose to a car dealer is to go somewhere else, once you are gone, there is no hope of an immediate sale.

Though they may get you back over the telephone, it will be on your terms, not theirs. Even if the car you are looking at is perfect for you, if you are not prepared to walk away, you are vulnerable. When making purchases, use your head, think, do not buy based on emotions. You will regret the terms of the transaction. Do not be afraid to request an additional test drive without a dealer representative. When on such a ride, go to the competition, have no fear of doing a side by side comparison between competing dealers inventory. Bring the car to a mechanic,a body shop, anything that will make you secure in the vehicles quality. Do not dwell on what the dealer will think, if they do not like it, do not buy from them at all. They have already proven their reluctance to satisfy the needs of their customers.

You can leave anytime you want!

It is always your decision.

Car dealers are motivated to conclude a transaction immediately, this is known as a "spot delivery". They will wear you down over hours of negotiations. They have the advantage. The dealer is able to switch their negotiators. There always seems to be a never ending supply of decision makers on the part of the dealer. The customer on the other hand gets tired, hungry, and eager to go home. Many times with the vehicle they are discussing. If you are satisfied that you have achieved the best mutually beneficial deal that you can receive, make the purchase. Otherwise, take your time to ponder the decision. It is a major decision and should not be entered in to lightly.

Perhaps you should visit other dealers, maybe drive more cars. If you are looking at a used car, each one is unique. Even if it is the same exact make and model, every used cars have their own characteristics. Be prepared to always drive a car before you buy it. Never purchase any vehicle without driving, if it is used, you should have a mechanic that you trust give the vehicle a look as well.

One approach you could take if you definitely want the car, but are not sure if the price is fair or the loan terms are in your best interest. Offer to leave a small binder (deposit) to hold the car for a few hours, perhaps a day. (Always get a receipt) Use the excuse of wanting to gain the opinion of another. A mechanic, a neighbor, anyone to stall the sales process for a little while. Give yourself time to think or actually get the opinion of others. Shop other dealers, anything that will result in you being perfectly content with your new car purchase.

Hopefully, you have gained some information from this. If you have, please share with your friends, family, and social media associates.

Another little reminder:

Verbal contracts are non binding in a court of law if you are promised anything by the dealership get it in writing.

Good luck and good shopping. Go get "em!


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    • chloesdad profile image

      Jeff M 

      7 years ago from Newington NH

      I too am a former car salesman and I really liked your page!

    • Arthur Fontes profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Fontes 

      11 years ago from Fall River,MA

      ehern33 Thank you, I have enjoyed many of your hubs as well.

    • ehern33 profile image


      11 years ago

      So far very good pointers, enjoying your series.


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