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When Buying A Car, How Should I Negotiatge With The Dealer? Are There Any Tricks Or Secret Rules I Should Know?

Updated on December 14, 2012

Negotiating with the Dealer

You have picked out a vehicle at your local used car dealer. You have driven it and even brought it to a mechanic that you know and trust.

You ran the CarFax and it showed nothing bad. You are excited, you WANT this car, you cannot wait to show up at work with your new car. You are driving back to the dealership and you are ready to pull the trigger.

STOP !!!!!!

You are making one of the biggest mistakes a car buyer can make. You are ready to go into that dealership and make a decision based on your emotions. You are a salesman's dream.

Oh yeah they are even going to encourage you "You look great in that car" or "This is the perfect vehicle for you.

Do not fall for the phony excitement of a salesman. I am not saying he is not excited, he is, but for himself not for you. The salesman knows that once he creates the desire in you to own a particular vehicle he also knows your going to pay.

Rule 1: Do not show emotion be like the poker player, the less emotion you show. The more it seems that you could leave without purchasing the better a deal you will get.

Rule 2: You must have the strength to walk away. If you appear antsy to get out of the store you will get to the best price faster.

The salesman will try to get you as comfortable as possible. You will be offered coffee and popcorn or whatever other distraction the dealer has thought of providing. You will see shiny cars and colorful balloons oh the excitement. NOT!!! This is all part of the dealers game, when you see a flamboyant showroom think to yourself "This dealers previous customers paid for all these leather chairs, chandeliers, and mahogany furniture" because they did.

Does the salesman wear a two thousand dollar watch? Guess who paid for it. Is the manager wearing $500.00 Italian loafers and a one thousand dollar suit? that's right you're starting to get it.

If you need to be comfortable go home and get some rest if you are trying to buy a car be alert be prepared and most important be fearless. If you think someone at the dealership is not being straight forward with you call him on it and threaten to leave.

Do not be controlled during the negotiation process. Make the salesman look for you, and find you looking at other vehicles, every time the salesman gets up from the desk you should get up too. Go outside and look at other cars, any car but the one you want to buy.

When you start to finally get down to crunching numbers do not negotiate payment.

RULE 3: Never negotiate the payment or any aspect of financing until a price has been agreed upon.

If the salesman does not want to negotiate the price tell him you are paying cash with no trade (whether you have a trade or not).

RULE 4: Do not bring the trade into the deal until a price has been agreed upon.

If they are asking $20,000 for the car the salesman is going to try to get a commitment from you. They will want you to make an offer. Then they will ask for a partial down payment to present to the manager as a sign of your good faith.

The thing to do in this situation is to resort to the extreme "if you sell me this car for $10,000 I will go to the bank and get your money today."This is going to make the salesman scratch his head and eventually he is going to need to get up to discuss his "grinder " customer.

When a salesman stumbles over what to do he has the ability to call a time out. This would mean he will need to speak to the manager real quick about something. You as the customer can also call Time Out every time the salesman needs to speak to his manager you get up and go outside and look like your picking out another vehicle. When the salesman finds you outside ask to test drive another car as if your mind is not already made up.

Eventually another sales representative is going to come out of the office with your salesman. This person in the car business is known as a TO (turn over) he will be a closer and his job is to commit you to the vehicle. Hopefully you have done your research and you have a pretty good idea what would be a fair price on this vehicle you so recently fell in love with.

If you really want the vehicle make an offer for far less then you would actually be willing to pay. The dealer will always try to split the difference. This means if you offer $15000 on a $20,000 car the dealer is going to try to commit you to $17,500 that is splitting the difference.

After spending time getting your best price it would be time to present the trade if you have one.  This is an extensive subject on its own so I will have to discuss it in my next hub.

Thanks for reading my hubs check out part 1 and 2 if you have not already and as always questions or comments are welcome.



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    • WheelScene profile image


      11 months ago from U.S.A.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Arthur Fontes profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Fontes 

      6 years ago from Fall River,MA

      Samuel, I have held General Manager positions, turn over closer position, and many sales positions.

      If they do not want to negotiate, I would tell them they do not have to, the price is on the sticker.

      Kelley Blue book? Not even relevant. NADA is used by banks, insurance companies, and car dealers. Even this value is an average mean, this means half the vehicles sold for more and half sold for less. Book value is worthless IMO.

      This was written to benefit buyers. I do have some articles to aid salespeople as well. Here is one that could help you or your fellow sales staff:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Speaking as a car salesman, it sounds like you have the wrong idea about the industry. As a salesman, it is my job to find a vehicle to fit a customer. I cannot do this if I can't figure out if they like the car or not.

      Hardball sales tactics work for the consumer, but there's always a tradeoff. I have heard time and time again from my difficult customers that they are tired of negotiating with car dealers, and don't like the back and forth. These are ALWAYS people that lowball the heck out of my cars. People that think they can buy a $20,000 Focus for $15,000, when our markup is $800 between MSRP and Invoice. These people are surprised when I have to sit and negotiate and grind for two hours to make the deal happen.

      If you want it quick and easy, pay a fair price for the vehicle. Take Kelly Blue Book on our used car, and Kelly Blue Book minus necessary repairs on your trade, and MSRP on the car itself. Don't pay second stickers - those are BS - but damned if my happiest customers haven't been the people that paid asking price.

    • Arthur Fontes profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Fontes 

      8 years ago from Fall River,MA

      Thanks Eric Graudins for the comments My GSD is my best bud they are great dogs. I would enjoy reading anything that has to do with the social interactions between individuals. Robert Cialdini I will have to keep my eye out for it.

    • Eric Graudins profile image

      Eric Graudins 

      8 years ago from Australia

      Your hubs are a great insight into how the car sales business works.

      And you could probably write 20 or more hubs on all the possible twists and turns :-)

      (And you have great taste in dogs - I have a GS too.)

      I recommend that people read a thoroughly entertaining book by Robert Cialdini.

      It's called "Influence - the principles of persuasion".

      He discusses the 6 "hard wired" principles that are present in all situations where people want to get you to do something.

      Knowledge of these principles will allow you to identify and counter all of the pressure situations that have been so far presented in this series.

      And identify pretty well any situation where you are being manipulated in any way.

      If you only read one book in 2010, make it Cialdini's.


      Eric G.

    • Arthur Fontes profile imageAUTHOR

      Arthur Fontes 

      8 years ago from Fall River,MA

      I am trying to give the best advice I can and I appreciate you following. Wait until I turn the tables over and give the salesman advice on how to make more sales with bigger profit in my next series. I have about two more hubs in this series first.

    • ehern33 profile image


      8 years ago

      Good tips, emotions and doing your homework on the car you want is a plus. I have been asked to provide a check to place an offer. At that point I have said, if you need a check to take me seriously, I will go to a dealership that does and stand up and start walking away. usually they run after you. You bring out some very good points here that we all should remember in dealing with auto sales people.


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