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Tips For Negotiating The Best Price When Buying a New Car

Updated on January 30, 2011

Buying a car is a big event in a person's life. It is one of the biggest purchases you will likely make besides a house. You have the opportunity to save (or lose) a pretty large chunk of money in the process, so you need to be very careful. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of things you can do before you ever walk into a car dealership to make the process much easier.

  1. Save money. Ideally you will save enough to buy the car outright, but at the very least you need to have a large chunk of money to put down on the vehicle. If the dealership knows you will be handing over a lot of cash they are more likely to work with you. There is less risk involved than if you have no down payment at all.
  2. Do research ahead of time. Long before we needed a new car we knew exactly what type of car, and most of the features, that we wanted. We knew we needed a mini-van. We talked to many people that owned the two different brands we were contemplating. We read consumer reports, we learned about the prices and features of both. When it came time when we needed a new car, we knew exactly what we wanted. You should too.
  3. If you are considering more than one vehicle, test drive them all and then walk away. Do not get sucked into buying the first vehicle you drive. All new cars have that new car smell and any dealership can make even the worst of cars look great temporarily. Test drive each one and then go home and sleep on it and do more research.
  4. Once you know what you want, start looking around at every dealership that carries this car. You can do a search here to determine all the dealerships within several hundred miles of you that have the car you want. Pick out the top ten dealerships that have the type of car you are looking for and write down their information.
  5. Decide on the dollar amount you want to spend on a new car. This might seem backwards, as usually it seems the dealership decides that for you, but you need to be in control of this. Figure out the maximum you will spend for the car and features you want.
  6. Towards the end of the month (when the dealerships are feeling pressure to get sales completed) email all ten dealerships that have the car you want in stock. Explain to them what car you are interested in and the exact features that you must have (i.e. color, seating arrangements, etc) and that you are only willing to pay $xx,xxx amount and are they willing to work with you.
  7. Those dealerships that email you back will probably want you to call them, but I would stick with email. They will want more specifics like how much money you will be putting down, if you will be financing any of it, and when you will be buying. Pick a day that works for you and the dealership that seems the most honest. To me this was pretty easy. We got a very good feel for the dealerships just from their one email back to us how willing they were to get us what we wanted versus just wanting us to come in and talk about it so they could pressure us into more. Make sure they have exactly the car you want, not something close to it. Also make sure they agree on your price before you ever walk in the door.
  8. Call the day you are going in to make sure the car is still available. Print copies of your email negotiations where you agree on the price and bring them with you. At this point it should be fairly easy. Test drive the car, shake hands on the agreed upon price and the paperwork will begin.

Doing your research ahead of time and setting the price (you decided it, not them!) ahead of time will make the car buying experience much more enjoyable, easier and less stressful. When we bought our last car like this it was the only time I felt like we didn't get ripped off in the process. When you do your homework and handle the negotiations your way, then you stay in control of the process and that is usually very hard to do when it comes to negotiating with car salesmen. Good luck!


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    • profile image

      eCarsBay 6 years ago

      Very useful artilce

      Thanks so much!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Very good advice, thank you.

    • The Pink Panther profile image

      The Pink Panther 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Some excellent tips here. Those car salesmen can be pretty tough to budge sometimes!

      Great hub!