Car dealerships are brutal when it comes to actually getting a deal that isn’t a total rip-off. In fact, it’s pretty much a given that you will end up likely finding yourself getting the bad end of the bargain. In order to reduce risk of being caught in a bad deal, make sure to use these tried-and-true tactics.
- If at all possible, do not negotiate in the showroom. If you go in the showroom, you’re at a disadvantage. They will do things like stall for time to wear you down, guilt trip you, put you on the spot, and even make you question your own research. A better way to do negotiation is to do it via email, where you have *everything* they said in writing.
- Get rid of certain negotiation talks by selling your car independently, getting a car loan on your own, bringing a mechanic to help you appraise it correctly, and doing research on the current market value of a car. This makes it virtually impossible for dealerships to pull dirty tricks with financing (which they often do). This also makes it hard for them to refuse to lower the price of a car, too. Dealerships often fudge the numbers on the loans in order to get a bigger cut, so you are almost always better off getting financing elsewhere. The less power you give the dealerships to trick you with a bad appraisal, a bad loan, or a bad price on the new car, the better off you are.
- Go in knowing which car you have in mind. Do the research beforehand, otherwise you’ll be stuck with a clunker.
- When you do negotiate on price, do not let them guide your focus to monthly payments. Make them talk the full price of the car with you, and do not fall for the “what monthly payment can I get you for” question.
- Forget to turn off the oven at home. In other words, don’t let them force you to stay there. If you see them heading to the break room for more than 10 minutes, walk out the door. They are trying to stall in order to break you down, so by leaving, or pretending to leave, you make sure to let them know that you’re not going to be messed with.
- Read up on the tricks they try to snag you with, and prepare yourself to counter it. Some may tell you that a price is “only good today,” or that you have bad credit when you really don’t. If you read up on what dirty tricks dealerships pull, you will be able to combat it. Combatting it is easy enough – just call them out on it.
- Turn yourself into a smart customer. Pull up your credit score and improve it before you ask for a loan. Read up car purchase laws before you walk in a dealership. Understand that car dealerships need you more than you need them, and that you walking out is them missing a meal ticket.
- Be headstrong, and practice saying “no” before you go to a dealership. Their goal is to make you say yes to bigger and bigger requests. If they begin trying to show you how great a car you’re not interested in is, cut them off, and tell them you’re not interested.
- Read everything before you sign it. If something doesn’t sound right, it most likely was an “error” they put up just to get extra cash.
- Bring someone else to back you up – especially if you are in a “taken advantage of” demographic. Studies have shown that car dealerships are particularly predatory to women and minorities. If you fit in either category, then you should be on particular guard, and bring someone along with you to help you stand up for yourself.
Not all car dealerships are the same. Some are actually filled with halfway decent people who are genuinely upfront about the cars they sell. That doesn’t mean you should make their job easy. With a little work, you’ll be able to get a much better deal on the car you want.