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Get the Best Car Price
Negotiating Car Prices

car loans, auto finance
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The dealer is in the business to get you to pay the most he can get you to pay. It's your job to get the best deal. You'll need to find a good middle road and once it's met, close the deal. Figure out what you should pay before going to the dealership. Consider whether or not the car is in high demand. If demand is high, you won't be able to negotiate much. With that in mind figure out how low you can go and start there. But don't start too low or you'll look like someone who doesn't know what they're talking about.

Issues to remember:

  • Bring your information with you for reference.

  • When you meet with the salesman, you should tell them what make, model, and trimline (trimlines are usually designated as: SE, LX, si, DX, LE, and so forth) you are looking for. Be relatively precise in what you want.

  • If they mention anything about you trading in your car, or want to know other things not related to the car you want, just tell them that you first want to discuss the car you are interested in and you'll discuss the other issues later on.

  • When a salesman sees your paperwork in hand, they may attempt to discredit your figures. Don't fall for that. The salesman (or saleswoman) may not know as much about the car as you do. They are taught to sell from the MSRP (sticker price), not from the invoice price.

  • Start as reasonably low as possible to provide room for the dealer to budge you up a little higher.

  • If the salesman asks you how you got that figure (and in many cases they will ask you that), just show them the print-outs of the online sources and also your Excel spread sheet print out of you've run summarized tallies. This will help establish that you know what you are talking about.

  • Remember to have your financial calculator with you if you have one and ensure that you know how to run the various functions.

  • The salesman will likely walk away during negotiations when appropriate and say that he/she needs to talk to the financial manager. Many times they are simply leaving you for a bit to add some pressure on you to pay more. When they walk away, you can get up and walk around the show room too, perhaps checking out the other cars. This usually results in the salesman quickly getting back to you. It's usually a posturing trick by sales people.

  • When the sales person returns, they'll probably say your price is too low. At that time give them a price that you are willing to work with—a price a few hundred dollars above invoice.

  • If you get what you want, take the deal. If they will not give you the price within 2% of what you have figured you'll spend, say (in so many words) “I will see what others can do for me” and walk out. Check other dealerships.


Opt for a home equity loan instead of a regular car loan—it's tax deductible saving you more money.

If you are trading in your car, the dealing process is a bit more work. know the value of your car and what comparable cars to yours are selling for. Comparable car prices should include cars that have characteristics similar to the shape your car is in, similar in age, and similar in mileage. Again, do your homework on used car prices for your car. If your car is in disrepair, you'll get less for it. Be ready to accept less for a car in disrepair. You will not be able to sell your car to the dealership at full retail price. After all the dealership has to make something on your car when they sell it.

  • Subtract about 5% from the retail price of what your car is worth. This will give some room for the dealer to talk you down on your trade-in price. If the dealer insists on dropping the price 10% or more off of the retail cost, tell them they are not compensating you enough for it. You expect to get a reasonable wholesale payment on the car.

  • For old cars, you can expect the dealership to talk you down $500 which may not hold true to the 10% reduction especially if the car is only worth $3,000 or less.

  • If they won't give you a reasonable amount as described, either tell them that you'll sell the car yourself or walk out and find a dealership that will work with you more favorably. You could take your car to a used car lot and sell it to them provided the wholesale price is right.

Now that all the items have been covered, you are ready to close on the deal. As stated before on the summary page, you can purchase extended warrantees from 3rd party brokers at substantial savings unless the dealer is providing one at a great price. Also be sure that the warrantee the dealer is offering covers all electronics for your car. Some omit that coverage and when electronics malfunction, you end up with major costs in electrical repairs. Be sure that the 3rd party warrantee covers electronics too if you go that route.

Dealing with a high stakes issue can be nerve racking. Prepare yourself and you'll deal with it better. If you find yourself getting exasperated, tell them you need a few moments to yourself or excuse yourself to the bathroom. Collect your thoughts, take a few breathes and return. May your car buying adventures be rewarding.

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Car Buying 101 bl.textbox.rt.top.gif (112 bytes)
v Overview Checklist
v Did You Calculate the Costs?
v New or Pre-owned?
v How Much Should You Pay?
v Get the Best Car Price
v Closing the Car Purchase

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