Not everyone enjoys haggling, but for the best possible price on a car, it’s often a necessity. So how do you negotiate the best price for a car without getting fleeced?
To start with, don’t worry about the salesperson’s feelings. That may sound a little harsh, but stop and consider that haggling with you is their job. They’re supposed to negotiate a price with you, and you give them something of an advantage by being concerned about whether or not they’ll like you. Don’t worry about that: This is a business transaction, not a cocktail party.
Secondly, secure your financing before you ever set foot on the lot. The auto industry has spent decades and millions of dollars making customers think that buying a car and getting a car loan have to happen on the same day, but they don’t. You can, and should, research what you can afford, contact lenders for quotes, and get the best possible deal that fits your budget. Remember, the price you pay for the loan is your interest rate, so the lower that is, the better.
This not only cuts out a lot of the negotiation in the first place, it also limits some of the craftier dealer tactics they can use to raise the price, and puts you on a more even playing field. If the salesperson knows all they have to do is come to a reasonable agreement, and that they’re not negotiating a car loan with you, it will cut negotiation time and allow you to focus on the car.
Third, never step on a car lot without knowing exactly what you want. As you’re looking at financing, you’ve probably got a sense of the overall vehicle you need, so you probably know the sticker price of the car you need. Focus on that. If you know exactly what you want, it will limit negotiation … and attempts to get you to buy another car.
Fourth, don’t discuss finances. The salesperson doesn’t need to know how much financing you have, just that you have financing. He doesn’t need to know your monthly budget, either. If you’ve got the papers to pay for the car, that should be the end of any sort of discussion. If they ask, simply note you can afford the car you’re discussing, and keep working on the price.
Finally, keep an eye out for little quirks of the process. If you’ve got a trade-in, have its value independently assessed before you bring it in. Any cash back, you should agree should be applied to the final price, not the sticker price of the car. And don’t hesitate to ask for itemized bills and ask why you’re being charged for what; the dealership really can’t help you on state taxes, but anything being done to the car, like “rustproofing,” is optional.
And if it comes down to it, and you still hate haggling? Look for a no-haggle dealership. With financing in hand and a no-haggle agreement, you’ll likely get a good deal on a car.