Life Hacks Say Insights Life Hacks Current Page

9 Genius Negotiation Tips for Buying a Car

2019 04 08 blog woman getting handed car keys at dealership

By Madeline Klein on April 12, 2019 in Life Hacks

If you’re a master negotiator, kudos to you. Honestly, we’re jealous of your skills. Please teach us your ways.

In the meantime, for everyone else out there who may struggle with their negotiation skills when it comes to car buying, we’ve learned some tips and tricks from The Washington Post. Try pulling these bad boys out on your next trip to the car dealership.

1. Shop at the right time

Sometimes you need to get a new car ASAP. That can’t be avoided, and you’ve gotta do what you gotta do. However, if you have time to really shop around, make sure you’re going to the dealership at the best time to buy a car. Some good times are:

  • Holidays
  • At the end of the month
  • At the end of the year

During these times there are usually sales, or it corresponds with quarterly and yearly goals that salespeople have set. They’ll probably be more likely to work with you on a price during those times.

2. Look into outside financing

It’s not just about car sales for most car dealers. Financing is a huge source of money for them as well, so they’re going to try to sell you on their financing options, even if they aren’t the best deal out there.

Do some research before you hit the dealership and see what financing options you have. Call around and do some recon on what banks and credit unions around you are offering before you go to the dealership. That way you can see what the dealership is offering, but know what your options are and can make the best decision for your needs.

3. Know your worth

Again, some research before you hit the pavement can save you some cash. Look into your favorite car models and how much they should be going for. Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book both have helpful information on what market value is for most makes and models. This is especially important if you’re buying a used car. Ideally, you’d pay less than the average for your area.

4. Look at the price as a whole

Car salespeople will often look at the price in months, rather than the price as a whole. The monthly payment may seem completely do-able at the time until you realize that $300 monthly payment is actually for six years instead of four like you thought. That’s $7,200 extra dollars you didn’t realize you’d be spending, and that’s very uncool. So make sure you’re on the same page while crunching numbers.

5. Less is more

What we mean is that speaking less is always better. Don’t start chatting to fill up the silence. Be calm and let the salesperson start talking numbers first. The opening number sets the stage for the whole negotiation. Once you’ve said a number, you can’t really go lower than that, so you want the salesperson to play their cards first.

Along those same lines, once you’ve said the price you want, embrace the silence. Let them be the ones to fill the silence because they’ll likely make some compromises to figure out something that works for both of you.

6. Ask for extras

If you’re having trouble getting to the price you really want, try asking for some of those upgrades you’ve been dying for. Things like a better warranty or a nicer stereo can be bargaining chips for the dealership to help sweeten your deal. Sometimes free oil changes at the dealership for a year are possible too.

7. Be ready to walk

If you’re not getting the deal you really wanted or can afford, be prepared to walk out. Sure, that shiny red truck is really beautiful, but if it’s way more than you can afford and the salesperson isn’t budging, the pain of paying it off month after month may not be worth it.

If it gets to walking time, let the salesperson know that you simply can’t do what they’re offering, and tell them you’re going to shop around with other dealerships. When they know they have to compete with others or that they may lose your sale, they’ll often change their tune and make some concessions. And if they don’t, you’ll feel good about not being locked into a payment you aren’t comfortable with anyway.

8. Don’t mention your trade-in until the end

Leaving out this important info can help you figure out the true price for the car you’re buying. And once you’ve bartered to a spot you’re comfortable with, you can then get even lower when you reveal you have a trade-in to help cover some of that cost. The trade-in adds a whole new element to the transaction, so make sure you know how to get the best price for your trade-in too.

Become a negotiation master

Not everyone was made to be a negotiator. But with these pretty simple tips, you can hopefully get the car of your dreams for the price of your wallet’s dreams. And if you’re really not getting the deal you need, there’s always the option to lease a car instead of buying one. No matter what you do, make sure you’re comfortable with what you’re paying every month.

Madeline Klein is Say's Digital Content Producer. She graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism, emphasis in Strategic Communication. Her experience is in writing and digital media. Madeline loves using her creativity to write and design new and exciting pieces of work for Say!