How to Negotiate With Car Dealerships and Get the Best Deal

If you know a dealership’s tactics, you can better counter them and get the car you want. Start negotiations by asking the dealer for an offer based on what your research shows the vehicle is worth. Be sure to ask for the “drive-away” or “out-the-door” price, including all taxes and fees, such as registration and delivery. Also, request quotes over the phone.

Be Prepared

The negotiating process is long and often tedious. Ensure you have food and drinks nearby and are kept from being overtired. This will help you keep your cool during the negotiation and prevent you from being swayed by the salesperson. Dealerships often base their prices on the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), but demand and supply in your area can affect this. Research the MSRP and what cars like yours sell for in private-party sales to have a solid starting point. Many car dealerships claim to have no-haggle pricing, but this is simply a marketing ploy. In reality, the dealer will still have to negotiate the value of your trade-in vehicle, the cost of financing, and any add-ons you choose. If the dealership isn’t willing to meet your demands, don’t be afraid to walk away. You can always return it another day or buy the car from a different seller.

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

Keeping your end goal in mind will help you decide whether or not to walk away from a negotiation. When you think about what is most important to you, such as caring for your family or helping others, walking away from a bad deal can be more accessible. When the dealership asks for extra add-ons you don’t want, such as tire protection plans, anti-theft protection, or infotainment upgrades, tell them you will purchase these extras later. They may be willing to lower their price if you show you have other options. Knowing when to walk away from negotiations is a skill that requires practice and preparation. If you go in too hard, the dealer may see you as a pushover, and you will lose money with every counteroffer. However, if you walk away too quickly, you may miss out on the car of your dreams. It’s best to find a balance between these two extremes.

Be Informed

Buying a car is a significant investment, so coming to the negotiation table with knowledge and bargaining power is essential. These skills can help you get a better price and more manageable loan terms. Research the vehicle you’re interested in and consider taking it to a third-party mechanic for an inspection before the sale. Dealership salespeople often try to sell you additional services, such as credit insurance and gap coverage. These extras add to your overall cost but can be negotiated, like the vehicle price. Be sure to shop around for financing before visiting a dealership, as many banks and credit unions offer auto loans at much lower rates than dealerships.

Be Flexible

Dealerships often include extra fees in the contract, like registration fees and “gap insurance.” Ask for a breakdown of all costs before signing the contract. You can also request the dealership quote prices over the phone to avoid wasting time in a dealership. During the negotiation process, it’s easy to become emotional and let your feelings get in the way of getting a great deal on a car. Try to be as calm and confident as possible. This will help the dealership see you are serious and willing to avoid a bad deal. Negotiating for a better price can feel intimidating, but it’s essential to take the time to prepare beforehand. Proper knowledge, patience, and options can lead to a lower car price, better financing terms, and more manageable monthly payments. The key is to do your homework, including researching vehicles, requesting quotes, and getting preapproved for a loan before heading to the dealership.