Email a number of dealers to ask for their best “drive away” price for a “buyer’s purchase order” for a new car or a “bookout sheet” for used cars. If they tell you that you need to come in, tell them that you will but only if they give you a good price in writing.
Even if you think that you’ve found the one, you can save money by comparing the price for similar vehicles offered by other dealers. If a dealership doesn’t respond to your email, take your business elsewhere.
2. Keep Your Trade-In to Yourself
Dealers like to move money around to confuse car buyers about how much they’re really getting in the deal. If you tell them that you want to trade your car up front, you’re opening the door to a shell game. The salesperson will focus on what you want for your trade and might artificially inflate the “trade allowance” to get you to say yes. This will leave you with no room to negotiate on the price of a new car. Furthermore, the salesperson might ask to appraise your trade, taking your keys and literally holding your car hostage until you agree to a deal.
Salespeople spend their days selling, so it’s highly likely that you won’t be as good at getting them to give you a good deal as they are at getting you to buy. So focus on what you can do: Force dealers to compete against each other by sending you their best offers.
4. Talk Sale price before Mentioning Leasing
If you tell the dealer that you’re thinking about leasing, you might as well tell them that you want to pay for the vehicle monthly. If you do this, the salesperson will focus on the lease terms to get you to the monthly payment you want instead of negotiating the price of the car. Negotiate the price of the car first, then negotiate the lease terms.
If possible, you should wait until the end of the summer. With the holidays fast approaching, dealerships need to make room for new vehicles, so they lower prices on older models accordingly. You can also expect more competitive financing offers like 0% interest for qualified buyers. Such deals will trickle throughout the following months, so keep an eye out for great discounts through October to December.
6. Or Wait Until the End of the Month
Most dealers need to meet monthly sales quotas, so they might be willing to give you a better deal if you shop at the end of the month. Furthermore, you’ll also get more personalized attention if you shop on weekdays when they aren’t as many other shoppers in the store.
Shop around at a number of dealerships, whether it’s the same brand or a totally different one. This will allow you to look at different cars and check out their different offers. You can also have your car appraised at different dealerships to see who offers you the best deal for your trade-in.
8. Beware of Extended Warranties
Dealers purchase these from the manufacturer and then increase the price when they’re selling the car to you. Anything over $300 is money in their pocket. Negotiate their price or buy straight from the manufacturer as well.
A common trick that dealers use to try to charge a higher selling price is to negotiate based on payment rather than price. First, the payment is the primary budgetary concern for most buyers, so it’s normally simple to shift the buyer’s focus to it. Raising the monthly payment by just $20 typically raises the purchase price by about $1,000.
10. Don’t Go Alone
If you’re buying a car from an online marketplace, make sure to meet the seller in a public place and bring along a friend or family member to always be safe.