This is a compilation of great tips people have submitted to us on how to get a better price when buying a car. While we’ve only had 3 good submissions so far, there has already been some very useful, actionable advice, and I strongly recommend having a read through the submissions below.
Also, if you have a tip for negotiation when buying a car that hasn’t been listed so far, please make a submission here and we’ll add it to this article.
In another life, I actually sold cars, so this advice is coming from my inside knowledge, which I've put into practice for myself over the years.
I recommend staging your car buying. Do the research to figure out which make and model you want — including all your test driving — before you start negotiating. Make them separate trips.
Once you've decided, refine your research on price. Know the MSRP, but also look around and see what you can find on what other people are paying for the same make, model, year, and features. The MSRP is padded for profit for the dealer, but the dealer can still make a profit if you're paying less than MSRP — especially with manufacturer rebates, and other incentives.
Shop at the end of the month — during the last few days if possible. There is an advantage to shopping when the dealer is most motivated to sell, and the end of the month is one such motivation.
Find the dealer/lot with the most cars meeting your needs. The more supply they have, the more motivated they'll be to sell, and the more room you'll have to negotiate.
Look to see which car meeting your needs has been on the lot the longest. If the information isn't freely available on the dealer's website, it's worth asking your salesperson. Another motivation for a dealer to sell a car is how long it's been in inventory.
It also doesn't hurt to ask your salesperson if any of the cars that meet your needs will yield a bonus for the salesperson. The salesperson might make extra commission for selling the car, but the reason is because the dealer is motivated to sell that particular vehicle.
When negotiating the price, do not negotiate on payments. Instead, negotiate in out the door terms, meaning the total price including taxes, titles, etc. If you're not bringing your own financing to the table, don't negotiate the financing until AFTER you negotiate the price of the car. When you negotiate on payments, you end up paying more, as they can add payments to the term of the loan to make more money on the sale.
If you plan to buy any extended warranties or other things from the dealer, remember that will be added on AFTER the negotiation for the price of the car, even when negotiating out the door. Keep in mind that everything discussed in the back with the finance person is also negotiable. The prices of warranties are not static, you can negotiate those down, too.
If you've done your research and you're negotiating a price that includes a bit of profit for the dealer, don't be afraid to walk away from the table — no matter how long or which stage you are in the buying process. This means you can't fall in love with the car you're trying to buy.
And finally, one of the most overlooked ways to negotiate a better price for your car comes AFTER you've purchased it. It's refinancing your vehicle with better loan terms when they're available. Pay attention to the market, and make sure you're paying interest rates commensurate with your credit score. If your credit score improves, or the interest rates drop, refinance. This can save you a great deal of money, and make sure you're paying the least over time for your vehicle.
--Tonya Aiossa, Entreprising.com
The most cunning way to get the best deal on a car is to play the salesman at their own game and use your allies to pressurise them into lowering the price.
When looking at the car use another company as a benchmark to drive the price down on your car. However, most salesman are used to this trick, so what you need to do is get a mate to call you and put him/her on loudspeaker.
The caveat being you've already text them the price you're looking for and they will call saying they've seen the same car for sale at X price, X price being the deal you're looking for. Most dealers, when they see you about to leave, will accede to your price, because a cheap sale is better than no sale; and they'd never sell for less than a profit, so you needn't worry about the business losing money. Just don't be too drastic with your offered price.
--Michael Lowe, Car Passionate
I sold cars while saving up for college and I have bought a couple of vehicles myself, so here are the best tips for car buyers to get a better price AND some extra goodies as well.
Buy on the last day of the month: You should buy either on the last day or the last weekend of the month. Dealerships get paid a BONUS from the manufacturer (Ford, Toyota, Nissan) for the VOLUME of cars sold. If a dealership/ salesman are close to reaching their goals to get a little extra income, you will be surprised at how much you can look to save off the sticker price. Remember, ALWAYS buy below sticker price.
Use TrueCar.com: Truecar tells you all the neat things about the car you’re looking to buy - the best part is that they show an average pricing for the vehicle you’re looking for. Print out the average price for your vehicle, and show it to your salesman/dealership. They will match the price right on the spot. HOWEVER, remember that you must find the exact car you’re looking to buy, the smallest of details or upgrades can fluctuate the average price of the car, so make sure that it is exact.
How To Get Some Extra Goodies: Even after doing everything I told you earlier, you still want more? Well, after your deal is negotiated and the price is what you want, say this “I’ll close on this deal if you can give me a free x.” You can ask for anything, as long as it’s reasonable. One or two free oil changes, better floor mats, or detailing can be thrown in as a goodie for you to get to finance easier and faster.
--Eugene Romberg, We Buy Houses in Bay Area