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How To Negotiate When Buying A Car

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

How To Negotiate When Buying A Car

Mary Greenwood
October 1, 2006

I recently purchased a new vehicle when visiting my son and was able to use some of my negotiating techniques:

1.Be Prepared and Do Your Research

Being prepared is of the utmost importance. Before even going to the showroom, one should first look at the ads in the newspaper and look at car sales at Edmunds.com or a similar website. That will give you an idea what is available and the going prices. In my situation, we actually went to the lot after it was closed and looked at the cars that we liked and saw the prices. One car model had a special discount of $7000. There was also a special for zero percent financing. The next day we called and asked the receptionist about the $7000 discount. She told us that the $7000 discount did not apply if using the zero percent financing. However, she did tell us that there was a $3000 dollar discount if one used the zero percent financing. That was useful information because we knew that the $3000 discount was a given and we would have to negotiate to get a higher discount. If you are not prepared, don�t go to the showroom yet. You need to know what you want before you get there.

2.Bring A Friend and Give Him/Her A Role.

Buying a car should be a team effort. Bring a friend or relative or two. In my case, I brought my son and very pregnant daughter-in-law. We each had a role. Whatever was said my daughter-in-law was supposed to say. �Let�s go home and think it over.� Sometimes the deal that the dealer presents sounds so good that it is tempting to accept it on face value. We had agreed beforehand that no matter what the deal was, I would say that we needed some time to think it over and needed to meet in private to discuss further. Our strategy was to have a dollar amount. I did not want to pay over $25,000 for the car no matter what. This kind of negotiation can be very stressful and this is another reason why having friends or family by your side is a plus.

3.Read The Fine Print And Know What All The Costs Are.

When we met with the sales rep, he started talking gibberish about the various costs and it was hard to follow exactly what he was talking about. At that point it is important to use your own checklist and write down all the costs that are being presented and add them up. Don�t be afraid to ask what a particular cost item is. Look at the sticker price and all the features that are presented. What are the extra or hidden fees? Maybe there is some leeway. Our strategy was to have a dollar amount that I did not want to go below. I did not want to pay over $25,000 for the car. It did not matter where the discounts came from, but the bottom line or deal breaker was anything above $25,000. As it turned out, this was the last day of the month, which is usually a good time to buy a car because the dealerships are very competitive as to who has the best track record for the month and are sometimes willing to go lower to get the sale so it can be counted in this month�s sales

4. Ask for One More thing

I knew which car I wanted and knew that I would probably leave the showroom with that particular car. It was the color I wanted and had the special features that were on my wish list. However, I wanted to get the best financial deal possible. I was not planning on getting financing, but the zero financing was too good to pass up. When I was comparing the price to another smaller and cheaper car, I realized that with the financing costs of the other car, my car was actually cheaper in the long run. If the dealership absolutely says the price cannot go any lower, then see if something else can be added to the deal as a sweetener. Is there an accessory you want that could make the deal more attractive such as floor mats, or steering wheel cover? Be creative and flexible. If there are two similar cars, maybe you could switch to the better car for the price you are negotiating. Maybe you can negotiate service for the car. Your want list is only limited by your imagination.

5.Stick To Your Guns and Don�t Say Yes Right Away.

As my mother used to say, it does not hurt to ask; the worse that can happen is that they say no. If you think that they have made their final offer, stick to your guns and try one more round. In my case, I was trying to stay under $25,000. The dealer came back with a figure that was a couple hundred dollars more than the $25,000 with a plausible explanation that this was absolutely the lowest they could go. At that point, part of me wanted to accept that amount and just pay the $200, but I forced myself to say that I wanted the sales rep to go back one more time to see if he could come down to the $25,000. The dealer accepted that offer, probably, because it was the end of the month and the amount in question was relatively small. If they had been resolute on the price, I probably would have paid the higher price but they did not know that.

If you follow these rules for buying a car, you will be negotiating like a pro.

Mary Greenwood, J.D., LL.M: Arbitrator, Mediator, Author of How to Negotiate like a Pro, 41 Rules for Resolving Disputes Available at http://www.barnesandnoble.com or http://www.amazon.com or http://www.booksamillion.com ; Email me at: Howtonegotiatelikeapro@aol.com. Visit http://www.Howtonegotiatelikeapro.com or http://www.Marygreenwood.com

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