Be Prepared for Negotiating Car Prices


Auto dealers have a pat repertoire of questions designed to pigeon-hole potential car buyers into long-term finance agreements. Regardless of your previous car buying experience, or whether you are looking to buy new, used, or lease, understanding key questions frequently used by auto dealers, as well as pertinent answers, will strengthen your negotiating power:

Questions to be Prepared for:

  • “So, are you looking for a new truck today?” I’m not sure yet; I’m browsing; Not sure if I want a truck.
  • “Are you trading in your vehicle today?” I have not decided. I like my current vehicle, and not sure that I want to trade it.
  • “How much money do you want to put down on a new car?” I’m not ready to discuss that at this point.
  • How much can you afford in monthly payments?” I will not discuss payments, as they are irrelevant to my purchasing a car.
  • “Do you like the color red? Or is there another color you prefer?” I like red, but prefer black. Do you have this same vehicle in black?
  • “Would you like to test-drive this car? Think you’ll be buying it today?” Yes, I can drive this car today, but not sure I’ll buy this particular vehicle.

Car Buying Preparation Strategies
So far, this is a good start to negotiating. It opens the door to dealing effectively with the salesperson. The key is to ensure that YOU control the sale the entire time. Using the following strategies will ensure you affordably drive away in the vehicle you want, not the one they want to sell you:

  • Use the Internet to determine the value of your existing car. Look up the Blue Book value through kbb.com. This is a great website to determine the value of your car, as well as how much you plan to spend on a new vehicle.
  • Take time to research vehicles to know what is on the market, as well as exactly what you want in a vehicle. Again, you can use the Internet, or you can use the “testing” process as described above. Know the engine size, features, color, and details you want, and most importantly, the price you are willing to spend on a new vehicle before you go to the dealership to negotiate.
  • Wait to buy the car until you are financially prepared to purchase. When you do, seek out the rep and be specific about the exact car you want, as well as your intent to purchase that day. Pre-negotiating your loan with your own bank instead of the bank chosen by the auto dealer will also strengthen your bargaining power.
  • Never tell them if you are planning to trade in your car. Tell them what you will pay for the vehicle without your trade. Only after you have negotiated the price throw in your trade to further lower the total amount of purchase of your vehicle.
  • Do not discuss financing OR monthly payments. This hinders your negotiating power.
  • Finally, walk away if the dealer will not back down. The car will either still be there in a few weeks with an eager dealer, or you will find it at a different dealership down the road.
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