Last Updated on April 10, 2021 by Jason
Nearly everyone you know owns a car, so that must mean that buying a car from a dealership is easy, right?
Not exactly. There’s more to this process than just paperwork and payment. While making a car payment is straightforward, getting the best deal for your vehicle is trickier.
With a few tips and tricks, you can be one step ahead of your car dealer and avoid paying a premium on your dream vehicle.
Read on to learn how to gain the upper hand during a car deal. You’ll gain the confidence and knowledge necessary to nab a great bargain.
Research Your Vehicle Price
Know your vehicle price to understand what cost bracket it falls into. Look at what a new and used version of your desired model costs, as this will provide you with a reasonable pricing spectrum to negotiate with.
For example, you won’t easily convince your auto dealer to let you pay the cost of a used car for a new one, but you can reasonably talk your way into the lower end of a new car price range.
If you want an even easier way to obtain the best vehicle prices, email multiple dealerships and ask for the price. They’ll often give you the best price they can offer to convince you to buy at their dealership. However, make sure you do this on a separate, throwaway email since they’ll probably send you lots of marketing emails afterward.
Understand What You’re Looking For
Dealers often tempt customers by showing off a vehicle’s features. “Have you seen this state-of-the-art Bluetooth speaker?”, “This SUV comes with 12 cup-holders!” It gets people to say ‘yes’ before they can really decide if it’s something they actually need.
Avoid this trap by researching vehicles beforehand. Get a solid sense of what kind of car you’re looking for and which amenities you absolutely can’t compromise on. You should also understand what you’re not looking for, so you can immediately move on when the dealer introduces it to you.
Get Loans Pre-Approved Somewhere Else
If you plan on paying for your car with a loan, then get it pre-approved somewhere else. You’ll have a budget before stepping into the dealership and you’ll be able to set a hard limit. Your dealer should do their best to honor that limit.
This is one of the most concrete ways to gain control over your deal. Your dealer can’t viably upsell you beyond that amount without turning away a customer – but make sure you’re serious about buying a car and taking out a loan before doing so. Getting preapproved does affect your credit score, though the deal could be worth the effort.
You can get an estimate for your pre-approval amount with a calculator before you apply. Keep in mind that these estimates are still limited and can’t fully substitute the accuracy of an actual pre-approval.
You don’t want your dealer to assume that they can just take advantage of you. Resolve your weaknesses so that your dealer can’t exploit any. The way you respond to your dealer can tip the scales in your favor.
Don’t Be Ignorant
To reiterate a previous point, you want to arrive at the dealership knowing your limits. Voicing your hard limits will display confidence to your dealer that they can’t refute. This applies to other features of your prospective car.
Get a thorough sense of automobile terminology. Horsepower, mileage, warranties, etc… these are common terms that can confuse customers to the dealer’s advantage.
If they’re aware that you’re not sure what you need, they have more power to sell you more expensive features. Doing your research will help you make the decision as to whether you need to worry about these features at all.
Chit-chat with your dealer can be great to break the ice, but revealing certain information about yourself can affect the next conversation.
If you mention that you have a high-paying job, they’ll highball you with a top dollar amount or guide you to a pricey car that they think you can afford. Even mentioning the neighborhood you live in might endanger your chances of a good deal if they’re familiar with the property value of the area.
Revealing poor financial status can also be used against you. For example, if you decide to refinance through the dealership, mentioning that you have unsatisfactory credit could lead to loan offers with higher interest rates.
Control the Conversation’s Pace
Go to the dealership when you’re not too busy. If your dealer senses that you’re in a rush, then they can try and get a quick purchase from you with one of the first prices they offer. In your race to exit the building, you could end up accepting an unreasonable offer.
Your dealer also might try to wear out your patience by prolonging the conversation. They could do this by straying away from the main topic and not creating openings for your response.
Avoid this by being assertive. Establish your voice from the start by actively conversing with your dealer instead of just listening to their lecture. Ask the questions you need relating to the main topic once they start talking about something else.
Ask About Rebates
Although they don’t tell you on their own accord, car dealerships can pass along rebates. If you’re a veteran, a student, or a first-time buyer, you can potentially receive a rebate specifically based on your special status. You never know what eligible demographic you’re part of to receive a rebate, so make sure to ask for one so that you can potentially lower the price of your car.
Buying a Car From a Dealership Has Never Been Easier
To avoid premium markups, maintaining control over your deal is essential. It is also necessary to know the vehicle history in order to avoid unpleasant situations in the future. By using strategies from this guide, you won’t have to scramble on the spot while buying a car from a dealership.
Enter the dealership building with confidence and exit with satisfaction. You won’t just have the vehicle in tow, you’ll also have thousands of dollars saved through skilled negotiation.