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7 Tips for Bartering with a Car Salesman

For some people, haggling with a car salesman can be an intricate dance. For others, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. And it’s not hard to see why. Salespeople spend their days dealing with customers just like you, building up a repertoire of techniques to get you to pay that extra dollar. When you walk into a dealership, remember that you’re speaking with a professional salesperson. You have to know when to take the deal and when to walk away. For those about to enter this process, here are some helpful tips to avoid getting the short end of the stick.

Know What You Want

Many customers make the mistake of going in unprepared. They just want to see what the dealership has to offer and listen with an open mind. Unfortunately, this is what a car salesman wants in a customer. Their primary job is to figure out what makes you more or less inclined to buy. Allowing them to take the lead means they’ll find you the perfect car at a great price for the dealership. And they’ll be able to spin it so that you think you’re the one benefiting.

On the contrary, if you go in with a set price in mind, a firm stance, and all the details of your desired car, there’s nothing the salesman can do but ask the manager if they can work with your price.

Do Your Homework

Due diligence is key. Knowing what you want means spending the extra time researching cars and their prices online. It means comparing dealerships, safety ratings, extra features, and more. When it comes to haggling for a reasonable price, knowledge is power. Even doing some research into how a car salesman makes their commission can be helpful. As a good practice, try stepping into their shoes and see how you would bargain against a prepared customer. Additionally, go in with a set number. Create a car budget – and stick to it.

Start Low and Wait

A classic bargaining tactic is to undervalue your first offer. Both parties know that the price will increase from your initial offering, so it’s best to start low and wait to see how they counter. Once you’ve stated a number, stay strong and don’t backtrack. This is where the delicate negotiation dance comes in. Most likely, the car salesman will frown or use body language to indicate your offer is unacceptable. Changing your price will send a signal that you’re easily pushed around, and the salesman will respond with a high-priced counteroffer.

Know When to Walk Away

When you enter a dealership, make sure you have a firm price in your head that you will not exceed. This gives you the upper hand because you have the power to walk away if the number gets too large. A car salesman, especially one paid by commission, doesn’t have the same ability to walk away from the deal and might reconsider your offer.

Visit the Best Locations

It shouldn’t be a surprise that different locations can yield different price-points. If you’re looking for a luxury car in Beverly Hills, California, it’s likely going to be more expensive than, say, Arizona. To that point, you want to focus your searches. If you’re looking for a car in Arizona, then search for a Scottsdale Audi Dealership and a Phoenix Mercedes Dealership. Whatever type of car you’re looking for, be sure to specify by location and do your research. A 30-minute drive to a nearby dealer might mean a better deal.

Go Towards the End of the Month

Here’s a fun tip: many car lot managers have a quota that they must meet by the end of the month. Which means there’s a good chance the manager will settle for a lesser price to make their sales requirements. Try this strategy with a few different dealerships and see how each one reacts.

Have Fun With It

The car you purchase is going to be a significant part of your life. From road trips, adventures, commuting to and from work and everything in between, you want to love this vehicle, not to get overwhelmed by the process. At the end of the day, buying a new car is exciting. Plus, once you score that perfect price, you’ll be driving off the lot with a big smile on your face.


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