Buying a new or used car can be an exciting venture, and if you decide to work with a dealership, you need to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Car dealers aren’t eager to share the lowest possible price with customers, and it can take some time to pay far less than that sticker price. Making an effort to research your car of choice’s blue book value, lifetime repair costs, and other details can help you make the most informed decision.
1. Arrange for financing before you go. If you walk into a dealership hoping to get some help financing your car, you could be setting yourself up for extremely high interest rates and fees. Consider talking to your bank about getting a car loan or applying for an auto loan from a third-party financing company. You’ll probably get a better rate and won’t have to deal with the pressure of working with the dealership to set up a financing plan. Remember that car dealers make a commission for selling you a financing package, so it’s in your best interest to have funds available for your purchase ahead of time.
2. Have your price in mind. Don’t wait for the dealer to lower their price when you ask for a better deal. Be proactive and make an offer for the car on your own. Let them know that you’ve done your research, compared prices at other dealerships, and want the best possible offer. If the dealer doesn’t budge from the original sales price, consider taking your business elsewhere. Keep in mind that like the financing package, the dealer is making a commission on the sales price, so they want to do everything they can sell the car close to the sticker price.
3. Find out how long the car has been sitting in the lot. Dealerships are losing money in floor plan interest for every month the car sits in the lot. If the car has been there for more than three months, the dealer will be more anxious to sell it as quickly as possible. A car that just arrived is still costing the dealer much less and may attract a buyer just for being a new arrival. When you’re in the negotiation phase, remind the dealer that the car has been stuck in their lot for x amount of months and they’re probably losing money at this point, so it’s worth emphasizing that you can take the car off their hands.
4. Be assertive. If you aren’t assertive naturally, take a friend or family member who is that can help with the negotiating process. Make it clear that you could easily take your business elsewhere and are looking for the best possible price on the vehicle. Once you make an offer, don’t budge.
5. Don’t fall for one-day-only deals. When the dealer says that their price is only good for that day and that they have plenty of other people interested in the vehicle, don’t waste your time. This is just a sales tactic to make you think that you are getting special treatment and that the car is a hot commodity. If you aren’t comfortable with the price, just say so. Remember that you may have a chance to find a better deal elsewhere and find a car dealer that is willing to negotiate.
6. Shop during the last week of the month. Car dealers need to meet a monthly quota and may be more likely to agree to a lower price when it’s close to the end of the month. If a car manufacturer sets a goal to sell 20 cars by the end of the month and the dealer is at 18 or 19 near the close period, they will be anxious to meet their goal and more likely to sell you the car at a lower price.
Sabah Karimi is a frequent contributor to Yahoo, Woman’s Day, and Wise Bread, where you can find great tips on how to save on auto insurance.