How to Negotiate When Buying a Car

3 Mins read

Buying a car is one of the few times where it’s still acceptable to haggle over the price. Whatever it says on the sticker or in the newspaper advertisement, you can get a better deal if you know how to negotiate. Here are eight tips to help you barter effectively for the car and the price you want.

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Do your research

Cars are personal. When you see the one you love, it’s tempting to let your heart rule your head and get attached before you know what it’s really worth.

Before you show much interest in any particular vehicle, do your research so you know exactly what you want. Once you’ve chosen a few models you’re interested in, take time to find out what those models are worth at various ages and mileages.

Find options to choose from

Never limit yourself to just one car. If you don’t have much choice, you may panic and pay a higher price just to make sure you don’t lose it. Take time to find a couple of options that are suitable so you don’t get boxed into a corner.

While you’re taking time to consider your options, don’t forget to take time to see if you can claim money online or find other funds so you have more options.

Don’t be in a hurry

Whether you’re dealing with a professional dealership salesman or an individual seller, a good negotiator can smell when someone’s in too big a hurry to buy. The more rushed you are, the less bargaining room you have. Unless it’s an emergency, be willing to wait.

Even if it is an emergency, don’t let the seller know that. Play your cards close to your chest and you’ll keep a strong bargaining position.

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Use your “walk-away power”

It’s the oldest trick in the bartering book, but it’s a good one. If you’re willing to walk away, you force the other person’s hand.

Either they really do think they deserve more for the vehicle that you’re willing to pay and they’ll let you go, or they’ll cave and negotiate with you. Just don’t do this if you’re really not actually willing to leave that car for another deal.

Offer cash

Cash is king. If you have the cash to pay for the vehicle upfront, you can often score a better deal, and you definitely have a strong bargaining position.

Many sellers will be happy to take a lower price, cash in hand, than a higher price they have to wait for. Even dealerships will often give you a better deal if you walk in ready to sign a check.

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Don’t say too much

If you talk too much about why you like a particular car or what you need the vehicle for, you tend to weaken your bargaining position.

When you chatter, you’re likely to give away something about your situation the other person can use as leverage against you in the negotiation. We also tend to talk too much when we’re emotional, and that may signal to the seller a clue that you’re desperate for the deal to go through.

Ask for sweetener

If you’re stuck at a number that’s just a little higher than you feel comfortable paying, but otherwise you like the deal, ask the seller to sweeten things by throwing in something extra.

This might be some new tires, a detailed job and a full tank of gas, some all-weather floor mats, or anything else that would make it worth your while to pay the higher price.

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Don’t forget insurance costs

In your excitement over getting a new car, don’t forget to factor in car insurance costs. Your premiums will depend in part on the car you buy, so do your research and make sure you’re covered.

Once you’ve made a deal, it’s time to compare comprehensive car insurance options with iSelect.