This post is in sponsorship with Cars.com. I was compensated but topic/words are my own
Almost more dreading than deciding on the car you want is the negotiating process at the dealership. We have 2 older boys and my husband and I can’t hold onto cars for long so we are typically in a car dealership a few times a year. Not only are we in a dealership for ourselves but because friends and family ask my husband to come car shopping with them because they know how much my husband loves the negotiation process. It is a bit of a weird obsession he has as a negotiator. So I had him help me gather our thoughts into 3 (proven by us over and over again) negotiating tips when buying a new or used car.
Do Your Homework
You have searched cars galore and now you have narrowed it down to a model or 2 you may be leaning towards. This is where you begin your pre-dealership visit homework. When you hear the words from finance at the dealership “We’ll make you a great deal”, do you really know what a great deal on that car is? Not if you haven’t done your homework. We like using Cars.com to search for fair market values on the exact cars we want to look at.
Grab a notepad and pencil and write down the make/model of cars you want to see. List the fair market value that matches the exact features/series for that car. Do this for all of the cars you wish to see so it is handy in a moments notice. Make sure you keep Cars.com or the Cars.com apps available incase you find yourself liking a different model than you anticipated. Now, you have a number and a “great deal” will be that number or below.
Note Your Bottom Line
You know the fair value so now you can find your best bottom line! This will be what you want to pay after your trade in or down payment, etc.. Here is an example of the tone you can use in negotiation (right away) when it comes to fair value and your bottom line. For this example I plugged my car into Cars.com – 2016 Honda CR-V Touring Edition. I then clicked on comparison tool and see that the lowest it has sold for is $34,156 and the highest is $35, 139 with an average price of $34, 648. That gives me a good start to find my bottom line.
“I have a … to trade in. My bottom line is $34, 700. I know that fair value is $34, 735 so I am not asking for too much to come in at my bottom line. I don’t care how you work the numbers. You can discount the car or change the trade-in value on my old car but I need that bottom line top be $34, 735 (after registration fees).”
They may try and say you need to put more down (hence, the price becomes more than your bottom line), but you can tell them to please go back and rework the cost and trade in to get you to that number you gave. You may have to have a down payment especially if the car you trade in is a lot lower in value. Know your comfortable down payment mark and if they are close-get them closer!
Be Prepared For A few Hours Time (and no kids)
Most dealers play a game of wearing you down. You come in with a fair value, a bottom line and down payment and they will still try and stay away from your mark. Be prepared to send the dealer back to the sales manager again and again and be prepared for the finance guy to be “busy” and make you wait for a response. This wears you down fast. You just want to accept and go home. We have never walked out of a dealership because we allowed them to break us down-ever!
Keep the kids at home or with a sitter and most importantly, be prepared to walk away with no car! We have done that more than once. When they play hard to negotiate we turn to a phrase something like this,
” Listen. We don’t NEED this car today. You are our first dealership stop. It looks like we are too far apart so we will be taking off. Thank you so much for your time.”
If you have to walk away it is most likely because that truly is going to become your best deal. We have done it and we have been called back with the deal we wanted. We have also used it as leverage for the next stop by explaining to their team that we walked on place one for being too far off. It is a process and you need to be prepared to spend hours and even walk away and start again. In the end, it is your money and your monthly payment that will become your reward for taking the proper time.
So, head on out. Cars.com is truly a must visit before you head to the dealership. My note above says this is a sponsored post, but I am serious when I tell you that we never head out to shop before using their website to do our homework. I am honored now that I can team up with them for this post. We use it to browse cars, read reviews and find fair values. Plus, when you tell a dealership you found the fair value on Cars.com it is hard for them to argue with you. Hold your ground, it will work out for you and your wallet.
I’m curious, did you learn something new here? Are you less intimidated to car shop now?