There’s a reason why car salesmen stereotypes exist—because dealing with them is often times unpleasant. They’re hired to make you pay more for your car than what the dealership paid, so that the business makes money, and they’re good at their jobs. It makes sense, but it doesn’t mean they should take advantage of your kindness or inexperience.
Here’s how to level the playing field and walk away the winner of a new car you didn’t overpay to get.
1. Don’t Play Favorites
Sales people know they have the upper hand. So, don’t set your sights on just one car that needs to meet specified criteria. Try and play it cool between a few models. Be flexible when it comes to color schemes and interior finishes. This isn’t to say you should dislike a car you’re getting for a great deal, but being open to alternatives or having a backup could knock several thousand dollars off the purchase price.
2. Stay Informed
Invest in a Consumer Car Report. For a small, one-time fee they’ll give you all the price info on up to three cars of your choice, including any additional rebates or incentives the sales person may be withholding. Also, never negotiate from the invoice price down—this is a base price dealers use to trick you into thinking you’re getting a great deal. [wpp range=weekly stats_comments=0 order_by=views limit=5 cat=65 header=’Most Popular Auto Stories’ sc=true wpp_start=<ol> wpp_end=</ol>]
3. Watch the Mileage
Car buyers have a common misconception they’re going to drive off the lot at 000000 miles. Dealerships “swap” cars all the time from one city to another, technicians drive it around to make sure it’s operating correctly, and then interested customers take test drives. A good rule of thumb is a new car should have less than 250 miles on it. If the mileage is above this, it doesn’t mean you’re getting a clunker, it means you’ve just earned some good negotiating power.
4. Timing Is Everything
Sales people have to make a monthly quota, and if they haven’t reached it by the last week of the month, there will be lots of room for negotiation. Consider going mid-week at the end of the month, an hour or two before closing time, with your financing plan in hand.
5. You Hold the Power
Be prepared to walk away. Several dealers could carry the car you want, but only one sales person receives the commission from it—and every dealer wants that sale! What they don’t want is you leaving. Stay knowledgeable, aloof and flexible, and odds will be in your favor.