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Negotiating The Deal

Buying a car often involves negotiating a deal. Use these strategies to avoid being out-maneuvered.

Negotiating your best deal with a salesperson can feel like a high-stakes game of poker. Even if you know the rules of engagement, every move can be mentally exhausting and your opponent is a professional who plays all day, every day. So, how do you stay cool during those critical moments?

This fun video will help you get ready to negotiate like a pro:

Negotiating Tips

Here are a few tips to “know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.”

  • Get preapproved to buy a vehicle through your bank or credit union. This will give you strength in negotiating dealership financing rates and help you know the maximum payment you can afford.
  • Negotiate outside of the dealership. This is often more effective than at the dealership where inventory, emotions, and the sales environment can contribute to a poor financial decision.
  • Don’t be drawn into a conversation with a salesperson about monthly payments. Focus instead on the total price you are willing to pay for the vehicle. Your goal is to get a good total cost deal, not just a good monthly payment.
  • Know the value of any trade-in based on its condition before you go shopping. Then, negotiate the trade-in price as a separate transaction.
  • Research competitors’ pricing and factory invoice pricing — the actual cost to the dealer for that vehicle — to gain an upper hand.
  • Consider getting a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI) on used vehicles. A PPI is a vehicle inspection performed by a licensed mechanic or auto technician who will give the vehicle a thorough inspection to determine its cosmetic, mechanical and safety condition. Knowledge is power and having all the facts about the vehicle you are buying can help you negotiate a better price.
  • Review the vehicle history report.
    • Does the vehicle have a questionable accident or repair history?
    • Has the vehicle been on the dealer lot for months?
    • Is a private seller flipping the vehicle after a short period of ownership?

The answers to these questions can be found in a vehicle history report and give you leverage in negotiating a deal.