Top 5 Tips for Negotiating the Price of a New Car

Ferrari F430 in Madrid, HDR
marcp_dmoz / Car Photos / CC BY-NC-SA

Although the timing is not great to buy a new car, you might be surprised to learn that it’s an even worse time to purchase a used vehicle. If you’re scratching your head over this one, just consider that in a recession economy, people in need of a new vehicle are far more likely to go for a used car than a brand new one. And when the demand for used cars goes up, so does the price. However, the prices of new cars have remained relatively stable and many brands have started releasing more fuel-efficient and economically sound vehicles, so in truth, this could be a great time to consider the purchase of a new car if you happen to have the cash on hand or the credit score to swing a loan. That said, you still want to negotiate for the best possible price. So here are just a few haggling strategies that will help you to bring down the price of your new vehicle.

  1. Use a trade-in. Since trade-ins are currently the kings of the car lot, you can bring down the price of your new purchase by trading in your old clunker. So long as it’s in decent shape you’re likely to get Blue Book value (for the age, mileage, and condition) since many dealerships are on the lookout for marketable used cars that they can resell. In some cases you may even be able to negotiate for more that the listed value. This is a great way to help make the new car you want more affordable. Having a cash down payment of half the cost or more could also strengthen your platform for negotiations significantly.
  2. Check prices online ahead of time. Before you head into the dealership to try to fend off the hard sell, it’s a good idea to know just what the car you want is worth and what you can get it for on other lots. Price matching is not exactly something that dealerships advertise, but they definitely don’t want you going to the competition. So don’t hesitate to use this particular brand of leverage to help you negotiate for the price you want at the dealership you prefer.
  3. Set a budget and don’t exceed it! The biggest problem for most people is failing to anticipate just how much everything will cost. You not only need to have an overall number in mind for the final price of the car, but you need to think about how much you can afford to pay on a monthly basis. So download a payment calculator app to your smartphone (like Interest Calculator Pro) so that you can run your own numbers during the negotiating process in order to ensure that you stick to your pre-set budget.
  4. Use AAA. Did you know that many dealerships are willing to offer a Triple A rate that is a set amount above dealer cost? In fact, there is no haggling involved and you’ll likely get the best price possible. So if you don’t like to negotiate and you happen to be a member of AAA, this is a good option.
  5. Be ready to walk away. The best thing you can do if you’re simply not getting the price you want is to walk away. Whether the salesman is pushing you to add a protective coating, Timbren bushings, the in-dash nav, or other features you don’t want, or he just won’t bring the price down as much as you want, you must be willing to leave the deal on the table. This tactic could just net you the lower price you’re seeking, but even if you don’t end up buying, it will save you from buyer’s remorse…not to mention monthly payments you can’t afford.