Save Thousands: Learn To Haggle with Car Dealers

by Ryan Yates

How to Haggle with Car DealersMany consumers consider bargaining or negotiating prices to be rude.

They think that trying to get a lower price on a new or used car will offend the car salesman.

This is an unfortunate attitude because haggling is a well-established artform among businesses.

In business-to-business transactions, the customer always tries to get the best price possible from the seller. No one gives a hang if it is considered rude or not.

New and used car consumers would do well to adopt the same attitude in order to secure better deals for themselves. The state of the Economy today actually makes it easier to negotiate a better deal on a car.

Do Homework Before Haggling with a Car Dealer

Getting the research done before walking onto the car lot may spare the customer the trouble of haggling. Physical evidence, like an report of a car’s value, works the best for convincing car salesmen. Comparing prices can provide a lot of information about whether the car lot in question is undercharging or overcharging.

The dealership may be willing to throw in accessories for a lower price, if it is not willing to budge on the main price for the car. A customer that buys a lot has leverage he can use to get discounts. This isn’t an advantage for the occasional car buyer though.

Never Speak Before the Car Dealer

When haggling over a price, never say the first number. The expert haggler must always defer to the other party. If he does this, he will probably end up getting a much better deal than he would have otherwise. The other party can inadvertently provide a lot of information about what they want by stating a number first.

Often the haggler will be surprised when his negotiating partner states a number that is far lower than what he expected. If he negotiates the number down even further, he will be extremely pleased with the outcome. Staying silent may also result in the other party making a concession to end the silence, since many people find it uncomfortable.

Treat the Car Dealer with Respect

Accusing the car salesman or finance manager of lying about the price is a terrible negotiating tactic. Getting personal is not the way to negotiate, nor is being an absolutist and unwilling to be flexible. Negotiating is all about the two parties feeling each other out and coming to a mutually beneficial agreement.

The appropriate attitude is one of agreement and understanding. Haggling will fail if there is hostility or a sense that one party is not in it for the mutuality of the exchange, but merely for whatever advantage they can get.

Timing Is Everything with Haggling

The wrong time can stop a perfectly good haggle dead in its tracks. Keep track of major annual sales; that is a prime time for haggling efforts. Also keep in mind the end of the month or the end of the quarter. Car salesmen often have quotas to meet, and the end of the month or the quarter can make them more eager to get their inventories off the lot.

The price becomes extra flexible during these times. On a daily basis, early in the morning and late at night are good times. Salesmen have more time to talk when the dealership is just opened or is getting ready to close.

Start Haggling Today

To haggle for a new or used car, it is not necessary to be standoffish or aloof, although “driving a hard bargain” can be a valuable skill. Haggling is about making a deal good from the car salesman’s point of view as well as the customer’s. Good haggling skills can save the customer tons.


krantcents August 22, 2011 at

I love negotiating, but negotiating with car dealers is very draining! It is good I don’t have to do it very often. I would add one more element to your points which is be ready to walk away. If you do not get the deal you want, walk away. That one aspect of negotiating gives an edge.

Nate August 23, 2011 at

I don’t feel like I will offend car salesman (and not worried about that), but I do tend to have a little bit of a soft spot having had previous sales experience in a different field, but I would agree with the article overall. The car salespeople aren’t looking for friends, they’re trying to get paid. And they don’t always seek our best interests. What I find interesting is that even with the economy being tough on car dealers, some still don’t seem to be willing to negotiate. I would also agree with the previous comment that it is important to be willing to walk away if you don’t feel you are getting the deal that you want. Remember, you need to do what’s best for you, your family and the needs. Do your research and help protect your interests.

Belle September 4, 2011 at

Good article. I’m currently in the market for a new car and I think most of it is about being as educated as possible. Incidentally, don’t take the Edmunds “invoice” prices at face value. There are Factory holdbacks and Factory to Dealer incentives to consider and potentially negotiate into your price. Anyway, as far as haggling, I do it but I believe in being nice about it (my dad is the standoffish, “angry” type, he usually gets what he wants, but the stress is quite high). I’m nice but I now what I want. I realize the salesperson is doing their job and I assume they know I am doing mine 🙂 For someone who finds it hard to negotiate, I think it helps to have a reason you want to save a certain amount, and keep that goal in mind. For me, I want to keep my car under $40k because I can use the extra $$ I’ve saved to pay for a better vacation. I just keep thinking of that vacation and it’s motivating me to keep negotiating. I also agree with the other posters that you need to start early so you’re not in a rush to buy and have time to walk away. If you aren’t getting a deal you feel is fair, you’ll be bitter about it later. Again, you can walk away nicely. It’s all good. Just be as considerate as you’d hope someone would be with you.

Becca Holton October 16, 2017 at

I’ve been thinking about going to a dealership to get a car. My friend mentioned that it might be good to learn how to haggle before going. It’s good to know that when you’re determining the price, you should never say the first number.

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