Dos & Don'ts at the Car Dealer
Shopping Around For Cars and Test Driving
As you enter the dealership, remember your goal. Get pricing and option information from the MSRP sticker, find out what options your car is supplied with. Write down all the option packages, you'll need this information later to form your offer.
Their goal is to keep you from leaving without buying. They don't want you to go elsewhere to comparison shop. While shopping around, inform the salesperson you are definitely not buying today, no matter what. The better salesman know not to pressure you, if you want the car, you'll be back. Just say No, unless you are ready. Here are some examples of things they will say to keep you from leaving:
- "What if I told you can drive off today with no money down?"
- "Let me get this straight, you don't want to save over $1,500?"
- "What will it take to put you in this car today?"
Tell Them "Even if it was free, I wouldn't buy today, I'm weighing all my options."
Never Buy the First Time You go Into the Dealership
It is extremely important to follow this advice if you are negotiating in person. Once you sign the contract for your new car, it's nearly impossible to get out of the deal. Find your lowest deal before you sign, not after. Don't take the word of a salesman that other places can't match their price. Every time I've heard that, I have proven them wrong. Make sure they see "The Folder" with research and quotes. Show them you did your homework and you know how to get the best deal possible. Once they know they can't trick you, business will be conducted on your terms. Make sure The Folder has invoice pricing of all the options on your car, printed out from our car pricing section.
Don't Buy a Car Without an MSRP Window Sticker
Every new car is required by law to have the factory MSRP sticker on the window. Only the buyer is allowed to remove it. If it's missing, report it to the Attorney General's office. One man in Ft. Lauderdale bought a car with no MSRP sticker so he couldn't verify options on the car, taking the dealer's word for it. He paid $1,500 for ABS brakes that weren't on the car. When he confronted the dealer, they told him verbal contracts are unenforceable and refused to him. Moral of the story: Never buy a car without an MSRP sticker.
"The Folder": Information You Need Before Entering the Dealership
- Your Credit Report: The 3-in-1 Credit Report & FREE Credit Score is the most thorough you can get
- New car price quotes from the recommended sites below
- Accurate new car invoice pricing data, rebates, tips, incentives from FightingChance.com
- Car Loan Pre-approval from your credit union, or apply online at Up2Drive
- Laptop, Tablet or Smartphone with our free spreadsheets
- Insurance quote from your agent or internet sites for the coverage you want on your vehicle
- Used car Blue Book trade-in value and market value
- Extended Warranty Quotes from online sites to compare to the dealer's quote. I recommend CARCHEX and WarrantyDirect
Top Recommended Car Price Quote Sites
CarWoo allows you to negotiate with multiple dealers anonymously. Their competitive marketplace has dealers competing against each other for your business.
Start Your CarWoo Anonymous Negotiation
Cars.com gives you free, no-obligation quotes from up to 3 dealers. Just select your make, model, color and options. Getting quotes from multiple dealers pressures dealers to give you a discount.
Get a Quote from Cars.com
Edmunds.com offers the largest dealer network, offering you better choices when buying a car. Edmunds allows you to select dealers within 50 miles of your zip code and avoid dealers that you don't want to deal with.
Get A Free Price Quote From Edmunds.com
CarsDirect.com lists your purchase price online instantly with better prices than dealers and cool 360° views. As you check off options, the screen shows invoice price, MSRP and your low CarsDirect price.
Get A Free Price Quote From CarsDirect
Autobytel has 20,000 dealers, they give you free no hassle low price quotes, list car prices and dealer cost.
Get a Quote From Autobytel
Take the Test Drive, Remain Silent
During the test drive they want as much information out of you as possible. Anything you say will be used against you. They want to know what monthly payment can you afford and they want your trade-in. Tell them nothing. They are conditioning you as a payment buyer. They determine what payment you are happy with, shielding you from the selling price. Tell them you don't deal that way, you negotiate based on price, not monthly payments. Test drive on a hot sunny day to test the AC. Is it cold? Does cool air reach back seat? Always inspect the car in daylight, not in the dark, for any nicks or dents. Inspect the paint and make sure it's in good condition. Take a picture of the pricing and package/option information from the manufacturer's sticker so you can look up dealer cost including the options. Ignore the dealer's sticker. Get the sales person's card, thank them and tell them you'll be back. Don't let them try to sell you at this time, as you are unprepared and they know it. If they try to create a sense of urgency for you to buy today, ignore it. The "urgency" is for them to sell and not let you walk out of there.
Salespeople need your Euphoria! During the test drive don't act excited. They'll say "Isn't this great"? feeding the euphoria and they have you hooked. All you want to do is get the pricing info. If they turn on the radio, turn it back off. You want no distractions, while listening for strange vibrations or rattles. Music from the radio may get you in a partying mood, which you don't want. Act flighty and indecisive, unimpressed, go back and forth between liking sport and sedan. They can't figure you out, and they don't have you in a spell. Whoever is asking the questions controls the conversation, so you ask all the questions. Everything they say is false until you see it in writing.
Jeff's Car Buying Physics Rule #5:If they don't put it in writing, it means they won't do it.
Some Sales Tactics You Will Hear
"Please forgive me, I'm new at this. I've only been selling cars a few weeks." I've heard this every single time. This makes you lower your guard. The salesman knows you'll be at ease, thinking you can out smart him. But start to negotiate, he becomes Donald Trump. If your salesman turns out to be a woman, don't underestimate her. Some men wrongly think they can outsmart any woman. As they bask in their ego, she's out maneuvering them.
"Sure, Jeff, I'll give you floor mats. The parts department is closed, so stop by Monday and I'll have them." We showed up on Monday, and guess what? Mr. Liar doesn't work Mondays! They refused to give us the mats and Mr. Liar dodged our subsequent calls. If they promise you anything, no matter how sincerely, make them put it in writing. "We'll be back to buy the car when you have the floor mats."
"Gee, I don't know what that fee is for, we've always charged it." If they claim they don't know what a specific fee is for, they are lying and you should leave immediately. They just don't have the guts to look you in the eye and tell you it's a bogus fee. If the sales manager gives some obscure story that it's to help offset the cost of giving you discounts, do yourself a favor and leave to offset your cost of lining their wallet.
Ask if the dealer charges advertising fees, dealer prep or other fees. Make sure it agrees with what you found on the car pricing sites. Knowing the fees is important when you end up comparing similar deals. Fees can add up to over $1,000 and throw off all your budget calculations. You must know all the fees your dealer plans to charge so you can factor them into your budget and formulate your offer accurately. Click here for our glossary of dealer fees.
Your Deposits And Down Payment
Don't pay cash for a deposit on a car! If the transaction goes bad, you'll never get your money back, but you can dispute a credit card charge. You may need a new, clean credit card to handle deposits, and purchases, don't pay cash. What if you can't get credit at all and keep getting rejected? Don't keep applying to credit cards, get rejected, and your credit history damaged even further, find out who will approve you before you apply. They find at least 2 credit cards guaranteed to issue an unsecured credit card to you. If your credit is so bad and If you're in too deep, maybe now is not the time to buy a car.
Don't give them your Drivers License or Social Security number!
"Dave has your license, he went out to lunch. In the meantime, what can we do to make you sign?"
Don't be held hostage! Many new car dealers photocopy your license before a test drive. Tell them there is no reason to. They'll say insurance requires it. Some dealers copy your license "in case you rob the salesman." Other dealers copy your license to run unauthorized credit checks during your test drive. Make copies of your license beforehand and when they ask for your license, hand them the copy and get it back when you leave. Write on the copy the dealer may not run a credit check on you. Many dealers are honest and will photocopy your license on a copier at the front desk and give it right back. But some, while you're out on the test drive, run a credit check on you. Don't give personal info until you have signed the buyer's order and are doing dealer financing. How can you tell if they ran a credit check on you? Get your report online from one of the big three credit bureaus. You can run your own credit report as often as you like and it will not lower your credit score.
Rude Things You Should Never Do
- Don't lie about the condition of your trade in. You wouldn't like it if it happened to you.
- Don't waste the salesperson's day car shopping if you have a recent bankruptcy. You won't get auto loan approval.
- Don't put down a deposit and try to take it back for no reason.
- Don't lie about your income or debt load. They run your credit report to verify it.
- Don't make an unreasonable offer without actually knowing the dealer cost.
- Don't spout off how the salesperson is making $3,000 on the deal. If you're getting a good deal the commission is pretty low.
Now it's time to find out what the dealer really paid for your car in the pressure free comfort of your home.comments powered by Disqus