My wife and I headed into Oklahoma City this past weekend to look for a vehicle.
After spending the majority of the day at a certain car dealership, we ended up driving a new car home…well, new to us.
We are happy with the vehicle, and we were even happier with the price.
Long story short, they were asking almost $9,000 for a vehicle that we ended up purchasing for $2,800.
How did we do that? We used these 6 haggling hacks (I hope you can appreciate the alteration) to get the deal…
1. Be Flexible
We were flexible on everything except the price.
If you’re flexible, you can always move to a different car (or a different seller) when the negotiation doesn’t work out.
We wanted a vehicle with at least 6 seats for under $5,000.
That’s it. We didn’t care if it was a minivan, SUV, or a bus…if it fell within our criteria, we were interested.
This opened up a lot of options, which brings me to my next point…
2. Don’t Get Married at the Dealership
I’m talking about to a vehicle, not to a person. That would be a weird wedding.
Don’t marry the vehicle you want, even if it’s the “car of your dreams”.
It’s important to know what you want, but not to fall in love.
That’s exactly what the dealer wants.
It won’t be the end of the world if you don’t buy that exact vehicle.
We didn’t fall in love, so we could always walk away, which leads me to…
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
We left the dealership and they actually called begging us to come back. That happens when they know you are serious and they know you have money (either in the form of cash or a credit score).
The deal isn’t going anywhere, and if it does, you’ll survive.
Once you have your price set in stone, don’t budge.
You can always find a good deal. Seriously, you can.
Sometimes you have to just walk out so they know you’re serious. You can always come back.
Be prepared to devote at least one day to buying a car and that may mean walking out more than a few times.
4. Be Informed and Know the Value
You should be as informed as possible. It’s easy these days, since most of us have the internet in our palms.
The more informed you are, the less they can take advantage of you.
You can compare the value at these sites:
Most dealerships use these guides, along with others, such as a “black book value”. But just because they show you a piece of paper with a price on it, that doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Edmunds actually sent a staff writer undercover as a car salesman for a few months and one of the things he discovered is that some dealerships just make up a value and hope you’ll pay high-dollar for the vehicle, instead of questioning the price.
Salesmen tend to…”fluff” the truth a little, so don’t always trust the value they come up with.
Know the value of what you’re looking at. Do your research. You’ll want to check a few things out to get the real value.
It’s a good idea to take a test drive to a local mechanic for a quick inspection. If that’s not an option, try out Firestone or Auto Zone for a quick diagnosis (it’s not completely thorough, but it’s better than nothing).
You can check a lot of it yourself. Just remember to check everything. It’s easy to be sold by a cold A/C in the middle of July, but how well does the heat work?
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Hurt the Salesman’s Feelings
They will try every tactic in the book. They will try to make you feel guilty or even obligated to buy a car, but you don’t owe them anything.
You should see how much they would be willing to help you after you buy the car…probably not much. It’s all sales gimmicks.
The only decision that matters is the one you make. It doesn’t matter what the salesman wants. It’s your money. It’s ok if you decide not to buy and they get upset.
6. Don’t Finance, Get Rewards Instead
Pay cash. plain and simple. If you have to finance, you can’t afford it.
You have more negotiation power with cash. When you finance, they can always talk you into buying more car.
You should never finance something that depreciates.
We used a credit card for the purchase to get the cash back. More money saved!
Just be sure to pay it off in full when the bill comes in.
Final Words and One Last Tip
We actually had a great experience buying our car. It was fun to haggle and watch the price sink lower and lower.
You will usually get a better deal when buying private-party, but we chose to keep our options open to dealerships as well…and it worked out well for us.
It was sad, however, to watch the couples sitting in the different offices. Sad, upset, and even scared. One lady was crying!
That’s what happens when you finance and especially when you overpay. It can be stressful.
We walked away knowing our car was paid in full. It’s a great feeling.
One Last Tip: Make sure everything that is promised is on paper. A tank of gas, gift certificates, a TV… these are a few examples of what dealerships will do to earn your business. Make sure, if you haven’t already received it, that it’s in the paperwork or you might as well forget about it.
And don’t forget to ask for the CarFax Report. No need to pay for one yourself. Any reputable dealership will provide one, free of charge.