1. Shop at the right time
Most people know that you should shop for a new car towards the end of each month when sales associates are pushing to make their quotas, but there is a specific time of year that you should shop, as well. September and October are the best months to purchase a new car because the upcoming year’s models have recently been released, and this is the time when dealers are trying to push out the current year’s models. If the dealer is sitting on heavy inventory they are going to be much more motivated to come down in price.
2. Don’t shop on the weekend
The majority of people shop for cars on the weekend, so the odds of negotiating a better deal significantly diminish if there are plenty of other interested customers around. Instead, hit the dealership at their slowest time–weekday afternoons. Not only will you get more attention from the sales associate, but they will be more apt to make a deal, as well.
3. Negotiate your trade-in and purchase separately
This is one of the most important aspects to getting a good deal. If you negotiate both your trade-in and your purchase together, you give the sales associate the ability to lump the two together. They may end up giving you a good deal on one aspect but make up for it in another. Instead, negotiate the purchase price and then once you’ve settled on that, let them know that you also have a vehicle to trade in. It’s also important that you’ve done your research and you’re fully aware of what your trade-in is worth so you can negotiate accurately.
4. Shop around for financing
Before you hit the dealerships, check out rates at banks and credit unions and compare that to what is being currently offered by the dealer. If you can get a better rate elsewhere, not only do you end up saving a good deal of money on interest, you have one less thing to deal with at the dealership. However, don’t bring up how you’ll be paying for the car until after you’ve negotiated the price. Some dealers base their sales associate’s commissions not only on the purchase price of the car, but whether or not you use their financing. If you let them know up front you won’t be using their financing, they are more likely to try to get you to pay more for the car.
5. Check for manufacturer incentives
Before you head out to the dealership, make sure you check the manufacturer website to see what incentives they are currently offering. If a manufacturer is offering a $2500 discount on a particular model, and the dealer offers you a $2500 discount, he’s not really giving you a deal at all! That discount comes from the manufacturer, not the dealer. Make sure you are aware of all the manufacturer discounts currently offered, and negotiate the price aside from these.
6. Be kind to the sales associate
It’s pretty simple–if you are polite and respectful to the sales associate they are much more inclined to work with you. Don’t let that old do-or-say-anything car salesmen stereotype influence your behavior. The fact is that most of them are just regular people trying to make a living.
7. Skip the extras
When you are finished negotiating price, you’ll move on to dealing with a finance associate. The finance associate will try to talk you into getting all sorts of add-ons such as gap insurance, extended warranties, rust proofing and even life insurance! Skip the extras and make sure you carefully check the contract to ensure none of these are automatically added in.
8. Negotiate total price, not monthly payments
It’s very tempting to just tell the sales associate what you can afford to pay each month, but don’t do it! If you let them know that you can afford $400 a month, chances are he will get your payment to that level, but he may have done so by extending your payments by a year (or longer) costing you thousands more in interest. Before you go, do your own number crunching and decide how many months you want the loan for, and from there figure out how exactly what you can afford to pay for the car.