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How can I disarm salespeople and be a savvy negotiator the next time I visit the car dealership?
Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you get the lowest price on your new car:

  • Focus on the total price of the car, and not the amount of monthly payments. Some salespeople juggle the numbers so that the monthly payments fall to an affordable level without clearly explaining that the amount of your down payment or the length of your loan has increased.

  • Bring newspaper ads and printouts from auto websites. Such evidence that you have done your homework shows that you are an intelligent customer.

  • Bring along a friend or two. They can play the role of bad guys, pointing out the flaws of a deal.

  • Impose a time limit, or even threaten to leave, if the salesperson repeatedly insists on leaving you in an office to check a price with the manager. Sometimes walking out can be an effective ploy, because the salesperson will be reluctant to lose a potential deal. They know there are many other car dealerships, and finding one that is willing to bargain won't be hard.

  • Secure financing from someplace other than the dealership, such as a bank, or even your grandmother; you'll save money.

Keep in mind that negotiating the value of your trade-in is separate from haggling over the price of a new car. It's best to settle on an acceptable price for the new car before even mentioning that you'd like to trade-in your current car.

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