How To Negotiate a Car Price and Get the Best Deal

Jerry Baker
March 22 2023

When buying a car, the difference between paying the sticker price and negotiating a better deal could mean thousands of dollars in savings. However, many people find the negotiation process intimidating and need help approaching it. If you want to negotiate a car price like a pro, follow these valuable tips and insights. 

Understanding Car Pricing

Before you start negotiating a vehicle price, it is important to understand how car pricing works. Car prices are affected by several factors, including the car's make and model, demand for the vehicle, and features such as trim levels and options.


When it comes to new cars, the manufacturer usually sets the price, so the dealers have less room to change it. However, they may add additional fees or markups. Used car prices are much more negotiable as they are affected by mileage, condition, and history. 

Preparing for Negotiation

Negotiating a car price successfully requires preparation and research. Here are some essential steps to take before negotiating.


Research the Car's Value

Before negotiating a price, it is crucial to research the vehicle’s market value. You can use online resources such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds to determine the fair market value of the car you want to purchase. These tools consider the car's make, model, year, mileage, and condition to accurately estimate its value.


Don’t forget to research local car listings to see what similar cars are selling for in your area. Doing so will give you the power to approach negotiations confidently and better understand the car's true value, which can help you avoid paying more than you should.


Understand the Dealer's Perspective

Understand that dealerships are businesses with a goal to make a profit. Go into this knowing that they may try to sell you additional products or services such as extended warranties, maintenance packages, or gap insurance. While some of these products may be beneficial, do your research and consider their cost and value beforehand. Knowing this information can help you anticipate dealership tactics and prepare accordingly.


Decide on a Budget

Determine your budget. This will help you stay firmly within your financial means and avoid overspending, no matter what offer the dealership makes to entice you to spend more.

Mastering Negotiation Techniques

Now that you have prepared, it's time to start negotiating. Here are some techniques to help you secure the best possible deal.


Be Calm and Respectful

Staying calm during car price negotiations is crucial. Negotiating can be stressful and emotional, but losing your cool or getting aggressive can quickly derail reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.


Being calm also helps you stay in control. When you remain level-headed, you can better listen to the dealer's counteroffers, think through your responses, and avoid making impulsive decisions. If you let your emotions overwhelm you, you may be more likely to agree to a deal that's not in your best interest or that you may regret later.


Remember, negotiating should be a collaborative process, and treating the salesperson with respect and professionalism is important. If you're aggressive or disrespectful, you're likely to put the salesperson on the defensive, which can make it difficult to negotiate effectively. 


Ask for What You Want

Always be straightforward when approaching a dealer. You can start by asking questions such as "Is the price negotiable?" or "Can you do better on the price?" This shows the dealer you are serious about negotiating and can start the conversation.


Next, offer a reasonable price based on your research, but make it lower than the maximum you’re willing to pay. Generally, experts recommend aiming for at least a 10% discount off the asking price for a new car and 5-10% off the asking price of a used car. The amount car dealers are willing to come down on a vehicle’s price can vary depending on how long it’s been on the lot and the dealer's profit margin. 


At this stage, ask for additional perks or services, such as free oil changes or car washes. These may seem like small things, but they can add to significant savings over time. Additionally, consider requesting a longer warranty or maintenance coverage to further protect your investment.


Consider the Dealer's Financing Terms

Be aware of the dealer's financing terms and interest rates. Dealerships often work with multiple lenders and can offer financing incentives to entice buyers, such as zero percent financing or cashback offers. However, it's essential to read the fine print and understand the full terms and conditions of the loan.


In addition, be sure to ask about any fees or charges associated with the loan, such as origination fees or prepayment penalties. These fees can add up over time and significantly increase the overall cost of the loan.


It's also important to understand the loan's repayment terms, including the length of the loan and the monthly payment amount. Longer loan terms may result in lower monthly payments but can also mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan. On the other hand, shorter loan terms may result in higher monthly payments but can save you money on interest in the long run.

Don't hesitate to negotiate if you're unhappy with their terms. Dealerships want to make a sale and will be willing to work with you to find a financing option that meets your needs and budget whenever they can. 


Buy With Cash

Tell the dealer right away if you plan on buying a car with cash. Paying cash can sometimes give you more leverage in negotiations and may result in a sweeter deal. However, some dealerships may prefer financing deals as they can earn additional profit through interest and prepayment fees.

Closing the Deal

Once you have negotiated a car price you are happy with, it's time to close the deal. Here are two simple strategies to help you finalize your purchase.


Agree on the Price

Agreeing on the price of a car before discussing financing or add-ons is a common and effective strategy for closing a deal. By negotiating the price first, you can avoid getting distracted by other factors and focus solely on getting a great deal.


Once you agree on a price, read all documents carefully before signing. This includes the sales contract, financing agreement, and other documents related to the purchase. Ensure that the terms match what you agreed to during the negotiation process and that there are no unexpected fees or charges.


If you're unsure about any of the terms or conditions, don't hesitate to ask questions or request clarification. The salesperson or finance manager should be able to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.


Remember, once you sign the documents, the deal is final, and the terms and conditions legally bind you, so don’t rush through this process.


Walk Away When Needed

If the dealer is unwilling to negotiate on price or terms, don't be afraid to walk away. This will show that you will only settle for a fair offer. When you try to take your business somewhere else, some dealers will instantly reconsider their offer and work toward finalizing the deal. However, it's important to remember that walking away doesn't always guarantee a better deal.

Negotiating a Car Price With Confidence

Negotiating a car price takes effort, but doing so can save you thousands of dollars. With the right preparation, research, and negotiation skills, you can get the best deal on your next car purchase. 


When you’re confident in your skills, let All Credit Autos help you find the perfect dealer to guide you through the car-buying process. Get started today by filling out our quick application, and you’ll be cruising around in your new vehicle in no time!

Jerry Baker