10 Insider Strategies Car Dealers Don't Want You To Know When Buying A Car

August 31, 2021

Buying a car can be a daunting task for first-time car buyers, and for good reason. Negotiating the sale, completing the paperwork, and making sure you’re getting a good deal can be tricky. Even if you have purchased a car from a dealer before, negotiations over car sales are complicated. If you’re looking for ways to make sure you can talk your way into the best deal possible on a new or used car, check out our list of ten ways to negotiate with a car dealer.

Come In Close To Closing Time

Digital Dealer

Car dealers are like anybody: they like to get off work when closing time hits. That means that dealers don't want to stay after hours to negotiate a lengthy car deal if a customer comes in close to closing time, especially on weekend nights. If you time it right, a dealer might be willing to lose just a slight percentage of his or her commission just to make one last deal before they clock out at night.

Shop Around


Many dealerships are independently owned and operated, meaning dealers have some flexibility in the prices they’re willing to take. Prices vary slightly from dealership to dealership, even in the same city. If you go to multiple dealerships in your area, you might be able to find a better price. Not only that, but if you tell a dealer that you’re comparing prices, it might compel them to cut a little more of the price tag to keep your business.

Be Willing To Walk Away

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Unless you find yourself in extreme circumstances, a car deal isn’t a life-or-death situation. If you pressure yourself into thinking that you have to walk out of the dealership with a car no matter what, you might end up convincing yourself to accept a less-than-ideal price in order to walk away with keys in hand. If you take your time and go into negotiations knowing that you can walk away with no harm done, you’ll find negotiations are much easier and less nerve-wracking.

Be A Courteous Customer


Car dealers have a bad reputation for being predatory and coercive. Because of this, many customers enter negotiations with bad attitudes and end up acting aggressive towards dealers. While you might think this could get you a better deal, it’s more likely to make a dealer less willing to work with you on the final price. If you are courteous and let a dealer know that you’ll leave them a good review, you might end up with some perks you hadn’t considered asking for at all.

Shop At The End Of The Month

Blog Insight

Car dealers, like many salesmen, have quotas to meet. At most dealerships, these quotas are on a monthly basis, and bonuses are often given for monthly sales totals. That means that car dealers are often much more willing to agree on a lower price at the end of the month in order to boost their monthly sales. Try to time your negotiations around the end of the month to capitalize on dealer’s nerves about their monthly totales.

Bring Your Own Loan


Sometimes, car buyers can negotiate a low price on a car but end up paying much more in the long run due to predatory financing practices car dealers engage in which can build in outrageous interest or down payments. To protect yourself, there are other ways to finance a car purchase. Rather than negotiating your financing with a dealership, get prior financing from a bank or private lender, who can most likely offer better rates and interest packages.

Know The Invoice Price

CCi Learning

One of the most common mistakes car buyers make is beginning the negotiations with a car’s sticker price. Instead of a starting price, think of the sticker price as the ending price. If you know the invoice price, which is the actual price of the car a dealership pays to the manufacturer, you’re better able to know just how low a dealer can go. If you consider this the starting price, then everything else is just negotiating what commission a dealership is willing to take.

Just Relax

Car Import

All of the jargon and technical information that dealers spout at customers is designed to throw customers off. If the salesman or dealer can make herself appear more informed and knowledgeable, then she might be able to assure the customer that she knows how to get the best deal. If you are nervous, dealers can sense it and give you false reassurances about your negotiation. Go into negotiations relaxed and confident knowing you can take your time negotiating a deal until you feel comfortable.

Do Your Research

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All tactics aside, sometimes it’s best to stay at home and research similar car prices a little longer before you go to the dealership to negotiate. Knowing where you might be able to get a lower sticker price could give you a slight advantage in negotiations, and looking into what other car buyers have paid for the same model could clue you in on what a dealership is willing to take for your next car.

Don’t Negotiate At All

JD Power

All car dealers know that the price of cars is flexible. That means that both you and the dealer are looking to get the best deal possible for themselves. If you’re on a fixed budget or know exactly how much you can spend, tell a dealer your highest maximum price. If they can’t match it, walk away. They’ll either come back later if the price is within their range, or you’ll know that you couldn’t have gotten the deal in the first place.