Today I’ll break down a few simple ways to get a great deal on your new car purchase; the best part is you will have to spend as little of your life as possible within the dealership’s confines.
A few general tips before I proceed:
1. Never, ever go to the dealership in person
This is so important I’m going to say it again. Never, ever, ever go to the dealership — except to sign paperwork. (if you want to learn more about why you shouldn’t go to the dealership in person, read Edmunds.com series entitled ‘Confessions of a car salesman’).
Do all your negotiation through the dealership’s internet department. Every dealership has an internet sales team which understands they will be dealing with the best negotiators (the dealer like to calls these people ‘grinders’ – they are usually minorities). The internet salespeople are already expecting to sell their vehicles at a lower sales price than would they would to an uneducated walk-in customer.
They will not play as many ‘games’ because all the negotiating power is with the customer. You hear their offer, if you like what you hear or it’s better than another dealer you’ve contacted you just go in and sign paperwork. This is invaluable.
2. Email multiple dealerships and shop their offers against each other
It doesn’t matter if one particular dealer doesn’t have the vehicle you want. They can easily arrange to have the vehicle delivered to their lot, or they will trade inventory with another dealer.
Find the vehicle you want using online inventory searches through each individual dealerships website and purchase it at the dealer that will give you the best price. Certain dealers are willing to negotiate more than others. You need to find the dealers that are aggressive in pricing then get the car you want to be transferred to their lot. More often than not they will be able to get the car you want unless it is in extremely high demand.
3. Look for incentives, especially financing incentives
Lots of manufacturers currently offer 0% APR financing for 60 months. This is free money. Compare this to 5% APR for 60 months – that’s $4,000 in interest you’d pay over the course of 5 years.
Often a manufacturer will offer either cash back (they will discount the purchase price a certain amount) or financing offer (i.e. 0% financing for 60 months). Depending on the loan length/term, one option might make more sense than the other. Use this tool to compare.
4. Use Truecar.com to gain a quick picture of what you should be paying
Truecar has real-world sales data so you can see what other people are paying for the car you want in your area. They adjust for regional differences also let you know the invoice price for every option. This is important to note: you can also save money by negotiating the price of options. All options have an invoice price and and MSRP. Shoot for invoice.
5. The dealer will try to make extra money by tacking on extras during the financing portion of the sales process
This could be an extended warranty contract, a pre-paid maintenance contract, etc. You should refuse anything they offer no matter how appealing or important they make it sound. Read more from someone who actually worked as auto finance manager in another Edmunds.com series.
6. The only thing you should consider purchasing during the financing portion is GAP insurance (Guaranteed Automobile Protection)
Now that you’re armed with these helpful pointers let’s break down the methods you’ll use to actually negotiate and purchase your new vehicle.
METHOD #1: THE NO-BRAINER METHOD
Find the car you want and the email the internet sales department and say you want the car for MSRP out-the-door (OTD). This makes it impossible for the dealer to add any mark-up fees because if they add costs into one part of the deal, they will have to remove them elsewhere to stay at the target MSRP OTD price.
OTD price generally includes sales tax, title, registration and a dealer ‘documentation fee.’ In some states their is a law protecting the consumer from being charged a large doc fee called a ‘documentation fee cap.’ California and a few other states have this law in place, many states do not.
The No-Brainer Method is the safest way to get a pretty decent deal on a new car.
In Part 2 of my series I’ll break-down a slightly more time consuming method to negotiate new car sales price that will enable you get the absolute best deal possible. Trust me, the dealership will hate you – but your significant other and bank account will love you.