How to Get the Best Price on a Car

Michelle —  January 19, 2013 — 3 Comments

Cars are expensive, that’s pretty much a given. Whether you buy a brand new $60,000 car or a used $5,000 car, it will most likely put some kind of a dent in your wallet. Getting the best deal is key when searching for a new car for yourself. The best deal doesn’t just apply to the dollar amount, you also want the best value and something that will not break in a couple of weeks.

Now that my fiance is a sales consultant, I feel like I know all about cars and all of the tactics that can be used. Not all salesmen are bad people! I will say that now. This is something that I believed before he became one, but now that I personally know one, I feel like I know how a dealership runs.

And while I will say that most of these will probably work for you, I also want to say that most car dealership are not making a lot of money off of your actual car purchase. Most of the time his dealership takes a loss on cars when selling them to customers, and that’s because customers these days seem to research the car buying process so much (hopefully like you!).

Car dealerships are mainly shooting for repeat business, such as with you coming back to the service department for routine maintenance and repairs.

Below are some tips so that you can get your best deal and value when buying a new car.

Plan your visit

This is a important step in the car buying process. Just going into a dealership with no plan will usually result in you leaving with an expensive car that you most likely could have bought for cheaper.

Usually at the end of the month, dealerships are trying to beat their goals and therefore will try and give you the best deals in order to get there.

Also, most believe that they should wait until the beginning of the year so that they don’t have to pay sales tax twice, however, most dealerships will take that property tax total off your car purchase if you buy in December anyways if you just ask and explain to them that if they can’t give you an equivalent discount, then you’d rather just wait until January.  And since December tends to be one of the slowest months because of the misconception of extra property tax payments, they will also most likely give you a big discount in order to get you to drive off the lot in their car.

Also, in December most car dealerships tend to try to clear their old inventory. Some car dealerships are not allowed to place the new year’s cars (such as when it’s 2013 and there are still 2012 cars on the lot) until ALL of the old cars are gone. Therefore they will most likely give you a good deal so that they can start placing new inventory on the lot.

Just ask

Now, I’m not going to say that car dealerships NEVER make any money from selling new cars, because they obviously do every now and then or they would rather just operate as mechanics and an auto body shop. However, sometimes people go into dealerships and just take the price as is and don’t even try to haggle.

One time a customer came in and was telling my fiance that she wasn’t sure about the car because of the price. He then said “well ask me for a discount and then I can ask my manager.” She said “oh really you can do that?” He then explained that unless she asks, he’s not allowed to ask for anything lower of course. So he then went and asked and she got a discount.

The only thing bad that could happen when asking for a discount is a simple no, but most of the time they will say yes and counter with SOMETHING. Something is better than nothing right?

How did you get the best price on your car?

Michelle

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Michelle is the founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance and lifestyle blog about budgeting, traveling, life, and student loans. Read further on her story and life, and you can also connect with her on twitter.

3 responses to How to Get the Best Price on a Car

  1. Michelle, this article really makes sense. Not everybody knows about getting the best deals when buying a car at the end of the month and during Decembers. Not all people has the habit to haggle too. To anyone who intends to buy a car, take heed.

  2. My advice is to research the choices that are well-suited for your needs and hunt down a make and model that works for you that the market may discount. For example I wanted a larger vehicle and I can accept lower gas mileage because my work commute is short. I don’t care about color or options but I need a good reliability rating because I did not want to purchase any warranty (edmunds.com works well for this). I am willing to take an older model car but only with low mileage. I only consider used cars because to me price is king.

    My solution was to browse Yahoo autos and punch in the used car search criteria as 10K to 100K miles and below $6000, anything within 50 miles of my zipcode. This combination is rare but not extremely so, and after a few months of trolling this exact same search, one day I saw four candidates that fit, all within a short drive from my home. My first choice was at a new car dealer, and they were too busy to even greet me as I entered and patiently waited for 30 minutes, so I left. My second choice was not at the dealer’s lot– salesman claimed the car was in transit and asked for my contact information; thanks but no thanks. My third choice was available on the dealer’s lot, and testdrive came up about as I expected, so I offered the quoted price as out-the-door. I held my offer there and got the car. In retrospect I could probably have offered a few hundred lower because I suspect they were eager to sell; it was listed on Yahoo for several weeks before I saw it.

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