profit when they sell you financing. If you don’t at least leave the dealer with the possibility that he or she might sell you financing, you simply won’t be getting the best deal. Bragg recommends saying something like “I haven’t really thought that through yet. Maybe we’ll see what you have after we agree on a price.”
But be truly noncommittal with financing, even though it’s a good idea to line up tentative financing with your lender before you go car shopping.
5. “I’m not sure…which model do you think I need?”
If you’re this undecided, you may end up driving away in a vehicle you neither wanted nor needed. Do the research in advance, and make your first shopping trip a short one. Use this opportunity to gather information and take your spec vehicle for a short test drive. If your uncertainty is apparent, you may end up buying the model with the most add-on equipment, the highest sticker price and, of course, the most profit for the dealer. Before you go shopping, narrow your choices down to three or four vehicles that fit your needs.
My Dream Car
6. “Oh, I’ve wanted one of these all my life.”
As soon as you’ve lost yourself in the dreamy vision of that gleaming convertible, the salesperson has you hooked, and your chances of getting a great deal are over. “Don’t get caught heavy breathing,” says Bragg. “Certainly don’t admit to your spouse — with the salesman listening in the backseat — that you’re in love with the car.” Here’s where you need to have a communication plan. Try to sound objective and rational. Point out some pros and cons and be observant and calm. Just don’t say that you have to have this car.
What Everyone Wants
7. “I’ll take whatever the popular options are.”
Don’t ever ask for the “popular options” especially on a luxury model that already comes loaded. It’s an open invitation for overpriced dealer add-ons such as interior protectant, window etching or undercoating. They’re all things you can come back for later. Instead, go through the equipment list at home after your first visit to the dealership and then decide exactly what you need.
Lowest You Can Go
8. “What’s the lowest price you can give me?”
Most likely, this question won’t be taken seriously, and you will be met with a predictable performance. The salesperson will wince, maybe talk to the manager, fiddle with numbers and eventually come back with a price that probably isn’t a very good deal for you. But there may be so much apparent effort in this performance that you’ll be pressured into settling for that final number. Don’t. To avoid this, make an informed and reasonable low offer, then wait for a counteroffer. Don’t be afraid of silence. Conversely, don’t be surprised if there’s even a little drama.
Doing The Math
9. “Sure, I’ll look at the numbers with you.”
Perhaps quite early in your visit, the salesperson will most likely make an offer to “just go look at the numbers.” Dealers do this when they sense you’re undecided, but they want to be in the position of control. Getting you in the office makes it harder for you to back out. Wait until you can call the shots of what you want at what price.
The Haggle Factor
10. “I think you can do a lot better than that.”
Never scold or accuse the salespeople. Be polite. Compliment them, and show respect. You’ll never get the best price if you talk down to them. At least for the moment, you want them to be your friends. Let the scene play out, but leave when the deal’s not good enough by quietly suggesting that the competition across town might be more willing to work with you.
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