10 Things Not to Say When Buying a Car
Even in a buyer's market, it pays to watch what you say to a dealer.
So you’ve decided to buy a new or pre-owned car. You know the make, model and year of the chariot. You even know what features you want. Now it’s time to head to your local dealer and sign on the bottom line, right? Not by a long shot. It’s now time to negotiate price. If you want to get the most bang for your buck, here are 10 phrases you should never utter in earshot of a car dealer — and why.
“I’m trying to keep my monthly payments down.”
Families think in terms of their monthly budgets, but most experts agree that’s not the way to price out a car. “Don’t be bamboozled by some superficially attractive monthly payment,” says Joe Ridout, spokesperson for Consumer Action, a nonprofit advocacy group. “There are a lot of ways for a dealer to make monthly payments appear low.” Before you walk into the dealer, know the maximum you are willing to spend over the life of your loan. By stretching the term by a year or two, a dealership can easily bring a $400 monthly payment down to a $300 payment, but you could end up paying thousands more in interest.
“Honey, what do you think?”
Dealers love indecisive couples. By subtly playing a husband and wife against each other (“Seems your wife’s really interested in the luxury package; she’s obviously got good taste.”), buyers are routinely talked into things they might not have otherwise considered. “Never show emotion,” says Robert Sinclair Jr. of the American Automobile Association of New York. “If one of you gets all excited or emotionally attached to a vehicle, then you lose your negotiating position.” Couples buying a vehicle should have a very good idea of what model vehicle they want, what options they are interested in and how much they are willing to spend before they walk into the dealership. If unforeseen issues pop up that merit further discussion, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer to give you some time alone for discussion before making a decision — better yet, sleep on it — then come back as a unified force.
“I have a car to trade in; how does that affect the deal?”
Don’t discuss a trade-in until you’ve settled on a price for the car you’re buying. Making one deal contingent upon the other just allows the dealer more flexibility in his negotiations. Do your research on the value of both vehicles and get the right price on the car you’re buying before you even mention the possibility of a trade-in. The truth is, you’ll almost always get a better price if you sell your old vehicle yourself. A dealer trade-in is a convenience, but he’s not doing you any favors. Make sure you do your research on the true price of your desired vehicle as well as the value of your trade-in (MSN Autos has tools for determining both) before you arrive at the dealership, and be prepared to sell your old car somewhere else if the dealer doesn’t offer a fair price.
“Let’s talk financing!”
Again, settle on the price of the vehicle you’re interested in before you bring up financing — don’t let the rate of a loan influence the price of the car. These days, loans may be harder to come by, but Consumer Action’s Ridout suggests that credit unions still offer the lowest rates. “Show up at the dealer with an offer ready to go,” he says, “then see if the dealer will beat it.” If the dealer is offering special low financing rates as an incentive from the manufacturer, see if you can turn that into cash back on the car instead. Then go shop around for the lowest rate from a third party. Also, keep in mind that advertised rates are usually for the shortest possible term (usually 36 months). If you stretch out the terms, the price can go up steeply — make sure you calculate the total cost of the loan and make sure there is no early payment penalty.
“Here’s how much I have to spend.”
Avoid tipping your hand right when you walk in the door. You have no idea how much the salesperson is willing to deal, but if you blurt out your target price, you can be sure that he’s not going to offer you anything lower than that. Discuss the car and the options you’re interested in and let the dealer make the first offer — these days, inventories are so large that dealers will sometimes sell at invoice just to get cars off the lot. Right now, it’s a definite buyer’s market.
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the problem i have with most of the "salemen" and "car guys" that have responded so far is the complete lack of respect for the consumer. I, too, am a car salesman, and have been for 7 years. I look at an article like this and realize that today's consumer is getting smarter, so I must do the same. getting on a forum like this -even though it gives the benefit of anonymity- and acting like an idiot in the name of "all car people that need to make a profit to live" is counter productive. NO ONE is ever going to look out for the consumer as well as the consumer himself (or herself, if you prefer). that said, it is your responsibility to look out for YOUR own money as well.
why get offended that someone is looking for a deal? encourage it. then encourage them to bring friends/family members who are also interested in a vehicle since you made things so easy on them. you want to make more money? sell more cars. it is that simple. give yourself a raise. add just 2-3 cars a month to your average and your life will be that much easier.
no wonder many of you have customers that don't like you. you act like a bunch of whining pussies, and instead of trying to build your business, you whine that an article such as this even exists. embrace the fact that customers want to feel empowered, work within their parameters, and sell more cars. it's pretty simple. and don't respond to an article like this one so negatively. put on your big boy and big girl pants and figure out a different way if the one you are using isn't working!
it's true, car salesmen obviously do have the right to make the best profit they can. but it's also true some lie and BS like crazy. when i went to buy a new car a few years ago, i spent several hours analyzing everything and coming up with my lowest price i thought i could get away with. i then got a dealership list and emailed around 30 of them with what i was interested in, features, etc.. and the price i was willing to pay "around."
out of the 30, about 18 replied (pathetic that 12 didn't even answer.) of the 18, 8 gave me the simple "can't go that low" line and nothing much took place. of the remaining 10, 6 provided all sorts of lines. "this car is hot, you can't even get it at sticker price." "people are paying thousands over." "no way! i couldn't even give you the blah blah blah model at that price!" "you'll never get it that low." and so on. 3 were willing to work near the price. ONE quickly said "sure, we can do that." so, they got the sale. very nice dealership/experience as well.
i also had similar results almost a decade ago with my previous car. face to face instead of email. some salesmen will laugh at your price, others will try to work close to it and others will just accept it.
key point; set a low, but still reasonable price and check out as many places as you can. you can quickly find out what scum try to get away with murder (and do because of trusting people) and which lots are willing to win over a customer with a small profit. even if you don't get what you want, there is sure to be some prices that aren't far from your range that you will consider. as always, YOU are the buyer.. YOU have the power. there is a massive amount of dealerships for you.. no room for error for the dealership. either they want some kind of profit or they don't. people make the simple mistakes of rushing and sticking to only a few places. (i traveled 2 hours out of state for my last car. $45 in gas and tolls or $3000-4000 more at a closer to home dealership? gee, tough call.)
I sell cars and a lot of this is just not true. So people just think its a game and think there at war when there in a dealer. I must ask a customer what they want to spend and what monthly payment they are looking for. If you are looking at a $25,000 car with no money down and think your going to have a $300.00 a month payment, wake up!! This happens a lot and if I don't ask' your time and mine is wasted. Try this, take the amount you plan to spend, divide it by 60 or 72 months and that is the rough amount of your monthly payment. Adding Tax and tag will make your payment higher then that amount. $300.00 a month will get you a $15,000 car. If a dealer tells you he will give you $1500.00 for your 2001 trade with 250,000 miles on it, and you believe it. wow! That money is coming from an other part of the deal, but you feel better about the deal, I guess he just likes you right? I have steered people away from a car I will make good money on to one that will serve them better, and they think I am playing a game with them. When you go to a car dealer, try being honest and realist, if you feel your not being treated right, go someplace else. If you what to just look for a few hours, and have no intention on buying, go to a auto show.
i'm sorry greg, but did you just say driving 2 hours to save nearly $4000 was STUPID? are you playing with a full deck of cards there chief? i either have my vehicles serviced by multiple family members who have been mechanics for years, do it myself or i go to a small shop that i've known for a long time. i don't need overpriced dealership service. so once i pick up my ride, I'M DONE. (and with 3 cars in 13 years of driving, i've had ZERO, 0, ZERO major problems.) also, i'm not lazy. i like to wash my own cars. i don't need the POSSIBILITY of cheesy freebies. there is certainly no guarantee any dealership gives you more than some stale donuts and coffee while you wait.. and pay.
for your comments about taxes and such going to police, fire, etc.. that's just absurd. you're contradicting yourself by acting like thousands of dollars is nothing.. but the tax that would go to my huge city is heartbreaking? that's pointless salesman sympathy you won't get and of no interest to 99.9% of the population. we're buying cars. we want the best deal. we have more important bills to pay. getting ripped off or overcharged isn't an option.
you're right about one thing though. the days of snake skin boots and slicked back hair is gone. now they all wear suits. different outfit, same lies, same BS, same results.
i'll finish up with this; i can shoot out a ton of emails giving the simple request of a car i'm interested in. what options i'd like, what are you selling it for, do you have it in this color, etc. and there is NO DOUBT 1 out of every 3 will reply with something like "can you come in today? we're open until 6. lets get this ball rolling."
^ and that my friend, is the joke known as the car dealership. **** them. and you know what? next time i buy a car, i'm going to connect with double the amount i previously did. 1 dealership will give me the price i want. 59 will laugh, talk trash, insult me, use sarcasm, not even answer and so on. but guess what? 1 will be happy with a profit (no matter how small) and 59 will just lose another sale and drift closer to putting up that "out of business" sign.
Good advice. Rather than trying to blame the dealerships or salespeople, you need to arm yourself with pertinent information. A valuable resource is truecar.com for pricing in your area on the exact model and options. Then you can save yourself from the haggling experience everyone dreads.