Car pricing leaves a lot of room for consumer confusion. If the thought of negotiating the price of a new car leaves you with sweaty palms and anxiety, take a few deep breaths and make a plan. A little research and solid negotiating strategies increase the chances of getting into the ride you want without cutting into other areas of your budget.
Research Before You Go
The dealership will often part with a vehicle for less than the car's sticker price, depending on supply and demand. Your offer should fall between the sticker price and the invoice price, which is what the dealer pays for the car. Many websites, such as Edmunds.com, offer pricing guides that give you an idea of the invoice price for a vehicle, and a reasonable offer based on several factors. Starting your offer at the low end of the reasonable scale gives you room to maneuver.
Visiting different dealerships in the area gives you a better sense of vehicle availability and pricing. Edmunds.com recommends getting quotes from three different dealerships. The dealership with the lowest quote gives you leverage with the other dealerships. Ask the other two dealers to beat the lowest quote for the sale. If the second dealership beats the price, ask the third dealer to beat that price. They might not keep going down, but at least you can find the lowest price during the negotiations.
Negotiate Over the Phone
The car dealership is the salesperson's home turf. He has the upper hand at his desk in his dealership. This leaves you more vulnerable and makes it easier for the salesperson to come out on top in the deal. Many car dealerships have an Internet or phone sales department that allows you to negotiate from home. After you shop around at different dealerships, call to see which one will work with you over the phone.
Check Before You Sign
You agreed on the terms and you're ready to sign the contract. Before you put pen to paper, read all of the details on the contract to make sure it's accurate. Look over all of the fees and numbers to ensure you're getting the terms you agreed to. The math should be correct, but human error is always a possibility. If something doesn't look right or you notice extra charges that weren't discussed, ask about it before you sign the paperwork.
Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.