I’ve purchased a mere two cars in my lifetime, both from used dealers. In both instances I’ve found myself thinking back on the negotiating part of the process smacking my forehead at the realization I’d been had. The same dealer tricks I’d tried to keep in mind during the second purchase and ended up falling prey to all the same. So, if you find yourself negotiating a sales price on a used car, watch out for these tricky moves.
Upping the value of your trade-in
OK, most of us offer some sort of trade when we’re going to buy a new vehicle. Before you go to the dealer, blue book your own trade, I guarantee the price they offer will be significantly below that amount. Then, during negotiation when you’re trying to drive the sales price down they’ll say, “Well, let’s do this. I’ll give you *this much* more on your trade rather than reducing the purchase price.” This seems logical. Increasing the amount they offer for your trade indeed reduces the overall cost you end up paying, but in reality they were already offering you less than your trade was worth. Before ever getting into the negotiating the price of the new vehicle, negotiate the value of your trade in. Be armed with indisputable knowledge of the vehicles worth.
Lowering your interest rate and playing with terms
Another common tactic to make it appear as if you are paying less is to adjust your loan term length or interest rate. If you’re not paying cash when you go to set up the sale the agent will despite you saying, “We have financing *here*,” come back with a rate and term the bank allegedly gave him when he ran the deal through them. He or she may even claim the lender you had arranged turned down the deal. Then when you say the price is too high, they’ll either adjust the loan term making payments small and the price the same, or offer a lower interest rate having the same effect. The thing is if they can offer either option, you already had either option no matter what the purchase price is. Take the better terms and stick with your price request.
Claiming they just can’t go any lower
This was my fatal error at my last negotiation. We had found a vehicle that fit our budget and our needs that had been sitting for 6 months plus. We knew that put us in a bargaining position. However, being that we had great trouble finding a fitting vehicle in our budget we let our desire not to lose the car cloud our judgment. When the dealer fed us a line that they could “go no lower,” because they had the car so long, we ate it. The logic was that they had to recoup a certain amount on the car and because they’d already had it so long, they’d eaten up most of their leeway on the sales price. Dealers are not private sellers though. A private seller has a bottom dollar; a dealer has a desired dollar. We should have walked away telling them to contact us had they changed their mind. The car clearly wasn’t selling. Another tactic you may run into is the old claim that someone else has been looking at it or is coming to look at the vehicle. Don’t let your dealer make you feel as if it’s a buy now or lose the car deal. If the price isn’t what you want, walk away or keep working at it.
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