Talk to anyone who has bought a car and he will tell you he got a great deal.
But if car salesmen are the slimes we make them out to be, how is everyone getting a great deal? The answer is simple, if a car salesman has done his job right, he will convince you the deal you received was better than the deal the schmuck before you got and you’re likely to believe it because you just dropped a shitload of money and don’t want to look like someone who got ripped off.
The key to actually getting a great deal starts with the fact that car dealerships need to sell cars no matter how little the profit or, in some cases, even if there’s no profit. This fact means the buyer has all the power. You are the Sultan of Sales. The Daredevil of Deals. The Batman of Bargains. Yes, I like the Batman one best.
Here are the rules to buying a car at the best price possible.
1. Know the car. Before you talk to any evil salesmen, do some research as to exactly what car you want. Don’t just walk into a dealership and say, “I need a car that is red, pretty and gets me laid.” Would Batman walk into an enemy lair without knowing what he’s getting into? Probably not. Remember, the internet is full of knowledge, use it. Check the dealership website and price the exact car you want. This is the manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP). Also, know the invoice price of the car. Google “car invoice price” and you can find websites that will give you this price for free. The invoice price is basically what the car costs the dealership and is much lower than the MSRP. Basically, you want to negotiate a price as close to the invoice price as possible.
2. Never negotiate the price at the dealership. It is okay to go to the dealership to test drive a car, but do just that and no more. No matter what the salesman says, do not negotiate a price at after a test drive. Walk away. Once you step foot into the dealership you are stripped of your power. Your cape is ripped off, your tights are torn away and you’re just some out of shape dude in tighty whities. The salesman has already won and will confidently delve into his bag of tricks to get you to sign the papers on the spot. This may involve offering seemingly incredible deals, throwing in bonuses, telling you the offer expires at the end of the day, or simply drawing out the whole process to such an annoying length of time that you’ll buy a car just to never go through this experience again.
3. Try to buy your car closer to the end of the month. Car salesmen make a living on commission and bonuses. Some of those bonuses are monthly bonuses and if a salesman is close enough to that bonus he may be willing to sacrifice some of it to make the sale. Don’t worry that you’re about to give him a swift batkick to the teeth, because I promise that when you’re done beating him to a pulp he will be robbing some sucker the very next day.
4. Be nice and polite. Most salesmen are nice, charming and quick to proclaim just how honest they are. They want you to like them. Don’t fall in love. Falling in love only gets Batman in trouble. While you’re not falling in love, get the salesman to like you or at least respect you. This will make him more open to the shitstorm of negotiations that are about to rock his world.
5. Negotiate your price over the phone. On the phone you can easily end the conversation without having to invest much time or effort. It puts you in complete control over the salesman. Not only are you safer in your Bat Cave, but you’re also decked out in cape and tights, go ahead and flex those muscles, you’re a monster. The salesman will ask you repeatedly to enter his fortress of doom known as the dealership. Some salesmen will insist he can only discuss prices in person. He’s lying. Tell him you don’t have a car, so the only way to negotiate is over the phone. He wants to sell you the car, so he will agree.
6. Take notes. Write down the salesman’s name, number, and price he offered. Write down exactly what options you want in your Batmobile so when you negotiate your price, it’s always for the exact same vehicle. You will be referring to these notes on a regular basis. These notes are your batarangs and they can give the salesman a fat lip the next time he opens his mouth to steal your hard earned money.
7. The price you negotiate is the total price with no money down and before taxes, including freight and all the other bullshit. Salesmen LOVE to talk about prices in terms of monthly and bi-monthly payments, because those payments sound so small and so affordable. They will quote prices sometimes with taxes and sometimes without just to confuse you. Redirect them back to the total price before taxes. That is the price you want to ween down. The salesman will always start with the MSRP in hopes you’re stupid enough to pay it. No one should ever pay this price.
8. Ask the salesman if he can lower the price by X number of dollars. X is whatever number you feel comfortable with as a starting point. Salesman don’t usually like to lower the price first. You need to throw out the numbers. Be strong, be confident. You are Batman. The reduction should be at least $5o0 off the MSRP to start. The salesman may pretend that to give you this price, he has to give his manager a sensuous blowjob, but he’ll give it to you (the price, not the blowjob). The reason he does this is to make you feel as if he can’t possibly go any lower on the price. He has called in his favor and done everything he can. He hasn’t. He will go lower. At this point, he will ask you if you have a deal, if you’re willing to verbally commit to buying the car right now. He’ll make it seem like this reduction in price will disappear if you don’t agree to it RIGHT NOW. The answer is no, you don’t have a deal. Not even close. “Put away the Kryptonite dude, I’m Batman, not Superman.”
9. Call another dealership, tell them the car you want (model, accessories, etc), ask them to beat the price from the first dealership. Again, the salesman will try to entice you into his lair. You’re the world’s greatest detective, you know this is an ambush. No, you deal over the phone, the phone is in your Bat Cave. The salesman may also ask which dealerships you’re talking to, simply tell him that it’s not in your best interest to tell him. Eventually, he will also beat the price from the first dealership.
10. Find more dealerships and repeat the previous step over and over and over again. Basically, you’re pitting the dealerships against each other. Penguin vs. Bane vs. The Croc. Let them fight each other. This is your leverage. No dealership likes to lose a sale to another dealership. They sell the same products, but they are not on the same team. Each call you make is a punch to the face of the salesman. As you negotiate, make it clear that you are ready to buy a car and soon. Dangle the carrot. After calling a good number of dealerships, return to the first one on the list with the new, lower price, see if they can beat it. Then callback the next one and the next one and so on. Take a sniff. Can you smell that? It’s the salesman’s fear that you smell.
11. Get the salesmen to the point where they can no longer lower the price. You will reach a point where the salesman will beg and plead and tell you it’s impossible to go any lower. Shake your head and tell him he’d make a terrible limbo contestant. He will tell you that the price is so low there’s almost no profit. Laugh and tell him crime never pays. When you seem to have hit a stalemate between the remaining dealerships (some will drop out), it means you’ve done a great job, but you’re not done. There’s even more milking to be done.
12. Although the price can’t go any lower, there needs to be a tie breaker. Explain the situation to each dealership. Tell them you have a number of dealerships that have reached the same price, and ask what they can offer to sweeten the deal. Some will offer extra options or accessories at wholesale, some will offer free oil changes or servicing. Be patient, some may magically lower the price as well and be willing to sell the car at a loss.
13. Get the negotiated price in writing. Once the deal is struck, make sure the salesman emails you the price and anything else you agreed upon. Be certain that the price you’re getting is the “all-in” price so it can’t be jacked up at the dealership. Keep in mind, the dealer and the salesman may still try to screw you if the opportunity presents itself. Keep your guard up, these guys are tricky and are willing to fight dirty if need be.
14. Be ready to walk away. If at anytime you feel you’re getting ripped off at the dealership, walk away or threaten to walk away. Remember there is a number of other dealerships interested in your business still. Batman always has an escape route and isn’t afraid to use it if things get hairy.
15. Get ready for the extended warranty spiel. You’ve won. The evil salesman is defeated, but the sale pitches aren’t over. There is another enemy waiting around the corner and that’s the Financial Services Manager. He may have a different name or, like Clayface, assume a different form, but he’s the same kind of evil. He will push the extended warranty on you. Be prepared. Do your research on the extended warranty and decide if it’s something you’re interested in. Most of the time, it isn’t.
Enjoy your new car. You earned it.