By Teresa Cortes

October 3, 2014 5 min read

Shopping for a new vehicle is often an overwhelming experience, considering the large investment involved. There are interest rates, payment amounts and lease options to consider, among various other deliberations. However, there are several ways to make the process of haggling with the salesman over the price and terms of your new car much easier. Car and finance experts have much to say about the various tactics you can take to gain the best deal possible at the dealership.

Most car experts unanimously agree that being well-versed on the details of the car of your choice is one of the most important factors of successfully haggling with dealerships. For example, an article by car-focused website Top Speed suggests that shoppers bring along "auto price notes, handouts, online lists of car prices, posters from other car dealers and, most importantly, the Fighting Chance manuscript." The Fighting Chance manuscript is a service available from FightingChance.com. The service includes "complete current pricing data for the vehicles you're considering, showing both the suggested retail "sticker" price and the dealer invoice price for each vehicle, in every trim level (including equipment packages and accessories)." Being aware of the additional costs of accessories or anything beyond the basic stock level will prevent you from being surprised during the negotiation process and help you factor these expenses into your overall budget. Having all of this information readily available prepares you to make a more financially sound decision through price comparison. It also shows the salesman that you have put serious thought into the purchase and won't be easily hoaxed into paying unnecessarily higher prices.

Another way that research plays an integral role in determining a better deal comes in the form of incentive programs. It's wise to seek out any incentive programs offered by various dealerships of which you may take advantage. That is, most dealerships offer special interest rates or prices to specific groups of drivers. For example, veterans can strike a deal with certain dealerships if they are a part of the Veteran Advantage program. Ford is one such dealership that guarantees special pricing for veterans who are Veteran Advantage members. Deals for students are also plentiful among various car dealerships. For example, Honda promotes their Honda Graduate Program. The Honda Graduate Program provides many recent college graduates with special interest rates and advertises a discount on newer car models. There are countless more incentive programs that many consumers can take advantage of when shopping for a car at a dealership. And incentive groups are one of the most surefire ways to guarantee a discount right off the bat.

One likely circumstance you may find yourself in, if financing your car through the dealership, involves the scenario of negotiating on a car payment amount. However, many car and financial experts explain that this is the wrong approach to take when shopping for a vehicle. By focusing on a monthly payment amount, salesmen are easily able to meet your monthly budget by increasing a loan term, which often results in much more money paid over time in interest. It's much more wise to go into a dealership with an overall car budget in mind and refuse to budge unless this budget is being met, including accrued interest over time. It's recommended to take a calculator and determine what the total amount paid for the vehicle would be, according to the interest rates offered by the salesman. This will prevent the salesman from pretending to meet your financial goals and make him focus instead on negotiating the overall price, which should be your real financial goal.

Lastly, most car experts explain the vast importance of presenting oneself at the dealership with self-confidence. An article from AOL Autos explains: "A car salesperson does this every day and is an expert. That is leverage over you in the negotiation. If you look and sound confident, it will begin to tip the scales to a more even balance." When apparent self-confidence is used in combination with sound research, salesmen are less likely to feel capable of taking advantage of you as an uninformed consumer, which puts you on a more even playing field with the salesman and allows you to drive away with the best deal possible!

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