It’s generally understood that the price of a new or used car is subject to negotiation. The more preparation you do before visiting a dealer, the better armed you’ll be to get the best deal.
The True Market Value (Edmunds.com) or NADA.com will give you the average price that people are paying for a particular make/model. This estimate is helpful when considering the price of the car you’re purchasing or the value of your trade-in. This doesn’t mean it is the price you should expect, but it will provide a ballpark figure.
Shop multiple dealers either online or in person to compare the sale price, as well as what they’ll offer on a trade. You may find that one dealer may offer a lower sale price, but the trade-in may be lower, as well, so understand the net deal before deciding which is the better value. It’s best to keep the discussion to the cash price of the car first. This will likely provide you the best real price of the car you’re buying without financing and trade-ins entering into the mix. Once you establish what the cash price is for the car, you can then begin negotiating for financing and trade-in value.
Also be aware that when dealers cut the price, it cuts into their profits, as well. They may try to recoup it somewhere else by up-selling you on insurance plans, tire protection or other options. On the flip side, there may be incentives and rebates to consider. A good deal isn’t just the lowest selling price. It’s the lowest “out-of-the-door” costs on a car that meets your needs.
The more flexible you can be about color or other variables, the better your negotiating position. If you’re fixated on one specific car, the dealer may hold out knowing you’re already emotionally invested in it, therefore willing to pay more.
Finally, some people negotiate for the sake of bragging rights or to feel like they’ve won. Some dealers, however, sell their cars at bottom-line pricing. If the value is in line with your research, it may be the right car for the right price. Don’t feel that if you don’t negotiate the price down that it is not a good deal. In the end, negotiation is not about winning or losing; it’s simply coming to an agreement that requires compromise on both sides. Do your research on car values, know what you want, know what you’re willing to spend, and stick to it. Though you may not get exactly the price or the options you want, it will still be the best deal for you.