How to Negotiate for the Best Price on a New Car

how to negotiate car price

You’re going to love owning a new car — but actually buying it? Probably not your idea of a good time. First you have to do research, test-drive, weigh your financing options and then haggle over price at the dealership. Negotiating a new car price can be a real pain, and feel like a bad game with a lot on the line. Before you go to purchase your new car, learn these six tricks to on how to negotiate car price. We’ll start with the number one rule:

1. Remember, negotiating a car price is just business

businessman sign up contractBuying a car is stressful. You’re spending a lot of money, and you don’t want to walk away with that awful feeling that you’ve just been ripped off. The stress may cause you to get nervous or even upset when you’re negotiating your car purchase — but just remember that it’s not personal. Stay calm and cordial. Accept that the car salesperson is trying to maximize profits while you’re trying to get the best deal. And remember that if you feel pressured, you can always walk away.

2. You can negotiate the car price on your own terms

Once you set foot in the dealership, they’ll soon have you where they want you: sitting in the chair, poised to sign the paperwork. Begin the negotiation process on your own terms, with a well-researched offer via email or phone. Keep going back and forth with multiple dealers until you have an offer you’re comfortable with. Then you can walk into the dealership, email printout in hand.

3. Negotiate a car price up from the invoice price, not down from the sticker price

Toyota Car EmblemThe invoice price, which can be found online on sites such as, is an estimate of what the dealer paid for the car. The price on the window sticker is what the dealer wants you to pay for the car. While rebates and incentives may enable the dealer to sell the car for less than invoice and still make a profit, the invoice price is still a good baseline for your new-car negotiations. You can also see available rebates and financing deals online on websites like Edmunds as well as most auto manufacturer websites. Here’s an example on the website.

You can use this info in your negotiation. Do a little math. Know the invoice price, the sticker price and the sticker price minus the available rebates or incentives to keep track of exactly how good of a deal your salesperson is offering. If you can get the price point lower than the sticker price minus available rebates, then you’ve got a good deal. Be aware that the newer the model, the less likely the dealer is to go below the sticker-minus-incentives price, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get them to do it.

4. Focus on the final car price, not the monthly payment

Car dealers love to draw buyers’ attention to that oh-so-low monthly payment. They’ll ask you how much you want to pay each month, and then say “Up to?” to get a sense of how much you could be persuaded to pay.

Don’t play this game. Instead, negotiate the actual car price. Some experts also recommend getting a loan from your bank before you start car shopping, so that you’re not confused by interest rates.

5. The car salesperson is not your friend

Trustworthy Car SalesmanHe or she may seem like the friendliest, most sympathetic person in the world, but that’s part of their job. Don’t be lulled into revealing personal details that may influence the car transaction. If you let slip that your old car just broke down, the salesperson now knows that you need to buy a new one, fast. If you absolutely love the car you just test-drove, try to keep your enthusiasm to yourself. In other words, don’t show your hand until you’ve signed on the dotted line.

6. Say no to dealer add-ons

Just when you think you’ve successfully negotiated a good price for your new car, the dealer pitches pricey features that will nudge up the cost yet again. In general, just say no. Auto experts will tell you that new cars don’t need rustproofing or upholstery stain proofing. And if you want your vehicle identification number etched on the windows to deter thieves, you can do it yourself with a simple kit.

Negotiating a car price can be overwhelming, but remember: just as much as you want to buy a new car, the salesperson wants you to buy one so they make their commission. You are in the driver’s seat of this transaction, as long as you remember these tips on how to negotiate car price.

However, if you don’t want to negotiate a car price, you don’t have to. Check out services like Carvana or CarMax, which aim to take the game out of buy a new car.

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