Home > Lists > 2014 >

12 Steps to Getting the Best Deal on a New Car

Step 11: Learn how to haggle.

(Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

(Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.)

While most dealers are willing to offer agreeable deals via the Internet these days, the best way to ensure you’re getting the absolute lowest price on a given day is to haggle with a salesperson. If you’re trading in a vehicle, always consider this to be a separate transaction from the new-car or truck deal. If the salesman asks if you’ll be trading in a vehicle, you can say your current vehicle is not a consideration in your purchase. And never buy a car based solely on a given monthly payment.

Make your first offer the car’s invoice price, including any options and the automaker’s mandatory destination charge (but not including any direct-to-consumer cash rebate, which should be considered as part of your down payment). The salesperson will probably make a much-higher counter-offer for you to consider. You should then raise your initial bid by an incremental amount, say, one or two hundred dollars; the salesperson will likely lower his or her price in the same manner. This may continue back and forth for a few rounds, and when the two proposals become close, the salesperson will typically go and “present your offer to the sales manager” (in reality he may be just grabbing a quick cup of coffee or a drink of water). Chances are he’ll return with a higher bid. If it’s still close to your last offer, try standing firm; if it’s considerably higher, continue negotiating in the above manner.

If you’re trading in a vehicle, be sure to let them know that you’re already aware of your old vehicle’s fair-market wholesale price. If you’ve gotten a prior bid from the dealership’s used-car department, there should be little room for discussion.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]