How low can you go?: Negotiating a car price

When buying a car - whether new or used - you want a quality vehicle for an affordable price.

Luckily, purchasing a car isn't like going to the store and picking up milk where the marked price is the price to pay. You're allowed to haggle a bit, which can be beneficial for efficiently using the funds you can get from auto loans.

However, the salesperson's job is to get you to spend the sticker price or more with optional features. If you're not careful, you could be charged a price you'll later regret. For this reason, you need to sharpen your negotiation skills before you head to the dealership.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Research average prices for cars you're considering. Hop online and check Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com or similar credible sources for information about average car prices. Sticker price is typically more than what the dealer paid for a vehicle, and you don't want to pay that premium. If you step into the negotiation armed with reputable information, you can have more weight behind your arguments.
  • Let the salesperson know you have options. Even if the dealership you visit is the only one within 50 miles that has the car you want, don't let the salesperson find out. You want to give the appearance that there are at least a few other dealerships within driving distance that can give you a better offer.
  • Tell the salesperson you know what you want. Don't get pulled in by all the extras. Determine what you want in your vehicle before you hit the lot and list those features for the salesperson. If he or she tries to sell you anything more than what you want, decline the offer and stick to your target price.
  • Shop on a slow day. Auto dealers are less willing to give you a lower price on days when they're busy - typically the weekends. If they're not getting a lot of business, they may be willing to take a lower off just so they can sell anything at all.
  • Don't become attached. Leave your emotions at home when car shopping. If you fall in love with a car, you are more likely to take a price that's higher than what you want to spend. Although you don't want to start over at a new dealership, you must be comfortable walking away from a bad deal.

For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.

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