Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

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QuantumMechanic
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Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by QuantumMechanic » Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:33 pm

After 15 years with my current car (Prius) I'm finally in the market for a new car. And when I bought that Prius 15 years ago it was when they were released and there were huge waiting lists and all sales were at sticker, so there was no negotiating. And the car I had before the Prius I had owned for 13 years.

Long story short, I haven't bought a car involving negotiation since I bought an Accord all the way back in 1991, so I'm woefully out of touch on how things are done these days.

I've done some poking around and I see that Consumer Reports no longer has price reports but instead sends you to rebadged TrueCar which appears to not give any information at all and forces you to talk to a dealer to find out anything. Same for Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book. There's also Costco's service, but it also smells like a rebadged TrueCar (is that true? Is it TrueCar or something independent? In any event, it also will not tell you what the pre-arranged price is and also forces you to talk to a dealer).

So how do people negotiate these days? Where do you get info to even base a starting bid on? I have seen some people advocating emailing a bunch of dealers and asking for their out-the-door price and then going a round or two to try to play them off each other.

But that seems like it would only really work for cars they have on the lot. Unfortunately, due to the trimline, color, and option package we want (especially the trimline), there's no on-the-lot inventory for that particular car anywhere around.

So any suggestions on how best to proceed? Thanks!
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EHEngineer
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by EHEngineer » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:04 pm

I've bought or helped buy new cars in '10, '14, and '18. In '10 I used the emailing technique you mentioned, and it worked well. In '14 and '18 it did not work at all. I got zero responses with actual numbers, just "come in and we'll talk." So I used Costco & True Car to spam the dealers and start a conversation. In both cases I found one or two who would then negotiate with me over the internet for specific cars. I refused to show up before having an out-the-door price agreement, and they obliged. Both were high volume dealers in the region and were selling cars that existed. One required a dealer trade and one was on the lot. I have never ordered a car. It sounds like you want a very fast and/or fancy car. Mind telling us what you're buying?

PS I first drove the gen 1 prius in 2000, at a Toyota plant in the US. I had no idea what it was a first, and I remember the regen brakes were strong and a bit surprising. It was a fun experience.
Last edited by EHEngineer on Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by livesoft » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:11 pm

QuantumMechanic wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:33 pm
But that seems like it would only really work for cars they have on the lot. Unfortunately, due to the trimline, color, and option package we want (especially the trimline), there's no on-the-lot inventory for that particular car anywhere around.

So any suggestions on how best to proceed? Thanks!
Well, you won't like my answer: Start by selecting a car that lots of people are selling and is found on many many lots. Don't buy a unique one-off car with a rare trimline. :)
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by QuantumMechanic » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:13 pm

EHEngineer wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:04 pm
Both were high volume dealers in the region and were selling cars that existed. One required a dealer trade and one was on the lot. I have never ordered a car. It sounds like you want a very fast and/or fancy car. Mind telling us what you're buying?
Nothing fancy, actually. Just another Prius. (The non-AWD 2019 XLE with the moonroof package in either of the available blueish colors and grey interior). But that specific combo isn't popular at all. Virtually all of the inventory around here is the AWD models and most are black, white, or red, often with a black interior.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by QuantumMechanic » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:17 pm

livesoft wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:11 pm
Well, you won't like my answer: Start by selecting a car that lots of people are selling and is found on many many lots. Don't buy a unique one-off car with a rare trimline. :)
Can't really argue too much with that! :happy :happy
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by EHEngineer » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:22 pm

QuantumMechanic wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:13 pm
EHEngineer wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:04 pm
Both were high volume dealers in the region and were selling cars that existed. One required a dealer trade and one was on the lot. I have never ordered a car. It sounds like you want a very fast and/or fancy car. Mind telling us what you're buying?
Nothing fancy, actually. Just another Prius. (The non-AWD 2019 XLE with the moonroof package in either of the available blueish colors and grey interior). But that specific combo isn't popular at all. Virtually all of the inventory around here is the AWD models and most are black, white, or red, often with a black interior.
You could try shopping in a warmer state, and take a 1-way flight to pickup/drive back. It's harder to walk away when you've flown in but if you are stuck on that config, I'm sure it's available somewhere in the south. Look for a high volume dealer in a big city like Atlanta or Dallas. The car I bought last year was out-of-state, but it was and adjacent state that had a tax reciprocity agreement.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by whodidntante » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:23 pm

You can negotiate on a special order. I did.

If you want value, buy an American sedan that is old enough that someone paid for "power" something. After all, one does not want to adjust mirrors by hand.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by btenny » Thu Mar 14, 2019 10:48 pm

I do not know where you live but a AWD Prius seems strange to me. So I would send out a groups of emails to a bunch (10 or more) of Toyota dealers around where you live and in another 2-3 towns a little ways from where you live. Ask if they have the exact car you want in the colors you like with the trim selection you want. Ask for then to respond by email with the cars then have on their lots and the asking price for the car.

I have to believe you will get 2-4 responses for 2WD Prius cars with almost exactly the trim you want. Then negotiate from there with 2-3 dealers. Use True car and Kelly Blue book at the library for the dealer costs and invoice costs. I do not know how low you can get Prius below dealer invoice but I suspect at least $500 below invoice is not too low.

I used Costco for my 2013 Subaru. I paid less than invoice by several hundred $$. But suspect I could have done a little better with old fashioned talk negotiation.

Good Luck.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by SmallCityDave » Fri Mar 15, 2019 8:55 am

how does negotiation work these days?

It works today as it always has, you do the research and you find a price that you are comfortable with then you go and talk to someone that can sell you XXX you show them that you are ready, willing and able to purchase XXX. You make an offer they accept, counter or reject your offer, you can go back and forth a time or two you may have to walk away but you should have their "best" price so now you can "shop" that price or go back and buy.

Nothing worse than someone who wants to "negotiate" but doesn't know what they are willing to spend or is completely unreasonable. Know when a deal is worth jumping on or running from.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by fortfun » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:14 am

QuantumMechanic wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:33 pm
After 15 years with my current car (Prius) I'm finally in the market for a new car. And when I bought that Prius 15 years ago it was when they were released and there were huge waiting lists and all sales were at sticker, so there was no negotiating. And the car I had before the Prius I had owned for 13 years.

Long story short, I haven't bought a car involving negotiation since I bought an Accord all the way back in 1991, so I'm woefully out of touch on how things are done these days.

I've done some poking around and I see that Consumer Reports no longer has price reports but instead sends you to rebadged TrueCar which appears to not give any information at all and forces you to talk to a dealer to find out anything. Same for Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book. There's also Costco's service, but it also smells like a rebadged TrueCar (is that true? Is it TrueCar or something independent? In any event, it also will not tell you what the pre-arranged price is and also forces you to talk to a dealer).

So how do people negotiate these days? Where do you get info to even base a starting bid on? I have seen some people advocating emailing a bunch of dealers and asking for their out-the-door price and then going a round or two to try to play them off each other.

But that seems like it would only really work for cars they have on the lot. Unfortunately, due to the trimline, color, and option package we want (especially the trimline), there's no on-the-lot inventory for that particular car anywhere around.

So any suggestions on how best to proceed? Thanks!
PM Watty. He wrote a good post about this topic (you can search his posts too).

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:27 am

I'll test drive a car first on a Saturday to see if I might rule it out. Dealers are really busy on Saturdays so it's easier to have them throw you the keys and say "sorry, I can't come with you, see you when you get back". When you get back, it's even possible you throw the keys back and say "I'll call you" and leave.

Do your homework. What is each dealer's doc fee. What does that include (a doc fee is NOT for documentation...it's dealer profit, but some dealers include state inspection or something of actual value).

When you have an idea what you want, send an email saying what you want and ask for the price including doc fee (but nothing else).

You can work this for a while. Look for factory incentives. Decide if you can live with different options or colors. The more flexible you are, the more success that you'll find what you want.

All of this hones in on a price. When you know what it is, email your favorite dealer and give him the price, including doc fee maybe $200 below the lowest you've found. Tell them you'll be there today with a down payment if they agree. If they do, show up. I did exactly that in ordering my Jeep. I went in and in 15 minutes, I had a $3k down payment on my credit card and the order filled out and sent to the factory.

In short, however, you only need to step into the dealer 3 times. Once to test drive, once to leave a deposit and once to pick up your vehicle. The old thing of hanging around while the sales guy brings the offer to the sales manager......forget that noise. You don't need to do that.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by onourway » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:34 am

As noted, the fewer examples available on dealer lots within the radius you are willing to travel will limit the total discount you can expect to receive on the vehicle, but it doesn't mean there is no room for negotiation. The easiest way to buy a car is by locating multiple examples of exactly the vehicle you want and calling the dealer and collecting prices and then playing them off each other. Lacking that, you are limited to what the existing incentives are, and how much the dealer you are at wants a sale of a vehicle they don't have on the lot, and how adept you are at navigating that experience with them.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by stan1 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:47 am

My local dealer currently has one (1) Prius in stock, five (5) Camry Hybrids, and fifty (50) Camry gassers.

My approach to buying an Accord in September was to walk in and ask for $4K off MSRP on the car I wanted. I pointed out that they had 100 cars on the lot and so did each of the other dealers nearby. I told them I was prepared to walk out. I got what I wanted. Maybe I could have got a few hundred more but the whole negotiation took less than 30 seconds and salesman was at the manager's office for less than 2 minutes. Good enough.

Pricing shown on TrueCar can now manipulated by the dealers. In my case the TrueCar price for zip codes in my city was MSRP. I bought my Accord for $4000 below MSRP. It's not an objective consumer friendly website.

A lot easier than going back and forth by email unless you want the emotional rush of getting the last penny out of the dealer.

With my situation where there is only one Prius in stock I would have to pay MSRP (maybe more). Unlikely you will break even with a Prius or Camry Hybrid over the Camry gasser with that demand/supply imbalance.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by vitaflo » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:01 pm

Keep in mind margins on new cars are much smaller than they used to be. Dealerships make money based on volume (kickbacks from the manufacturer for reaching sales targets), addons/extras, and from their service shop. The actual margin on the car itself is less important these days.

Also keep in mind that cost often times comes down to how long a car has been sitting on the lot. A car sitting on the lot for 3 months is going to be cheaper than the exact same car that was just delivered to the dealership, even if both are brand new. Dealerships are incentivized to keep making room for new inventory. As such a price difference you may be able to negotiate between dealers may be as simple as a car that has sat on a lot for the summer, vs one that was just received.

As for used cars, that's an entirely different conversation.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by mrmass » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:23 pm

Make an offer on that purple Dodge Stratus...

Aside from that time your offer so you can complete (fully pay for) the purchase just a day or two before the month/quarter/year end.

FYI the first quarter ends soon and it's on a Sunday-Do this
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Alf 101 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:35 pm

As has been mentioned, dealers work on much smaller margins than in the past. Still, having purchased a car recently, here was my approach:

1. I first determined the basic niche I was looking for in my next car, and identified some makes and models. I was buying used, so weighed year, miles, and price to develop a list of options. Not unlike buying a home -- you search online for choices that meet your metrics, then go drive by and have a look.

2. I paid special attention to how long this car had been on the lot. This has also been identified in previous posts, but I believe it is your best opening to negotiating on price. I captured this in my spreadsheet of options. I also got the projected car value, contrasting between different websites (e.g. Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, etc.).

3. The test drive worked about as well as expected. The salesperson wanted to ride along. So my wife and I got him to talk about himself, then casually asked him how long the car had been on the lot. The salesperson not only told me, but that it would have to go out to auction if not sold within the next three days. I would expect more cleverness out of nearly anyone else in that job, because that information is not always so easy to gauge. This car had been on the lot for around 6 weeks, and its price was recently dropped. Online you may see 3-4 months on the lot as the negotiation target, but that varies by dealer. This was a large dealership, and may want to turnover its inventory more quickly.

So all that said, I was far from a special case. I had an idea what I wanted -- makes, models, year, and miles. Beyond that anything like color, trim, package, or special features was moot. I established an online consensus for a fair price, and looked at time on the lot for further value opportunities. I ended up buying a used Subaru Forester; on cars.com there were 9 pages of the same make and model within a 30 mile radius.

In negotiation I made it clear I knew this car was going to auction soon, that this was hardly a rare car, and you can make me a good offer or I can walk. Eventually the manager came in with documentation breaking down what they'd get for the car at auction, and we settled on a price below the original but just above that. That I was willing to pay it in full all at once was no enticement, as they dealer makes money on the financing agreement.

This was pretty lucky. My wife was pretty surprised, because speaking generally, there's really not that much room to negotiate on cars anymore. If you wanted something more specific, and were OK with the price posted online, more than likely that's what you'll pay.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by DarkHelmetII » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:41 pm

I bought an Accord in Aug 2015. Very commoditized product. On the cusp of 2016 models coming out. Phoned / emailed around for the best price. Negotiation was basically that simple. Harder part was choosing between Accord vs. Camry and other options.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by bluebolt » Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:48 pm

One resource I found extremely helpful when shopping for a new car recently - online forums for that brand's enthusiasts. There are all kinds of posts where people shared information on what discounts they got off MSRP and at which dealers.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by criticalmass » Fri Mar 15, 2019 9:47 pm

bluebolt wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:48 pm
One resource I found extremely helpful when shopping for a new car recently - online forums for that brand's enthusiasts. There are all kinds of posts where people shared information on what discounts they got off MSRP and at which dealers.
This. Also, see my post on truecar in earlier thread. If you give them your contact info, the truecar dealer will need to pay them the commission if you buy, whether using a truecar price or not. So you lose negotiation power because they need to recoup that fee from you. USAA/NFCU use another service. But the best way to negotiate is specify exactly what you want and email several dealers for firm no kidding out the door offers. Do a second round if you want. End of quarters are good times. December is best, plus car sales are down because folks are busy consuming at the mall and online. September is also a good quarter if you want the last model and it’s still on the lot. Be wary of sneaky fees popping in at last moment. Some states regulate maximum dealer fee nonsense, so use that to your advantage if a state line is nearby with a more favorable state. Sales people are more afraid of you leaving than you are of a bad deal, unless you want some highly demanded/overpriced model.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by ClevrChico » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:08 pm

If you just walk into a dealer, nothing has changed. Expect the same terrible sales tactics that will cost you money.

What HAS changed is that dealers have dedicated Internet sales people to process the internet leads. It allows you to negotiate with multiple dealers remotely. Email/online forms has replaced fax machines that may have been used in a similar manner 15 years ago.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by BionicBillWalsh » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:13 pm

Easy. Go to Tesla.com. Decide which of those vehicles you want. Hit the order button and configure your vehicle. Wait for delivery at your local center. Collect your $3750 in tax credits next year and enjoy driving the best vehicle on Earth.
Last edited by BionicBillWalsh on Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Misenplace » Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:14 pm

Here is one instructive post.

viewtopic.php?t=124638

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by FoolStreet » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:23 am

BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:13 pm
Easy. Go to Tesla.com. Decide which of those vehicles you want. Hit the order button and configure your vehicle. Wait for delivery at your local center. Collect your $3750 in tax credits next year and enjoy driving the best vehicle on Earth.
Yes! I was going to post the exact same thing, but if the OP is a scientist certainly he must know about Tesla, no?

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by BionicBillWalsh » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:51 am

FoolStreet wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:23 am
BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:13 pm
Easy. Go to Tesla.com. Decide which of those vehicles you want. Hit the order button and configure your vehicle. Wait for delivery at your local center. Collect your $3750 in tax credits next year and enjoy driving the best vehicle on Earth.
Yes! I was going to post the exact same thing, but if the OP is a scientist certainly he must know about Tesla, no?
The motivations for buying a Prius 15 yrs ago if carried forward would be the same for buying a Tesla today. Certainly, no haggling involved.

Virtually no maintenance. And you can charge that puppy right in your own garage. No more worries about octane, ethanol percentages, or oil changes.

Seems to be a no brainer to me.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by mmmodem » Sat Mar 16, 2019 5:59 am

The last few cars I purchased were negotiated through email until none of the local dealers could match the lowest price. Then I walked into the dealer, test drove the car and signed the papers. I also bought towards the end of the year when next year's models were already out. Got my 2012 Prius that way.

I remember how I was there waiting my turn to sign papers with the finance manager. There was a family at the table next to mine that were negotiating the price. They were there when I came in and they were there the whole 2 hour process it took for me to drive off with the new car. I was already upset how long drawn out my process took since we already agreed on the purchase price before I walked in.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by SmallCityDave » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:46 am

BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:13 pm
Easy. Go to Tesla.com. Decide which of those vehicles you want. Hit the order button and configure your vehicle. Wait for delivery at your local center. Collect your $3750 in tax credits next year and enjoy driving the best vehicle on Earth.
Don't forget the marshmallows :wink:

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Strayshot » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:01 am

I bought 2 new vehicles in 2017, and if I were to do it all over again here is what I would do very similar to what I did the first time around:
- find the 2 largest volume dealerships that you are willing to fly to in surrounding states. Email or call them and ask for the lowest out the door price for the specific vehicle you want. Compete their prices against each other for a couple days to get to the lowest on paper/email committed number.
- take those numbers and compete them at your local dealerships over phone/email. Ask them to beat the numbers and if they do you will come buy the car that day (and be serious)
- if they can’t beat the numbers, you need to decide if they can get close enough that it isn’t worth your time to buy a plane ticket and buy a car in another state to drive back. For me, that number was around $1500 due to time and cost of ticket.

In my case, the largest volume dealers were in CO and I would not hesitate to work with either of them again. In the end, one car was bought in CO and driven back due to substantial savings (on the order of $8000) and one car was bought locally for about $1250 more than the volume dealers price to save the time and energy.

Local dealerships count on people being lazy and just strolling in to buy something. Volume dealers get huge price discounts and are incentivized to stay on top by moving lots of cars. Local dealers know they will never become volume dealers, so they don’t even try to compete a lot of the time.

I tried to be as transparent as possible up front with everyone I worked with and it turned out well. I told the volume dealers my intent and process right up front and same when I worked with the local dealers. In the out of state purchase scenario, my local salesman essentially said “we can’t get within 5000 of that price and maybe I will buy a car from the same place”

I like buying new cars because the price from the manufacturer is fixed relative to the dealership and so there is an actual floor I can get close too. I hate buying used cars with a passion because it becomes purely a sales job since no 2 used cars are the same and negotiation on each is a unique process. This is why used car dealerships and salespeople can make significantly more than new car peers based on “sales” ability.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by CardinalRule » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:54 am

For similar reasons, you can make a good, well-researched purchase of a new car, only to get 'worked' on the trade-in negotiation, by the used-car manager.
Strayshot wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:01 am

I like buying new cars because the price from the manufacturer is fixed relative to the dealership and so there is an actual floor I can get close too. I hate buying used cars with a passion because it becomes purely a sales job since no 2 used cars are the same and negotiation on each is a unique process. This is why used car dealerships and salespeople can make significantly more than new car peers based on “sales” ability.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Strayshot » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:15 am

CardinalRule wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:54 am
For similar reasons, you can make a good, well-researched purchase of a new car, only to get 'worked' on the trade-in negotiation, by the used-car manager.
Strayshot wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:01 am

I like buying new cars because the price from the manufacturer is fixed relative to the dealership and so there is an actual floor I can get close too. I hate buying used cars with a passion because it becomes purely a sales job since no 2 used cars are the same and negotiation on each is a unique process. This is why used car dealerships and salespeople can make significantly more than new car peers based on “sales” ability.
Absolutely!

I have seen recommendations on this site to always get a free Carmax offer for any used car that would be a trade in, that at least establishes an anchor point in the negotiation over the trade in value.

We give our old cars away to family and friends who can use them, we buy new and take good care of our cars (usually keep them a decade or so) so I have no personal experience with doing a trade in. My last car was given to a sibling whose current car was 10 years older and had a broken driver door handle that only opened from the outside, so exit was accomplished by rolling down the window, opening the door from the outside, rolling back up the window, and getting out. It was unsafe and a fire hazard, but they didn’t have the $400 it would have cost to fix the door. Rather than tell that sibling they were an irresponsible idiot for endangering themselves and stirring up conflict about finances and wealth, we framed the conversation around how they were helping us keep a vehicle in the family and saving us the hassle of selling it. For the 6-7k value of the old car it was well worth it.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by FoolStreet » Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:22 am

Strayshot wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 11:15 am
CardinalRule wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:54 am
For similar reasons, you can make a good, well-researched purchase of a new car, only to get 'worked' on the trade-in negotiation, by the used-car manager.
Strayshot wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:01 am

I like buying new cars because the price from the manufacturer is fixed relative to the dealership and so there is an actual floor I can get close too. I hate buying used cars with a passion because it becomes purely a sales job since no 2 used cars are the same and negotiation on each is a unique process. This is why used car dealerships and salespeople can make significantly more than new car peers based on “sales” ability.
Absolutely!

I have seen recommendations on this site to always get a free Carmax offer for any used car that would be a trade in, that at least establishes an anchor point in the negotiation over the trade in value.

We give our old cars away to family and friends who can use them, we buy new and take good care of our cars (usually keep them a decade or so) so I have no personal experience with doing a trade in. My last car was given to a sibling whose current car was 10 years older and had a broken driver door handle that only opened from the outside, so exit was accomplished by rolling down the window, opening the door from the outside, rolling back up the window, and getting out. It was unsafe and a fire hazard, but they didn’t have the $400 it would have cost to fix the door. Rather than tell that sibling they were an irresponsible idiot for endangering themselves and stirring up conflict about finances and wealth, we framed the conversation around how they were helping us keep a vehicle in the family and saving us the hassle of selling it. For the 6-7k value of the old car it was well worth it.
Exactly. If you are going to buy or sell used, you really should do it private party. In my humble opinion, learning how to make private party transactions like this should be a tenet if the frugal lifestyle. Price the car low enough to move it and sell it via local affinity groups, like craigslist, next door or work/community parent groups. Otherwise, just know that you are paying a premium for the convenience of buying/selling through a lot.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by wabbajack » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:27 pm

QuantumMechanic wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:33 pm
Unfortunately, due to the trimline, color, and option package we want (especially the trimline), there's no on-the-lot inventory for that particular car anywhere around.
You're going to get more helpful advice if you spit out the year/make/model. What might work for buying a used truck might not work for buying a new sedan, etc.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 2:41 pm

I went to a nearby dealer who advertizes one price - no bargaining. I asked for an out the door price and received a fairly good quote. So I bought. I’m not good at bargaining. I did however not go for the high sales pressure extended warranty. Make sure you know how to say no.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Nutmeg » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:06 pm

If you obtain out-the-door offers from dealers, be certain to determine how much state and local sales tax the jurisdiction in which you live will charge you and how much is allocated for taxes in the OTD quote.

One unscrupulous dealer money-making tactic is to undercharge you for taxes in the OTD quote, require you to sign the dealer’s preprinted form that includes a stipulation that you are responsible for any undercollection of taxes, and refuse to submit your title application until you provide additional funds for taxes (or alternatively, the dealer could submit the title application with the indadequate funds, in which case you won’t be able to obtain title to your car until you pay additional funds to your DMV).

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:10 pm

I do it online now. I get quotes and go to the best or cheapest.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by JBTX » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:08 pm

The last several cars I have bought using cars.com. Most dealerships will list all of their inventory on it. You can filter based on the type of car you want, features, mileage range of used, year model, miles from home. Then you can sort results, I usually do it by lowest price first.

New cars: I've only bought one new car on there. It was a fairly generic model and was plentiful. It was at numerous dealerships. I sorted by price, called the lowest, and over the phone he shaved a few hundred off. Once I felt like it was as low as he would go, I emailed the local dealer and asked if they can beat it, and they did. If you start with the lowest prices posted online you aren't likely going to get a lot off. Buy you can always email or call around and attempt to get more, if it's worth your while.

Used cars: similar, except there are more variables with used, and if/when you find the one you like filtered by criteria, you probably don't have the level of choices as new. Typically you will not get much at all, if any for the lowest posted prices on used.

When buying used always get the "car fax" to see the history of the used car. For most cars it will.be posted with the car on cars.com.

Where you may have some flexibility on pricing is trade in. They may push up the trade value to make the sale.

I have found that you have more leverage on phone (or email). Once you are in the dealership you are on their turf, and if you are there they know you want the car. There is a reason they want you to come in. I've usually worked the price out before I get there. The only way you may get a concession is if you leave and hope they call you back.


One good thing about sites like cars.com (there are others like it) is you can look at prices for a model for a wide area, even across the entire country. It helps me to benchmark if I'm getting a good deal. I usually end up getting in the top 10% of the prices.

You don't buy the car over the internet. They just refer you.

I find it is a lot easier and much more efficient than pre internet.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by FoolStreet » Sun Mar 17, 2019 4:11 pm

QuantumMechanic wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:33 pm
After 15 years with my current car (Prius) I'm finally in the market for a new car. And when I bought that Prius 15 years ago it was when they were released and there were huge waiting lists and all sales were at sticker, so there was no negotiating. And the car I had before the Prius I had owned for 13 years.

Long story short, I haven't bought a car involving negotiation since I bought an Accord all the way back in 1991, so I'm woefully out of touch on how things are done these days.

I've done some poking around and I see that Consumer Reports no longer has price reports but instead sends you to rebadged TrueCar which appears to not give any information at all and forces you to talk to a dealer to find out anything. Same for Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book. There's also Costco's service, but it also smells like a rebadged TrueCar (is that true? Is it TrueCar or something independent? In any event, it also will not tell you what the pre-arranged price is and also forces you to talk to a dealer).

So how do people negotiate these days? Where do you get info to even base a starting bid on? I have seen some people advocating emailing a bunch of dealers and asking for their out-the-door price and then going a round or two to try to play them off each other.

But that seems like it would only really work for cars they have on the lot. Unfortunately, due to the trimline, color, and option package we want (especially the trimline), there's no on-the-lot inventory for that particular car anywhere around.

So any suggestions on how best to proceed? Thanks!
Honestly, you go to an enthusiast discussion board like boggle heads for the car you are interested in. Look for prices paid by others. Build a spreadsheet and jot down a short list of dealers and work through it.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by mayday23 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:28 am

Strayshot wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:01 am
I bought 2 new vehicles in 2017, and if I were to do it all over again here is what I would do very similar to what I did the first time around:
- find the 2 largest volume dealerships that you are willing to fly to in surrounding states. Email or call them and ask for the lowest out the door price for the specific vehicle you want. Compete their prices against each other for a couple days to get to the lowest on paper/email committed number.
- take those numbers and compete them at your local dealerships over phone/email. Ask them to beat the numbers and if they do you will come buy the car that day (and be serious)
- if they can’t beat the numbers, you need to decide if they can get close enough that it isn’t worth your time to buy a plane ticket and buy a car in another state to drive back. For me, that number was around $1500 due to time and cost of ticket.

In my case, the largest volume dealers were in CO and I would not hesitate to work with either of them again. In the end, one car was bought in CO and driven back due to substantial savings (on the order of $8000) and one car was bought locally for about $1250 more than the volume dealers price to save the time and energy.

Local dealerships count on people being lazy and just strolling in to buy something. Volume dealers get huge price discounts and are incentivized to stay on top by moving lots of cars. Local dealers know they will never become volume dealers, so they don’t even try to compete a lot of the time.
How do you find out who the high volume dealers are?

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by DanMahowny » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:33 am

If the OP is only going to buy a car every 15 years or so, negotiating the very best deal is far less important.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by dsmil » Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:42 am

I just bought a used car and the best prices from the dealers were posted online. The dealers really weren't willing to negotiate. I used cargurus.com to get a good sense of what the good and bad deals were. Cargurus also keeps record of price drop history for the vehicles, so you'll be able to tell how long it's been sitting and whether they've been lowering the price. I was able to get a good deal on a Prius because it had been sitting for a bit, and the Nissan dealer that I bought it from thought it was the base model, when it actually wasn't.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Strayshot » Mon Mar 18, 2019 10:32 am

mayday23 wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 9:28 am
Strayshot wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:01 am
I bought 2 new vehicles in 2017, and if I were to do it all over again here is what I would do very similar to what I did the first time around:
- find the 2 largest volume dealerships that you are willing to fly to in surrounding states. Email or call them and ask for the lowest out the door price for the specific vehicle you want. Compete their prices against each other for a couple days to get to the lowest on paper/email committed number.
- take those numbers and compete them at your local dealerships over phone/email. Ask them to beat the numbers and if they do you will come buy the car that day (and be serious)
- if they can’t beat the numbers, you need to decide if they can get close enough that it isn’t worth your time to buy a plane ticket and buy a car in another state to drive back. For me, that number was around $1500 due to time and cost of ticket.

In my case, the largest volume dealers were in CO and I would not hesitate to work with either of them again. In the end, one car was bought in CO and driven back due to substantial savings (on the order of $8000) and one car was bought locally for about $1250 more than the volume dealers price to save the time and energy.

Local dealerships count on people being lazy and just strolling in to buy something. Volume dealers get huge price discounts and are incentivized to stay on top by moving lots of cars. Local dealers know they will never become volume dealers, so they don’t even try to compete a lot of the time.
How do you find out who the high volume dealers are?
I wish there was an easy answer and maybe some other boglehead will have better info, but I just did a lot of googling. Most dealerships will advertise their status (Heuberger Subaru is the largest Subaru dealer in the US and Arapahoe Hyundai is the 13th largest Hyundai dealership, those were the dealers I worked with - credit goes to forum member lafder for originally suggesting I contact Heuberger). Once you know what states you are willing to travel to, googling “largest (brand) dealership in (state)” will usually come up with information.
The other good news is volume dealers are usually close to major cities and easy airports. In the case of Arapahoe Hyundai the salesman picked me up at the airport and took me to the dealership which was awesome.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by ncbill » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:07 pm

QuantumMechanic wrote:
Thu Mar 14, 2019 7:33 pm
After 15 years with my current car (Prius) I'm finally in the market for a new car. And when I bought that Prius 15 years ago it was when they were released and there were huge waiting lists and all sales were at sticker, so there was no negotiating. And the car I had before the Prius I had owned for 13 years.

Long story short, I haven't bought a car involving negotiation since I bought an Accord all the way back in 1991, so I'm woefully out of touch on how things are done these days.

I've done some poking around and I see that Consumer Reports no longer has price reports but instead sends you to rebadged TrueCar which appears to not give any information at all and forces you to talk to a dealer to find out anything. Same for Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book. There's also Costco's service, but it also smells like a rebadged TrueCar (is that true? Is it TrueCar or something independent? In any event, it also will not tell you what the pre-arranged price is and also forces you to talk to a dealer).

So how do people negotiate these days? Where do you get info to even base a starting bid on? I have seen some people advocating emailing a bunch of dealers and asking for their out-the-door price and then going a round or two to try to play them off each other.

But that seems like it would only really work for cars they have on the lot. Unfortunately, due to the trimline, color, and option package we want (especially the trimline), there's no on-the-lot inventory for that particular car anywhere around.

So any suggestions on how best to proceed? Thanks!
Hire a broker to do it for you.

This site is primarily oriented towards leasing, but I'm sure the brokers there would also do just fine for a purchase:

https://forum.leasehackr.com/c/reviews

welsie
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by welsie » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:13 pm

BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:13 pm
Easy. Go to Tesla.com. Decide which of those vehicles you want. Hit the order button and configure your vehicle. Wait for delivery at your local center several years from now. Collect your $3750 in tax credits next year and enjoy driving the best vehicle on Earth.
I fixed your post. :happy

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Fieldsy1024
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Fieldsy1024 » Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:14 pm

Email every dealership within range about the exact car I want for an out the door price. 15 to 20 places. Best price is where I go and NEVER tell them you plan to pay in full or a large amount. They will drop it more if you need a big loan.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by BionicBillWalsh » Mon Mar 18, 2019 5:37 pm

welsie wrote:
Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:13 pm
BionicBillWalsh wrote:
Fri Mar 15, 2019 10:13 pm
Easy. Go to Tesla.com. Decide which of those vehicles you want. Hit the order button and configure your vehicle. Wait for delivery at your local center several years from now. Collect your $3750 in tax credits next year and enjoy driving the best vehicle on Earth.
I fixed your post. :happy
I know you’re joking but for those that don’t.

A model S or X is typically delivered within a few weeks. Model 3 times vary on geographic location, could be days to 1-2 months.

You are correct, the Model Y is estimated to be first delivered in the fourth quarter of 2020. Those dates are certainly a moving target, I waited for over 2 years for my Model X. But I knew that was the case going in.
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Rudedog » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:48 am

Test drive two or three cars that you might be interested in. Research all rebates and cash back offers. Research the vehicles on Edmunds. When you find one, decide what you are willing to pay before you go to dealer. Test drive the one you want to buy. Have dealer give you a price. Tell them the amount you are willing to pay, including sales tax, fees, etc. Don't negotiate. Its your money. Don't buy extended warranty, or any of their other add-ons. Be sure to tell them you are not willing to spend all afternoon buying this car, they'll try to wear you down. I generally don't take my wife, as they try to sweet-talk her if she is along.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by coastalhiker » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:13 pm

I bought my Prius 12 years ago through a car purchase service offered by my credit union. If you have access to one, I would recommend giving it a try.

We went and test drove cars at dealerships, and decided exactly what we wanted (and ignored the salespeople's tactics). Then we submitted the request to the car purchase system, including desired color and trim package; it was broadcast to many dealers in our region, and they responded with pricing via e-mail.

The dealer we went with was a good $2000 under all other bids; it turned out that they have a fleet sales program, and process the credit union inquiries under that program.

So it was a superb deal, and completely no-hassle. When I am ready to get another car (we're at 149K...), I will do it that way again.

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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by Fallible » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:01 pm

The biggest problem I see with buying a car is that the salespeople are always going to know more than I do (or at least have access to more info) because this is what they do and they do it all the time. A buyer without that experience and with less time available can do a lot of things right - good research, test driving, having a trusty mechanic check it out, and using all that to bargain the price down - but still pay more than the car is really worth. The best hope is that the car you buy is a reliable one, and that won't be known for years.

My 2 cents.
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California88
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Re: Haven't bought a car in ages - how does negotiation work these days?

Post by California88 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:15 pm

My Toyota dealer just told me I'd get a 2 Year Warranty on a new Toyota ... I always thought it was 3 years!

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