The dealer has been around this block thousands of times before—heck, it's his job! Most salespeople are incredibly savvy and they now exactly what questions to ask to keep you off balance throughout the negotiation.
If you wish to take control of the negotiation and feel empowered during the new car buying process you should be prepared for what the salespeople will ask you and how to deflect the pressures of the lot. The last thing a salesperson wants to do is have you walk away without a new car. Salespeople often get into trouble if a potential buyer walks away without speaking to a manager first. That means you have a lot of the power, even if you don't feel like it. Remember, if you feel like a salesperson is pressuring you too much and you don't feel comfortable, then walk away and take your business elsewhere. That is a more powerful statement than anything else.
Here are some questions the dealer might ask you with the appropriate suggested responses:
DEALER: “What can I do to get you into this car today?”
BUYER: “Nothing, I am not buying a car today.”
You can say this even if you plan on buying a car that day. Even though you told the salesperson that you don't intend to buy a car during your visit, they won't stop pressuring you to buy.
DEALER: “How much would you like to pay each month?”
BUYER: “How much I can afford per month is irrelevant. I just want to negotiate my new car purchase price.“
Remember to negotiate for the complete price of a new car, not a monthly payment, so you know exactly how much you're paying.
DEALER: “How do you plan on paying for the car?”
BUYER: “I would like to negotiate the price of the car before we get into payment options.”
DEALER: “Do you plan on trading in your old car?”
BUYER: “No. I would like to negotiate the price of the new car.”
Only mention that you are interested in trading in your old car once you've negotiated the price of the new car.
This requires some research which you should do before setting foot in the dealership. We recommend using Black Book's trade-in valuation tools which will give you an accurate estimate of your car's worth. Negotiating separately for your trade-in makes it easier to ensure that you get the best deal on both transactions, which ultimately saves you money.
FAILSAFE: If a dealer insists that you buy a car that same day and is making you feel uncomfortable, let them know that you are willing to walk away and give your business to another dealer.
OR: You can contact the numerous Internet Sales Managers in your area by getting a free quote and bypassing this step altogether. Most, if not all of the negotiating can be done online without setting a single foot inside the dealership until it's time for a test drive or to pick the car up.