How To Get A Good Deal on a New or Used Car – Seriously!

After 13 years in the automotive sales industry, not much surprises me anymore because some of the cars looks old after five years for not applying any paint protection. I know I haven’t seen, done or heard it all yet, probably never will, but yet I feel I have a pretty good grasp on the normal day to day “ins and outs” of car buying and selling.

What amazes me are the “tactics” that are still used in today’s market. And no, I’m not talking so much about dealership and salesperson tactics; I’m talking about customers. That’s right; I said it, “Customers”. Feel free to shoot me, the messenger, now.

Let’s preface the above statement first. If a customer is dealing with a non-reputable, run-down used car store on some corner lot on the bad side of town, the customer can probably expect some (most likely all) of the sales tricks and lies that are synonymous with car dealers. Therefore, there aren’t any rules to follow, unless you want to count Survival of the Fittest.

However, if the customer is working with a reputable New and Used car dealership, chances are, most of the people there are not the stereotypical salesperson and sales environment. (There are still a few bad apples out there, always will be, but for the most part, franchised new car dealerships are pretty decent. Some better than others, of course.)

So, on to the topic of this article, “How to Get a Good Deal on a New or Used Car.” If you Google this topic, you will be inundated with a variety of ideas, suggestions and even games to play. Some ideas like “Sell Your Trade On Your Own, Make a List of Things You Need and then Things You Want” (Source: are good pieces of advice. For example, if you sell the trade on your own, YOU will receive the retail price, not the dealer. Sure, in many states, there are tax credits for trades, but when the value is only a couple thousand dollars or so, the tax savings are minimal. And, as far as, knowing what you want and, more importantly, need, you will be less likely to purchase unnecessary extras the dealer might offer.

Additionally tips like, “Worry about rebates after you negotiate your best deal” (Source are good only if the consumer understands that, and sticks to that method of buying. For example, Dealer A offers $1,200 off MSRP before any manufacturer rebates, Dealer B offers $1,500 off before rebates, Dealer C offers $1,750 etc. Then deduct whatever applicable rebates the manufacturer is offering. But, remember to compare “Make to Make”, as different manufacturers offer different rebate programs.

And of course, then we have the most common tips, which to me, are more common sense items than anything. These include:

*If trading, wash your car before the appraisal
*Shop at least 2 or 3 same make competitors
*Research reputable sites like to see average prices others have paid in the market area
*Check with your own bank to see what financing rates they offer, and then ask the dealership for their rates
*Know what cars are readily available, and which are in high demand. The more accessible the car, the better the deal, usually.

But, finally, in my opinion, the BEST TIP TO GET A GOOD DEAL ON A NEW OR USED CAR?


That’s it. Be Nice. It’s as simple as that in many cases. Some of the other tips and ideas obviously help, but acting like a civilized human being will help immensely.

As I stated before, you need to be shopping at a reputable dealership. Most of us have enough common sense to know the difference between the two. Here is my reasoning behind the “Be Nice” statement, which I have practiced both as a salesperson and a sales manager.

Besides the fact that no one like to be treated badly, there are additional reasons why being nice pays off. Most importantly, most dealerships realize that a happy customer will be more likely to refer friends and family to buy cars, utilize the dealership’s service department over the years, and ultimately, return to purchase subsequent vehicles when the time arises.

Manufacturer surveys are another key factor. Franchised new car dealerships are heavily scrutinized by the manufacturer to maintain a high Customer Satisfaction Index based off of their new car purchase surveys. Again, a nice happy customer is 1000 times more likely to give good marks on the survey, whereas, the disgruntled customer will always take out all their frustrations in the survey. Bad survey scores can lead to loss of vehicle inventory, loss of revenue to both the dealership and individual sales consultants, and potentially the loss of the franchise. I, myself, have passed on several deals, knowing the customer would, without a doubt, give me and/or the dealership a bad survey for reasons like: they already came in with a “Chip on Their Shoulder” or were just miserable human beings.

And finally, put yourself in the salesperson’s/dealerships shoes. Wouldn’t you rather give a good deal, or throw in some extra freebies, to someone who treated you with courtesy and respect? Somebody who would truly appreciate the extra effort? Or, the guy that even if you gave him the car for free, would still hate you and bad mouth you to all his friends and co-workers?

So, in summation…. Be Nice and Use Common Sense….thank you for reading.

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