How to Negotiate When Buying a Car

Whether you’re buying your first car or upgrading to a newer model, purchasing a vehicle can often be confusing and intimidating. 😮 You don’t want to rush into buying one without doing your research first.  Sometimes your dream car will be sold through the dealership and sometimes through a private owner. So how do you get the best deal from either of the two? If you have already found your ideal car, whether through a private seller or a dealership, here are the things you should know before buying. 👍

How to Negotiate When Buying from a Dealership

The first rule in negotiating for your dream car is to be prepared. A good deal will not just fall into your lap without doing your homework. Avoid walking into a car showroom without checking the dealership’s credibility, security, and pricing information. If possible, get to know the add-ons on the car’s price tag, this way, you’ll know whether the dealer is trying to convince you into buying a car at a higher price.

Control Your Emotions

Like buying other items, buyers tend to purchase as an emotional experience, not knowing that dealers can capitalise on their emotions. Notice how the showrooms are filled with emotional triggers – you’re overwhelmed by the smell of new cars and the feel of those leather seats. And by the time you realise it you have agreed to whatever price was thrown at you because you wanted the car so badly - then it’s too late! You’ve now maybe bought something that’s beyond your intended budget.

Ask for the Price of the Car

It is safer to call the dealer and ask for the cost of the car you like first, to avoid emotional pitfalls. You can also check the dealerships' websites, so you can also check the prices of other makes and models. When calling the dealership, be cautious because some dealers can smooth-talk their way to a deal, and make you agree to an appointment without indicating the price.

Be Strategic with Your Trade-in

If you’re planning to trade-in your current car, it is preferable to hold that information back until the price of a new car is settled. The reason for withholding this information is that dealers can use it to their advantage by saying that they will be paying more for the trade-in, when in fact, dealers are just using their markup or profit margin to make it look like it. It is better to deal with trading-in and buying a new car separately, so you can get a good deal on both transactions.  Perhaps have a figure in mind of the amount to want to pay "to change" and think about that in advance bearing in mind what you hope to get for your old car and what is a good price for the new car compared to other dealerships. You don't always have to go with the nearest one to where you live.

Ask the Price, Not the Payment

Another thing to remember when buying a new car through a dealership is to ask about the price and not the payment. Car dealers love the word payment, not because it means commission for them, but they tend to give you the quote based on the monthly payment.  But you definitely need to know the actual cost. 

Another trick they tend to do during the bargaining process is giving you a lower monthly payment because of an extended loan term instead of a reduced purchase price. Be wary of this and always check the total cost of borrowing - you will pay more overall in interest on a longer term of loan.They may leave out the retail price until the signing of papers, so ask the price first. And if you don't understand what they are saying then don't be afraid to ask for clarification. 

Take Your Time

Like any other negotiation, a car transaction is a test of control over one’s impulses and emotions. So be patient and don’t easily cave in when dealers try to make you wait; they do this hoping that you will not stop thinking about the new wheels.

Let them fall into their own trap and use the time to your advantage. The faster a car dealer sells cars, the higher the commission. So make them wait. There will always be tons of cars tomorrow unless you are after a rare model. Never settle on the first dream car you see, think about it overnight, and then continue to check out other deals on offer! 👍


The longer you make them wait, the more anxious they get that you might have found another deal. At this stage, dealers will be more open to compromise.


Purchasing from a Private Seller

Negotiating with private sellers has its pros and cons, just like with car dealerships. For the advantages of buying a car from a private seller, the number one would be easier negotiation because private sellers are highly motivated to put their car on sale to have available cash to buy a new one.


Pro: You’ll Get a Better Price

Another advantage is a lower price compared to buying cars from dealers. The additional costs from dealers stem from the fact that they had to advertise and pay sales representatives their commission. And if it’s a used car, dealers would also have to prepare it to get sold, which is another added expense that will eventually pass to the buyer.


Con: Little Protection for the Buyer

As for the disadvantages, the number one is limited to non-existent protection. When buying from a car dealer, you’ll have protection in case your newly bought car turns out to have some problems. In addition, warranties and money-back guarantees are standard, which is not the case with private sellers.


Prepare for Extra Checks

You won’t have this sense of security when buying from a private seller. Dealing and meeting up with a total stranger can be tricky. And of course, unlike with dealerships, you have to deal with the required paperwork and the necessary checks to ensure that the car is in good condition, which means more tasks for you as the buyer.   


Evaluate the Car Thoroughly

In negotiating with a private seller, you must inspect and evaluate first the car being sold. Take the necessary steps to safeguard yourself and your hard-earned money. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Do your research and make it a point of reference during negotiation. 


Inspect Every Part of the Car

Inspecting the car during the day is also better as it will be easier to spot water or collision damage if any. And lastly, go for a test drive. Try to listen to any unusual sound. Test every button and mechanism, check essential parts such as engines and brakes. 


Hire an Auto Mechanic

If you have no idea about cars, you can ask an auto mechanic to check it for you. This is important so you’ll get an honest and thorough inspection for potential issues, maintenance considerations, and prior damage.



There are a lot of tips to take into account if you want to know how to negotiate for your dream car. However, preparation is vital before purchasing through dealerships or private sellers. Try not to rush into buying without researching, inspecting, and evaluating first to get the best possible price. Remember, fifty per cent of the negotiation happens before you even enter the dealership or meet with the seller.