Things You Should Say To A Car Salesmen
Let’s face it, buying a car is the worst type of psychological warfare. The back-and-forth between you and the salespeople can be exhausting and excruciating. And while there are a lot of things you should watch out for when negotiating the slippery slope of a car deal, and things you should listen for that the salesman might say, there are also a few things that you, as the buyer, can say to mess with the salesman’s mind and get yourself the best deal possible. These are phrases that will disarm, confuse and put the car salesmen on the defensive. In the psychological battle that takes place in car dealerships, words are often your best weapon.
I need to have my trade-in appraised.
Appraised? Say what?! Car salesmen never want you to have your current vehicle appraised. They certainly don’t want you coming into their dealership with a written appraisal from an outside third party. The salespeople at your local car dealership want to give your current car a quick glance and then low ball you on the trade-in value. Telling them that you’re getting the car professionally appraised will make the salespeople nervous and put pressure on them to get you to trade-in your current car right then and there before its true value becomes known. This is a bit of a role reversal where you put pressure on the sales staff to make a deal before the value of your used car goes up. Smart, as it will put the car salesman off balance.
I like this car. But I don’t love it.
Car salespeople know that you’re more likely to buy a car if you love it. Really, really love it. When you utter a phrase such as “I like this car. But I don’t love it,” you’re telling the salesman that they need to offer you more to make you commit to a vehicle that you’re fine with but not crazy about. This phrase by you will likely be followed by phrases from the salesman such as “What would make you love it?” and “How about I throw in a year-long subscription to satellite radio?” or “Let me see what I can do on the cost of an extended warranty.” By seeming less interested in the car, you put pressure on the salesman to sweeten the offer and convince you to buy the car you’re looking at. Never seem too enthusiastic about a particular vehicle. Play it cool and you will be rewarded with upgrades, additional options and a better price.
I don’t have a credit card.
The first thing that most car salesmen do is ask you for your credit card. And there’s a psychological reason for this tactic. It is to make you feel trapped and that you have to make a deal and buy a car to get your credit card back. Don’t fall for it. Better yet, tell the salesman that you don’t own a credit card or that you’ll give him or her your credit card once a deal is reached and you’re ready to put a deposit on your credit card. By not giving the salespeople your credit card right away, you’re forcing them to work harder to reach a deal with you and secure your credit card. Again, put the pressure on the sales staff. Don’t let them put pressure on you by holding your finances ransom. Be subtle but insistent. And if the salesmen asks for your credit card more than once, ignore them.
Things You Should Never Say To A Car Dealer
Playing Your Cars Right
It hits you — after years of putting up with the same set of wheels, you finally decide you need a new car. Following a hasty perusal of third-party auto and manufacturer websites you head to a few local dealers to pursue your dream car. Of course, once you step onto the dealer’s lot you are on their turf, in their everyday realm — a world of mysterious models, Monroney stickers, optional equipment, dealer add-ons and astute, smiling salespeople — yet you are expected to negotiate by possessing some level of automotive know-how and aplomb. You look at a couple cars and even test drive a few. When you finally sit down to talk numbers you get the big sell, and then you decide whether the price is right. Right? Well, not exactly. To help navigate the unique journey of an auto purchase, here are some things you should NEVER say to a car sales associate.
I don’t really know much about cars.
Good salespeople know their products well and a dealership’s staff is excited and ready to sell you a vehicle. Indicating that you do not know much about cars is a clear signal to the sales staff that they hold most — if not all — the cards during ensuing negotiations. Do thorough online research before setting foot on a car lot so you have as much knowledge about the vehicle as possible. Being informed about the car you intend to buy will put you in good stead for getting a fair deal without feeling ripped off.
I’m just looking
Car salespeople simultaneously hate and love these three little words — it’s likely the phrase they hear most, and it is a rote response that indicates a customer wants a salesperson to remain at a distance. Salespeople understand you are “just looking,” otherwise you would not be on the lot. And they sell more cars at optimum prices to people who are “just looking” than to those who are well informed and ready to talk specific models, packages and pricing. So don’t say it. Open with questions that demonstrate you know something about the car(s) in which you are interested. The salesperson’s answers will also reveal how much they know about the automaker’s products and you can determine if the salesperson is a good fit for you.
Things Car Dealers Never Want to Hear You Say
“Is That Your Car Out There? We Can Give You $10K for It, Easy”
Your answer? “Thanks, I may consider that. But that’s separate from how we’re going to price the new car.”
You’ve probably been told not to discuss the value of a trade-in before you settle on a price for the new purchase, but that won’t stop the sales rep from trying. If you’ve done your research, you’ll know what your car’s potential value is. Don’t be lured in by a high offer by the sales rep: He might be willing to exceed your trade-in’s book value, knowing he can make up for that on the purchase price of your new ride.
“Everyone Pays the Vehicle-Preparation Fee. It Makes Sure Your Car Is Ready”
Your answer? “Let me see the invoice, please.”
Legitimate fees are listed on the factory invoice, which the dealer should always share with you. Verifying that the fees on your dealer’s bill of sale are also on the invoice shows you’re paying attention. It’s not the end of the story, however. Some fees inhabit a gray area—you’ll likely have to pay them, but you might be able to negotiate. An example is the so-called document fee. Some states, such as California, regulate this fee, setting it at a flat $80. Most don’t regulate them at all, and they can run several hundred dollars. In these states, find out what other lots charge; the dealer may reduce its fee to match the local competition.
“So, What Do You Feel Comfortable Paying Each Month?”
Your answer? “We can talk about that later. I want to focus on the price you can get me on the car.”
The sales rep is not offering you credit counseling here. He wants to sell you a more expensive car, by extending the loan term and lowering your monthly payments, or by switching to a lease. That could add hundreds or thousands of dollars in lifetime interest charges.
Don’t go to the dealership until you have lined up backup financing at your bank or, even better, your credit union. You’ll be in the driver’s seat during negotiations. But once you have a settled price, see what your dealer might have to offer for financing. It might be able to offer you rates that are quite low, if you have good credit. And leasing may be the right path for you, too: Just keep your eye on the total cost, not the lower monthly payment.
Things You Should Never Tell a Car Salesperson
Oversharing Can Cost You When Buying a Car
Buying a car is pretty exciting. But if you want to get the best deal, it’s best to contain your enthusiasm and limit the amount of information you share. The knowledge that gives you the power to make a great deal can also be used to the dealer’s advantage.
Any skilled negotiator will tell you that the more they know about their buyer, the more money they can get from them. It’s in your best interest to be friendly, but firm, and only give them the information you want them to have when you want them to have it.
Your primary mission early in the buying process is to set the price of the car without any discussion of financing or a trade-in. Bundling all three together can breed confusion, which is in the salesperson’s best interest, not yours.
To keep things on track, take a look at see what you don’t want to tell the car salesperson.
“I’m Going to Pay Cash!”
It is awesome that you can pay cash for your new wheels, but it is about the last thing you ever want to say to a salesperson. There are great reasons to pay cash, including saving a ton of money by not paying any interest on a car loan.
However, dealerships now make a tremendous amount of their profit off of new and used car financing, so telling them that you won’t be borrowing money will cause them to jack up the price of the car to make up for the profit that they won’t be making on the financing.
Telling them how much money you have to spend on a car tells them that they will not be able to move you into a more expensive, more profitable vehicle, so they will try to maximize the profit that they make within your budget. For example, instead of getting a great deal on a Honda Accord with your $25,000 budget, they might steer you to a Honda Civic, where they will make much more profit from your $25k purchase. Only tell them that you plan to pay cash after you have a price negotiated and you are preparing to sign the final paperwork. Then, before you sign, read all of the fine print to ensure that your price hasn’t changed.
“I Already Have Financing Lined Up”
Telling a salesperson that you already have a financing deal in place tells them that they won’t be able to sell you any high-profit financing, so they will make up the profit by raising the price of the car. It is just like telling them that you are paying cash. Of course, you absolutely want to have a pre-approved financing deal from a bank, credit union, or another lender in place before visiting the dealership. The time to pull this information out of your pocket is after you have settled on the price of the vehicle. If they don’t think that you have a financing deal in place, they have no incentive to find you a great deal on a loan. Knowing that you do forces them to meet or beat your financing if they want to earn the business.
“My Current Car Is on Its Last Legs”
Don’t tell the dealership anything that shows that you urgently need to buy a new car. If they know that you don’t have the luxury of time to make dealerships negotiate or to drive around town looking for the best deal, you’re like fresh meat in front of a lion.
You’ve just told them that they don’t have any reason to give you a good deal.
Telling them that your current car needs work also invites them to give you a low-ball offer when it comes time to put a value on your trade-in. Before you visit the dealer, you should already have a good idea of your used car’s value. You can consult a used car pricing tool, like the “What’s My Car Worth?” feature on our used car page.
Similar phrases, such as “I took the bus here” or “I just totaled my last car,” can also give the salesperson the idea that you are desperate to buy.