How to Negotiate with a Car Dealer

The most common approaches to price negotiations are as follows. The first is to walk in with a specific offer and then walk out. The second is to lowball them and then go up from there.

The most effective approach to negotiating is to refuse to engage in negotiations.

If you’ve done the legwork to get here (i.e., you know your price, have arranged your finances, and know what you want), don’t haggle. Simply tell them what you desire, how much money you’ll pay, and give them a phone number. Then walk away.

You must be polite while also being firm. Plan your trip carefully (around 4 p.m. on a Sunday might work). Be confident in yourself, but genuine in your convictions. Dealers can sense a lack of conviction at a distance.

It’s Okay to Haggle

You know the price of the car you want. Establish an estimate for what your dealer is likely to accept. Offers something a bit lower than that number. Say, 5% less than that figure. The dealer may say yes on occasion. Almost every time they respond with a grin and decline. This is when you request their most competitive offer.

The rest of the process is telling. If the dealer offers you the sticker price, it’s probably time to go. But if they provide you with a counter-offer, it’s time to haggle. Make sure you know what price range you’re operating in (with yourself).

The goal is to get the most out of your search by raising your offers in little and specific amounts, never more than $500 at a time. If you’re not getting what you want after some back and forth, suggest consulting the other half, parent, sibling, spouse, etc., then come back in a few days.

Leave your phone number. You could get a call before then, though.

Consider the Following

There’s always a better deal out there.

Dealers are well aware that someone will be willing to sell you a vehicle for the price you’re asking. It’s why we bargain – and it’s also why you should talk with many dealers at once. Getting a good deal is all about crunching numbers, as with most things in life. The more offers you have on the table, the greater your chances of finding treasure.


This can’t be overstated. If the dealer refuses to meet your request, walk away. We already said that there is usually a better offer available. When it’s clear from the start that you won’t obtain what you desire, don’t commit to a negotiation.