Various media, like television shows, movies and even commercial advertisements portray car dealers as sinister, profiteering individuals, who are out to make a quick buck. They are portrayed to be very aggressive in trying to persuade you to buy, and to pile up as many add-ons to a vehicle to increase the sale price, and therefore their commissions. Well, not all car dealers are like this. They are honest people, too, who need to make a living, and most will try to be helpful in assisting you with a purchase decision.
However, being the customer, you are of course, out for the best deal. Whether you can get a good deal will depend on how well you negotiate. Here are a few insights into negotiating with auto dealers.
Never agree to the first proposal. When you're looking to buy a car, the first offer is always made by the dealer. The car might have a sticker price, and this is used as a starting point for negotiation. The dealer might factor in other things in the computation, such as registration, accessories, taxes, and the like. The first reaction you should have, as a buyer, is that of shock and outrage. This first offer is too expensive for you, you say. You won't really need additional body trimmings or faux wood paneling on your car that would cost an extra few hundred dollars. You want something that is sensible, and within budget. This would prompt the dealer to try to shave off a few dollars, or even offer discounts to meet your needs.
Ask the wife (or the husband). When going through final negotiations, a dealer's agent will usually get his manager or supervisor to approve the price, if it's negotiated down from the SRP. You can also use a similar tactic by deferring to someone else to make a final decision. You can tell a dealer, for instance, that you are interested in the offer, but that your wife will not allow you to buy the car at such a high price. This will also prompt the dealer to further lower the offer, given the need to please not only one decision maker, but two.
Don't offer to split the difference. When you have an offer, and the dealer has an asking price, don't offer to meet halfway. This would only mean you are conceding to the higher price asked, and that the dealer would have won the negotiation. Instead, wait for the dealer to offer to meet halfway. Then you can make a counter-offer and meet halfway from your desired price point to his halfway-offer. You end up with a lower price.
Think and rethink. Dealers will often take advantage of your presence, knowing that they must make a sale while you are there. Otherwise, once you leave, your interest in purchasing an automobile will likely be reduced. So the offer might be described as limited to today only, or that you will get certain freebies and discounts if you buy now. But big decisions like auto and home purchases should be well thought out, and are best made after a good night's sleep. Seeing you back at the auto showroom the next day, the dealer will most likely give you an even lower offer than the first time.
Negotiating with auto dealers can be tricky, because they have all the experience in selling, often at an advantage to their own ends. If you know how to get around the smooth talk, then you can end up getting a good deal yourself.