Unless you're on a no-expenses-spared mission to build your dream machine, chances are that you'd like to save money on a new car purchase. Dealerships didn't earn the nickname "stealerships" for nothing – they're notorious for using tactics intended to extract as much as possible from your wallet. Adding unnecessary options, pointless fees, and trying bait-and-switch schemes are some of the ways dealerships attempt to drive sticker prices higher. However, with some thoughtful planning and shrewd negotiation you can take control and get the car you want for below sticker price.

Time your purchase: Like other items, cars go on sale. Dealerships will often discount the cars on their lot to make room for new model year vehicles, usually in the later months of the year. However, this sometimes means that there's only a limited selection of discounted cars available, so you might not get the exact options you want. Also, new model year vehicles might have updated features that weren't available on the previous versions. Still, if you're flexible on the trim and accessories you want, shopping on-sale cars is an easy way to save.
  1. Stay aware of model updates: New model releases will often be accompanied by increased advertising to drive awareness of the new car. If you notice an uptick in ads for a new car, it's possible the older version is about to be discounted.
  2. Scout around for rebates or special offers: Discounts often come in the form of rebates or offers, such as low interest rates. Look online or in newspapers for these discounts before you head to the dealership.
  3. Go to the dealership and speak to a salesperson: Let the salesperson know which car you're interested in, and of the special offers you know about. Don't hesitate to ask if there are any other discounts available.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the car: Sit in the car and play around. Make sure you're comfortable in the driver and passenger seats. Ask the salesperson to demonstrate how different features and systems work, especially the infotainment system and how to check various fluids.
  5. Go for a test drive: Take a test drive to make sure you like how the car behaves on the road. Go for a mix of city and highway driving so you can feel it in different scenarios. Don't let the salesperson rush you – a car is something you're probably going to keep for many years, so you want to make sure you're familiar with it, comfortable, and enjoy it behind the wheel.
  6. Complete the transaction: Restate all the discounts and special offers to the salesperson before they create the bill of sale. Once it is presented to you, make sure that all the discounts are applied and that each fee is clearly explained. Be certain that the vehicle on the bill of sale is the exact one that you want and took for a test drive. Once you're positive everything looks good, sign the bill of sale.
Negotiate for the price you want: In every situation, the car dealership will try to make as much profit as possible on a sale. Car salespeople are almost always paid on commission, so they have an incentive to sell it for as high a price as possible. You can negotiate to get a better deal than what they initially offer.
  1. Don't fall for the salesperson: Good salespeople will do everything they can to align with a customer. They will try to be as likable and friendly as possible, asking you details about your personal life or cracking jokes. Don't fall for it. Keep it strictly business and only share the minimum amount of necessary information.
  2. Be knowledgeable: Another tactic salespeople try is to wow you with unimportant details or features. Do lots of research before you go in – know all the packages and options that are available, and identify the ones you specifically want. When the salesperson thinks you know more about the car than they do, you gain control.
  3. Be price-conscious: Know the high end, low end, and average sale price of the car. Use online resources to educate yourself on fair pricing. Kelley Blue Book is one of the leading sites for researching new car pricing, and their "Price New/Used Cars" tool shows the MSRP, the dealer's estimated invoice price, and a fair purchase price range. If the salesperson tries to take you outside that range, use what you know to your advantage.
  4. Negotiate hard: Start negotiations by making an offer on the low end of a fair purchase price. Don't be afraid to be firm or curt – when thousands of dollars are on the line, playing nice might put you at a disadvantage. If negotiations seem to be going your way, don't let up, and keep pushing the salesperson. Don't forget to negotiate delivery charges and other dealer fees outside of what's on the car's options list.
  5. Sign the agreement: Once you reach an agreeable price with the salesperson, sign the sales agreement after careful final review.
Bargain for extras: If you're having trouble getting the salesperson down to the price you want, another tactic to try is working to add additional packages or accessories for no extra cost. This can be a good deal for both parties, as some options cost the dealer very little, but provide long-term value for you as the car owner.
  1. Research accessories: Before you go to the dealership, look online for what accessories are available and decide whether they're something you want on your car. Common options include floor mats, mudguards, remote starters, running boards, trailer hitches, or chrome trim and other style enhancements.
  2. Negotiate what you want: Tell the salesperson you're willing to pay the sticker price, but only if the accessories you want are added. You might want to pad your list with accessories you're actually fine without. You can use that as a bargaining chip against the salesperson by offering to exclude them, making them think they're getting a deal.
  3. Sign the agreement: If the accessories you want are added to the deal without inflating the sticker price, sign the sales agreement after careful final review.
Throughout this entire process, be ready to get up and leave the whole deal behind. If the salesperson is being stubborn, you can do better at a different dealership or at a later date. Remember that you aren't obliged to anyone until you sign the paperwork. Ultimately, a car is a long-term investment, and taking the extra time to do research and to aggressively negotiate can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars on your new car purchase.

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