Negotiating Price: How Much Will a Car Dealer Come Down?

Nowadays, when it comes time to buy a vehicle, we really do have a lot working in our favor, and a lot of resources at our disposal. There are multiple websites we can use to browse prices, deals, factory rebates, regional discounts—the whole gamut. When buying a vehicle, most consumers can be pretty well informed. But can they deal? Can you wheel and deal with a pro?

Even armed with the Kelly Blue Book values and the Edmunds "True Market Value," and having looked at a million deals online and in the classifieds, when it comes down to it, and you're sitting face to face with a professional car salesperson who haggles every single day, multiple times a day—do you have the gall to haggle with him?

When he says "I'm sorry, but that's what the car's worth," do you have what it takes to say, “You’re wrong?” I'm inclined to think that many do not.

Negotiating Down From the MSRP


You will inevitably wonder: What is a good price for this vehicle? What is a reasonable offer?

Suppose the vehicle’s MSRP—manufacturer’s suggested retail price—is $35,000, and I offer $25,000, what might happen? Are they going to laugh in my face, take away the beverage they graciously offered me, and have security escort me from the dealership?

Probably not. They probably won't offer you a $10,000 discount either, but they probably won't kick you off the lot.

Negotiating Makes Me Feel Funny. Isn't the Price on the Car the Actual Price?

It shouldn't. And, no, it's not.

Purchasing a new vehicle is not just a big expense, but an investment, and it is definitely a negotiable endeavor.

Certain purchases are non-negotiable. Like when you walk into Walmart, you can’t walk up to the guy and say, "Hey, I know that TV has a $2,000 price tag, but I'll give you $1,500 for it." They will simply say “No.” and let you walk. Same thing at the supermarket, and so on. They know someone will be along in the next minute paying the posted price.

But when you're spending tens of thousands of dollars on something, you better believe you should be negotiating, and they DO NOT want to let you walk.

What is the Function of a Car Salesman? What Is His Goal?

Many people think his goal is to sell vehicles. Wrong!

Selling vehicles is a given at a car or truck dealership. The salesperson wants more than that.

The goal of the car or truck salesman is to make the dealership the most profit possible, while also satisfying the customer. This might seem like a subtle point, but the distinction is important.

Conversely, what is the purpose of the buyer? What is his goal? Is it to acquire a new vehicle? No. That's a given. The buyer's goal is to negotiate the most favorable deal on the vehicle possible.

"Profit" is not a dirty word. Remember that. Don't be bitter, or feel disenfranchised, or get upset that the dealership is going to make money off your purchase, and that the salesman is going to benefit from your sale. Be happy, because it’s quite possible that you can get a good deal, and at the same time the dealership can make money, and the salesman can make a living. There can be a real balance here.

"Excessive profit" is definitely a dirty word. Excessive profit takes equity away from the buyer. No matter what, you want to avoid negative equity as much as possible.

I'm sure many of you have heard, or will hear, from a salesman, that your new vehicle is "an investment". They will use that word “investment” as a way to persuade you to purchase certain upsells, like warranties, roadside assistance packages, leather seats, accessories, insurance, and all sorts of other stuff. And a new vehicle can absolutely be an investment, for several reasons, but it’s a low-quality investment if you pay too much for it: if you get taken on the purchase price, gutted on your trade-in, and wheeled all the way into the driver's seat by paying MSRP for a new vehicle and accepting the KBB value for your trade. Read on.

What Is MSRP, Anyway?

MSRP is an acronym that stands for Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price. This number is decided by the manufacturer—NOT the dealer.

The MSRP serves as a starting price for negotiations. Sometimes the dealer will post an "Invoice" price for the vehicle underneath the MSRP and use this as a selling point.

An exchange like the following is common ...

"Look at the invoice price," says Frank, of Bayside Toyota. "We're only making a few hundred dollars selling you this car at this price, and plus, you're getting almost one thousand dollars off MSRP."

"Oh," says Sally, as she fondles her hair nervously. "That's not too bad. I guess you can't really do much better than that, right?"

Frank smiles, thinking to himself, Excellent. We're done negotiating. "Exactly. You know you're getting a good deal, and we've got to make a little something on the vehicle ..."

What Sally doesn't know is that Bayside Toyota gets a $2,000 rebate from the manufacturer every time they sell a vehicle like this. Plus, the Southeast Division of Toyota Dealerships rewards Bayside Toyota with another $3,000 of dealer cash incentive each time they sell a vehicle like this. Plus, this sale puts Bayside one vehicle closer to their corporate-mandated quota and dealer bonus check. Plus, they charge a $599.99 dealer fee (or something similar) on top of that.

Even at invoice price, the dealership might have anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000 dollars of profit to work with on a new vehicle. So imagine their margin at MSRP.

Strategies for Negotiating for a Car or Truck

You need strategies, because they have lots of strategies for how to sell to you. Some salesmen are highly trained salesmen, others are natural salesmen, and others are just going through the motions to feed their kids, but in general, salespeople have experience, knowledge, and a LOT of tricks of the trade.

What do you have? It better be more than jeans, a t-shirt, and some crumpled notes stuffed in your front pocket!

Here’s your plan:

1. Use the Internet

  • Shop your vehicle on the various consumer sites
  • Know what vehicle you want
  • Know the MSRP
  • Know the various options you want, which ones are most important, and what they cost (roughly)
  • Find enthusiast forums for the vehicle you're about to purchase, join the forum, tell them what you're doing, and ask for tips and hints. You'd be amazed what people in these places know about the industry!
  • Research your old car too, your trade-in. Know ALL THREE Kelly Blue Book values: Private Party, Dealer Trade-In, and Retail.

2. Know What You Can Spend

This seems like an obvious one, but whatever you do, DO NOT show up at the dealer without having firmly decided, yourself, "what your monthly payment could be.” This is a bear trap, and you will lose your leg.

3. Have Your Money

Deal with your own bank or credit union when it comes to financing. DO NOT go through the dealer. They use the terms of the loan as a bargaining trick, a price slider to confuse you, and in many cases they will mark up the interest rate they get from the lender.

Show up at the dealership with a Pre-Authorized Draft (a blank check from your bank, basically) and know that you are in charge.

Why are you in charge? Because you have the money.

I can just hear it now ... “But they have the car I want!” No. They have a car, a car that you want, and that they really want to sell you.

4. Be Upfront About Some Things

They will play psychological games with you. They're sizing you up, trying to figure you out, and trying to get you emotional about your purchase. Stay cooperative and down-to-earth. Let them know your intentions, and be honest about some facts. Tell them your name, and what you're looking for, and answer any general questions they might have.

  • For example, "I am going to buy a Toyota Camry today," is an honest statement. It clearly shows your intentions, and answers an unspoken question the salesman has: Is this person buying, or just shopping? Think about it. If a salesman is trying to make a profit, and he thinks he is getting shopped, are is he going to offer his best discounts? Probably not. He offers his best deals when he knows a purchase is going to happen.
  • "I'm working with several dealers right now, and I just want to be upfront about that. And, so far, I'm enjoying working with you." The first half of this statement had better be true, or I'm going to be VERY disappointed in you. If the second half of this statement is not true, do not buy from this dealership!

5. But Don't Show Your Hand

  • Don’t get swept away right off. Supposing he shows you the vehicle of your dreams. It's perfect, it’s amazing. You think, “I NEED IT!” But what should you say? Something like, “OK, I see it comes with leather seats . . . that's pretty nice. The color is okay, not the exact color I was thinking. Not bad." Do yourself a favor and do NOT gush over the vehicle and beg to drive it. Wait for the salesman to offer the test-drive. You want to appear logical, calculating, and in control the whole time. Someone who is emotional is more inclined to throw logic to the winds. And they know this, and feed off of it.
  • Be ready for this question, which they will definitely ask: "So what are you looking to spend?" Here, you have the advantage, because you know the answer. You know what you can spend, and you know what you want to spend. And they have nothing; that's why they’re asking the question. So don’t give up all you have unnecessarily.. If you can spend $25,000 to $30,000—the former being what you’d like to spend, and the latter pretty much breaking the bank—tell the salesman something like this. “Well, I really like this model, and this year, but this [other] model has this option that I really like. And you know, I'd like to come in right around twenty-two or twenty-three, depending on options and availability."

Write down what they say, every time it changes.
Write down what they say, every time it changes.

6. All the While, Watch the Numbers Carefully

Be ready with a pad of paper, and the whole time you’re in that cubicle working that deal, write down the numbers they tell you. You need to know the current figure of every number any time anything changes. That’s so they cannot inflate your trade allowance, and stuff it into the MSRP or the purchase price. Here are the typical numbers you need to be tracking:

  • MSRP (generally includes options, processing, and destination fees)
  • Discounts
  • Rebates
  • Purchase price
  • Trade allowance (their offer on your trade)
  • Dealer fee
  • Tax
  • Title and registration fees
  • Down payment
  • Balance

7. Be Confident

There are a lot of dealers, and that black, sleek, leather-trimmed V8 out there, with the word "Limited" badged on the back in chrome, is probably one out of 1,000 vehicles EXACTLY like it, that can be bought or sold at many other dealerships, besides the one that you're at.

If the deal is not going well ... walk out. Period.

So Here’s How You Cut the Deal

You just got back from the test drive. It was incredible. You could feel the engine rumbling in your belly. Just the fragrance of the barely-worn leather upholstery intoxicates you with anticipation.

The salesman looks at you. "So what do you think?"

You say, "It drives nice. I like this little feature, and this little feature, but I saw the sticker price. We're not really at my number yet."

This is when the "what-if's" start. The dealer looks at you. "Well, what if I can take $1,500 off that price? Would that help?"

"That's a start. I brought some notes, let's take a look at some figures."

Their first offer is just that. Their second offer is just that. It's the third offer, the fourth offer, and the stop-you-from-walking-out-the-door offer that you're trying to get to.

Use options to your advantage. They will try and get closer to your number by offering you less of a vehicle in some way, and unless your number is ridiculous, this is not an acceptable solution. You’ll say,"Well, I like this number we’re at, but this model doesn't have this and that, and your offer on my trade is a little low."

Get what you want for your trade, but don't be unreasonable. Since you’ve researched all three Kelly Blue Book values for your trade, you have a good idea what it’s worth.

Then he'll start throwing the what-if's out there again. What if I can throw in the DVD player, and the fancy tires, what if I give you X amount more for your trade. Would we have a deal then?

Don't say yes. Say, "We'd be closer."

He's going to ask "What is it going to take to earn your business today?" and at this point, after a few offers, a few demands, and a few counter-offers, you probably know what it would take to get you to pull the trigger—so tell him. Make him work for it.

"OK. I did it," says the salesman as he comes back from his brief meeting with the Manager. "We can throw in this bell, and that whistle, get it in that color, and give you this for your trade-in, but only if we have a commitment from you, right now."

Now you're almost at the end of the deal. You both know you're a couple turns of the screw away from a deal, and that's when you drop the competition bomb. "Well, I like where we're at here. I like the vehicle. This is a pretty good offer, I've made my notes” (and meanwhile you are actually doing that), “but like I said before, I'm working with a couple other dealers and this was my first stop on the list. So I need to at least see what they have to offer."

He suspects the other dealers are going to offer the same thing, but go that tiny bit further to make their deal better. So he's going to go that one step further himself, and sweeten the deal to keep you from walking. He's going to get up and leave again, and come back with a slightly better deal. This is the "closer.” This is as far as they will go, most likely. They will ask for a commitment.

If you like this last figure, then say, "Go back to your manager. Get a commitment from him, on this number (circle the number), with this trade figure, and these options, and if he says 'yes' we have a deal." This last request is insurance.

He'll come back with the deal you want.


So There It Is

When I started out on my own quest for a new vehicle, I not only researched the vehicle, but the salesmen, the dealerships, and the negotiating process—just like you're doing now. Research is worthwhile. It helped me seal an excellent deal.

I hope this review helps! It only scratches the surface of the techniques, strategies, and scenarios that could arise But I know I asked myself a lot of these questions, and the big one was "How much can I really get a dealer to come off his asking price without losing credibility and sounding stupid?"

The answer? See above : )

Be peaceful on your way,


Comments 64 comments

Just trying to help 2 weeks ago

Good article but don't forget to talk about negotiating the warrantee process.

ANDRE 8 weeks ago

I NEGOTIATED A GREAT PRICE WITH DEALER, ORGINALLY $22.000 PLUS A CASH ALLOWANCE OF $1,000 , THIS BROUGHT THE CAR DOWN TO $21,000 , i thought GREAT NEWS, however during the write up of contract he added that cash allowance to the negotiated bringing the price up to 23,000 ,then taxes and fees , then he deducted the cash allowance of 1,ooo. {this doesnt seem right or is it}. Salesman stated cash allowance is taxable...hmmm ..Is this correct or im being scammmed. Its seems like im not really getting a true cash allowance. please help , because this is not making sense to me. what do u think? Is this correct practice.?

ModestDriver 2 months ago

Very good article! Shopping for a new vehicle can be a daunting task. Looking to purchase a 2017 Ford Explorer XLT and I can honestly say I've had a few laughs and many questions. I've learned a lot in the last few days. I have a question with regard to Ford's A-Plan pricing. Is it possible to negotiate lower than the A-Plan price?

Layla Bird 2 months ago

Hi Time Spiral. I just discovered you as part of my next vehicle purchase. I'm looking for a work truck with a hard-to-find configuration. Used vehicles are an option but it's not easy to find them in good shape (being work trucks).

We're not in a rush, and we're waiting for the right used truck while also considering new (known history, warranty and ability to rust proof from the very start make new seem attractive).

There's a truck I like at a dealer a few hours from me. My local dealer has told me they can do a dealer trade and get it in for us. But I want to get the best possible price on this vehicle. Our strength is that we can wait, and that not THAT many people want this specific configuration. Our weakness is that these configurations are not as common, and the truck is not local (it's not that far - just a two-hour drive).

We also have a vehicle to trade - or we could sell privately.

Would you recommend negotiating a deal online/by phone with the further dealership? What do we do about trading in that case? Or would it be possible to negotiate with our local dealer and still get a good price even though they'd have to go pick up the truck?

The 'sticker price' on this new truck is $42,000 CAD, and it's offered at $37K CAD after discounts. Would $35K be a reasonable offer? Also, right now there are a lot of 'incentives' to buy, and those incentives will be gone at the end of the summer. If we don't get our price, and the vehicle is still hanging around at the end of the year, do you think we have another shot? Could we get an even better price even without incentives?

What's true car value for a 2016 Toyota Corolla LE? 3 months ago

What's true car value for a 2016 Toyota Corolla LE? Not sure how to bargain with the dealers.

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 3 months ago from Florida Author

@Kelly, such a specific question like that is a little bit beyond the scope of this article, however; general advice suggests that you try and find similar vehicles being sold in the area and compare those prices. And finally, remember this: you're the one with the money. Make an offer and see what happens. If you're willing to pay $7300, and they're asking $8000, offer $7100 then negotiate up to $7300 if you have to. Good luck!

kelley 4 months ago

I have a question..I'm looking at a used $7,988 car, and I would like to know whats the average that can come off this price.. I'm looking to spend $7,300 total.. Would coming down this much off price be unreasonable ?

wert 4 months ago

lowest lifeform on the planet is new car sales managers

shafiqahmed profile image

shafiqahmed 9 months ago

Section 6 of Strategy 'All the While, Watch the Numbers Carefully' is extremely useful. Information given in this section are of great use. My friend in USA is in the car business for several years. He, I believe woluld love these information. 11 months ago

I was just told dealerships can loose their license if they sell below the the 'true car value' estimate . Is this not true. I presume it is.

Linda Robinson60 profile image

Linda Robinson60 12 months ago from Cicero, New York

This is an excellent hub and one that everyone should read, so much essential information for every car buyer, nice meeting you Time Spiral an incredible informative extremely helpful and interesting hub. I look forward to following all of your hubs. Linda

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 15 months ago from Florida Author


Important question. And firstly, I'm not a credit consultant--just some guy--so keep that in mind. Credit Checks (i.e., inquiries) are necessary for many transactions; some minor, some major. It is commonly thought that excessive credit inquiries can have negative effects on your score, and this may well be true in some instances, but the credit rating system is designed to take into account the realities of auto and mortgage shopping. In short: don't worry too much about it. My rule-of-thumb was to try and keep like-inquiries close to each other (like, within 30 days or so). This appears to be consistent with Experian's statement on the matter:

"Lenders recognize that shopping for only one car or mortgage does not mean you are trying to open multiple new accounts. Credit scoring systems have been designed to account for that practice and include rules such as counting the same type of inquiry as only one inquiry as long as they are made within a short period of time." --Experian website.

When concerning over your credit history, opening new lines of credit, missing payments, defaulting, and percent of account balance per account are far more significant and potentially negative factors.

IO 15 months ago

This is great information. Thank you so much. Keep up the good work. Just one question. During the negotiations, when do you let them run your credit? I have great credit and I don't want the inquiry if they won't give me the right deal.

DebMartin 16 months ago

Super info. Thanks. My stomach turns just thinking about car shopping. Even if the salesperson and the dealer are super ethical people, I'm overwhelmed with options in a very short period of time.

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 18 months ago from Florida Author

Thanks for the kind words, pJones. I appreciate the enthusiasm you have for your organization.


Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts. Generally speaking, when talking about accessories (i.e., "extras"), you want to identify whether or not you're getting a "deal" or "numbers are just moving around." Generalized example: Your target number is $16k. They come back with $16.5k. Potential strategies might involve (a) countering with a lower price, or (b) asking for additions, such as; accessories, warranties, etc ...; to help you "feel okay" about the higher price.

But when you do this, remember, any money added to the price of the vehicle is being financed. So, if they are $500 over your number, and you get $500 worth of accessories added "for free", that may not be the best deal--because now you're paying interest on the additional $500, which over time, could be a significant amount of money. Wouldn't it be much better to say, "Keep the free accessories, and let's lower the price,"? Maybe. Unless you can get a "deal" on the accessories.

Consider using the reality of financing to your advantage. Lines like, "financing and paying interest on accessories doesn't help me in the long run. Does it?" Another tact might be to lobby for accessories worth considerably more than the extra amount they're trying to add to the number. For instance: if they want to add $500 to your target number, try and get $1500 worth of free accessories (and settle for slightly less, like $1200). Just don't let the Sales Rep make up the value of floor mats (or whatever). Have Amazon or Walmart up on your phone and show them what the retail value is.

I guess what I'm saying with that last bit is: don't let them convince you that the cinnamon air freshener hanging from the rear-view is worth $300. "Look at my phone, Sales Rep, I can buy that same Air Freshener for $8 on Amazon, and it comes in Spearmint too."

Good luck, everyone!

Conrado 18 months ago

This was really helpful, thank you for the information. I'm currently thinking of leasing my 1st car, a 2015 Honda fit. the model that i'm most interested in has a MSRP of $18,235 and I can spend $15,000 - $17,000. If I negotiate by asking to add minimal accessories like all weather floor mats after the price has been lowered to at-least $16,500, would I be successful?

pjones1969 profile image

pjones1969 18 months ago from Arizona

This really is great advice, and it is so nice to see how you have responded to everyone searching for further assistance.

I manage a website for a small used car dealership in the White Mountains of Arizona, and they specialize in vehicles under five thousand that we get from auction. Yes, they are higher in mileage....but they are clean, newer and thoroughly inspected, and did I mention CHEAP!

I guess why I am jumping in here is because they are not your proverbial "used car lot" where they leave room for negotiations. (at all) They are not a "buy here pay here lot", offer no financing, and will not negotiate on the cost.

That said, they do encourage people to check the CarFax, see the kelly blue book, and even have a few days window so that you can have it checked out by a mechanic and return it with no questions should you find any major issues. In other words, they sell great products at a great cost, and then stand behind them.

Whether someone is searching for a new or used vehicle in this day and age there is just no reason not to do your homework first.

Should it be a new car, a post like this can literally save you thousands on the cost! If it is a used vehicle there is no reason you can't check the vin and see the full history of a vehicle, including what it's worth. Then take that extra step (and expense) and let a good mechanic go through it thoroughly, these steps can not only save you money, but a whole lot of aggravation!

Thanks for putting so much effort into this, it really is a great read.

amanda5577 profile image

amanda5577 19 months ago from Michigan

I went to a Subaru dealer once just looking at options. They wanted $14,000 for an older, used vehicle with all salvaged parts under the hood. It didn't drive very well for that matter, and when I tried to get them to lower their price they wouldn't lower it below $13,000. After that I just walked away. Great hub. Great information for anyone looking to buy a car, old or new.

JAS 19 months ago

With the 2015 models on the lot (we are looking at the Durango), I have found a few local dealerships with 2014 models on the lot. Are they able to come down more with those 2014 models? In just a couple of months next years will start hitting the lots. I was hoping that this would be a benefit to us. What are your thoughts on those types of deals? I have been to Edmund's and pulled info off of there to see the average price on the models we are looking at. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! This was a wonderful article! Tons of helpful info!

Stephanie 20 months ago

You made me feel so much more confident going in to look at some cars in the next week! Thank you!

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 21 months ago from Florida Author


I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I hope you were able to back out of the deal. Most States have a local law that allows you to revoke a contract within the first few days after signing. Look up your area and see if you can leverage this. Otherwise, a simple conversation should be able to stop the contract. "Hey, guys, I realize that I already signed the papers, but upon further inspection of the deal I've decided that I didn't truly understand what I was signing. Now that I do, I would like to rescind my agreement." They will certainly try and save the sale, just stand strong, and perhaps even bring someone along with you as a witness.

Sorry for the late response. I'd like to hear about what happened, if you happen across this follow-up response. Best of luck to you!

triple option switch 21 months ago

Could any buddy help me with my question??? Please i wanna finance a 2015 corvette stingray 2Lt z51 package for my bf hes credit is bad in gots repos unpaid bills of all sort but he destroyed he's credit to help me we are both young 21 now i'm finally getting my credit up in wanna get it for him im a first time buyer in don't got alot of credit but i got good down payment $30 000 but i won't be happy in less i get a low car payment in a good interest rate so what do you think. Is it possible plus how much do you think the dealers whould take off the price in should i get it used or new ??? Please help me as much as possible

MJ 22 months ago

Hi, Time Spiral,

Thank you for all of this information. I'm stumbling terribly with my first car-buying experience, and I'm learning so much from my mistakes. I've made some bigggg mistakes.

A quick summary of my situation: about 2 months ago, my mechanic told me that I should consider trading in my salvaged 2005 Nissan Altima. The work it needed far exceeded the value of the car (which, of, course, isn't much with its tainted title). I got my money's worth out of it, but now I'm in need of a vehicle, and the winters can be harsh where I am, and I'd like something reliable.

Mistake #1: I work for an employer that, in collaboration with Subaru of America, offers VIP pricing for new vehicles. If I want to take advantage of this, I need to put a request through, and, in the terms, it says that I should limit my visit to one dealership (it pulls up the closest one to where I live, but I can select a different one in the state if I choose). I put the request through and I've seen the "VIP" pricing for my vehicle of interest, the Subaru XV Crosstrek. It's a $1500 discount...which doesn't seem that "exclusive" the more I'm doing my research. I wish I hadn't put that request through immediately. I'm obviously going to look at other dealerships, too.

BIGBIGBIG Mistake #2: I got emotional. I did do the "walking away" tactic (more because I really needed more time to think), but I let my sense of urgency get the best of me, and I locked in a deal on December 31. I spent a lot of time negotiating with some luck, and I left with a headache and a used car to look forward to in a few days (it needs a minor repair first).

I took a better look at my paperwork today, and I'm freaking out. This was NOT a good deal (what do you think? $20k for a used 2013 Crosstrek with 69,000 miles on it--including taxes, fees, etc. plus a 3 yr./36,000 mi. service warranty, GAP insurance). I already issued a stop payment on my down payment and I'm calling the dealership the first thing in the morning to tell them it's off.

Can it really be off even though I've signed all the paperwork? I left the dealership at closing time Dec. 31, today's a holiday, and tomorrow I'm sure they're going to try to deposit that check. Can I really throw in the towel at the last minute and tell them I made a hasty decision?

Needless to say, I really wish I'd done more research before going. The mechanic told me about my car close to the holidays, and my sudden need for a car landed me in not-so-great-of-a-deal. Sorry for the novel. I guess my question is this: can I get out of this deal? I'm embarrassed to go back, but I find a better deal down the road at this dealership, have I lost credibility?

Aaron 23 months ago

What do you think will be a good discount on 2015 0r 2014

Cadillac SRX with premium package.

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 23 months ago from Florida Author


You have less leverage in the negotiation when the vehicle is high in demand. This certainly means that if the salesman and his managers pass on your offer they can be reasonably certain that someone else will make a "better" offer. If the demand is too high then you might start seeing premiums added to the value and your leverage to negotiate on price drops to near-zero. It is my opinion that in this case--unless you must have that exact vehicle--change your preference to a vehicle that you can negotiate better on.

I'm just some guy, but here is what I would do:

(1) Ask which vehicles are less popular. When you've identified one, ask how many they have available on the property, or in their possession at other locations. Remember the number.

(2) Ask how many of your target "popular" vehicles they have on the property, or in their possession at other locations. Compare it to the number of less popular cars. This should give you decent idea of how credible their popularity-justifies-this-sale-price claim is.

(3) Call their bluff. Make your offer and stick to it. Sure, the vehicle is popular--or so they say--but they have to make the choice: make the sale now, when an offer is on the table, or roll the dice that they can definitely get a better offer soon to replace losing your business.

A typical rule of thumb in sales: make the sale. Don't try and follow-up and make the sale later if you can make the sale now!

Also, don't be greedy. If you've been offered something that you're happy with, don't necessarily hold out for an even better offer, especially if it looks unlikely that you have that much leverage. A successful negotiation means both parties are reasonably pleased with the outcome.

Good luck!

Trish 23 months ago

Hi Time Spiral ~ I love all the information on this page. Have a question if the vehicle is a easy sell does that mean they won't budge? I am looking for a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Sport and they seem to be working with me? I have two dealers tell me the other one can't go down that low. I have them down almost 25%. What do you think?

SAQIB6608 profile image

SAQIB6608 23 months ago from HYDERABAD PAKISTAN

I guess prices vary with vintage and make/type of Car/ SUV.

But some good points mentioned here

Malka 23 months ago

How much should I expect to get off for taking a showroom car?

Esteban 2 years ago

I can confirm that this will work at most dealers. I actually did this without thinking much about it. I walked in and told them my budget, they tried to give me a lower model vehicle to meet my budget but told them that my trade-in car has better features than what they're giving me and I didn't feel they were being fair with how much they were giving me for my trade-in. I ended up walking but they did manage to lower the price on the car I wanted by around 3000! At the end of the day it wasn't enough but it goes to show how much you can barter with dealerships.

Brimat 3 years ago

I'm in the market this month to find a Kia Optima SX. I was wondering what your opinion was on using the KBB form to send my info off to 3 dealerships near me, then sitting on them finding me deals on the right car for the right color rather than running to the dealerships first. What are your thoughts on that? Also, I've seen a few commenters post about not being able to talk them down quite as much as your article says for a new car. Any insider info on how that works with Kia? I see truecar shows it for $24,620. Would it be so bad to try and get them down to 21K or start at 20K?

Ray 3 years ago

Hello Time Spiral, great article. I really find this helpful and plan on using it for my first car purchase. I'm a 21 year old student entering my senior year in college, hopefully starting a job soon in order to split the payment with my parents.

I know what car I want, but I will make sure not to show my hand at the dealerships. Would you happen to know if Kia has these kinds of big markups and cash incentives for the salesmen/dealership? Just asking so I can get my facts straight when I am in the negotiation process. Need to know if I am able to work my way down a couple thousand dollars and have some bells and whistles added as well, with no additional cost.

Also, on standard base trims that don't have the option of adding leather seats when you are building a car online, is it possible to have it added to the base trim at the dealership as a part of the negotiation process?

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Time Spiral 3 years ago from Florida Author


Great observations and contributions. Thank you!

M. McNeil 3 years ago

While I agree with most of what has been posted. Not all brands have huge mark-up. Honda, for example does not fleet vehicles, nor does the company offer volume bonuses to dealerships, and does not have several thousand in profit to "drop-off" the price. Before making an offer it is always a good idea to take a quick look at Car-Cost because not all brands use the same mark-up and do not have the same wiggle room.

sankt86 3 years ago

This one is definitely one of the best guidance article for a new car buyer. I have been going through the exact situation you have mentioned here and your article has certainly boost my level of confidence to deal with any damn dealer now. I signed up only to reply to your article.

Thanks much!

Nick 4 years ago

Im looking to buy a new 2012 f-150. no special bells an whistles like power seats or pedals. i just want what i need like a cd player or aux port for my music power windows i like but the sync and sat radio navigation is out the question and more things to go wrong on the truck/car as my gradfather would say(they dont make cars like they use to). So here is my situation im young mid 20's and to get a good price as i researched i need a cosigner which my mommy will do. My mom is like old school tells it like it is and yes she has went with me to buy and the numbers wasn't right so she got up an left im like mom that was rude lol, an dont want me to buy a new car unless the price is right, she dont want me to buy new pretty much anyway she says its a big investment and all that stuff. i make good money at my job but ive never bought a new/used car for over 5k so me financing myself is just dumb. So here is my ? im looking at at 2012 f150 msrp is $34500 i think. minus the rebates and all that stuff takes it down to $29.5 which to me is a good price but still alot of money im a tight wad thanks to mom haha.. So what im asking you TS is what is a good offer for this truck? Should i throw out 25k to the sales or lower 23k Please help.. And also just say the rims i dont really like or the color isn't right can u tell the salesman to go down just because you dont like the color or rims an the truck/car is the one you want with all features you like?

kawikachann 4 years ago

Nicely done. Very informative, and gives you confidence in my next purchase.

Joy 4 years ago

You said to pay with cash. The dealership says that have 0% interest on 48 months for a 2012 Highlander. Is that not true and we should stil pay cash?

UnknownKid 4 years ago

hi i have a similar case with Jedgar, so how long does the price go down after the car had reach its 1 year mark?

Copies of everything 4 years ago

The absolute KEY to buying a car is....they will promise you ANYTHING. They will say ANYTHING to get you to buy. Then they will change the deal just before you sign the contract. Its the oldest scam in the book and it's called "Bait and Switch". GET IT IN WRITING and get your own copy to keep. Make sure you have a copy of the factory order or the sales work sheet to bring with you when you sign the sales agreement. They are ALL 100% dishonest. They will fast talk you and they will try avoid giving you a copy of the work sheet which includes the full delivered price. You MUST know the "out the door price"...the grand total. The amount you are going to have to write the check for....BEFORE you sign anything. Copies of everything...get their business card. Get names and dates. Be observant. Take notes. Make sure they SEE you taking notes. Have a script for yourself to go by and don't let them distract you from your script. DO NOT let them double team you. Work with one sales representative, period, and do NOT let him keep getting up from the office to go talk with the manager behind your back. If he does, WALK AWAY FROM THE DEAL. They are triple teaming you and they do this EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIFE. You don't stand a chance when they are tripe teaming you. The junior salesman, the senior salesman (good cop-bad cop) and the unseen salesmanager in the back office. (The wizzard of Oz)

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida Author

Jen, the nature of negotiating is that you have some leverage. When demand is super high, and there are people lined up behind you, it can be difficult to negotiate much off the price.

Your best bet is to follow the basic advice of reaching out to the enthusiast community and try and find out if there are any factory, dealer, or corporate rebates available. If there are, and you know them, I would attempt to negotiate those rebates off the price.

Good luck!

Jen 4 years ago

Hi, awesome advice! I bought a 2012 Prius V last month and now my husband wants to buy a 2012 Camry Hybrid. I think I got a decent deal for my Prius considering market conditions, but know that I definitely would have been able to negotiate it down more if only hybrids weren't in such demand with the skyrocketing gas prices. Now we are in the same position again, but this time for the Camry Hybrid my husband wants. How do I get the best deal for a car that is in such high demand?? The car he wants has an msrp of $31,500 and according to the dealer, they can't keep them on the lot. (While we were there, two cars sold.) How much flexibility do we really have in negotiating? My husband's current car isn't very gas efficient at 19mpg and while we aren't in a hurry, we would like to stop paying outrageous prices to fill his tank every week since he pays $80+/ week in gas alone. Thanks!!

UGetThatThingISentYa` 4 years ago

Awesome info bud!! Going to buy my first car with my GF. This will help give me some ammo when going back to the dealership!!

Your rock! Don't stop the BLOGGIN'!

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida Author


I apologize, but I'm not familiar with the "D" plan, but what I can tell you if that towards the end of a model year is always a good time to negotiate the price of a vehicle.

Don't pay much attention to the INVOICE price of the vehicle, as that is largely fictional in most cases. What you want to focus on is a few things: (1) Fair Market Value of the vehicle you're interested in, (2) Leveraging your trade, and (3) Making sure you use any Manufacturer, Retailer, and Local rebates being offered to your advantage. You can discover these by joining enthusiast communities online, or doing some research about the specific dealership you intend to buy from.

I hope this helps!

Jedgar 4 years ago

Time Spiral - I have the ability to buy a car on a "D" plan which I believe will help me get a low price. The question I have is when 2013 models start to come to the dealerships will the invoice that the dealer pays go down? In other words if the dealer invoice is currently $30,000 on a 2012 will that $30,000 go down to say $28,000 as the manufacturer's try to reduce inventory to create room for 2013?

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Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida Author

@Salesman, Did you read the article? The following is pulled directly from the article:

"Don't be bitter. "Profit" is not a dirty word. Remember that. Don't get disenfranchised, or upset that the dealership is going to make money of your purchase, or that the salesmen is going to benefit from your sale. Be happy that you can also get a good deal, the dealership make money, and the salesmen can make a living. The balance is real, and achievable.

"Excessive Profit" is definitely a dirty word. Excessive profit translates directly into negative equity for the buyer. No matter what, you want to avoid negative equity as much as humanly possible."

Salesman 4 years ago

Just something to it om to ask a salesman to give up all his profit..doesn't he deserve to feed his check.! You can't expect him to give away ever car deal! Just saying..

baby-strollers profile image

baby-strollers 4 years ago

Very useful page! It's important to be a bit savvy when looking/buying.

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida Author


Regardless of what type of business you're doing, if the vendor makes fun of you, do not do business with them.

Call around, keep looking. Have a few salesmen looking up deals for you. It takes work, but it will happen for you.

Remember; just like any industry, the auto-dealer industry can be a dirty, grimy, pitiful thing. If you were treated poorly, vote with your dollar, never go back.

Craig 4 years ago

Hi Time Spiral, this is an ultimate 'homework' for car buyers, also the comments gave a lot of ideas. However here is what happened to me today, I am kind of planning to purchase 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan SE MSRP'd at 23K and went to Car dealer and told that I am king of seeking 19K as the price for it, and the dealer actually made fun of me, I was kind of embarrassed and moved out saying I have few dealers on my list of visit and returned straight home :(. Is it that idiotic demand to seek discount of 18% considering this is towards end of the year and the brand is like Dodge and not popular like Toyota or Honda?

Any tips, suggestion what should I do?

Sal 4 years ago

I used to work for a car distribtion company. We could print those so called window stickers and invoices all day long! lol They can make them say whatever they want too!

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida Author


Thanks for the kind remarks! Just by looking at it, it certainly seems like that is possible, but I really do not know. You need to do a little bit of research: Does the dealer get incentives or rebates? Is that model selling well already, or is it struggling? What have other people purchased that model year for?

Since your purchase is a ways off, one of the best things you can do is find a Volkswagen enthusiast website, with a forum, join it, maybe join two, or three, and start making friends. When it comes time to start negotiating you will have a wealth of resources available to you to make a strong argument for a lower price.

Good luck!

robbielo 4 years ago

@Time Sprial you have no idea how helpfu, simple, and detailistic(not a word i know) this is. i mean wow. great info. my question is i want to purchase a 2012 volkswagen jetta gli. with the options i choose its msrp is about 27k do you think they will bring it down to 21 at all? i just want to know what to expect since its a german brand and its 2012 but i wont be maing the purchase till about may/april 2012. just wanted to see what your insight is on this. thanks a lot.

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Time Spiral 4 years ago from Florida Author

Good luck, Raven!

You sound like an intelligent young woman and I'm sure you'll do fine. One thing that you can do is post your vehicle on Craigslist, or car trader, or other similar site and start getting offers, or having conversations.

They don't want you to leave and if you have a private party negotiation going on for your trade vehicle, you can just say, "Alright, well, I have a private sale in the works for this vehicle. They offered me $X, so unless you can match that I am going to wait and come back after the deal is finalized."

It's a decent tactic to use while simultaneously expanding your options.

Good luck!

Raven 4 years ago

I think this was great advice, but I'm in the same boat as Sarah and people don't take young women seriously when we're trying to buy a car, fortunately for me, my grandfather was a car salesman and I learned a few tricks from him. Like buying a car on December 31st, so you can argue that give me this car for the price I want, and you don't have to put it on next years taxes. Another thing I can use as leverage is paying in cash, something my Grandfather did when he bought my mom a new car was he brought like 20k in cash to the dealership and when they tried to be stubborn about the price he pulled out the wad of cash and started counting it in front of them, and when he threw out his number, he didn't move, they did until they got to HIS price which was about 10k less than what they were asking for. I am trading my car and because I know they will try and low ball me on that I'm gonna ask them how much could I sell it to a friend for, then "change my mind" and be in a better negotiating place for a trade in price. A dirty trick I know, but it's gonna keep them honest, and not take advantage of my gender and age. Now I'm in the first stages of my plan but I'm hoping it will work out well, but it gets confusing when they start talking about MSRP and Invoice, about how much a car is worth, but then you'll see amazing deals like $10,000 off MSRP and it's like how can you do that when it says Invoice is only like $1,500 less than the MSRP and I really wish my Grandfather was still here to be able to help me with this, because even at 80 he could still wheel and deal with the best of them.

sarah 5 years ago

Takeing your Dad or someone more used to the process would only prove how smart and savy you are.

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 5 years ago from Florida Author


It is true that there are some models that are not negotiated for, but this is very rare. The only time this happens is when the vehicle is in such high demand that they do not need to negotiate to make sales. This is not the norm.

It's a big purchase. Be willing to put in the work. Join an Audi enthusiast website that has a forum and start asking questions. You'll learn about dealer rebates and incentives and can use those to your advantage.

Good luck!

Jay 5 years ago

Hi, thank you for these very useful tips. I am wondering if the negotiations, to lower the price, work for German makes too? Specifically the Audi A4. I am interested in buying this car, its MSRP brand new is around $34K give or take. I have seen some pre owned cars with very little mileage for around $30K online, and if I look even deeper I can even find some at $29K, with a few more miles of course. But can these makes be negotiable as well? Thanks!

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 5 years ago from Florida Author

@Sarah, You're welcome. Feel free to send me a message if you'd like to discuss this further.

Sarah 5 years ago

Thank you for the advice! I really appreciate it!

Time Spiral profile image

Time Spiral 5 years ago from Florida Author


I'm not sure how much I'm going to be able to help you in comments, but I will try.

(1) You have the money. Without you there is no deal. The salesman needs to try and maintain power in the negotiation or he may not succeed.

(2) If they are flirting, or coming on to you, or making you feel uncomfortable in any way, like calling you "honey" you can diminish the behavior by not responding, or leaving.

(3) In very rare scenarios a dealer may not be able to move on MSRP. But this is rare. This is usually for new models for verhicles that are in extremely high demand. Don't buy these vehicles.

(4) It's really important to do research before hand. If you know the type of vehicle you want, visit and join forums. Reach out to people. The wealth of knowledge that is out there is vast. Enthusiast forums will often know about dealer rebates, special offers, and can offer very niche negotiating tips.

(5) If the salesmen is unable to move, get up and leave. Seriously. If the dealer says, "Maybe I can deal with your Dad," you can say, "actually, I've four other dealerships on my schedule today. Have a nice day." and leave.

There is a good chance they will realize you mean business and start to negotiate. If they don't, the actually leave.

I hope this helps!

Sarah 5 years ago

I'm about to buy my first car and I'm terrified!! I've graduated college, have a great career and am finally ready to purchase an SUV "of my dreams". My problem: I am young (20's) and look even younger! How do I negotiate and still be taken seriously? Although I don't know everything there is to cars and the financing, I am intelligent and do know what I am able to spend. The dealers I have met with tend to call me honey and sweetie and insist that they cannot move the MSRP. The last I looked at- MSRP $43000 I wanted to stay around $40000 and they laughed at me, telling me that maybe if I brought my Dad he could deal with them for me. I love my Dad, but I am financially stable with great credit and would like to buy a car MYSELF, but am not good at being "aggressive". HELP!!!

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Dale Mazurek 6 years ago from Canada

This is a terrific hub and just shows what hubbers are all about.

Not only do I suspect you will get decent traffic but you are also helping people save thousands of dollars.

This is most certainly the type of hub I want on my blog.

The hub is up on my blog now. You can find the link to my blog on my profile page.



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Time Spiral 6 years ago from Florida Author

@Green Lotus

Find the "true value" of any vehicle is a tricky art. If the dealer says the vehicle is worth $25,000 but it is still sitting on the lot 10 months later, then that vehicle is clearly not actually worth that, according to the market, or it would be sold.

I think one of the best things to do is join the online communities pertaining to the vehicle make and model you're going to buy and learn about the discount, rebates, and incentive programs that go on behind the scenes. Don't actually "play" those cards at the deal, but just know "This guy can still come down a little".

It's not unreasonable to 'offer a number' 25% lower than MSRP, and expect the dealer to come down, but expecting him to sell at that number might be tough. This is where your trade comes in BIG time. If your trade is paid off? even better. Thanks, Lotus!

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

This is great information TS. Thank you for doing so much research and laying it out so clearly. I love your step by step advice and will share it with many of my friends and relatives! One question though. I'm assuming it's not unreasonable to shoot for about 27% off the MSRP? For me, the hardest part is figuring out the true "fair deal" number before the negotiations begin.

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