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Our latest show is all about how to purchase a car, either used or new. Some newer car manufacturers, like Tesla, make car-buying a straightforward and easy process. Everyone pays the same, there isn’t any room for negotiation, and you can buy directly from Tesla instead of going through a car dealer. For those of us that don’t buy a Tesla, car-buying still involves plenty of negotiation. How can you make sure you get the best price when buying a car through a dealer?

Know exactly what you want

Before you start shopping, you need to know exactly what car you want to buy, down to the color. Do research on Kelley Blue Book, Edmund’s, Consumer Reports, and YouTube. When you contact the dealer, you need to already know the MSRP, what the car usually sells for, safety and performance stats, and ratings and reviews from actual owners. You can usually search dealer’s inventories online so you know you’re only contacting dealers who have the exact car you want. They’ll be able to give you a better deal usually because they don’t have to pay to get the car (this may involve freight fees and other fees).

Contact multiple car dealerships

It’s recommended you contact at least 3-5 car dealerships in order to create a bidding war. They don’t necessarily need to be close by; it might be worth traveling to get a better deal on the car you want. Emailing dealers is the preferred way to contact them. If you go to the dealership, or even call on the phone, they may be able to use high-pressure sales tactics to convince you to purchase more car than you are looking for.

Be upfront with the dealer

Let the dealer know you aren’t just window shopping. If they know you’re serious about buying a car, they’re going to give you a serious offer. Don’t be afraid to show them offers you have from other dealers and haggle with the car dealer to get the best price.

Talk to the person who can get you the best deal

How do you negotiate at the car dealer? At some dealerships, managers or those in certain sales positions may be able to offer you a better deal than an entry-level dealership employee. Make sure your contact at the dealership has the authority (and the willingness) to give you a great price.

Ask about additional fees and add-ons

If you ask the dealer for the price of a car, they’re probably going to give you the lowest number they can. This means they may not include required fees or add-ons, and they may be including discounts you aren’t eligible for. Get the bottom-line price before you can make any purchasing decisions.

Ask for rebates and extra discounts

After you’ve got the bottom-line price, ask if there are any other discounts or rebates available that you qualify for. You should be in contact with multiple dealerships, so send the high bidders the offers from the low bidders and ask them if there’s anything else they can do to get the price lower. If they’ve done all they can do with the price, ask if there’s any extras they can throw in at no extra charge, such as accessories, free service, or maintenance for a certain period of time.

Get confirmation

Once you have all offers in hand, you’re finally ready to make a purchasing decision. Confirm with the dealership (usually the lowest bidder) the price you’ll be paying and the details of your car purchase. If they try to add any additional fees in at the last minute, you still can walk away and choose a different dealership.

Once you have your new car

Take care of your new purchase. You want your new car to last as long as possible, and that can only happen if it’s well maintained. The dealership may not be the best place to go for maintenance, either. Independent repair shops often do a great job at a lower price than the dealership would charge for the same work.

If you haven’t watched or listened to our new car show yet, check it out on YouTube below. It’s chock-full of great information on how to make a great decision instead of a regrettable mistake when you purchase your next car.