5 Ways to Get the Best Deal on a New Car

It’s finally happened–you’ve driven your current car so long, you can’t stand the sight of it. Perhaps your revulsion is also compounded by the litany of costly breakdowns you’ve had recently. When you reach this point, the prospect of owning a new car is downright thrilling.


What’s not so thrilling, however, is the dread you feel at the thought of having to haggle with a fast-talking car salesman. Dickering over price for hours is exhausting, but the good news is that it’s also unnecessary. With these five simple tips, you will walk away with the best deal on your new car without the stress of protracted negotiations.

1. Buy at the Right Time

When you buy a car will have a profound impact on the salesperson’s eagerness to make a sale, which can translate into enormous savings. Industry experts remain conflicted about when the best time of year is to buy a new car, but the two top candidates are December and August. Some say the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is when dealerships offer the best year-end bargains, as they are desperate to shed their inventory by year-end and meet their annual sales quotas. Rebates and incentives abound at this time as a result.
However, a new study found that prices on new cars in August are, on average, $1,850 less than prices in December. This likely has something to do with model year changes, which typically occur in late summer or early fall. Regardless of which month you pick, you’ll save more if you shop at the end of the month and on weekdays instead of weekends.

2. Look for Unpopular Models


Image via Flickr by David Guo’s Master

You won’t have a lot of bargaining power if you’re gunning for the hottest model at the dealership. Salespeople don’t have to work too hard to sell popular models, and the price you pay will reflect that. Instead, consider buying the models no one else wants. Typically, unpopular models don’t have anything “wrong” with them other than aesthetics that don’t appeal to the masses. Dealers are always eager to jettison models they have too many of, and poorly selling models also often come with factory incentives on top of normal rebates.

3. Don’t Answer the Monthly Payment Question

You can count on a car salesman asking you “So, what can you afford each month?” like you can count on death and taxes. Don’t answer this question–guard your monthly budget like you would your Social Security Number or ATM pin. Tipping your hand here will shift the balance of power heavily in the salesman’s favor because there are all sorts of ways they can finagle a seemingly affordable monthly payment while burying obscene interest rates and exorbitant prices in the process. Negotiate the vehicle’s price, period.

4. Don’t Buy on Your First Visit

This one takes some self-discipline, particularly when you’ve lusted after this car model for years and feel comfortable with the deal you’re getting. However, the problems with “spot delivery,” or same-day purchase, are many.
For one, your emotions will likely be dictating the transaction rather than your fiscal sensibility. Second, contrary to popular belief, most states don’t have a three-day cooling-off period in which you can return the car, no questions asked. Finally, if you walk away, the deal you receive can only get better, not worse. Think of the reaction you’ve gotten when you threaten to cancel your cellular service–salespeople will throw every deal, incentive, and bonus possible your way to get you to change your mind.

5. Sell Your Current Car Privately

One way dealerships pad their profit margins is by giving buyers appallingly low trade-in values. Although it’s more of a hassle, consider selling your current vehicle yourself. You will get far more for it than you would with a dealer, and you remove trade-in value as a negotiating point so you can focus on price alone.
While the car-buying process can be stressful, using these five tips will help you simplify the transaction and walk away with the best deal. Just knowing what to buy and when as well as how to negotiate can translate into thousands of dollars of savings.

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