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Buying a new car

I am planning to buy a new car this evening. I have done all my research on a few makes and models and i have narrowed it down to the Toyota Highlander SE. I have an idea of what i want to pay but can anyone give me any tips on how to negoitate? I have never bought a car with out a “male” present to intimadate the sales people!

First, you need to have more options. If the saleman knows you’ll only buy a Highlander SE, then he knows he’s not competing with the 10 other makes and models that are similar. Also, you must be willing to walk out at any time if they do anything unreasonable. You also need to have a firm idea about your price. You can do this all over the internet, through the various dealers internet sales sites. That eliminates the fact to face battle which they often win. Have you checked into the buying services at Costco, Sams’, or your credit union? Finally, buy nothing pushed at you in the finance office, including protectants, extended warranties, etc.

You’ll want to read this:

First, I Would Not Buy A Car With The Intention Of " . . . planning to buy a new car this evening."

A car is often the second largest expenditure one makes or at least it’s considerable. Going with the intention of buying a car this evening will be picked up by wiley salespeople. It’s like blood in the water is to sharks.

I have found the process of negotiation to take several days and maybe several dealers, even if you’ll ultimately buy from the nearest one. Comparison shopping and pricing will help you.

Don’t hesitate to take an “extended test drive”, possibly taking home a “demo” overnight.

I always go home and sleep on a “deal” before any money changes hands. Don’t rush and good things will come your way.

Don’t buy any paint sealant, rustproofing, extended warranties, or anything they generate extra profits with and mask what you are actually paying for a vehicle. Don’t offer to trade anything in until you establish an “out the door” price.


Nice choice. And you’ve gotten great advice from Texases and CSA.

I’ll reemphasize CSA’s advice to not accept any add-ons. And, if they give you the “well, we already added it so we have to charge you” line, laugh and say “you added it, but that doesn’t mean I have to pay for it”. Most of these “packs” are 90% pure profit anyway.

Be sure everything is in writing, every detail. And be willing to walk away. Don’t worry, they’ll call you. Be firm.

Thank you. I am in a rather bad position. My car gave up on me last nite and I will not pay for it to be fixed. The car had over 225K “hard miles” So I am renting a car till I buy a new one. But i do agree that I should not go into the dealership with the expectation of buying. I just have this feeling of panic that I don’t have a car any longer. Which of course is the wrong approach.

I didn’t know i can take home a “demo” hmm this sounds like a good option for me. I do have a few days before the Toyota incentive runs out. I have done some comparison shopping on line from other dealers and through a few websites like and Yahoo auto’s to see what other dealers are offering. How do I get them to put the price (quote ) on paper so that I can take it to another dealer? Do I have to leave a small deposit?

Thank you for your information

I would not leave a deposit, it gives them leverage. One benefit of email negotiations is that it’s automatically ‘in writing’.

Also, do not let them know you are ‘in a rather bad position.’ It’ll make it doubly tough on you to get a decent deal. They will pry to find out everything they can to apply leverage. Just stick to the deal, and walk out as needed. At the same time, if you’re within, say, $50 of your target, don’t worry about that last $50.

In days of old in the long ago past dealers used to allow people to take home demos, but don’t be disppointed if they refuse to. Times have changed. Ask, but be understanding.

Never leave a deposit to hold a vehicle. If you leave such a deposit, you’re basically “buying” the option to purchase, and you’ll not get the money back should ou elect not to exercise the option. Leave a deposit only once you’ve agreed on the purchase. And leave no more than required.

Salesmen / Saleswomen Usually Drive “Demo Cars” And Just Take Them Home Every Day. If You Can Find One With A Highlander (SE) And They’re Serious About Selling A Car They Might Let You Take It Home.

Take it for a little trip on all kinds of roads and different speeds, etc.

They can get something to drive home in from the used car or new car departments. Don’t feel obligated in any way to purchase a car when you return it. Thank them and tell them that you’re still looking and shopping. That’s why it’s a “Demo”. Don’t let them drive your rental. Lock it up tight.

When I take cars home for the night, I open the glove compartment, take out the Owner’s Manual, and do a little reading. I usually make several trips outside to check out features that I discover in the manual. The more familiar you become will help you decide and if you really want one and the familiarity will help you overcome any buyer’s remorse that could set in.

It’s a lot of work to buy a car the right way. It’s fun, but a lot of work. I’m usually weary and glad when the process is all over with.


TSM, My Nearest Town 20 Miles Away Is A Fairly Small Town And Almost Everbody Knows Everybody. I’ve Had Salesmen Just Throw Me Keys To A Car And Tell Me To Bring It Back.

A lady my wife works with took a car home and she liked it and just kept driving it. The dealer had to leave messages where she works to either buy the car or return it. She eventually paid them for it.


They’ll be pressing you to “trade-in” that rental you’re driving right now. Just let them know that you are NOT trading in, no matter the price. Don’t let them know you’re driving a rental, otherwise they might be less willing to negotiate because they know you’re needing their vehicle that much more.

If you have settled on this particular car, then you have to get to several (3) Toyota dealers. Get the dealers working against each other. Find a car at each dealership that you like. Make an offer about $6,000 below their asking price. When they turn you down tell them you are shopping other dealers and be specific, give the names of the other 2 dealers. Say whoever comes up with the best deal gets your business. Then leave. Do the same at the other 2 dealers, and leave them as well. Wait for your phone to ring, and one of the dealers will give you a good price.

Great advice, UncleT. They will ALWAYS call back. That worked for me even in a 1-dealer town. I turned down their deal, left, and they called back in 6 hrs and negotiated. Do not let them make this a multi-hour thing, they can come up with a price in 10 minutes. The rest of the time is just them trying to grind you down.

One thing not mentioned or not mentioned strongly enough is that you should determine which brands and models compete with the Toyota Highlander SE and shop them too. Toyota dealers are scarce so it would be difficult to shop more than one unless you live in a large city and even then there may be only two.

If you lock yourself into one brand and model, that reduces your negotiating power. If you really want the Toyota, that is OK but you still must have shopped the competition. It’s a mind game that you play with the salespeople. It will come out and it should, that they, meaning any brand, are not the only people who have a vehicle that you might like.

Beyond that, don’t let the sales people sell you what you don’t want. I, for one, find that annoying but they are required to do that by their employer, to offer things that you don’t need or want. Just say no, thank you.

Don’t even talk to the salespeople except to arrange a test drive. They usually don’t know anything about the cars, they only know how to screw people.

There’s your negotiating tactic. Get offers without even talking to salesmen on the floor. Pit dealers against each other, reverse-auction style. You can substitute email for fax, and you don’t actually have to compare identical cars, as long as the dealers always know exactly what you are cross-shopping with, they’ll know if they can make you a better offer than the other guy.

There is no better way.

I want to thank everyone for your wealth of information. I did take the highlander back home to see if it would fit into my garage. And Also my son and I drove it around through the huge puddles and potholes. When I went back to the dealership it was allmost closing time but we had a very good “discussion” with the sales manager and they came back to me with a fairly decent offer before taxes and fees.

I don’t care about the color of the car just the price.I actually test drove the Demo that had about 2800 miles. I believe I did get a good offer. However, I did send my quote that I received out to two other dealers and now I am just waiting for them to get back me.

Thanks again for all your help!

All the advice given is good. I’m a practicing lawyer who negotiates with other professionals for a living, so I actually enjoy the car-buying process. The keys to success:

  1. Do research and set your maximum price before you enter. It can’t be ridiculous. The dealer has to make a profit. By the way, you’ll never find out the real dealer cost for the car. There are so many dealer incentives and kick-backs, and they change all the time. I look at the sticker price and try to go below it at least 10%. I bought a new Honda Accord last June before the “cash-for-clunkers” program, when the dealers were really suffering. I paid $4600 below the sticker.

  2. Be willing to walk out. I have bought many cars the day after the first meeting. The salesperson is counting on your emotional attachment to that gleaming car you test-drove. Stay calm.

  3. Have at least one alternative – another car or another dealer.

  4. Reject dealer add-ons and processing fees. The biggest ripoffs of all.

  5. If you have to finance, use your credit union or bank, unless there’s a really sweet deal offered, such as 0% interest. Negotiate the price first, as if you’re paying cash, then ask about financing.

  6. If you can, never trade, always sell your old car. You’ll come out thousands ahead.

You Get An “A-”, So Far. It Sounds Like You’re All Over It !

Great move on your part, driving one home and checking out the garage fit and some road test situations. Even better that you got a price, thanked them, and are still shopping.

I know you’re under unusal pressure because you are paying for a rental, but that will be insignificant when the deal goes your way.

I don’t know that I would have “tipped my hand” by giving them the dealer’s quote to beat, but you can get the dealers counter-offering to win your sale.

Oh, and one more thing. Be careful. Compare apples to apples. " . . . the sales manager and they came back to me with a fairly decent offer before taxes and fees. "
Get the absolute “Out The Door” bottom line price, including sales tax, all fees, delivery, prep, whatever, etcetera, from each dealer.

Compare those “bottom line” out the door prices. Have an understanding that you won’t pay one more cent. Otherwise there’s a little wiggle room for some surprises when you go to finalize the deal at the dealer of choice.

Good job.


You’ve done great so far, now the HARD part - closing the deal. Most of the money is made for the dealer at the closing, selling you unnecessary ‘packs’ and extended warranties. They will pull every trick in the book to shame you into these high-profit items. DON’T FALL FOR IT! You may want to bring a friend along for support, as long as they won’t be tricked by the hard sell you’re sure to receive. Good luck!

Sounds like the dealer I bought my 97 Ford from - he literally had the keys in the ignition with the doors unlocked on every vehicle on the lot. He handed me a dealer plate and told me I could just take whatever I wanted and bring it back “whenever”. Didn’t even get a copy of my license, and I didn’t know him…

Even if all you want is a Highlander SE, you can tell the dealer that you’re considering that or, say a Hyundai Santa Fe, which typically is cheaper than a Highlander… that gives him the belief he has to compete against a vehicle with a lower price point, which is extra incentive for him to come down.