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Car Buying Process

I already know the Model and Trim I want to buy. I’ve already looked and test driven. Do I get a bottom line selling price from the car salesman for the Model/Trim I want- what he’s going to sell the car to me for, before I pick the particular car I want - the color I want?

And how do I get a Honda salesman to be more flexible. They tend to rely on Honda’s popularity and resale value and stick to their guns. At least one dealer has done that with me - today. It will be a cash sale and no trade-in. In August, they’re offering .9% interest, which is $3,800 to $4,500 discount. So I asked for some kind of comparable discount. His reply was, we don’t care if it’s cash or financing, because Honda gets the financing profits.

Caveat: I’m a former auto salesperson.

Before you talk to any more auto salespeople, do some research in Consumer Reports Magazine. Look for “dos and don’ts” when buying. They also have excellent advice on price negotiation.

Don’t talk price until you have found the EXACT car you want to buy. Correct equipment, correct color, everything. Once you have found the car you want to drive home you can negotiate. Before that you’re still shopping and everything is up in the air.

Salespeople are trained to tease from you the information they need to take advantage of you and get more money for the car. You, on the other hand, have not been trained in ways to resist them. Unless you educate yourself you are at a disadvantage and will likely pay more than necessary.

You’re looking at it from the wrong side. You’re asking “how much will he sell me the car for?” Instead you should be telling him how much you’re willing to pay. You’re allowing him to be in charge of the transaction. In that situation whom do you think has the advantage?

Now ask yourself this: Who’s money is it? If you’re spending you should be in charge, not the salesperson. Doesn’t matter whether it’s your money or your sister’s. They don’t need to know that, and you’re better off not telling them. You, the buyer, should be in charge of the transaction.

Any sort of promotion, sale, or “special pricing” is totally BOGUS. You can get the same price, or better, any day of the week if you know how to play the game.

Be reasonable, you can’t buy a new car for 50%, but if your offer is a fair one, and you stick to your number, you’ll win. It may take time. They will drag out the process and try to wear you down. If you budge, even one cent, after making an offer, you’re lost.

You can always get up and leave if you don’t like the tactics they are using. If you have a reasonable offer on the table they’re unlikely to let you walk away. Take charge. Tell them you won’t put up with any fooling around. And mean it!

Thank you so much. I’m confused, because all the reading on CR etc., warned against giving the impression that you are emotionally attached to any one car, that it’s used to their advantage. Are you sure I should pick the exact car first?

I can see your point that I should make the first offer. Please tell me what you think a fair offer from me would be, based on this info: Sticker Price is $19,115. Invoice is $17.706 according to Car and Driver, and he showed it to me on the Kelly Blue Book Internet site. This is a $1,449 discount. However, this dealership tells you over the phone that the discount is $1,500 to $2,000. I asked to see the Factory Invoice. The Sales Manager said that was private, not for the public. My sister has $17,500 and I’m contributing $400 (I have not mentioned this to any salesperson). Everything, including sales tax has to be included in $17,900. Do you think this is possible? One Honda salesman at another dealership has told me to bring any offer to him and he’ll take off $500 to make the sale. Can I trust this? I’m counting on it. Also, should I go to 3 different dealerships to try and get the price down? This is what friends tell me.

My sister is giving me the money now, that she was leaving to me in her Will, because I need a car. So this will be the last car I have most likely, as I am disabled and have less than $10,000 a year income. I must call tomorrow and ask if his $17,706 price offer includes everything. The salesman today was cold and somewhat adversarial, and young. So what do I do now?

My suggestion is to pit one dealer against another. Once you have picked the exact car you want, go to more than one dealer, yea go out of town if needed. Tell them what you want and tell them that you are going to other dealers and the best price will get your business. Don’t let any other factors to influence the deal.

Make sure they know they will all get ONE chance to bid for your business. If they start stalling, give them a date (like three days) to get that offer back to you. Tell them no dealer will get a second chance. One bid from each dealer no dealer told what other dealers or how much they may have bid. Stick to that plan and be honest. Do what you say, no second chances. Don’t be afraid of going out of town.

The last time I did this when I showed up to pick up my car, it was $500 less than agreed to, it seems VW had a new incentive and I got the benefit of that.

Most but not all dealers would go along with my plan. But why would I want to do business with a dealer who would not go along with my plan?

Good Luck

BTW I agree with checking the Consumer Reports suggestions.

We are approaching the end of the month, that is good for you the buyer. The salesman and dealers want to have a good month and will deal more at the end of the month to get it. Start calling your salesreps on the phone and tell them you are going to buy a Honda Civic with the equipment you want. Be specific and tell the colors that are OK and those that are out. Tell them you will buy the car cash and do the sale immediately. Whoever gives you the best deal will get your business. Tell them to call you when they have a deal that is below $17,900 out the door, sales tax and everything included. Then hang up and wait for the phone to ring.

I think your assumption that a cash sale is better for the dealership is completely wrong. Typically they geta small commission from Honda Financing, so they actually do better if it is not a cash sale.

Have you considered buying a used car if your budget is so tight?

You have to settle on one car because they often vary slightly in equipment level from one to another. Picking ONE car means you have a real price to deal with.

Don’t worry about factory invoice, or anything else. You don’t care how much the dealer paid for the car, and you’re not likely to get a real number anyway. All you need to care about is the bottom line on the invoice. How much you’re going to pay for the car.

You must decide how much the car is worth to you. I can’t do that.

They can juggle the numbers any way they want, and they will, but as long as they arrive at YOUR price at the bottom it doesn’t matter. They can call it a “first time buyers discount,” or an “Internet buyers discount,” or a “Christmas Discount” if they want. You don’t need to be concerned with what it’s called. Just pay attention to the number at the bottom of the page; the price you pay.

I think, given your situation, you should consider a used car. New cars cost much more, and the first year depreciation is high, even on a Honda.

There are nice used cars, one to three years old, that would serve you well and save you some money. Ever since my days as a car salesperson I’ve sworn off new cars. It’s too hard to get a fair price. The deck is stacked in the dealer’s favor. I prefer shopping for and purchasing used cars.

See if you can find a Honda Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) car. They probably have some on the lot.

I have a friend who works several dealers against each other every time he buys a new car. It drives his wife crazy, and the salespeople hate him, but he always gets a very attractive price. He takes his time and just keeps beating on them until they take more off the price. The salespeople often ask him, after a while, if he truly plans to buy, and he just smiles and says, “I’ll buy from the dealer who gives me the best price.”

It works, but he’s a tough nut, and this tactic is probably not for everyone. You have to be willing to endure all sorts of unpleasantness from the dealers. It’s their way of wearing you down. If you can ignore their tactics and just stick to your guns you will prevail.

You HAVE to realize that YOU are in charge. It’s your money. They want it. Tell them you will give it to them on YOUR terms. That’s how you should buy a car.

Let me assume that you want to buy a 2010 Honda Accord EX, and not a Chevy from a Honda dealer. People are currently paying about 4% under invoice for a 2010 Accord EX. Honda offers $1200 a market support payment to the dealer, but not if the car is financed at 0.9% through Honda. If you want to pay cash, don’t finance through Honda. Negotiate the best cash price and compare it to these numbers for an EX with the 4-cyl:

MSRP: $24,360
Invoice: $22,331
TMV: $21,457

The TMV is what people are paying for a 2010 Accord EX 4-cyl on average nationwide. It may well include the $1200 market support payment to the dealer already. Ask about the market support and if you can get that, too after you negotiate the best price. I bought a 2005 Accord EX V6 for invoice and then they took off the market support when I mentioned it.

If you aren’t interested in a car from the lot right now, they probably won’t deal. Even though we are nearing the end of the month, we’ve come to the end of a model year. If you plan on ordering a new car from the factory, you might want to wait until late September/early October to do so, to make sure they’ve got all their things in order.
If you’re gonna buy a 2010 on the lot, and they still won’t budge, tell them what you are willing to pay, not a penny more, then leave your name, phone number and price written down, then leave. Also, be sure the price you’re willing to pay is the out the door price, not just sticker price. Remember you’ll have to pay sales tax, title and documentation fees.
And remember to say no to the stuff they try and push on you as you’re closing the sale(i.e. paint/fabric protection, extended warranties, etc). The harder they push them on you, just look at them sternly and tell them that if the car needs this stuff after it comes from the factory, you’re gonna cancel the sale because it’s such a horrible vehicle and you want nothing to do with it.

Here;s a website that offers great advice:

I believe that you are making an error by shopping only one brand. There are a lot of good cars out there now and if you take the time to look at some of them, you may likely find one that suits you for less money than a Honda. You can use this if you still might want a Honda to tell the Honda dealer that Brand X or Brand Y with the same equipment cost less. You can say that you prefer a Honda and want to buy one but not if the price is made a little more competitive.

In addition, you can even shop competitive brands that you definitely don’t like or want (don’t tell anyone this) to use as price comparisons against Honda’s price.

I am of the view that efforts to reduce the selling price are less effective if you don’t have a weapon other than that you simply want a low price.

A salesman can quickly sense if you have been effectively shopping around.

One more thing, resale value is not important if you will drive the car for at least 12 years.

I’m basically in agreement with mcparadise about taking charge of the situaion.
You need to be brutally firm in your dealings even if you feel like you’re stepping on someone’s toes or your toes will be the ones that get stepped on. Remember, they need to sell a car to you far worse than you need to buy one from them.

Being hard-nosed in the dealing is nothing personal; just pure business.