Help me see past the lies!


I’m a first time new car buyer. Or at least I want to be. I’ve decided on a Toyota, maybe a Prius or a Scion.

I’ve so far been smart enough to avoid giving them $200 up front just to test drive a Prius, which two out of three salesmen at one dealer asked for. I find it hard to believe that they would think I’d fall for that.

But the big thing is this - do salesmen still haggle on the price of a car? They all say NO. Perhaps I am asking them at the wrong moment, or asking the wrong way. The salesman I sensed was the most truthful of the six or so I’ve gone through so far says that there is no discounted/negotiated price on the Prius since they are in such demand. Yet kellybluebook shows the average buyer getting the price down about $800. He also said that there is no negotiation on the price of a Scion since the dealer will lose its license to sell Scions if they change the price of any of them.

Is Toyota the new Saturn? Can I negotiate and if so how do I go about it?



It’s all about supply and demand. They won’t haggle on a vehicle that’s in demand, which most Toyotas are because they’re very nice cars. You can definitely forget about it on the Prius as they are all the rage right now and there’s waiting lists for them-- if you’re not willing to pay MSRP, some other chump will! Although the $200 test drive is kinda odd-- are you sure that’s not a deposit?

The Scion might be a different story. I really doubt that “lose my license” buisness-- sounds like a variation on the old “I’ll lose my job if I give you this price break” line. At the same time depending on your location, they may also be in very high demand. Also the profit-margin on econo-boxes is a lot lower, so the dealer has a lot less wiggle room.

Although your experiance with Toyota is just the result of you wanting a very in demand car (try going over to the Chrysler lot!), there is a sort of “Saturn-ification” trend going on with car dealers, mostly due to the internet, which makes it a lot harder for the salesman to control the flow of information to you the customer. You can hop on the web and know the sticker price, what they’re going for across town, what they’re going for all over the country and maybe even his cost! It’s making it harder for them to really hose people and it was the people getting hosed that subsidized the people who got great deals.

However, you should still take advantage of these web resources and you should definately shop around-- you may find better deals at high-volume out of town dealers.


The more popular the car the less haggling, if any, there is going to be. The general public sets the desireability rules.

When the Mazda Miata first came out the retail prices were being bumped up 4000 over the MSRP. It’s pay it or else. It’s the law of supply and demand at work and there’s nothing wrong with that.


Well obviously, if you walk up to a sales person and ask if they will haggle on the price, they will say no. If you act as if you’re serious about the car at the price on the windshield, test-drive it, and then start making your negotiation when you get in to the sales office, that’s when they’ll haggle. I have yet to see a salesperson who will let someone walk out of their office when they think they’ve “set the hook”.


You can offer what you want. Your better bet is to get them to make the offer, that puts the pressure on them.

I suggest finding a second dealer, even if it is out of town.  Go to both and tell them exactly what you want (if they don't have it they can get it, so you might as well get exactly what you want)  and explain that you are going to one or more other dealers (don't tell them which ones) and you want their best price to compare to the other dears best price.  Explain that the best price wins no second changes. 

This has worked well for me several times.  No haggle.  If they don't want to play your game, they really don't want to sell you a car, just think how well they will service you car after the sale.

The most important part is to remember that they start off holding all the cards. You get to hold more cards by turning the tables.  First never ever go to a dealer and fall in love with a car on the lot.  Let them know, truthfully that you have other options.  Also make sure you don't need to make a deal right away and that they know that. 

Be ready to walk.  You can always come back.  When they say the deal they are offering is only good today; turn the table, tell them that's good since it is a bad deal, you will come back tomorrow if you don't find a good deal elsewhere and maybe they can offer you a good deal tomorrow.  If the salesman needs to talk to his supervisor to ok the deal, tell him you have a better idea, he can bring the supervisor to you, who needs a middle man.  

If you don’t go with the first idea, plan on making a return visit or two. Come back in a week or two and ask if they are serious yet, or spend the time looking elsewhere.

Once they know you are serious and are not going to fall for their tricks you are in the driver’s seat, after all, you don’t need to buy a car, and if you did, you can buy it elsewhere. They need to sell cars to pay the rent.

Don’t get tied up with invoice price and such. Just look at the bottom line. Do you really care if they loose $50 or make $5,000 as long as you are getting what you want at the cheapest price available?


Good advice. I always tell people that if you have a price in mind (that is realistic) then get the car for that price and be happy. I always found that people who haggle the most are always convinced they could have done better. Maybe they could have, but it is not worth beating yourself up over. In my personal sales experience, on most cars (super high demand cars being the exception), the manager would not let someone walk out the door who was serious and was at least a break even (covers all the dealerships costs) deal. I test drive all the cars I am interested in, pick the one we prefer, decide what I will pay and then pick it up. Of course, I will never buy a high in demand car. Simple and easy.



As soon as you ask if they will haggle, you’ve lost. You cannot ask this question, and you cannot discuss price until you find the EXACT car you want.

After you’ve found the car for you, you must decide how much you are willing to pay for it. There are cars for which you may have to pay full list price. Notice I said, “may.”

When I was selling Toyotas in the early 80s there was a similar situation. Toyotas were selling like hotcakes, and normally we didn’t discount them. Actually, the prices were substantially padded with worthless add-ons like pinstripes, undercoating, and paint sealant (see, some things never change).

There were a FEW cars that went out the door at full list, but most were discounted at least a little. The customers who did their research BEFORE they came into the showroom, and stood firm on their price, usually made out best.

You cannot get a car for half price, but if you make a realistic offer, and stick to it, you should prevail. If you waver even a tiny little bit you will pay too much. Be prepared to leave if your offer is not accepted, and do so if you must, but do not budge.

If they won’t take your fair and reasonable offer then the car is in too much demand and they know they can sell it to someone else. Then you have to decide how much you want that particular car.


All great replies in this thread.

Much has been written about the car buying process. One of the best books you’ll find on it is:

“Don’t Get Taken Every Time” by Remar Sutton

Remar used to own several dealerships so his advice is well founded. His 7th edition was just release in July 2007. I read his 1st edition and was surprised at how I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. It is great reading.



The goal of every salesman is to get the HIGHEST POSSIBLE price they can for anything they sell. We (actually wife…I went along for the ride) just bought a new Lexus ES-350 over the weekend. Been talking with the salesman for a couple months and wife finially decided on the Lexus over the other vehicles she was looking at. And the timing was right…The dealers sales were down this past month and they were willing to deal…They made about $500 profit…which I think is very fair.

Before you go to buy a car you MUST know the exact price including ALL options of the vehicle you want. I find it very usefull to bring with me a printout of the prices of the car(s) I’m looking at…includnig the prices of all options. Salesman are actually intimidated by a knowledgable buyer.

I feel that anywhere around $1000 or LESS over what the dealer actually paid for the vehicle is GOOD for all parties. In some cases you can do far better then this. And some vehicles that are very hot you can’t haggle on the price. Personally I would NEVER buy one of those vehicles.

The Prius use to be one of those vehicles, but there are a lot of them right now so you CAN haggle on the price. The Scion’s are also selling good but haggling can be done. The biggest thing when buying a car is don’t be afraid to walk. There are other cars and other dealers.

I would also recommend to find out financing (if you’re getting any) before hand. Some banks/credit-unions have pre-aproval loans so you know exactly what the rate is and how much you can get before you buy the car. Also find out how much your loan payments are going to be. The dealer will try to play games with financing and make it look like it’s a great deal…but they’re actually screwing you. And as you get older try to buy with cash…Makes negotiating easier.

Your biggest weapon in negotiating is KNOWLEDGE.


In addition to all the good comments so far: Different dealers have very different personalities. Some will treat you with respect, and others are of the “are you ready to deal tonight?” variety. If you don’t think you are being treated the way you want to be treated, just up and leave and don’t look back.

Personally, I don’t see much need to deal with salespeople any more. There is so much information available on the net these days, so many good quality cars, and so many dealers willing to sell via the Internet, that there’s little reason to spend much time in the showroom these days, other than to pick out a color and pick up your car.


I want to get my .02 worth in as we have bought at least 15 new cars since 1978 and have not done too badly.

  1. Shop around until you find a salesperson who will treat you with respect. There are a few out there but are hard to find. It has been my experience that most sales people are not people to whom I want to give my money. The salesman that we buy from must come across as personable and honest and yes, I can see past the smooth talking charlatans. I want to deal with a smooth talker who comes across as earnest; smart enough to be a very good actor.

  2. As was said, try to avoid what the herd is buying or you will pay too much. There are plenty of good cars now and you must shop other brands as that will give you knowledge for buying the vehicle that you prefer. If you are stuck on one vehicle, you might want to open up your thinking for the sake of your money if that is more important to you.

  3. If you are shopping and negotiating with your spouse, let him/her know that you might suddenly decide to pick up and leave if you feel that you are not comfortable and want to break off negotitions for a cool down period.

  4. Always be nice to the salesperson no matter how you might dislike him/her as you might want to come back to discuss more; may have found that the other salespeople that you encountered are even more repulsive.

  5. Never feel pressured into buying anything. If you don’t like being pressured, say so. If you are asked to buy upholstery protectant, rusproofing and finish protectant, do not be offended. Your salesperson may have been ordered by the boss to push this stuff.

  6. Think about shopping in a small town as well. Small town dealers can not cheat people and survive as the word will easily spread.


There is about $800 off the Prius in my neighborhood. I found this information at in the new car section. I found this information to be petty accurate when buying my last 2 cars. Go in, and get information. Let them know that you are willing to buy, and don’t mention price first. It’s OK to tell them what the competition is and what you like about them. Tell the salesman what you like about the Prius, too. It takes work to prepare. You need to know what you want in a Prius and any other car you consider. You might want to evaluate equivalent hybrids to offer as comparisons, even though you have no intention of buying them. It’s all part of your plan to show that you are an informaed buyer. The salesfolk will be more likely to offer a good deal once you show that.


The Yaris is selling for low prices and it gets 33 MPG overall and 40 or 42 on the highway if I remember correctly. They jump a bit when new and you step on the gas but they run nicer after 3000 miles. Need a stereo upgrade.


Scion I believe is fixed price.

Prius is negotiable. If you want to pay $800 less than $ZZZZ state I am willing to pay $xxxxx including fees + tax. If they balk, say no, … simply state here is my phone or email address please contact me. State, I would love to do business with you however I must check other opportunities out. Walk out the door.

Note you can do the above by phone or email too.


Actually, Greasy, the Scion franchise agreement prohibits the dealerships from discounting or from marking up the prices. A Scion dealer who discounts the cars would be in violation of the agreement and could lose the “license” to sell Scions.


A Toyota dealer in the San Francisco area is advertising $2000 off 2007 Prius’s. Seems like there are deals to be made. I have found going to web sites like and for quotes generated pretty good information.


I used to sell cars. Here is the skinny…
Every car, and every dealer in state in the union has the “sticker price”, “the invoice price” and the actual price. Pick out a car you like. Return to the dealer on the last day of the month (or, optimally, the last day of the quarter and month(March, June, September, December)), tell them how much you are willing to pay “OTR”, that means “on the road”, or final price, and that you are prepared to buy it today if they meet that price.
Thats how you do it.
The other responeses were problably from car dealers or car salemen!!