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How do I negotiate?

I have NEVER bought a car. I will be paying cash for an Infiniti FX35 CPO. I have never even been inside a car dealership. I will have $25,000 in my purse. I want to get the very best price I can with this money from my Father’s estate. Can anyone offer suggestions on negotiating. I can bring more money if I should but don’t want to give more than is fair. What kind of extra fees will I be paying. How much should I allow for that?

Slow Down. Shop Prices First So That You Get A Feel For A Good Price.

“I want to get the very best price I can with this money from my Father’s estate.”

This is different than buying a loaf of bread. You need to put time and effort into it to make your best deal. I did say “make” your best deal.

If you let on that you have a certain amount to spend then the sales people will try to get as much of that as possible. What you have to spend isn’t their business.

I pay cash for car purchases, also. This doesn’t always thrill the sales people as they make money on the financing process. The whole sales game is centered around monthly payments rather than total cash price.

If you can find a CPO 2005 FX35 for $25,000, buy it. The Edmunds TMV for this car is $28,000 (stripped). You probably need to pick another car or drop the CPO requirement. That adds $3000 to the cost of the car.

If you still want to negotiate, never bring up price first and never let on that you are going to buy the car until they meet your price. Remain noncommittal. If they think you are going to buy it, they will stop negotiating. Remember that they put food on the table with your money, and will work hard to get as much as they can.

As for extra fees, there is tax, title, tags and little else on a used car. There is no delivery fee, there should be no advertising fee, and no prep fee (especially on a CPO). Your $28,000 FX35 should cost almost $30,000.

I really wouldn’t carry 25k in cash on my person. How about just depositing the money and writing the dealership a check instead?

Just curious how did you come up with the final conclusion that you need an FX35. Have you shopped around and test drove all other cars in similar class?

You may want to consider hiring someone to negotiate for you. I have a neighbor who has done that for a number of people. The ones I know have been happy with the results.

There are several techniques, but remember they are holding the cards unless you take command.  Don't let them know you have money with you, don't fall for that give us a down payment and we will give it back if you don't buy or give us your keys so we can checkout the trade-in because you are then captive until they decide to let you go or you call the police.

Research what the car cost…not what is on the sticker, what the car cost the dealer. This is usually called the Invoice Price. Be aware also that the dealer will usually gets hidden sales incentives and holdbacks from the auto manufacturer once the car is sold, which reduces his actual cost. Go to Consumer Reports and order their New Car Price Report. I think it will cost around $12. It will tell you what each item you want actually cost the dealer. Now that you know what the true cost is you are better able to negotiate from there. By the way, don’t let the salesman tell you that your numbers are wrong…he’s just trying to shoot down your negotiating ability from the start. Because of the poor economy, you might be able to get the car at Invoice. It will depend on how badly they need to move some cars and how good you negotiate. Here is the link

Also go to Consumer Reports and read their advice on purchasing a new car, Here is the link

Consumer Reports is also a good place to look up the reliability of the car.

NEVER take money with you…your only goal is to get the best deal you can at this
point. Do not discuss whether you will pay cash or not, until you have gotten a firm quote from the manager (NOT the salesman…he or she can not make the final deal, only the manager can). Also remember, there is usually more than one dealership in the area, so don’t be afraid to thank them for their time and go somewhere else if you don’t feel they are treating you fairly or taking you seriously (you sound like you are a female…so don’t let them treat you any less than they would a man).
Remember, they need you, you DON’T need them…and also remember, be assertive (not pushy or nasty) know what you want and ask for it.
One last thing…don’t take them up on letting you Test Drive the car. They will need your drivers license and a few other pieces of info. Seems harmless, except that while you are out driving the car, they are getting all sorts of personal information off the web about you, your income, your credit score, where you live, bank info, etc. This info will help them to determine how much they can get from you. DECLINE the test drive.
I’ve been buying cars for 30 years and have learned what is the best way to negotiate to get the best deal. It’s really not hard when you have the facts.
Good luck.

I like this best… and don’t make the second biggest purchase you’ll ever make on your own. Never carry money with you. As any negotiator will tell you, just taking time to “get” the money may give you more reconsideration time.
And remember…don’t fall in love with anything (one) that won’t love you back. Cars are in that category.

Good advice. But when dealerships make a copy of your license they are not doing a full blown background check on you. They are simply getting your name and address in case something fishy goes on during the test drive (you wreck the car, steal the car, or do something to the salesman). No need for the tinfoil hat.

A lot of good advice, here. But to answer your question: INFORM YOURSELF!!! Go to the NADA (National Auto Dealers Assn.) web site and find the trade in value for the car you are looking for. Enter “0” for the mileage. This will give you the instant depreciation of the vehicle you’re looking for and it’s a GREAT starting point to drop the asking price. Also cruise the web looking for annual up-keep cost on the vehicle. This will tell you what you’re going to shell out just to drive it. The warnings about NOT revealing that you have cash are valid. Try asking, “What will it cost if I drive it home today?” This is NOT a promise to purchase, it is a question about how low a price will they sell it for if they have a fast sale. Also, you can get dealerships “Cutting each other’s throats” to get your business. I’ve used this tactic several times and it works REALLY well. It takes time, but the day or two you spend doing your homework and the day or two you spend haggling with the dealership(s) will not compare to the YEARS you’ll be driving this car. And it’s a great break room boast!! Good Luck!

Good point, but don’t let them keep the license. Let them make a copy or even bring a copy for them to hold while you test drive.

“But when dealerships make a copy of your license they are not doing a full blown background check on you.”

Actually some are…one of my clients is a auto dealership and he confided in me that he knows of some dealers that besides getting the customer to drive the car (which usually sells it for them, it gives them time to see just how much you make, bank account info etc)…useful tools in the negotiating game…for them.
Here is an excerpt from
Many new car dealers photocopy your license before a test drive. Tell them there is no reason to. They’ll say insurance requires it. Car rental agencies don’t copy your license and you’re taking their car for a week! Some dealers copy your license “in case you rob the salesman”. Other dealers copy your license to run unauthorized credit checks on you during your test drive, still a top complaint we receive. Make copies of your license and when they ask for your license, hand them the copy, get it back when you leave. Write on the copy the dealer may NOT run a credit check on you. Remind them the FTC fines $2500 for unauthorized credit checks. Many dealers are honest and will photocopy your license on a copier at the front desk and give it right back. But some, while you’re out on the test drive, run a credit check on you. Then they give your info to local banks, who run credit checks. Now you have 5-6 credit checks on your record. This will haunt you when you buy furniture and apply for credit. You’ll get rejected for 5-6 checks on your credit with no credit issued. Don’t give personal info until you have signed the buyer’s order and are doing dealer financing.

First, be willing to walk away. If you want THAT car and the sales people know it then you are at a disadvantage. No matter how much you want the car, walk out the door and let them sit on if for a few days. If the sales person calls you then you are in good shape. In the meantime shop other dealers and line up alternative cars. When you have several options it is easier to say no until you get the price you want.

Do your homework, know the dealer’s cost, NADA values, even prices for used versions of the same car that are 1-2 years old. Test drive a used one if you can. This will show you how the car holds up and feels after being driven for a few miles.

Don’t take the money, you’ll be too tempted to get the deal done. Leave the money in a bank. When you pick up the car the dealer will want a “bank check” or a certified check and that is easily handled.

Don’t take the ad on’s. After you get a price the dealer may have you sit down with a person whose job is to sell you extended the extended warranty and other profitable ad on’s. Just keep saying NO.

If you don’t care for your salesperson, walk away and ask the receptionist for a different sales rep. If they can’t honor that go to another dealer and come back to this one later if you want.

why would one need credit when one buys furniture?
If 5 or 6 credit checks kills someone’s credit score, then they shouldn’t be borrowing in the first place. I’ve visited countless dealerships in the past couple years, and I still have a really high score

I always pay cash for cars. Not physical money, but I make a down payment with a personal check and then return with the balance in a cashiers check from my credit union. I consider that an all cash deal. Maybe the OP meant it this way.

Do not tell anyone you love a certain car or you must have that car. All leverage in now in the dealers court.

In this economic climate, I recommend the internet. Just visit Car Talk home and look for “buy a new car”, or and look for the same link. You will be quoted surprisingly low prices from more than one dealer in your area. I did just this very thing for a Honda just like the one I bought seven years ago and was quoted prices from two dealers that is $5000 less than we paid at that time. You will, also, be able to see the MSRP as well as the Invoice. You can do the same thing from the Infinity home page as well.

The simplest, free, thing to do is first find the car you want. You can check dealer’s inventory thru the internet, and usually find out the options on each one in stock. Go to and enter the info. You will get retail, wholesale, and the price that car should cost you in your area, plus rebate info. Make a copy and bring it with you. If you get any nonsense from the sales person, walk out. I was recently at a large local Nissan dealer, and no I do not look like a derelict, and I’m not a kid. All the sales people would talk about is “How much do you want to pay a month.” That was after they made me wait around for fifteen minutes even though there were sales people standing around. So this kind of white-shoes-plaid jacket crap is still around, amazingly enough. Then they somehow didn’t have a car available to test drive! I was reasonable and didn’t call them on their absurd games but maybe they got the clue that I wasn’t an uninformed sucker and didn’t want to waste their time! Caveat Emptor!

Now that I read all the comments, I see I was mostly restating others, possibly in a slightly different form. I didn’t mention you can get quotes from dealers online also, which someone else alluded to. I think the most important thing is having the what-buyers-are-paying number from Edmunds. Put together, the comments on this post are all anyone needs to know to buy a car. Good job, commenters! Hope you enjoyed the charming Nissan dealer anecdote. I could have gone on for paragraphs, it was really unbelievalble. Anyway, I’m thinking any dealer at this point will be kissing the feet of anyone walking in. Just before they try ten proven sales techniques to cheat you out of your money.

How could they not have a car to test drive? Were you looking around the lot before you went inside, or did you pull up and the sales people crowd you like Paparazzi trying to take a picture of a celebrity?