Start with emails and phone calls
“Email several dealers to ask for their best ‘drive away’ price in a ‘buyer’s purchase order’ for new cars or a ‘bookout sheet’ for used cars. If they say you need to come in, tell them you will—if they give you a great price in writing. Even if you think you’ve found ‘the one,’ you can save money by comparing the price for similar vehicles offered by other dealers. If a dealership doesn’t respond, take your business elsewhere.”—Sonia Steinway, President, Outside Financial. Here’s what you need to know about buying a car online.
Keep your trade-in to yourself
“Dealers like to move money around to confuse car buyers about how much they are really getting in the deal. If you mention you want to trade in a car up front, you are opening the door to a shell game. The salesperson will focus on what you want to get for your trade and may artificially inflate the ‘trade allowance’ to get you to say yes. This leaves no room to negotiate on the price of the new car. Furthermore, the salesperson may ask to appraise your trade, taking your keys and literally holding your car hostage until you agree to a deal.”—LeeAnn Shattuck, The Car Chick