How Do You Negotiate a Car Price? Your Step-by-Step Guide To Getting the Best Deal

customer choosing new car, trying checking its options, tire, wheels while male shop assistant helping her to choose it at dealer auto shop stock photo
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Mastering the art of car price negotiation, be it for a new or used vehicle, often feels intimidating. However, with a well-crafted strategy and the right information in hand, navigating this process can not only become simpler but can also lead to significant savings. Keep reading to learn how to negotiate a car price.

How Do You Negotiate a Car Price?

Negotiating a car price is more than just a back-and-forth on numbers — it’s an art that requires insight, preparation and a keen understanding of value. Whether you’re eyeing a brand-new model or a pre-loved gem, the following steps will guide you through a structured approach to negotiate effectively. These tips are designed to empower you, ensuring that you step into the dealership with the knowledge and confidence needed to secure the best possible deal:

  1. Research
  2. Know your budget
  3. Begin with a fair offer
  4. Highlight reasons for your offer
  5. Don’t show too much emotion
  6. Be ready to walk away
  7. Consider the timing
  8. Discuss total cost, not monthly payments
  9. Be polite and respectful
  10. Finalize the deal with confidence

1. Research

Before heading to the dealership, arm yourself with knowledge. Research the average cost of the car model you’re interested in, both new and used. Websites and forums can provide valuable insights into the going rates, helping you set a realistic target price.

2. Know Your Budget and Stick To It

Understanding your financial limits is crucial in car price negotiation. Determine your budget beforehand and commit to not going over it, regardless of sales tactics or upgrades offered.

3. Begin With a Fair Offer

When you start negotiating, offer a fair, reasonable price slightly below your target amount. This shows the seller you’re serious about buying but leaves room for negotiation.

4. Highlight Reasons for Your Offer

If you’re negotiating a used car price, point out any flaws or maintenance the car may need. Use these as leverage to justify your lower offer. However, ensure your points are valid and not overly critical.

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5. Don’t Show Too Much Emotion

Stay calm and collected. Showing too much excitement can weaken your negotiating position. Remember, there are many cars out there, and you can always walk away.

6. Be Ready To Walk Away

This is a powerful negotiating tool. If the seller isn’t willing to meet your price, be prepared to walk away. Often, this can lead to the dealer calling you back with a better offer.

7. Consider the Timing

Dealerships often have sales targets and may be more willing to negotiate at the end of the month or financial quarter. Timing your purchase around these periods can work to your advantage.

8. Discuss Total Cost, Not Monthly Payments

Focus the negotiation on the total cost of the car, not the monthly payment. This prevents you from paying more in the long run due to extended payment terms.

9. Be Polite and Respectful

A polite and respectful attitude can go a long way. Salespeople are more likely to negotiate favorably if you treat them well.

10. Finalize the Deal With Confidence

Once you’ve reached an agreement, review the contract thoroughly before signing. Make sure all negotiated terms are clearly stated.

Final Take

Learning how to negotiate a car price doesn’t have to be stressful. By following these steps and staying informed, confident and composed, you can master the art of negotiation and secure the best possible deal on your next car purchase. Remember, negotiation is about finding a price that’s fair for both you and the seller.


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding negotiating car prices.
  • How much can you usually negotiate a car down?
    • The amount you can negotiate down depends on various factors including the car's demand, dealership inventory and time of year. Generally, you can expect to negotiate several hundred to a few thousand dollars off, especially for new cars.
  • What are the four steps to negotiating the best price on a car?
    • Four key steps to negotiating car prices are:
      • Conduct thorough research: Understand the car's market value and your own budget.
      • Start with a low but reasonable offer: Begin negotiations below your target price but within a reasonable range.
      • Focus on total cost: Negotiate based on the total car price, not monthly payments.
      • Be ready to walk away: Demonstrate your willingness to leave if the deal doesn't meet your terms.
  • Will car dealerships negotiate on price?
    • Yes, most car dealerships are open to negotiation, especially for new cars. For used cars, there's typically less margin for negotiation, but it's still common to negotiate the price.
  • How much off MSRP can I negotiate?
    • The amount off MSRP you can negotiate varies. On average, you can aim for 5% to 10% off. However, this depends on the car's popularity, the dealership's inventory, and market conditions. During sales or off-peak seasons, you might be able to negotiate a higher discount.
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Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.


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