Car dealers have adopted ChatGPT to boost sales and streamline operations by using AI to create web content, generate social media posts and improve customer service. Even better — the shoe fits on the other foot, as well.
Buyers can leverage the power of ChatGPT to save money, spot tricky dealer tactics and improve their negotiation skills. Here are some tips to make it happen.
ChatGPT is still handcuffed by a knowledge cutoff that limits its capacity to data and events from before September 2021. Both the new and used auto markets have changed dramatically since then, which means the platform can’t offer reliable model recommendations or price comparisons.
When asked, “Can you help me find the best deal on a car,” ChatGPT responded, “As an AI language model, I can provide you with guidance on how to find a good deal on a car, but I cannot directly search for or find specific deals. However, I can give you some general tips to assist you in your search.”
But you can get around those limitations by subscribing to ChatGPT Plus. At $20 per month, the upgrade will run you a hefty $240 per year. However, the payoff is access to the internet through Browsing mode with ChatGPT-4, which allows for up-to-date market research.
If your budget doesn’t have room for ChatGPT Plus, you can use the basic version to sharpen your skills as a savvy car buyer.
For example, when prompted with the question, “How can I find a deal on a car?” ChatGPT replied with a 10-step action plan for getting the right vehicle for the right price:
- Set a budget: Determine how much you can afford to spend on a car, including any additional expenses like insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs.
- Research car models: Explore different car models that suit your needs and preferences. Look for models known for reliability, good resale value, and fuel efficiency. Consider factors like size, features, and safety ratings.
- Compare prices: Visit various online platforms, such as dealership websites, online marketplaces, and classified ads, to compare prices for the car models you are interested in. Consider factors like mileage, condition, and the year of the vehicle.
- Check for incentives and rebates: Research if there are any manufacturer incentives, rebates, or special financing offers available for the car models you are considering. These can help you save money or negotiate a better deal.
- Visit local dealerships: Visit multiple dealerships to test drive the cars you are interested in and gather information. Discuss pricing and ask about any ongoing promotions or discounts they may have. Be prepared to negotiate and compare offers from different dealerships.
- Consider buying used: Used cars often offer better value due to depreciation. Research used car listings and consider getting a pre-purchase inspection to ensure the vehicle is in good condition.
- Timing matters: Certain times of the year, such as the end of the month, end of the year, or holiday weekends, can be advantageous for finding deals. Dealerships may be more willing to negotiate or offer discounts during these periods to meet sales targets.
- Get pre-approved for financing: If you plan to finance your car purchase, get pre-approved for an auto loan from your bank or credit union. This allows you to know your budget and interest rate in advance, giving you more leverage during negotiations.
- Consider trade-ins: If you have a vehicle to trade in, research its market value beforehand. Dealerships may offer you a trade-in allowance, which can be negotiated separately from the car purchase.
- Be prepared to walk away: If the deal doesn’t meet your expectations or if you feel pressured, don’t be afraid to walk away. There are plenty of other opportunities to find a good deal.
ChatGPT can also help you prepare for scenarios you’ll likely encounter during real-world dealership negotiations.
If you ask the platform to “help me practice negotiating with a car dealer,” ChatGPT initially responds with tips and advice for success, including things like starting with a low offer that you can justify, being polite and respectful, using silence to your advantage and negotiating other terms like trade-in value.
Then it expands with a “role-playing scenario,” in which it lays out a hypothetical back-and-forth between “you” and a “salesperson” in discussing the purchase of an SUV listed for $28,000. Check it out:
- The buyer cites local market data that puts the price closer to $25,000.
- The dealer responds that the higher price factors in the SUV’s mileage, condition and features.
- The buyer reiterates the fair market value and cites the potential for maintenance and repairs in asking for a price between $23,000 and $24,000.
- The dealer says he’ll check with his manager and returns with an offer of $25,000.
- The buyer holds firm and asks if there’s room for further negotiations.
ChatGPT can also help you prepare to recognize and counter common industry maneuvers designed to make you overpay. You can start with a prompt like, “What tricks do car dealers use to get you to pay more?”
The bot warns users to be on the lookout for things like:
- A high initial price that makes you feel like you’re getting a significant discount when they lower the price during the negotiation.
- Add-ons and accessories bundled into the loan.
- Trade-in manipulation.
- Financing tricks like low monthly payments for over-extended loan terms.
- Limited-time offers designed to pressure you into buying before you’re ready.
- Hidden charges like documentation fees and advertising fees.
- Emotional manipulation designed to make you feel a personal connection to the car or the perceived prestige of the vehicle.
With this ChatGPT guidance in mind, you should be in good shape throughout your next car-buying experience.
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