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Buying A Car? Here’s How To Negotiate Like A Boss

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Buying a new car can be equal parts exciting and daunting and it seems to be the negotiating bit that falls into the daunting category. However, it really doesn’t need to be.

If you’re well prepared, negotiation can actually be fairly easy. Most people fall down because they haven’t done their research prior to visiting the dealership. This puts them on the back foot when negotiating a price.

I once negotiated for four months before I got the car at the price I wanted. I knew my monthly budget, I knew how much my trade-in was worth and was open to finding an alternative car if the dealership couldn’t come to the party. In the end the dealership preferred to keep me as a customer for another five years so we were able to agree on a price. It all came down to being prepared, taking the car that was available on the lot, and being willing to say no.

If you’re buying your next car from a car dealer, being able to negotiate like a boss comes down to four key things:


Know exactly what you want. Know how much you’re prepared to spend. Once you know these things it’s a lot harder to be persuaded into buying what the dealer want to sell or to spend more than you intended under the guise of a ‘great deal’.
Knowing What You Want: Be clear on the make, model, and any other specs you want for your new car. Things like manual or automatic transmission, your preferred engine size and fuel type. If you want some added extras, decide which ones you really need (versus would like to have) to ensure you avoid being upsold things you don’t want. A great way to find which cars fit your requirements is to go to and do a search for cars based on your criteria.

Knowing Your Budget: To work out the total amount you’re willing to spend on your car you need to consider how much cash you can put towards the purchase price (your deposit), your trade-in value provides an approximate value for your current car for only $37. It’s also a great piece of paper to have should the dealer dispute your car’s value) and Your Monthly repayments (use a car lease calculator such as

Once you know your trade-in value, deposit and finance amount, you can simply add these together to determine what your total purchase budget is.

2. Know The Dealer Tactics

Dealers make 95% of their revenue from after-sales servicing and finance. So if they’re offering what seems like a good deal on servicing like fixed-price or free servicing, extended warranty or low interest finance options, they’re making up that revenue elsewhere. Whether it’s hiking up the purchase price, locking you into expensive servicing and up sells, or placing restrictions that void your warranty.

By understanding your alternatives you can ensure you really are getting a good deal. For services, research the cost of servicing your car with an independent mechanic first and always read the fine print on their free and fixed-price servicing to ensure you don’t have harsh restrictions. For finance, obtain a finance quote (or a few) in advance. If the dealer offers a lower interest rate than the bank, be sure your purchase price hasn’t been hiked up.

3. Take What’s On The Lot

Because dealerships buy their cars on credit they want to turn around cars as quickly as possible. Therefore taking what’s on the lot means far more negotiating power. If you want added extras, the dealer will have to try and source the car from another lot and may even have to specially order your car. While this means you’ll get exactly what you want, the downside is that the more work you make the dealer do to get a particular version of car, the less negotiating power you’ll have.

4. Say “No”, Walk Away

Pick a (reasonable) number that you’re willing to spend and absolutely do not budge. You know they need to sell that car and that they want you to buy it. If the dealer has gone through the whole process of selling you on the car, they don’t want to give up right before purchase. If you need help saying no, say that someone else has a say in the purchase. Invent a wife, husband, or anyone you like, who absolutely will not let you go above your amount. Then walk. This does not mean you become rude or a complete clown. Keep things friendly but stay firm. If they can do the deal, they’ll do what they can. If not, you can try again somewhere else or decide whether you’re willing to budge a little.

In the end, preparation is key. Know what you want. Know your trade-in value. Stick to your budget. Research your finance and service options. Consider taking what’s on the lot and be willing to say no and walk away. Happy negotiating!

For more auto related tips and tricks, head to the Blue Toro Blog or read more stories here:

Written by Janelle Gonzalez

Corporate escapee and mechanic’s wife Janelle Gonzalez has spent the last 24 years in garages, pit lanes and on road trips. Living a double life - corporate by weekday, trackside on the weekends - she shares her husband’s passion for cars. She has now turned her skills to building Australia’s first national mobile mechanic franchise. Her mission is to help Australians trust mechanics by educating car owners and returning to good old fashioned service values, while changing the lives of mechanics and their families.

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