originally uploaded by eszter.

I exited my building unusually early this morning at 6:30am. The first sight: snow-covered cars. Oy. There isn’t much of it so it may not be around by late morning. And to be sure, it’s actually quite warm. But it was still a reality check. Welcome to winter. It is definitely time that I get my car situation in order. Waiting for the bus is looking less and less appealing.

Any suggestions for negotiating car prices from a dealer?:)

8 Responses to “Sn-oh”

  1. Eric Says:

    Well, it’s not specific to negotiating a price for a car, because it works in every negotiating situation. Be willing to walk away.

    You’re not obligated to do business with a salesperson, even if they’ve spent the last two hours showing you around the car lot. They are there to make a ton of money off of your decision, so take your time, know in advance what it is you want, and negotiate what you consider to be a fair price. I recommend vising Kelly Blue Book ( and equivalent sites to get price info on the types of cars you are interested in so you have some knowledge before steppng onto a dealer’s lot.

    Also, if you are buying used, have the dealer provide you (at no cost, of course) a CarFax report. After the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, the chances of getting a car that has been involved in flodding has skyrocketed. A CarFax report should show that. Oh, and get the car inspected by a mechanic of your choosing before signing anything.

    Good luck!

  2. s Says:

    I prefer Also, I’m reminded of the widely circulated quote by Hunter S. Thompson, which I have adapted below to describe my own recent used car buying experience:

    “The used car business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where theives and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There is also a negative side.”

    Good luck.

  3. eric goldstein Says:

    I battle the decision to drive or take the bus every day. Though it’s getting colder, now that i have the Verizon EVDO card keeping me online wherever i go, the bus keeps winning. With gas prices as high as they are, driving just feels stupid to me. Until my lease is up and i can get a hybrid, i’m going to drive as little as possible. As for negotiating, i stink at it 🙂

  4. eszter Says:

    Thanks for those suggestions. I should probably note that I will be buying a new car (partly for the reasons listed above, partly, because I don’t know much about cars so I like the idea of a new one that no one has tampered with and comes with a warranty).

    After months of thinking about this, I have decided that the most reasonable car for me right now is the Honda Civic. I have spent lots of time on Edmunds and KBB and Vehix. I do have a printout of relevant prices. So I definitely have done my research. I am just looking for hints about the psychological end of things. Eric’s right, I need to be very clear about the idea that I can walk away. Which I will and have already from some other dealers. (Looking for a car was easier though when my current car was still good enough to get me to dealers.)

    As for taking the campus shuttle, as I noted in the comments, as it gets colder (and given that it’s not super reliable) I think I’m going to opt against it. But I’ll see. Luckily, there’s also the El. So I do have options.

  5. Katie Says:

    I bought a car a few years ago and was amazed at how smoothly it went. I had decided on a new car — a present to my self for finishing that darn dissertation. So I looked for last years models that were still unsold. Many dealers have their inventories online, so I checked what they had. I actually called a dealer, asked if they still had the specific car I wanted, made an appointment with a salesman to come in, test drive it and buy it. Since I told him this, he knew it was easy money and didnt need to “sell sell sell” when I got there. I had done my research online as to how much I was willing to spend…with a few hundred tacked on for them because you know, “they have to make something on the deal”.
    I went, drove, bought and drove away happy with the car and the price. Who would have thought!

  6. eszter Says:

    Thanks, Katie. Yup, I also looked among last year’s models, which is especially relevant with the Civic since it has a completely new version coming out so there may be fewer people who’re okay with the 2005s. I have found a dealer, now I just need to get myself out to the dealership (not obvious when you no longer have your car for transportation and all your friends are busy travelling around the country!).

  7. ImaginaryGirl Says:

    Definitely check Also, look at all the line items they try to charge you for. I now have a Mazda 3i (which I love), and before that had a Jetta. When John and I were negotiating for the car, they tried to charge us for an extra advertising fee that VW supposedly charges them (for local VW commercials). When we told them that we wouldn’t pay an extra $350 for advertising that was already built into other parts of the car price, the salesman had the nerve to say “but we need that to make a profit. It is unAmerican to keep us from making a profit.” I retorted with, “Obviously, if I cared about being proAmerican here, I wouldn’t be buying a German car!”

  8. eszter Says:

    That’s a funny story, IG, thanks. I’m told that even if they get just invoice price they still make a profit so this is definitely just for show. Good idea though to make sure to check every line item.

    I realized that I’m in a relatively good position since I’m not _that_ committed to a particular make or model. This means that they can’t just tell me “but you can’t buy this anywhere for less”, ’cause then I just won’t buy that particular model anywhere at all.