#3: ASK FOR THE INVOICE PRICE
The invoice price tells you how much the dealership paid for a new car from the manufacture, and how long the car’s been sitting on the lot. Ask the salesperson to show you the actual invoice; if the car has been there a while, they’ll be itching to get rid of it since they don’t make money on cars that collect dust. Geraghty suggests setting your target price at $100-$500 above the invoice price. That’s not where you should start with your initial offer (we’ll get to that soon), but where you expect to end up.
#4: BRING EVIDENCE
Whether you’re buying from a private seller or a dealership, bring printouts (Carfax.com, TrueCar.com, etc.) that includes the make, model, year, and price. Present the evidence, let the person know you know the average going rate, and tell them you’re looking for a better deal. “If the value of the car you want is $17,000 and they have the car listed at $18,000, say you’ll pay $16,500,” Geraghty says. “They’re gonna come back with a counteroffer, and then you can give them your bottom-line offer.”
#5: RAISE YOUR OFFER IN SMALL INCREMENTS
Don’t waste your time with lowball offers; they’re insulting and can derail any goodwill in a negotiation. Instead, start about $500 lower than the maximum price you’re willing to pay. If there are counteroffers, adjust yours up $100 or $200. That way you keep the dealer crawling down to a price you’re willing to pay. Once you reach your final offer, make it known, and don’t budge.