New Car-Buying Strategies for Modern Times

Two people are shown shaking hands.

There was once a time long ago when giant sloths still roamed the land where you could simply go to a dealership, look a salesman in the eye, and tell them the price you were willing to pay for a car. It could be just a fraction above the invoice price, so low they wouldn’t be able to feed their kids that night, and they’d still have to accept it, weeping as you signed the paperwork. Such was the strength of the American car buyer and the kind of negotiating power they had.

That time is gone. These days, we have no power, and we’re the ones weeping as our children go hungry in order for us to get the full-size truck with a powerful V8 engine that’s necessary to impress our neighbors. But don’t give in to hopelessness, my friends and readers, for there are still some tricks to have up your sleeve when you’re trying to negotiate a better price. Armed with these handy tips, you’ll get a price so good the dealership will actually try to hide their laughter at how hard they’re still fleecing you.

Strategy #1: Focus On Your Trade-In

As a car buyer, the bad news is that you have little-to-no actual power or bargaining position when negotiating the price of a car. If you walk away from a deal, they’ll probably have someone show up 10 minutes later ready to buy it for the price they want because demand is high and supply is low. It sucks, but that’s the way it is.

The one actual piece of leverage you have is any vehicle you own to use as a trade-in. Even if you still owe money on the car, they’ll start drooling the moment you bring up the fact that you have a trade. So don’t wait to mention your trade-in—start with it. I suggest something like this, “Hello dealership person; I have a 1994 Buick Roadmaster Limited that I’d like to use as a trade-in. I’m looking for at least $25,000 for it toward my next car. Don’t try to lowball me; I know what I have.” Trust me; they’ll slide into your DMs double-quick from that kind of approach.

Strategy #2: Say “No” to Everything

This is going to feel strange at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s an incredibly powerful technique. When you start negotiating toward a decent price, decline everything they say to you. I don’t care what it is, always say, “No.” They offer you a cup of coffee? No. Ask you how your day is going? No. Suggest, perhaps, that you should put your pants back on? No.

This is going to be difficult for you, especially when they finally break down and offer you a fair price and the final paperwork to sign. But even then, continue to refuse everything they suggest, ask, or provide for you. Keep saying, “No,” to the very end – this includes, of course, when the police inevitably show up and demand that you leave the premises. It might seem like you’ve lost the upper hand when the judge finds you in contempt of court for continuing your barrage of refusals, but as you’re beaten to death by an inmate enraged by your litany of denial, the dealership will know who’s in charge!

Strategy #3: Challenge the Salesperson to a Riddle Game

Few people know this, but federal law requires that all car dealerships provide a clear sticker price on every vehicle and that a salesperson must accept a challenge of riddles when offered. Should you stump the salesperson, you’ll get 10% off the sticker price, guaranteed. Keep in mind, however, that salespeople are aware of this, and they’re well versed in common riddles that you’ll find online, so you’re going to need to work on developing some original ones to trip them up. They get to ask you riddles, too, of course, so you’ll need to have your wits about you; if they asks, and you don’t answer, federal regulations allow them to eats you.

Strategy #4: Open the Door to the Nightmare Realm

When all else fails, should they hold fast to a price that seems downright unreasonable to you, as a last resort, you can simply open a door to the nightmare realm. At this point, it’s pretty much a guarantee that they’re not going to sell you a car; they’ll be busy screaming and bleeding from their eyes, after all. But if you weren’t willing to pay their high price anyways, then at least you’ll get some sweet, sweet revenge for your time. In order to open the invisible doorway and access the gloaming labyrinth beyond, simply do the following: [Ancient ritual deleted].

Editor’s Note: Prior to publishing, we tried out each of these techniques and can assure you that they are all valid. Strategy #3, in particular, we found to be an excellent way to save some money on a new vehicle, though the writer meant it when he said salespeople are ready for this. We lost one of our interns to a particularly cagey saleslady at [dealership name redacted]. Linda, you got us last time, but now it’s our turn… Thank you.


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