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Five ways to score a fair deal at the dealership

Years back I sold cars at a dealership while researching a story on the so-called "secrets" of the car salesman. Believe me, I learned tons.

So when I came across these car-buying tips from Roger Dawson, author of The Secrets of Power Negotiating, I recognized them as credible and useful.

Dawson, of course, wants you to buy his book or hire him to speak at your event. You can make the call there. Nonetheless, these five tips have value and I can vouch for that from my first-hand experience selling cars.

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1. "Take the emotion out of it," says Dawson, "If the salesperson thinks that you've fallen in love with the car, you lose." Dawson suggests this line for the car salesperson: "This (car) is for use as a company car, so we only care about getting the best deal. We've narrowed it down to a Chevy, a Ford and a Toyota. Either one of those will work for us."

2. Know the dealer invoice price, or at least have a solid ballpark figure. Every week in Deals of the Week I cover this pretty clearly in the deals I highlight. But know this: The typical retail markup on a vehicle is in the 5-7 per cent range. Dawson argues that many dealers sell you cars at below invoice because of the credits they get back from the factory. "I once negotiated a Chevy with a TV producer using a hidden camera and got it for 7 per cent below invoice," says Dawson, referring to an experience in the United States.

3. Dawson rightly says the power in a negotiation comes from convincing the other side that you have options. Let them know that you already have another car picked out and just want to know if they could beat the price by enough to make it worthwhile.

4. He also emphasized doing your homework. This is a no-brainer. Before you walk into a dealership, take a few hours researching your vehicle options.

5. Most of all, he offers this reminder: Realize that you can easily find yourself out-gunned at the dealership. You buy a new car every 3 or 4 years. The salesperson negotiates two or three times a day. By doing your homework, arming yourself with options, minimizing emotion and rehearsing in your mind how you want the deal to unfold, you level the playing field when negotiating a car deal.

All good advice.


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About the Author
Senior writer, Globe Drive

In 25 years of covering the auto industry, Jeremy Cato has won more than two-dozen awards, including three times being named automotive journalist of the year. Jeremy was born in Montreal and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. More

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