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Chasing The American Dream

December 28, 2006


I wouldn’t say I’m good at many things in this life. But one thing’s for sure; I can negotiate a car deal. These sales guys try to make things complicated but it’s a simple numbers game. These days, luckily for all of us, the internet reveals secrets once sacred to the car dealership. We can scope out dealer invoices, rebates, dealer/manufacturer incentives, interest rates, residual values, all kinds of stuff that puts the power back in the hands of us buyers. So salesmen can’t mess with me with all their tricks and stupid questions. I come armed with calculators, my laptop, and a folder of internet secrets which disrupt their playing hand. It’s not fun but it’s necessary.

On this particular night, I was ready to deal. I was fed up with my old car and there were some great dealer incentives going on for a car I liked. I may be vain but I didn’t want a family-type car. Although nice and economical and all that, that meant no Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6, and stuff like that. I just wanted something a little sportier looking. I looked at the Mazda 3, the Acura TSX, and the Volvo S40. The Mazda looked like a great value but by the time you added in all the options to make it equal with the other two, it was no longer a great value. That left me with the Acura and the Volvo. Acura wasn’t offering any incentives/rebates so negotiating would be difficult. That pretty much left me with the Volvo. I liked its looks and there were plenty of dealer incentives for me to bargain with. I did my homework and knew what price I wanted.

When I arrived, I didn’t get hounded by a million sales guys which was nice. My guy asked me what I was looking for and took me immediately to the lot to look for the car. I told him I wanted a base model and he did his best to upgrade me, but I told him I was set on a base model. When we got back from the lot, he tried to ask me the usual BS questions like the dreaded, ‘how much money was I willing to spend.’ I told him I’d priced the car already and simply wanted to plug in the numbers. I laid out all my regalia and the game was on. Much to his credit, he let me run the show. I guess he figured I knew what I was doing. My only hurdle was my old car. I knew I was in trouble with the trade-in value and I was right. After they test drove it, they wanted to give me $1,500 less than what I would call an average trade-in value. This was expected though. I didn’t let it phase me. So I started playing my cards.

I showed him copies of the rebates the dealership would be getting from Volvo if they sold the car. $3,000 plus. So I asked him to work with me on the trade. Again, much to his credit, he was honest and we worked out the payment online. He met me half-way on my old car and gave me the rebate off the sticker price. I also negotiated another $1,500 off the invoice price and got my target price. It was a record for me. Done deal in only two hours. I give the dealership a lot of credit for being virtually haggle-free. Buying a car is such a hassle, but I’m free and clear for another 6 or 7 years or until I give the car to Andy. By the way, I’ve developed a leasing spreadsheet that I’m willing to share. Let me know if you’d like it.


  • plantation, great job! We were on the same page looking at TSx and Volvo. For the money the infiniti and BMW didn't cut it. I actually liked the TSX because everything was standard except navigation. That meant we didn't have to haggle over the little extras like power seat or leather or moonroof. All standard. We used Edmunds, e-mailed 5 dealers, played two off each other and ended up at dealer invoice (no trade-in was nice since that is always another negotiation) Settled on the phone, then showed up, signed paperwork and were done. I love the internet!

    How did you find out the dealer rebates? Congratulations once again, sounds like the holidays were good for you.

    By Anonymous buster, at 11:47 AM, December 29, 2006  

  • Dang, and I thought I was the master at negotiating new cars. But I always blow it at the trade-in. Thanks for the lesson!

    By Blogger Elizabeth Krecker, at 8:26 PM, December 30, 2006  

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