Automobile dealing, unlike most other retail businesses, is not fixed price trading but usually negotiable over prices and options. It is unavoidably a verbal negotiation between you and professional auto salesmen, thus there are things that you should or should not tell them in order to maintain an advantageous position. The following are phrases you should NOT say if you want to get a good deal:
1. “I don’t know much about cars” / “This is my first time buying a car”
Even though you might just be telling the truth, letting the salesman know your lack of experience will put you in a disadvantageous position when selecting your car and negotiating on its price.
A car salesman naturally knows a lot about the vehicles they sell, yet they know even better how to overpraise fancy looking cars and high-tech accessories then persuade you on buying something that you don’t need. For example, an inexperienced buyer can walk into the car dealership with intent to buy a mid-sized sedan to drive to work, then drive home on a brand new family SUV with full accessory package.
Letting the salesman know your lack of experience will put you in a disadvantageous position
Having certain knowledge of the car, or at least the type of car you are planning to buy, as well as its different versions, price range and discounts will help you be more confident in your conversation with car salesmen. Doing some research is also helpful for avoiding flatters and resisting the temptation to purchase unnecessary extra equipment.
2. “I’m just looking around”
Some salespeople will feel less motivated to introduce a car to you and discuss in details when they hear that you were just taking a look. This means, to auto dealers, that you are a potential customer who does not really need to purchase a car right in the moment but only planning to; and it is entirely possible that you are only doing your price research before going to the next dealership to seek a better deal.
You will eventually buy that car at a high but acceptable price and feel good because you like the car very much
Other car salesmen, probably with more experience, would see an opportunity to sell a good car at a high price when they hear “I’m just looking around.” They would know that you intend to buy a car, and that you may already have in mind a certain type of cars but only are not sure which one you like the most. An experienced salesman can find out which type of car you are considering, and then present an outstanding vehicle that catches your eyes. You will eventually find yourself purchasing that car at a high but acceptable price and feel good because you like the car very much, not knowing that you could get a much steeper discount if you did your research first.
3. “I always wanted to have a …” / “I really need a …”
Whether you are passionate about some car/some brand or not, it is important not to overly express your enthusiasm to the auto salesmen. Dealers will be very glad to hear how much you like a car because they can charge a higher price accordingly and make better profits, even though it can seem like they are offering a discount. Remember that car pricing is negotiable, and dealers have a limit on the steepest discount they can offer on an item, which can be significantly lower than the suggested retail price by automakers.
Dealers will be very glad to hear how much you like a car because they can charge a higher price accordingly
The same reason applies to the case if your old car broke down and you immediately needed a new one to drive. It is best not to inform auto dealers of your urgent need, which would put you into a disadvantage and allow salesmen to take control of the negotiation. The customer who gets the best deal on a car purchase is the one who is well informed, aware of his/her needs, showing interest but open to alternatives, confident in conversation and active in negotiation.