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Home » Auto Ownership, Videos

12 Tips on how to Get a Good Deal on a New Car

Last updated by on January 6, 2016

Update: more recently, I have since purchased a new vehicle, and highlighted my new car negotiation strategy.

I found a great video, which was taken at an Ignite Conference, on how to purchase a new vehicle at a good price. I’ve never heard of the presenter, Rob Gruhl, but he has some pretty sound strategic advice on how to buy a new car for a good price. Here’s a summary of Rob’s advice mixed in with some of my thoughts:

1. Plan on taking two full weekends

In other words, there’s no need to rush to a purchase, and rushing can result in making choices based on emotion.

2. Get financing from your bank

This way, you don’t need to rely on the dealership for financing, which gives them the upper hand.

3. Sell your car on your own (no trade-in)

how to get a good deal on a carDealers have no incentive to give you a good deal on your trade-in. They want to turn around and make a decent profit in selling it to someone else. Having sold a car on my own through Craigslist at the same price I bought it for two years earlier, I definitely concur.

4. Choose 3 cars

Focusing in on one car limits your options and flexibility, and gives the dealer all of the power.

5. Test drive the car

But never buy it on the spot. Go home. This puts you in the negotiation ‘drivers seat’.

6. Make a list of the options you need, and the options you want

This way you’re not paying for options that you don’t need.

7. Never start with invoice price

Dealers get around pricing at invoice by piling on additional fees. This is not the pricing model that you want to chase.

8. Competitive bid, and ask for the ‘drive it off the lot price’

Find 8-10 local dealerships and tell them that you are competitive bidding. If they say they ‘don’t do competitive bidding’, tell them that ‘if they give you the price and it’s the best, I would come down there to buy it today’. Getting the ‘out the door’ price is important in comparing apples to apples when buying a new vehicle. I think that this part of the buying process is the absolute most important in getting a good price on a new car.

9. During the first visit, just leave

Rob’s point here is that something always goes wrong on the first visit. They don’t have the car, the car is slightly different than what they said they had, there are fees added on, etc.

10. When they call you back, stick to your guns

They will try to wear you down. Stick to your guns. If you feel like an ass, don’t worry about it. You will. That’s only normal.

11. Don’t sign anything until you’ve got the deal that you want

12. Don’t buy any of the ‘back room’ offers

Extended warranties, rust protection, waxjobs, etc. Rob’s argument is that all of this stuff can be bought elsewhere for much cheaper.

New Car Negotiation Discussion:

  • What car buying tips can you share?
  • Have you tried any of the above car buying strategies? How did they work?

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 10,000+ others by getting FREE email updates. You can also explore every post I have written, in order.

  • Shaun says:

    I completely agree with the selling vs trading in of your old car. A few months ago I took my old New Yorker to several dealers and compared the trade-in value with what other dealers offered me in cash, and the difference was between $500-1000 extra in cash. This isn’t a lot, but was still a good 50% or so extra in value that I would have saved.

  • Do You Dave Ramsey? says:

    Good information… one of the tactics I hate is when the salesman tries to get me to commit to a payment and then has to have the deal reviewed by his manager.

    Not that I’m thinking of working with a car lot again, but next time I will insist on dealing directly with the decision maker. The salesman will claim he’s the guy but will then try to leave the desk. The deal then becomes if he leaves the desk I leave the showroom. If he’s lied to me, I leave the showroom.

    Car salesmen – for the most part – are slimy. If the market refuses to tolerate these hijinks their tactics will clean up.

    Good discussion, thanks!

  • tom says:

    Why would you ever buy a car on credit?
    It looses value, and on top of that you are paying interest, so its double suicide.

    Imagine what else you can use that money for as opposed to being stuck with monthly payments for 5 years.

  • G.E. Miller says:

    @Do you – Agreed. That would be a good time to walk.

    @Tom – Buying a car on credit is never optimal, but if you don’t want to pay cash up front and can’t get a 0% interest loan, I don’t know that you have many other options.

  • tom says:

    How about public transit? Car pooling? Bicycle? Saving up for a used car?

    There are plenty of options

  • Mark says:

    Tom – you’re making a lot of assumptions by stating those options there.

    In fact, it may be a better idea for those who can attain low percentage financing to do so instead of paying cash, even if they have it. If you could get 1.9% financing on a 20,000 car and you have 20k in hand, you could invest that money certainly somewhere and safely receive a return higher than 1.9%.

    Just my take.

  • Andrea (Recession Proof Living) says:

    I wrote a blog entry recently on how to sell your upside-down car and get out of a bad car loan.

    Basically, you use credit card balance transfers to pay off the loan, then sell the car, then use the proceeds to buy another one.

  • CD Rates Guy says:

    I’d go used over new any day. For those who must go new, wait for the cash for clunkers program to pass before you decide. With so many Chrysler and Jeep dealerships being closed in June, there are deals aplenty. And don’t be afraid to offer waaay under invoice. These guys are happy to get what they can before the 2010 models arrive.

  • Amanda Hallock says:

    We recently purchased a new car and I agree with the tips you mentioned. I would also advise people not to get emotional, be patient and don’t be afraid to walk away. We knew what we wanted specifically, and it was frustrating when the first local dealership we visited wouldn’t negotiate with us. Aren’t we in a recession with a struggling car market? In the end, we went to several dealerships, found the car we wanted, and negotiated for the deal we wanted. It is important to feel good about your purchase, especially when you are spending so much money!

  • Rob says:


    You asked a question that perplexes me: You asked, “Why would you ever buy a car on credit”.

    It is because cars lose their value that you SHOULD buy a car on credit, especially when you can get 0% interest deals for up to 60 months. Let someone else risk their money. Keep your cash in the bank. Cars depreciate, which is why it makes sense to finance them. Paying cash for a depreciating asset is the riskiest way to buy a car. Cash is king, so why give your hard earned money to someone else when you can use someone else s money for little or no interest?

    0% New Car Deals

  • Rob says:


    I agree don’t give the dealer your target price. However, you can still know what your target price is, then give your dealer a target that is 30 to 40% lower. Hopefully, your target price is where you’ll end up. 🙂

  • Andrew says:

    I agree with Mark when he says, “may be a better idea for those who can attain low percentage financing to do so instead of paying cash”. Today finace rates are very low. It may be better to get a new car than a used one.

  • Internet car sales manager says:

    I’m glad you posted this information. I’m an Internet Manager for a car dealership. I’d love to see this market someday die of negotiation and everyone to pay the asking price just like retail stores. No negotiation needed! Information like this is the key that will kill this businesses. For our generation it will be beneficial but for your kids it will not be. Keep in mind this is what keeps businesses running for profit just like every retail store. If we don’t pay profit then what are they here for? It’s the quality, value, product, service and overall experience everyone should come to expect in what they pay for.

    If ever you can sell your car yourself then do so. You might be able to get away in getting more for it or not. Just make sure to protect yourself in any scam etc… Selling your car to a dealership saves you time and aggravation in dealing with issues.

  • Not likely says:

    @Internet car sales manager:

    Your hope of getting rid of the negotiation part of car purchases is not going to happen. As price tags increase, negotiations become more common. You don’t often negotiate for a $10 book, but it wouldn’t be bizarre for someone to try to get a deal on a washer and dryer. And as you increase in price to boats and cars, the negotiating becomes even more aggressive. Once you get to prices on the order of houses, sticker price means hardly anything at all. At that point, all you care about is for how much comparables have sold and how much you are willing to pay.

    To suggest that consumers be willing to drop $20,000 on something without even attempting to pay the price they desire is just as absurd as suggesting that dealers sell $20,000 cars for razor thin margins without trying to make as much profit as the market will allow. As a car sales manager, I would think you’d be on the side of negotiating as car salesmen are professional negotiators and thus have a distinct advantage over the consumers.

    The only way vehicles will get sold without negotiation is if the prices of vehicles drop significantly. Unfortunately, without a miraculous industrial revolution level of evolution in vehicle manufacturing (not to mention the uncovering a infinitely more easily accessible raw materials), this isn’t likely to happen. Alas, we are stuck with vehicles that cost tens of thousands of dollars and negotiations to determine how many of those tens of thousands of dollars.


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