How To Negotiate Like A Boss And Beat The Car Salesman At Their Game

I think we can all agree that buying a new car is exciting… Except for one unavoidable part; the negotiation process. And, while most people find negotiating daunting, it doesn’t actually need to be.

Where many fall down is simply a lack of research prior to visiting the dealership. This puts them on the back foot when negotiating a price.

The most challenging new car purchase I’ve was an Audi upgrade. I was clear on what my current Audi was worth, my monthly budget and the new car I wanted. In the end it took four months to negotiate a price because I wasn’t willing to move from my budget and was open to finding an alternate car if Audi could not come to the party. In the end Audi preferred to keep me as a customer for another five years so we were able to agree on a price. It all came down to being prepared, taking the car that was available on the lot, and being willing to say no.

Fortunately, if you’re buying your car from a car dealer there are some basic rules to follow that will help you get the best possible deal every time. Being able to negotiate like a champion comes down to four key things…


Before you head into the dealer it’s important to know what you want and how much you’re prepared to spend. This will help prevent you from being persuaded to spend more than you intended, or to buy the car that the dealer wants to sell! You should be clear on…

Your Budget:

What is the total amount you’re willing to spend on your car? To establish a figure you need to consider:

-Trade-in value: is a great resource to obtain an approximate trade-in value for your current car for only $37. It’s also a great piece of paper to have should the dealer dispute your car’s value.

-Deposit: How much cash can you put towards the purchase price?

-Monthly repayments: How much can you budget for finance repayments? Use a car lease calculator such as to determine how much you can borrow.

Once you know your trade-in value, deposit and finance amount, you can simply add these together to determine what your total purchase budget is.

The Car & Specs:

Be clear on the make, model and other specs you want. Do you want manual or auto? What engine size and fuel type are you after? A great way to find which cars fit your requirements is to go to and do a search for cars based on your criteria.


Added Extras:

Firstly, understand your ‘must-haves’ versus ‘nice-to-haves’, then, once you’re clear on the options and accessories you really need, you’ll avoid being upsold on the things you don’t.



You may have seen sales and discounts offered on new car sales, such as fixed-price servicing, free servicing, 0% finance and extended warranties. These may sound great on the surface, but the reality is they often don’t result in a greater saving or deal.


Dealers make 95% of their revenue from after-sales servicing and finance. So if they’re offering what seems like a good deal on servicing, warranty or finance options, they’re making up that revenue elsewhere. Whether it’s hiking up the purchase price, locking you into expensive servicing and upsells, or placing restrictions that void your warranty.


To beat them at their game, understand your alternatives. For finance, obtain a finance quote (or a few) in advance. If the dealer offers a lower interest rate than the bank, be sure your purchase price hasn’t been hiked up. For services, research the cost of servicing your car via an independant mechanic first and always read the fine print on their free and fixed-price servicing.



Dealerships buy their cars on credit so every day they’re on the floor, the interest is burning a hole in their pocket. Because of this, they want to turn around cars as quickly as possible. That means that if you’re prepared to take what’s on the lot, you’ll have far more negotiating power. If you want added extras, the dealer will have to try and source the car from another lot and may even have to specially order your car. While this means you’ll get exactly what you want, the downside is that the more work you make the dealer do to get a particular version of car, the less negotiating power you’ll have.



Pick a (reasonable) number that you’re willing to spend and absolutely do not budge. You know they need to sell that car and that they want you to buy it. If the dealer has gone through the whole process of selling you on the car, they don’t want to give up right before purchase. If you need help saying no, say that someone else has a say in the purchase. Invent a wife, husband, or anyone you like, who absolutely will not let you go above your amount. Then walk. This does not mean you become rude or a complete clown. Keep things friendly but stay firm. If they can do the deal, they’ll do what they can. If not, you can try again somewhere else or decide whether you’re willing to budge a little.



Ultimately, preparation is key. Know as much as you can about the car you wish to purchase, your budget, your financing options, your approximate service costs and your trade-in vehicle (if you have one). Arm yourself with this information and be willing to say no and walk away and you’ll negotiate like a boss.

About the author

Janelle Gonzalez is the owner of Blue Toro, Australia’s first national mobile mechanic franchise, one of the fastest growing automotive repair businesses in the country. She is an advocate for the hard-working mechanics who want an ethical and profitable way to better support their families. Her mission is to disrupt the automotive repair industry by exposing the rip-offs and returning to old-fashioned service values that car owners want.

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