Top 20 Ways to Beat a Car Dealer

You wouldn’t take a toothpick to a knife fight (or at least, you shouldn't). So don’t set foot inside a car dealership without knowing these 20 tips

Buying a new car is awful. It should be a pleasant experience, but it’s not. The deck is stacked against you, and your opponent is match fit. He’s not on your side. He’s not ‘helping you’. His mission is to extract your cash - as much of it as possible. He’s got a playbook full of tricks and traps. He does it every day. This report is the cure.

Tip 1: Shop at the end of the month

This is when the dealership rules off its books and reports back to the mother ship about whether it has met its sales quota. If it has: big bonuses. If you lob at the end of the month and pitch a low offer - and the dealership is under pressure to meet that quota - it could be your lucky day.

Tip 2: Buy a car in stock now

Dealers own the cars in the showroom. They've purchased them on credit, and the interest is a pain. They're always more motivated to get rid of the stock that's there, now. Therefore: Bigger discounts for you.

Tip 3: Pitch a low offer

Always pitch your first offer (or your counter-offer) lower than you are prepared to spend, because the price always comes up from there.

Tip 4: Abrogate the limit

Some of the most powerful words in negotiating the price are: "My wife will kill me if I spend more than $30,000." (Or whatever sum.) Just make sure this third party holding the limit is not present and cannot be contacted. Makes it very hard for the salesman to go to work on the price.

Tip 5: Walk away

Walking away is not weakness - it's showing the salesman you're prepared to drop the deal. If he needs to sell, now, badly, and you walk, you might be amazed at how malleable the price suddenly becomes.

Tip 6: Sell your used car & get independent finance

Don't conduct all three transactions under the one roof (selling the old car, purchasing finance and buying the new car). If you do, it gives the dealer too much leverage over you.

Tip 7: The dealership is a vending machine

Dealerships don't add value to the car you buy. Cars are commodities - the only thing that matters is the price. Lowest price wins. The dealership might as well be a big, fancy vending machine.

Tip 8: Any time a car dealer talks, it’s probably bullshit

A salesman will say anything to get you to sign a contract and pay a deposit. Anything. Be especially skeptical of anything the dealer says that reinforces his agenda or seems to stack the deck in his favour.

Tip 9: Time pressure is definitely bullshit

Car salesmen always pile on the pressure of time, usually by manufacturing some excuse to get you to transact now - even if it doesn't suit you. If they let you leave, the odds that you won't buy from them escalate dramatically. Don't be conned. Take your time - the deal you get will be just as unbeatable next week.

Tip 10: There’s plenty of profit in the deal

Look around at the dealership. Big, swanky building on an expensive chunk of land. Don't listen to the claims that they're losing money - clearly, they are not.

Tip 11: Normal conversational rules and etiquette don’t apply

You are not socialising with the car salesman. You are buying a car. You don't have to be his friend. Do not allow etiquette and politeness to force you to reveal information about yourself, which the sales guy can use against you. Keep your cards close to your chest.

Tip 12: Don’t answer questions - ask them

A good way of doing Tip 10 (above) is to deflect the salesman's questions with questions of your own. When he says: "What price do I have to make this car you get you to buy it?" Respond with: "You're the expert. How low are you prepared to go?" There - you just declined to reveal your budget. Well done.

Tip 13: Don’t cave in to emotional pressure

Cheap shots from salesmen include: "How do you expect me to feed my children at that price?" Frankly, him feeding his kids is his issue. Respond with: "How do you expect me to feed mine if we go any higher?" It's all emotional BS anyway.

Tip 14: Dealer delivery is a scam

Bargain down the $2000-odd delivery scam charge to under $1000. That's still more than it is worth.

Tip 15: Don’t queue up

When demand exceeds supply, nobody gets a discount. Wait until demand cools off, or pay the full freight.

Tip 16: Scare tactics (protection)

You don't need fabric protection, rustproofing or paint protection. It's all a scam designed to milk you clear of every last drop. And it's a classic 'fear' sell, designed to make you feel guilty ... like you're not adequately protecting your new baby. Protective treatments are a scam.

Tip 17: Accessories

Buy only the accessories you really need, and shop around - it's too easy to keep agreeing to everything and watch the bill skyrocket.

Tip 18: Extended warranties

These are usually thinly veiled servicing contracts designed to benefit the dealer, not you. If you want an extended warranty that benefits you, buy a proper independent insurance product.

Tip 19: Branded insurance

The 'Subaru' (or whatever) insurance is typically just rebranded mainstream comprehensive insurance ... at twice the price. Save thousands over the term of ownership by arranging your own from a major insurer.

Tip 20: Use a broker - that’s where I come in.

My strong advice is: use all of these tips. Negotiate the best deal you can. Don’t pay a deposit. Don’t sign a contract. Don’t succumb to any of the BS about the deal evaporating when you walk out the door (it won’t). Then contact me online at - I’ll get the brokerage onto this purchase, and they’ll use their inside knowledge and bulk-buying power to cut even more cash out of the car you want. There’s no obligation. It’s easy, quick and painless. And it’s not a scam. We’re currently saving new car buyers a total of more than $100,000 off the recommended drive-away price of new cars - every month. Currently we can do this only in Australia and New Zealand - but plans for world domination are in place.

Finally, good luck. Don’t forget to leave a comment below; let me know what you think - or whether the tips came in handy buying your new car.