Vent: Who Besides Me Stinks at Car Dealership Haggling?

Updated on February 27, 2013
J.F. asks from Milledgeville, GA
25 answers

I went and bought a new car this weekend to replace my old beater. My husband couldn't go with me so I was on my own. Even though I went in after researching the vehicle invoice price, the options I wanted and a bunch of other stuff, I got all tangled up in negotiations and ended up with a bad deal. It's my fault, but I am just so frustrated that I never seem to be able to come out of a car dealership without getting suckered. I just needed to get that off my chest! Anyone else feel this way?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the commiseration. :-) Next time I'm going the email route for sure. I can't believe I didn't think to do it this time!

Featured Answers


answers from Houston on

My wife is a pro at it, me not so much. We have bought and sold quite a few cars over the years and when it gets to the 'numbers' I always exit stage left. When she's done she comes and finds me with a big smile on her face. She calls it 'horse tradin'

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I hate to haggle!

Hubby went a few months ago to get a different vehicle and it was $12K. He offered them $5K, I was so embarrassed!!!!!!!

They came back with an offer of $8 though. So he saved about
$7K. I won't go without him from now on but I'll leave the room when it comes to haggling.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

Learn that walking away or out of the dealership and leaving is not being rude, it's being smart. They'll call you if they want to negotiate...

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I'm with Jo - you always have to be willing to walk away! They need me more than I need them. Generally, I will walk in, tell them what I want, tell them the price I'm willing to pay, and then I say, "You have exactly one trip away from your desk to 'talk to your manager.' If you don't come back with the answer I want, I'm leaving." And then I do. They do that whole thing where they pretend to go talk to their manager, and leave you sitting there for half an hour, to try and wear you down. I think it's rude. Also, if they start talking about things I don't want to talk about - like "What PAYMENT do you want?" - I mean, really? - I leave. I actually prefer going through fleet companies to buy cars. They get better deals (very little overhead), and you can order what you want directly from the factory, if it comes to that. They deliver directly to your house. No annoying salesmen.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I went to the no-haggle place. I knew what I wanted, what I expected to pay and didn't want to haggle. I wanted x and x only. End of discussion. If you stink at haggling, then in the future, don't. I went looking for a new car with a male friend. Several places would only talk to him, even though we made it clear it was MY purchase. Do not be afraid to walk. If you think you got a bad deal, do you have a few days to return it within a "buyer's remorse" timeframe? Can you re-negotiate anything, like get new financing through your bank or credit union? Is any of it fixable? If you can't return the car, I'd see what you can do to make the deal less bad.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

You must always be willing to walk! So you got tangled up, walk away, figure out what you are looking at, then come back.

I know this doesn't help you now but maybe in the future it will help.

My husband always has me buy cars because I practically steal them.

If you haven't taken it off the lot all contracts have a three day rescind.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I hate it, too. Thankfully I married a car guy. :)

My husband is the internet director at a car dealership, and has been a car guy for our entire marriage. Since I married him 19 years ago, I have just told him what kind of car I want, and he has brought the car home with the paperwork. I sign it (at home), and he takes it back to work the next day. I love it!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My husband sucks at it. When we went in to buy a car I had in my head that we would not put more than $1500 down, period. I knew the value of the car we wanted (used, I did my research) and we did get a fair price on the car (though slightly higher because of all the "add ins" like gap insurance and extra warranty).

However, when the guy came back and was like... "well, we could get you approved for $3000 down" I said "Not going to happen, we'll just wait unless we can do this with $1500 down." My husband said, "Well, I'd rather not go that high..." 5 minutes later the guy comes back, "Your student loans are making it hard to get financing, but if you could put down $3000 that would seal it". I stay firm but the guy looks at my husband and basically ignores me, next thing I know my husband is writing a check for $3000. WTH?!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

It is frustrating to get taken. Next time, be ready to walk away. If you can't get what you want on your terms, just walk away. They will know they are not working with a pushover. Never negotiate payments, only final price. Same thing with a trade-in. Negotiate the new car first without a trade-in. Then say,
"Oh, what if I want to trade in my old car?" It should be two separate deals as total price for what you get for your car and total price for what you pay for the new one. When they talk monthly payment, tell them that you don't care about that, you need to know total price or you will leave. (Do the math ahead of time to determine monthly payments. You can get pre-qualified at your bank for total loan amount and monthly payments.)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

hate it.
i hate the whole process.
we bought my last car at carmax, and much preferred it.
i am not a haggler.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Nope. You have to know what you're doing.
You have to know the amount you're willing to pay & that's it.
A car dealership is like "the house" in Vegas.
They give you wholesale value for a trade in, then take that off if the retail value if a new vehicle. (That's bad.)
Better to sell a car outright to a private buyer and take that cash, plus more cash to buy a newER car. Not a new car.
No O. gets THAT good of a deal on a new vehicle. Trust me. I have family & friends in the car biz. You might think you are, but these are not non-profit organizations!
You do have to be willing to leave. That's very true.
End of month is best time to buy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

For the first time I my life, I went to buy a car in December by myself. Was on my way home from grocery shopping so I stopped. I knew what I wanted. Met with salesman and told him what I wanted. I asked if he was willing to work with me to give me the best price he could? I then said, because if you cannot there are several other dealers that would love my business. I shocked myself!!!! Got what I wanted for a great price and extras added in. Wow. My husband could not believe it. We both went back the next day and purchased the car.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

They don't like me much either! I don't want to know the payment per month - and you have no need for that info salesdude - I want the final price and then we'll talk! And I've also had my own financing ready - even on the phone haggling between what they'd offer and what he "could" get! LOL!

Was with son once when he was looking - guy tried to sell him a POS Ranger from the fleet return (over 100,000m) - told son, no, we'll go somewhere else, but he wanted to see what the guy could do - and got told he didn't have enough credit for it (big flag) - looked at my credit and told me I could buy anything on his lot - told him he couldn't give me anything on his lot! Be willing to walk - we did - actually ran from there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

What a bummer! I'm like you, I don't do well with it. I can have all of my research done, but am easily confused with math. :-) I'm sure it doesn't take the dealers long to figure this out. If I'm good on the invoice, etc., they switch things around about monthly payments and taxes. If I know my monthly payment, they screw with the price of the car. I can feel my eyes glossing over and my mind jumbling up, it's awful.

I haven't bought a car in a few years now, but I'm sure I'll stress again when it's time. You already got enough advice about what to do next time. That probably doesn't make you feel better now. I just wanted you to know that, in the spirit of misery loves company, we are in the same boat. In the mean time, know that you did the best you could. And it is fresh right now, but in a few months you won't be so frustrated. Hopefully it will be something that hardly ever crosses your mind. Just a fleeting thought of how it sucked to buy this car back then. But not the worst thing that could have happened, I hope!

I just don't think there is a great way to buy cars yet! Even the no-haggle thing. There's always an angle... And there are always people who say they don't get screwed and they got a rippin deal, not super likely. It's kind of like people who say they know how to 'beat the house' in Vegas- it's just not likely!!

I hope your week gets better! Oh, and that you like your new car!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

I'm actually a decent haggler (like another poster I print everything out so when I get tangled up I can refer back to my paper). But... even if I can do it, I hate it. Way too confrontational. So this time I'm negotiating via email. I went and test drove all the cars I liked to see which was "the one" and ended up with two that are solid possibilities. Then I emailed all of the local dealers -- using's 'get a price' feature, and have been talking back and forth with two for the last few days to see if they'll come down to my price. It's been so stress free because I don't have to sit across a desk from a salesman or wait while they check with their manager for the tenth time. Give it try next time!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Actually, no. I am pretty good at haggling. I don't think the sales people at the car dealership care much for me.
I don't just do my research, I print it out and have it with me. I don't use the dealer's financing---ever. I bring my own (check pre-authorized from my credit union).
And, even though I mind sitting in their little office for hours while they run back and forth, I don't mind. If that makes sense. My husband would just get mad and either give in on something or get up and leave, period. But, I know going in that it is part of the "game" and I play it. The last negotiations I did (on the car I am still driving now) I spent about 3 hours in their offices. On a Sunday. The original sales guy was a newbie, and ended up handing me off to another mentor guy. He was exasperated with me by the time we were through. He kept trying to talk payments, and I kept telling him I wasn't interested in payments... I wanted to discuss the sales price. Period.

My husband doesn't go with me to negotiations. And I think we both like it that way. I don't mind waiting the people out. And I tell them up front: If they can't meet my price, I am more than willing to walk... b/c usually I am pretty happy with my current car and don't mind hanging onto it. My last negotiation, I told them, my husband suggested I go test drive the vehicle and see what I thought. That I was perfectly fine with my current vehicle. Only reason I was there was because husband suggested it. And since husband wasn't there, what choice did they have but to believe it? What husband is adamant about buying a vehicle and doesn't go to the sale? LOL

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I am actually really good at this. We traded in two cars on the 15th for a new Toyota Highlander. We got the SE, almost fully loaded, and got it for under retail value. This is the 4th car we have bought from this dealership, 3rd in two years, so they were working with us, but still.

The finance guy said "I forgot what a pain in my a$$ you are!!" once we started talking numbers :). He said it lovingly though. He tried to give me 2 years of Toyota Care. I just kept saying 5 and it took 3 go-rounds, but we got 5 at no extra cost. We got the SE model for the cost of the one beneath it. So basically we got the leather, sunroof, and navigation for no cost.

Our payments did not decrease nearly as much as we wanted, we are only saving $200 per month with the new car versus the two older cars, but we have a brand new car with no problems. The 2005 Armada and 2009 Prius both needed work on them.

Now we have a 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid (that my husband drives 90 miles each way to work) and a 2013 Toyota Highlander that I drive around town with the kids. Two new cars that are fully warrantied. I think they know I would have walked without thinking twice and they wanted the deal.

Just do in and be confident. Stand your ground and don't "think" too much in front of them. Be firm and consistent. You'll get a better deal next time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I think EVERYONE feels like you. No matter how good you think your deal is, you're convinced someone out there got a better deal.

I have a cousin who was buying a new car. The salesman wanted to add $250 for some special wax the dealership had already put on the car. He told them to take the wax off the car because he wasn't paying for it. He ended up getting the car and didn't pay the extra. I think the trick is to go in expecting NOT to buy a car. That way, you're less emotionally caught up and ready to walk if they won't negotiate.

Don't beat yourself up. I hate buying new cars and have decided the next car I buy will be from CarMax.



answers from Norfolk on

I hate this whole process too! Two ideas for you.

1) Bring a friend who either likes and/or is good at the process. You can know what you want but they will help you GET what you want.

2) I did this when I bought my first new vehicle. I did all the research and sent a similar letter to 8 different dealerships telling them exactly what I wanted and what day I was going to buy it. I reaffirmed that I would not be haggling and the price they presented was their bid. Worked awesome! I got two killer offers. One turned out to be an error, but they honored the extra savings. While it took some work, I was able to do it all from home and was very satisfied with the result.

Don't beat yourself up about it! It's only money. :) Be happy with your new car!!! Enjoy it!



answers from Los Angeles on

we got a buy back offer for my 2010 edge with extra incentives to buy a 2013 ford whatever. I didn't look twice at it. But hubbys boss got one and went in and got a new car (murano) and his payment is only $10 more per month and they did not extend his loan. (no idea how the heck that happened) So we decided to look into it. Pulled the offer out of the recycle bin and went to the dealership. Showed the sales person the offer letter and they went to appraise my vehicle. In the mean time they wanted to know what car I wanted and were trying to get me to take a test drive. I told them I wanted my appraisal and to know what incentives were available. So they needed to know what I owed still and I gave them that then they came back and said because I was a "valued returning customer" they were going to help me more. the check they printed for me was for $151 less than what I owed. WTH. I was pissed. I tried to explain to the guy that I was "supposed" to have more consideration because of the letter. They were still offering me whole sale. Either he didn't get it or he was trying to play hard ball (despite specifically telling me he doesn't play hard ball) I told him at that price there was no way we could make a deal and to get my keys (they had them for the appraisal inspection). So he went to get my keys but I can see him with the numbers guys trying to negotiate more. BS I told my husband grab my keys (they were on the desk beside the 2 men negotiating) He was trying to hear what they were doing. I said get my keys or there will be a scene. I took my kids outside and prior to running numbers I was trying to stop them from picking the flowers and at this point I did not care. The sales guy came outside with my husband and was trying to ask me what number I would be "comfortable" with and he has my keys in his hand. I told him the letter the dealer sent was complete BS (yup the kids heard it) because the offer letter was for "up to $28,000" (which of course I knew I wouldn't get but I thought it would be decent) and they couldn't even get 60% of the way there. I demanded my keys and we left. And so did 2 other couples who witnessed the whole ordeal.
When we bought my husbands truck I knew where I wanted to be payment wise and what I had to put down and when they promised they could get me into what I test drove. After running the numbers the payment was twice what I wanted. I walked out. The VP of the dealership chased after me. Turns out at the time Hubby had no credit so the interest rate with both of us on it was like 18%!!!!! The numbers guy wasn't going to tell us that. But when they did my credit by myself it was 5.5%. so the payment was $10 under where I wanted to be. Do your research and know what will work for you if its not tell them you cant afford it and be ready to walk. IF they can make it work they WILL but make them EARN it.
I started car shopping by myself without my parents at 18. At total legit factory dealers. I knew I couldn't buy anything on my own and could not leave with a car anyway but I learned how to work it. If we lived closer I would go car shopping with you anytime. Is your deal really a bad deal? How bad is it? Anyway to refinance through a credit union or another bank? What is the purchase policy? Look through that baby to see if there is a way out if possible. Sometimes you have a few days. sometimes you don't but it is totally worth looking into.



answers from Cleveland on

We had a bad day today with it! Not a new car, but a used one... the first one we test drove we liked, but couldn't get it down to what we could pay. The salesman had us test drive another one, just to tell us sorry, but the owner can't get it down to what you say you can pay... but if you can come up with **** more we can make a deal. The 3rd car was really a piece of *&$%, and we ended up walking away from the dealership (eventhough we have bought from them in the past). We went to another dealership and they sold the car we were looking at on-line... so the offered us a car, but the owner wouldn't budge on the price - I wouldn't even test drive by this point till I knew we could get it within our price range. Dealer 3 and nearly 6 hours later with 5 kids in-tow we FINALLY found a nice looking, well running used car that will fit the 7 of us... the end results are good, but the day has been so stressful & overwhelming. Beleive me I don't want to go car shopping agian any time soon!!!


answers from Minneapolis on

I hate haggling. My hubby is still mad that I bought the car that I did for the price that I did. It was a great car, in amazing condition! I bought it from my banker! This guy has been working with my family in a pretty small town for many many years, so he was no stranger. He had records for every single thing he had ever done to the car - Every oil change, every time he brought it into the shop, EVERYTHING. The loan I took out for the car, which included money for the license change and what not was $5,000... No down-payment. I still love the car. Hubby agrees that it is a great car... But still thinks he could have gotten it for less. $5,000 was within my price-range so I didn't even think of haggling. I just took it.

My younger sister on the other hand... She's worse than I am! She just bought her first car a few months ago. She was looking to spend under $7,500. She ended up spending just under $12,000. They got her good! "Oh, it has great gas mileage, it's cute and stylish, and just look at this awesome sun-roof!". My mom went with her and my sister wouldn't let my mom haggle at all for fear that the car dealership would refuse to sell her the car. Lol! $12,000 and so far she's had to bring it back in 3 TIMES for repairs that they didn't tell her about! Luckily, they are fixing all of these things for her... But ya. They got her good. Lol


answers from Dallas on

You have to be prepared to walk out of the deal at any time. It doesn't matter how much you love the car!!!

Only deal with cash. No payment plans.



answers from Denver on

me! me! me! I will drive a car to it's deathbed just to avoid going to the dealership. I STINK at negotiations for cars! What really trips me up are those 'set prices' places. Um, are they serious that they want me to pay the price on the windshield? How "set" are the prices?



answers from Boston on

Sorry it s my favorite thing to do is haggle. I have fun doing it with mechanics, insurance, cars. I make a game of it and I usually come out on top.

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