Buy a Car Below Invoice

Negotiation 101: Secret tips and strategies to ensure you pay well below sticker price!


  1. Negotiate.
    1. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this word. If you’ve never tried negotiating as an adult before, go to a yard sale this weekend and get that macrame owl planter for $2, instead of the $7 listed on the little round sticker. It’s really not hard. You don’t have to be boisterous, mean or even know everything about cars. With a little know-how, and packed with the powerful ammunition you gathered from all your resources, it’s just a matter of smiling and laying it on the line.
    2. DO have realistic expectations of what you can spend, and what the car you are interested in is worth.
    3. DO find the right salesperson. If you’re not getting the treatment that you expect, or you don’t think you’re getting the appropriate information, find the manager or someone else to help.
    4. DO inquire about extras.
    5. DO come prepared – bring quotes, loan approvals, rebate guarantees and your knowledge of terminology to the salesroom floor.
    6. DO stay positive and confident.
    7. DO research loan options before going to the dealer, to help alleviate fees.
    8. DO make an appointment with your salesperson if you’ve worked with them previously. Selling a car takes time, and time is money.
    9. DO read the fine print and beware of hidden dealer fees. Go over the purchase order with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure the tax, tag and title are included in the mix.
    10. DO come well-versed about warranty packages, insurance options and other add-ons before making any commitments. Sometimes it’s just plain better to outsource.
    11. DON’T take it personal. Salespeople are there to make money. You’re there to spend money. We can all come to a happy medium, right? Don’t get involved in any arguments. Keep that smile on your face, and use it to your benefit.
    12. DON’T give away secrets or get excited when a salesperson shows you an innovative feature, or brings the cost down. Play it cool – and ask another question.
    13. DON’T put down a deposit on your new car until the offer is approved in writing.
    14. DON’T feel that you have to take the car home that very day – go home and review everything you went over during your visit.
    15. DON’T forget that if the dealer does not have the exact car you want, you are available to buy it directly from the factory. This does not cost more, but may take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months.
    16. DON’T consider trading in your car unless the dealer guarantees (in writing) they will pay off the payment as requested by the bank.
    17. DON’T give your driver’s license up when you’re on the test drive. Instead, make a copy and provide it to the dealer. There’s also no reason for them to have your Social Security Number at this point. In some cases, dealers have been known to run unauthorized credit checks while you’re out and about. Stay protected.
    18. DON’T be swayed by threats or empty promises. Know the product and process to keep from getting burned.


  • Before even setting foot in a dealership...
    • Here are some things you simply must do before visiting the showroom. It always pays to become a well-versed consumer and gain as much education as possible in order to achieve the best possible rates. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of asking...or knowing.
    • Know what you want to buy: The Internet is a very handy tool, so perform your sleuth work online. Here, you can find information that will help you narrow down and define your choices.
    • Research comparative pricing: By gathering dealer invoice prices, and comparing them to new car quotes, you can see exactly which models fit into your particular budget. When you walk into a dealer armed with quotes from other dealers, and information gained online, you can remain confident that you will walk out with the best price offered on the car of your dreams.
    • Research the dealership: Read all the dealer reviews on various dealer review sites so you can see what you’re up against, not only before you buy a car, but the kind of attention and service you will receive after the fact.
    • What to do with your old car: Are you going to trade-in or sell? Trading-in can save you time and hassle, but knowing the market price for your trade will help at the dealership. Selling your car on your own can be a timely ordeal, but can also save (or make) you money. Figure out which situation works best for you before buying your new car.
    • Financing: Acquire competing finance quotes from sources outside the dealership; they do not have to be the ones that can provide that service to you. Contact a lending group, and you will know your approved interest rate before even going to the dealer. Because the dealers make money for arranging loans, they can adjust the buy rate. If you come well-equipped with this knowledge, you can use this figure for negotiation purposes.
    • Know when to go: Don’t wait until your car dies to visit the dealership. Start your research well in advance as not to make any rash decisions. It takes, on the average, 2 months to get your degree from Are-You-Buying-A-Car-University, so be prepared!
    • Know your credit score: There are many online resources where you can have this information provided to you. If your credit score is below 680, you can seek out a poor credit auto loan resource, and they will most likely be able to help – even in cases of previous bankruptcy, bad credit or tax liens. As long as your credit score is 525 or above, your chances are good.
    • Find rebates and incentives: Seek out all your resources! Keep a sharp eye out on newspapers, television commercials, radio advertisements and the Internet for special pricing. Ask the salesman at the dealership. Ask his boss. Take a written guarantee or advertisement with you to ensure validity upon purchase.

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