Buy A New Car Without Getting Ripped Off

There is a rare breed of individual who enjoys shopping for a new car. Likening it to one of our last remaining instances of socially acceptable bare-knuckle-boxing, Rob Gruhl is one such person. He shares his tips for not getting screwed at the dealership in this fun and lively and short presentation.

[via Stop Getting Ripped Off, by Bob Sullivan]


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  1. chucklebuck says:

    I like shopping for used cars – to me it’s like a treasure hunt. I spend a lot of time scouring used car listings even when I don’t need a car. Somewhere in the classified ads, on Craigslist or some random local forum is an underappreciated gem just waiting to be scooped up for a great deal.

    But new cars – this guy has way more tolerance than I do.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      I do something similar with used motorcycles. It is a real roller-coaster out there. Some people want to get back every dime they have put into the bike and others just want it out of their garage at any price.

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    There is a rare breed of individual who enjoys shopping for a new car.

    There is also a rare breed of individual who enjoys being tied up and beaten.

    I prefer neither.

    Would it take an act of Congress for auto manufacturers to also become retailers, and you buy your Toyota from Toyota (perhaps even off the web?). Dealers would morph into 100% service destinations and have a small rental fleet that is also available for test drives. (I can rent a new Toyota for a week, if I buy a car, the rentalprice is credited toward purchase).

    This would be bad, why?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      …it would be bad because then you’d always be paying MSRP for your car, when realistically speaking you should never be paying anything close to MSRP for your car.

      Look up the car you want on Kelley Blue Book. Find out what the dealer invoice is. See what their dealer incentives are.

      Get a print out from KBB showing the exact car you want. Walk into a dealership and give them that printout, and tell them that you will buy that car for $1,000 (maybe $1,500 if you like them) over the dealer cost (after their incentives). They can take it or leave it.

      Don’t buy the “sealer” or any warranty from anyone other than the manufacturer.


      • PunditGuy says:

        Presumably, MSRP would be different without the middleman excess. Plus, you could directly compare models from different manufacturers without having to go through a rigmarole to compute costs based on dealer whims.

        Also presumably, manufacturers would have to more directly compete against each other when the costs are all available up front.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Firstly, you presume too much. Secondly, you can already do such comparisons on your own easily – KBB is a good place to start.

          …and actually, if we went with the proposed plan, I wonder if there would even be any way to get KBB style information anymore…if the manufacturers weren’t selling the cars to dealers anymore, there wouldn’t be a “dealer cost” and you’d actually have no basis from which to do your negotiating.

          • PunditGuy says:

            KBB doesn’t tell me what I’m expected to pay on the lot. Whether I go to various dealerships and play them off one another or I email them and do the same, I’m doing a lot of legwork to determine what price I’m going to see when I get there.

            Buying a car shouldn’t be more complicated than buying a pricey home appliance. There’s an MSRP, there’s maybe a sale, but the price isn’t based on some dance I have to do with the retailer. (I know I could just pay MSRP for a new car, but the current model is rife with built-in costs placed there for absolutely no reason. If a dealer adds unnecessary costs, you go to another the dealer — the manufacturer doesn’t care, as long as you buy the same car someplace else. If the manufacturer tries adding unnecessary costs, you go to another manufacturer. Now, that starts to hurt them.)

            • YouDidWhatNow? says:

              …that’s why, as I suggested, you walk in and tell the dealer what you’re willing to pay for the car, based on your research. If they want your $1,000 (or whatever you’re offering above their cost), they can sell you the car. If they don’t want your $1,000, leave.

              • PunditGuy says:

                And my point, as I’ve stated, is that I shouldn’t have to perform some ritual to get a price. If I go through the effort of researching the price and figuring out what a decent offer would be, and the dealer doesn’t want to accept that offer, of course I can go to another dealer. Now I’ve wasted time with that first dealer, and I can hope that I’m not wasting time with yet another dealer. None of that should be necessary.

                • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                  Sorry, I’m just not getting what the “ritual” is you’re referring to. It takes a few minutes to research online to figure out what the dealer’s cost is. Add $1000.

                  As for having wasted time going to a dealer with your offer to have them refuse it, well, that’s pretty much the way it’s going to be.

                  I don’t think any kind of scheme like cutting dealers out of the process would ever happen, and if it did, it would probably ultimately bite the consumer in hte ass.

      • tinmanx says:

        I paid MSRP for my car since according to Edmunds and other car research sites, MSRP was around $600 over the invoice price. But some people from car forums got a deal because the dealership they went to was over stocked and they paid invoice price.

        I paid in full, so that $600 is what they made from my purchase which is probably gonna be split between the dealership and the sales person.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          …I am going to have a pretty hard time believing that MSRP for any car is $600 over dealer invoice…unless they permanently had a several thousand dollar dealer incentive attached to it.

          A quick glance at KBB shows that if I were to buy a new truck to replace my existing one, at the same level of vehicle, the MSRP is $5,000 over dealer invoice.

          • tinmanx says:

            Well, I got a cheap car. haha

            Check out the MSRP and invoice for the Honda Fit. From, MSRP is $15,460.00 and invoice is $14,945.59.

            • YouDidWhatNow? says:

              …huh. I wonder how it’s worth the dealer’s time to sell a car for $600 net. But I accept your evidence that your car’s MSRP is only $600 above invoice.

              …in all seriousness though, I can’t imagine being a dealer and wanting to bother with a car I’m going to make no more than $600 on. Unless I suck you into buying the “sealer” or some wonky 3rd party warranty. Or if there was some dealer incentive.

              If I was an up-and-up dealer that didn’t push bogus BS like the above, I can’t honestly say I’d care to stock any Fits.

              • tinmanx says:

                They didn’t have that many in stock, and $600 once in a while is still pretty good. But I think dealerships make more money from financing, and I guess maybe they thought that if someone was looking for a cheap car they probably will need financing.

                Anyway, I don’t know how the car retail industry works, but that’s what I’ve read on the InterWebs.

                • Dave on bass says:

                  tinmanx – don’t forget that in addition to whatever you paid over invoice, the dealership will also get a check from the manufacturer for the “holdback” amount. On Hondas I think it’s 2%, on most car brands it’s 3%, of the price (i don’t know whether it’s based on invoice, MSRP, or sold price, though).

              • Blueskylaw says:

                The dealers don’t sell cars, they sell financing. What they make on the car is nothing compared to what they make on the financing over several years. They may also have a deal with a financing company such that the financing company will offer to make the loan at 5%, the dealer comes back and says that we can offer you 9% financing but if you buy today we can reduce it to 8%. If you buy it at 8% the financing company makes 5%, the dealer makes 3% and whatever they made on the car.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Oh, and keep in mind that dealer incentives effectively reduce the dealer invoice price too. One of many tricks in the trade…the dealer invoice may be $30k, but if there’s a $3k dealer incentive, the effective invoice cost is $27k.

    • ahecht says:

      Actually, it would probably take an act of congress. Most states currently have franchise laws that make it a criminal offense for an auto manufacturer to sell a new car to anyone but a state-licensed car dealer. You can blame it all on Regan, who started such laws when he was governor of California.


  3. Batwaffel says:

    Very good, well thought out information. Since we’re in the market for a new car, it will come in handy.

    The only thing is, we’ve been eying up this Ford Fiesta Econetic. The problem: they don’t sell it in the US. Any advice on importing to a dealer?

    • jamar0303 says:

      Generally, it’ll be near-impossible with a couple of exceptions-
      1. Sold in Canada; cross-border importing is easier than cross-ocean importing.
      2. Cult following- older Nissan GT-Rs became importable for a while due to enough people wanting them for a dealer to go through all the red tape to get them imported, including buying an extra or two purely for crash-testing by NHTSA (can’t find the video for some reason though I’d really like to see it where the others are). Unfortunately, said import dealer went belly-up under odd circumstances, so that stopped.
      3. Older than 25 years old (not that Fiesta, that’s for sure)
      Otherwise it’s better to set your eyes on something local-market.

      • Geotpf says:

        jamar0303 is exaggerating…on how easy it is.

        Basically, it is, as a practical matter, impossible to legally import a vehicle into the US that is not designed for sale here. Don’t bother even thinking about trying to do so, it will only end in tears.

        • jamar0303 says:

          Exaggerating? So where do all those cars with the steering wheel on the right side on eBay come from? And the 1980s/1990s Nissan GT-Rs and Japan-market 240SXes? Fairlady Z?

          (and wasn’t there a rule that allowed US military personnel serving in other countries to be able to bring their cars home with them without the “impossible” bit? I remember at least one eBay listing saying that’s where his GT-R came from)

          Or there’s the option of moving north of the border. They have more relaxed importing rules.

  4. blogger X says:

    I just recently bought a car, man the dealership was EMPTY. The service shop had customers in it, though. The whole 30 minutes I was there I was the only buyer. This was on a Friday too.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      …in the current economy, people are hanging onto their old cars and just fixing them when they have problems, rather than buying new cars.

      Good news for the repair shop business…bad news for the car sales business. At that dealership, the service manager probably is pulling his hair out trying to schedule all the customer repair work that’s coming in, while the sales manager is crying in his latte about not making a bonus check this month.

      • Powerlurker says:

        This probably isn’t that bad for most dealerships as almost all of them have been making far more money off of service than from actual car sales for years.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Agreed – it’s probably only bad, from a dealership standpoint, for the noted sales manager (and sales people) who work on commission.

          And it’s obviously not the greatest for the car companies themselves…

      • H3ion says:

        At the same time, the repair people are trying to make a buck on dubious repairs. I brought my car in for a simple issue, a bad sensor on a trouble light. The dealership tried to sell me a new battery for $150 and tie rods. I know my battery works and the tie rods look fine. I left without letting them do anything. It’s not just the sales department.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      Most car sales happen on weekends and evenings when the service shop is closed.

    • mobbo says:

      Same experience here. I recently bought a 1969 Ford Mustang via eBay to replace my Audi. I found a dealership willing to buy my Audi and when I got there to have it inspected, it was a ghost town. Salesmen just standing around talking about the weather and football. Granted… this was a GM dealership so I wasn’t too shocked, but even the other dealerships I passed by had empty customer parking lots. But somehow my Ford stock keeps going up (45% since I went all-in a few months ago!!).

  5. maggiemerc says:

    Count me among the folks who love buying cars. When I was 18 my mother taught me how to buy a car. The first few times we walked out of a dealership and left behind the car I wanted I was mortified. Then I got an even better car for about 3 grand under MSRP on the street and I was amazed.

    When the car was totaled and I was using the insurance money to buy a new car two years later I was ready. It was fantastic and I came away with a great car.

    Check out Consumer Reports before you buy. They have really nice reviews and comparisons AND they can tell you how much that car you want ACTUALLY costs. A lot of dealerships will get worried and bowl over when you pull out that report and show them how much they’re ripping you off.

    They’ll claim they need the extra money or they won’t be payed for the sell. They’re lying.

    And for slightly more expensive buy hassle free car purchasing. Go in and say you want the sticker price on the street. 9 times out of 10 they’ll agree. You’re only saving a thousand to fifteen hundred, but you won’t have to feel like such an asshole.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Why would you feel like an asshole? Car salesmen are some of the lowest forms of life in human society. Abuse them freely, since they’ll abuse you right back if you don’t protect yourself. Not getting screwed over is more important to me than the final price (and the two are NOT the same).

  6. Talisker says:

    Buying a new car can be fun if you are the one negotiating from the position of power. Have your financing lined up already. Know that you don’t need to drive that car off the lot, and that there are more cars than buyers.

    I went shopping with my brother and his wife several years ago when they were buying a car. They both wanted the car, but his wife pretended that she wasn’t sure that it was something they needed to do. My brother could pretend to be trying to negotiate with her and the salesman wound up helping him by moving the deal in their favor a little. Whenever the salesman would leave the room to go talk to his sales manager, my brother and his wife would leave the room, too. They’d go to the bathroom, or look at the other cars in the showroom. But they never sat there and stewed or talked about the deal.

    The car was in a lot across the street from the showroom, and they went across the street to look at it again and the “talk” about the deal. The salesman watched from the window. My brother looked animated while his wife looked at him with crossed arms, but all he was saying was, “I’m just going to wave my arms around a little and pretend that I’m trying to get my point across.”

    When they went back to the showroom, the salesman was ready to knock a little more off the price since my brother was acting like the deal was off because of the wife. It was beautiful.

  7. Pibbs says:

    I have steps for buying a used car. No one on this website should even be thinking about buying new, anyway.

    Step one: Find “no-haggle” dealership.

    Step two: Find car you like.

    Step three: Buy car.

    It’s worked for my wife and I, because we know what we are getting, and it takes out so much of the unpleasantness between me and the sleezy salesperson. The last two cars we bought have come from the same exact person, and we’ve been thrilled with the service we have gotten.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      Well, I’m on this website and I bought my last car new, so HA!

      OK, I’ll just sit quietly now and await my inevitable financial ruin.

    • Anachronism says:

      The problem with “no haggle” dealership is that it is you that is not haggling, not the dealer.

      The dealer is simply putting the “no haggle” price up there that almost always ensures them a high gross on the deal. It really is almost the same as going to any other dealership and paying sticker for a car.

      Saturn used to drive me crazy with this. People would talk about how great Saturn is with no haggle pricing, while EVERY “no haggle” price on a Saturn was 10% over invoice.

      I was working at a Toyota dealership at the time. Toyota sells better cars than Saturn. Toyota’s MSRP was almost always 10% over MSRP except on the really expensive (Land Cruiser) lines where it was closer to 13%.

      So, it really was an issue of Saturn selling “no haggle” cars at the same gross that buying a Toyota at MSRP would get.


      • Crunchbones says:

        I don’t know, but I actually laughed out loud when I saw this comment. “No haggle” is not a good thing — it just means you pay whatever the dealer wants you to pay, and have no option to bargain down. You are far more likely to get screwed at a no-haggle dealership.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Seconded. This must appeal to people who set their watches five minutes fast so that they don’t miss meetings. Who in the hell forgets that they set their own watch five minutes ahead?

        • ChunkyBarf says:

          I understand your point about ‘paying more’, but I would also point out that you ‘pay less’ in emotional turmoil this way though. I personally cannot stand the banter that goes on in the car buying process. I despise negotiating like the plague. I personally wish the car industry was like going to a store — take the car to the checkout and be on with your way.

  8. madanthony says:

    When I bought my current truck, I did it a little differently. I knew what I wanted, and used the manufacturer’s website to find a dealer that had exactly what I wanted in stock. Figured out the tmu from edmunds, figured out the blue book value of my trade, got preapproved from my credit union, went there, test drove it, and bought it the same day.

    The price was higher than the TMU, but still good, and the trade-in was more than I probably deserved based on the condition of the trade. Could I have saved a few hundred bucks if I spent 2 weeks shopping instead of 2 hours? Yes, but I keep cars long enough that it’s not worth it to me.

    • Anachronism says:

      You sir, are a genuis, and summed up what I said in a much shorter e-mail.

      A lot easier than calling ten dealerships, then leaving a similar number of dealerships when they won’t live up to the phone price, right?

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      I did about the same thing. Believe it or not, there was 1 Ford Fusion, and only 1, that had the exact color and options I wanted. I asked for the walking out the door price, I then asked for the allowance for my car. I left to think it over. Now I had already test driven all the cars I was interested in and had already narrowed it down to this 1 car but I still knew I could live without it. They offered a fair trade in for my car based on Edmunds assessment and KBB general data. I didn’t have the time to try to sell my car own my own. The car I wanted had to brought in from 4 states away. I didn’t guarantee I would buy it until I test drove that specific model and they still agreed to bring the car in. So, I think we both got what we wanted in the end. They never changed anything at the last minute either.

  9. cristiana says:

    I just recently bought a car, and I got it for 200 over cost, even though it was a rare model, and the dealer had to get it shipped from Maryland to NYC. I got it through a lot of yelling, and eventually walking out on the deal. After I walked out, I got a call 10 minutes later saying he could do it for 200 over cost. I had fun, because I know they need me more than I needed a new car, so I just played out my advantages and got what I wanted.

  10. Megladon says:

    I really need to favorite this video :-)

  11. DoubleEcho says:

    I can’t see the video at work so I don’t know if they focus on this. But one important thing I learned from Confessions of a Car Salesman ( was that you need to focus on PRICE, PRICE, PRICE! If they ask you what kind of monthly payment you’re looking for you’ll get something a little above or below, because they’ll extend the payments to 72 months and not come down on the price of your car.

    My wife and I just made a deal on a 2009 Camry, loaded, with only 12k miles (previously a fleet car). They wanted $21,000 and change and she told them $18,000 firm. She got that price. Since we already had financing figured out through our credit union I could crunch the numbers for tax/title and all that and figure out the monthly payment.

  12. Anachronism says:

    As a former car salesman, I disagree with most of what he is saying. I agree with him that it is important to do your research, look at many cars, nail down what you want, etc.

    What I don’t agree with is his idea of price research. Calling ten dealerships to get quotes is simply a waste of time. Most will freely blow smoke up your a$$, knowing that every other dealership will lowball you to get you in the door as well, so even if they offer you a insanely low, yet legit deal, the next dealership will go lower, or just say, “we will beat your best offer by $50, come on down” without giving a price. You can’t sell a car over the phone, so most will say anything they can to get you in the door, at which point they can start turning the thumbscrews.

    So, getting quotes from ten dealerships means that when you got to buy, you will show up at ten dealerships and find the phone price was a lie. In other words, you will waste a ton of time because while you think the negotiation part was done over the phone, the dealership knows it doesn’t start until you sit at the table, AND THEY HAVE MUCH MORE EXPERIENCE THAN YOU. Even if you are a good smart consumer, the dealership survives because they can con a lot of smart people into overpaying for cars.

    Here is a better way to save yourself a TON of time.

    1. Do you research on what car you want to buy. Then, do your research on the dealership you want to buy it from. Find out what dealerships have highly rated repair facilities, good customer service, close to your house, etc. You will probably want to take your car into the dealership you bought it from (and if they know this, it is incentive for them to make the deal for you so that they get the repair business, which is really where the money comes from on new cars- dealerships make money off of warranty work and used cars).

    2. Do your research for price online. I personally really like, because their invoice costs for both cars and adjustments were almost always spot on to reality- at the time I was selling, that was not always the case and annoying when we (the car dealership) was willing to make the deal the customer wanted, but the online invoice prices were wrong and $500 low. Point is, the good online sites will give you a recommended price. On edmunds just now, I priced out a 2009 Turbo Subaru Outback because I have a raging Subie hardon, and got MSRP of $31,595, and a Market price estimate of $200 under invoice with a $300 rebate putting the “fair price” at $27,605. Not bad!

    3. Once you have your price estimates, PRINT THEM. Go to the dealership you want to deal with, explain you have DONE YOUR RESEARCH, and wish to purchase a vehicle with these options at the Edmund (for example) price TODAY as long as they can match that price.

    4. When a customer did this, the negotiation phase took literally 5 minutes. I’d take the printout back to the sales manager, tell him “They will buy now if we hit this price, if I can’t hit it spot on, they walk.” Sales manager would ask me if I was sure, I would say yes, we would look it up online and against what we show as invoice prices to make sure the info was right, and we would make the deal, EVERY TIME.

    5. If they won’t make the deal, walk to your second choice for a dealer, and repeat. Chances are, if you are working with a dealership that you want to have a long-term relationship with, they won’t jerk you around when you have your research in hand and make a direct offer on car.

    As a salesperson, I actually loved these customers, because I didn’t have to waste my time with them, and knew that I would be selling a car to them. Sure, I wouldn’t make a lot on the deal (Edmunds prices always put me in the range of minimum commission- their price is a good deal), but I would get a sales unit (that helps with bonuses and manufacturer spiffs), and IT WOULDN’T WASTE MY TIME.

    Compare that to the “What is your best price so I can go to ten other dealerships that will lie to me and undercut it, so you will never see me again and there is no price that you could actually sell a car to me for because I have no idea what a good price is and will just be suckered by the last place I go to.”

    You save time, and save the dealer time, which makes them more likely to accommodate you, by doing the research to make a concrete offer of “I will buy this care TODAY for this price, I know the price is fair because I have researched it, and if you cannot get me this price I will go to a dealership that can.”

    • Shadowman615 says:

      Most will freely blow smoke up your a$$, knowing that every other dealership will lowball you to get you in the door as well, so even if they offer you a insanely low, yet legit deal, the next dealership will go lower, or just say, “we will beat your best offer by $50, come on down” without giving a price. You can’t sell a car over the phone, so most will say anything they can to get you in the door, at which point they can start turning the thumbscrews.

      So the solution is you don’t actually go down to the dealership unless you get a firm number, including title, taxes and other fees. This can be done with email as well.

      • Anachronism says:

        Yeah, you’d think so, except that I know most dealerships will freely lie to you over the phone, because they know that they can’t sell a car to you over the phone, and if you call someplace else, the next place will just lie as well.

        The whole name of the game is to get you in the door. Here is one way this plays out.

        You call, get a firm price, yes, we have it, yes we can sell it for this, come on down.

        You come on down. The salesperson sits you down “and goes and gets the paperwork.”

        In comes the salesperson and the closer/sales manager, whatever title they have. The sales manager proceeds to rip the salesperson a new one, “Get out of the office, you lying SOB!” and apologizes to you, the salesperson made a quote they could not match. Then the closer changes the deal to “something we don’t normally do, but we want to make it worth your time for coming in.”

        You want to hear him out, because it sounds like he has power, and it sounds like they are going to try and make you happy. But the dressing down of the employee is really just for your benefit and a script. It throws you offguard, it makes you upset, but it still gets you in the chair to hear the pitch, and guys that can’t make the pitch to just about anyone do not survive in car sales.

        This is one of hundreds of ways this works. Phone quotes are WORTHLESS. Probably 50 people call each dealership asking “what’s your best price” every day, and none of them get anything worth any amount of money.

        The salesperson is taught this:

        1. You can’t sell a car over the phone, the only thing you can do over the phone is convince the person to come in.

        2. It doesn’t even matter if they come in and immediately get mad, because if they come in it means that are serious about buying a car and we have a good chance of getting them sold on it.

        3. If you give them a legit price over the phone, all that happens is they call the next guy who asks them what they have gotten for a quote, and undercuts it by whatever they need to get the guy in, whether they can do that or not. Thus, you need to either lie, or find another way to get them in to get the sale because the next guy WILL.

        4. If you don’t believe this is reality, try giving prices over the phone for a week. You won’t ever see the people you talk to over the phone. (And this IS reality.)

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      Thank you for sharing. I’m copying and saving this. I agree. Dealers don’t want to give you honest out-the-door quotes over the phone or email. They just want you to get down there in person.

    • shepd says:

      Yes, calling is pointless. Best to go to your third choice dealership, work on the salesman for the best price, and DON’T BUY (well, unless the car is free!)

      You then go to your #2 dealership and work on the salesman there to beat that price (but don’t tell him it’s from another dealer, just tell him you aren’t interested in paying more than that). If he doesn’t, so far so good. If he does, great.

      Then go to your best pick, rinse, repeat.

      Now you have competitive, final quotes. And you don’t need to rely on pricing from websites, which helps if that doesn’t exist for your country. :^)

    • Blueskylaw says:

      “Even if you are a good smart consumer, the dealership survives because they can con a lot of smart people into overpaying for cars.”

      I have to disagree. They survive because they can con a lot of uninformed people into overpaying for cars.

      The smart informed people tend to get the best deal because, well, they are smart and informed.

    • verdegrrl says:

      Thanks for taking the time to post that. I used to sell cars as well. I loved the customers that had done their research and were realistic in their approach. The calling and faxing thing rarely works. As you know, unless a sales number is approved by a sales manager by either coming from them or being signed off by them, the salesperson has no power to actually set a price. The salesperson sells the customer on the car and hopefully builds value. The managers set the price. The salesperson exists because a manager can’t deal with each customer individually from start to finish.

      Our dealership had a wide variety of sales “talent”. Some came from cultures that LOVED to haggle over the smallest amount. So when a grinder would start to take too much time, I would turn them over to one of our bargaining “specialists”, who was known to make grown men cry – usually over the course of many hours. It all boils down to what you think your time is worth. Another thing to keep in mind that if someone gets a screaming deal that is better than any others, everyone else gets a haircut to make it back up. So the average Joe and Joette pays extra so some stranger else can save a couple of bucks. The money has to come from somewhere.

      My suggestion is to search the various brand/model specific forums and see who is happy with their dealers. That usually means good prices (if not rock bottom) and good service – before and after the sale. If you’re looking for a good salesperson, visit the service dept first and ask the service manager from whom they would buy a car – they get to see the broken promises after the deal is done.

      *sigh* I wish it was straight retail, where the price is the same price for everyone.

  13. WagTheDog says:

    I love shopping for new cars. Once they told me I made the weekly sales meeting. My salesman brother says that means I was the customer from hell for the week. Go middle aged lady car buyers!

  14. ARPRINCE says:

    This site below helped me a lot when I bought a new car!

  15. Blueskylaw says:

    I really love shopping for new cars. My dad used to take me everytime he went to buy a car and showed me all the tricks. He was also an engineer so they couldn’t fudge the numbers on him. When I was younger I used to stop at dealerships on my way back from the mall and pretend I was interested in a new car just so that I could keep up with the tricks and pressure tactics they use. My friend once picked me up from work over a decade ago and I looked like a dirty bum (tearing a roof off) while he was dressed really nice. The salesman soon figured out why I was there. I was talking to him and he never looked at me, only at my friend.
    My friend was going to take out a $20000 loan over 5 years at 6% interest and then the salesman asked, how much can you afford to pay per month? I asked him what the payment would be based on those terms and why he wanted to know how much he could afford, he refused to answer so we walked out. We went to another BMW dealer who also quickly realized why I was there so he didn’t screw around with us. The talk was pleasant (no table shaking or fist pounding) the numbers matched up and he made a sale that day.

  16. mrguard says:

    Looking up the Value on Kelly Blue Book isn’t going to help.
    Most dealers will tell you that KBB does not reflect current market conditions, which is true.
    Who is to say that your vehicle trade isnt part of a tidal wave of those at the auctions.
    (Ever see when the big 3 had great lease deals on xxx model… they all come back to the auction)
    It’s all supply and demand..
    And to keep and sell your potential trade in doesnt work if you still owe $$$ on it.. Most banks will
    require that vehicle to be paid off before they will approve the loan.
    Also… the dealer is going to make $ off of your trade in, but also the dealer has to do a
    maintenance and safety inspection not to mention recondition the vehicle to a saleable condition also warranty the vehicle.
    Can you or Rob Gruhl warranty your vehicle or guarantee to someone that it is not a lemon?
    All of those things cost $.
    Most dealers deal with quite a number of banks and they are competitive. Consider what they offer,
    your bank and terms may be better, however there might be a better deal from the dealer.
    Ford has fixed prices for employee and friends/family customers and dealers cannot
    charge more or less than that price as they risk losing that priviliage.

  17. H3ion says:

    You may get a better deal on the car if you buy the financing from the dealer. One way to do it is to get a financing commitment from your bank or credit union and when the dealer starts trying to sell financing, offer to let him match or beat the bank rate. If he can do it, there’s no reason not to give him the business.

  18. fang0654 says:

    One of the major things he was leaving out was timing – the best time to buy a car is the last day of the month, preferably on a weekday. Sales managers make money off of volume, not commission, and their numbers are monthly.

    Additionally, instead of using phones, use fax or e-mail instead, with several dealerships. Although some will still bs you, most dealerships will stick to something they put in writing. The most effective method I have found is at . I bought my last car for $2000 under invoice (2008 Mazda 3), and my brother has used it to get 3 cars/trucks under invoice so far.

  19. brodie7838 says:

    I tried this with the Scion dealership when I bought my car earlier this year, and there is just no negotiating with them; Toyota really has them by the balls with their “Pure Price” label.

  20. viewsource says:

    I like working it backwards. I research dealers who have the best service departments as I only have to go to the dealership once to buy it, but I may visit it 4-6 times over the next 3 years for service. Nowadays with vehicle pricing being mostly transparent, I think it’s pretty easy to get a good (fair) deal anywhere provided you concentrate on price and not payments.

    Research cars:
    Manufacturer sites (,, vw etc)

    Research dealerships:

    Research price:

    and even just Google “[vehicle] + rebates”

  21. Jeff_Cook says:

    Gruhl’s presentation is really good. However, it is encompassed by the assumption you must buy from a local dealer.

    It seems to me, especially with the advances in information quantity and quality on the net, that a new car purchase is more of a commodity these days than a relationship sale / negotiation.

    Do you agree? And if so, wouldn’t getting the best possible price, even if the dealer was 1,000 miles away, be more important than buying from a local dealer?

  22. mbnovik says:

    Well, here in Wisconsin you can walk out at any point of the sale until you have taken delivery of the car. So if you really want to ruin car salesman day, go make a deal – and then walk out…

  23. zzxx says:

    I live in a small self contained town surrounded by mountains in rural NY. There is a Ford dealer, a Chevy dealer, and a Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealer. None of them have sales people. The owners are the sales people. Everybody knows them. I personally know all three and they are fine people. They also sell cars at around 300 400 over invoice price. That is a tiny profit for a 30000 sale. Most people pay cash. There is one bank in town and they finance the rest, some use dealer financing. In my town as with many other small towns this game does not occur. You will see the owners when you service your vehicle. You will see them in a restaurant, etc… They act like you are a lifelong customer and they dont try to squeeze a fast buck. They charge very reasonable prices. I bought one car from each of these folks. Harry, Leo, and Frank are great people. None of this applies to them.

  24. zzxx says:

    I live in a small self contained town surrounded by mountains in rural NY. There is a Ford dealer, a Chevy dealer, and a Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealer. None of them have sales people. The owners are the sales people. Everybody knows them. I personally know all three and they are fine people. They also sell cars at around 300 400 over invoice price. That is a tiny profit for a 30000 sale. Most people pay cash. There is one bank in town and they finance the rest, some use dealer financing. In my town as with many other small towns this game does not occur. You will see the owners when you service your vehicle. You will see them in a restaurant, etc… They act like you are a lifelong customer and they dont try to squeeze a fast buck. They charge very reasonable prices. I bought one car from each of these folks. Harry, Leo, and Frank are great people. None of this applies to them.

  25. mustardwater says:

    I am a car salesman. I don’t rip people off. I don’t handle money. I don’t build the car. I don’t decide how much the car costs.

    My one and only job is to build a relationship with you and learn about your lifestyle so that I can help you find a car that will work for your needs and that you will enjoy for years to come. Maintaining that relationship is worth more to me over the years than any commission I can make on a single car. If I rip you off once, I will never see you or anybody you know again.

    I spend a minimum of 70 hours at the car lot every week. Most of that time is spent taking care of my existing clientele. I will detail my customer’s car if they are in for an oil change, I will send balloons on your birthday, a cake for two on your anniversary, and you get a dinner at a nice restaurant for trusting me enough to send a friend or family member to see me. I don’t turn my cell phone off, which means that you CAN call me on Christmas to walk you through the navigation system in your car and help you get to where you want to be in an unfamiliar state. I spend 20% of my income taking care of my customers.

    My customers are my lifeblood, they feed my family and pay my mortgage. They keep me employed during difficult economic times. They let me have a job that I truly love, where I am not confined to a cubicle or glued to a computer monitor. They let me have a job where I get to have actual human interaction and breathe fresh air, where I get to walk around and enjoy a level of freedom that American workers can only dream of.

    My customers come to me for advice on matters completely unrelated to the car industry. I solve marriage crises, I let people cry on my shoulder, I help people move (I had to buy a truck to accommodate the amount of stuff that I haul), and I jump-start dead batteries. Next to my family, they are the center of my universe.

    That said, I am a professional. I simplify lives by assuming the opportunity costs of your transportation needs. I save you countless hours of research and hassle because I am an expert in my field. I save your time and give it back to your family. But I don’t do it for free.

    You will pay a premium to purchase a car from me. It will cost you slightly more than the guy across town. I won’t discuss anything price related until I can meet you in person and shake your hand. I get to know my customers and their needs so that I can demonstrate my ability to look a person in the eye and tell the truth. I am not just a Wal-Mart employee with a blue smock. I am YOUR car salesman. WE have a symbiotic relationship. You come to me because you know I’ll be around next time. You come to me because your parents did, and your friends, and your teacher… I am not the least bit ashamed that I make a very nice living, I EARN IT!

    If you take this gentleman’s advice, you’ll never get the opportunity to have a wonderful car-buying experience. You’ll never remember the name of that person you made a major purchase with. You’ll fight unnecessarily. You’ll be alone when you need help with navigation on Christmas. You’ll never try my wife’s cookies. You’ll never have FUN picking out a car!

    We’re not all bad guys! There are fewer and fewer of the stereotypical car salesmen left. There are more and more women–single mothers who have been thrust into the workplace after several decades of being a stay at home mother/wife. I don’t know anybody who plays the games this guy is prepping you for.

    Give us one chance to make a friend–you will love how easy and painless it is to buy a car. You will have fun every time we work together. Like your doctor or dentist, I’ll be your car salesman forever. I’ll know your family, your kids, their kids…

    Bare knuckles? Nobody wins in this guy’s scenario. He doesn’t understand that your time is worth saving. His way causes you to spend hundreds of hours to save $500. We don’t have any secrets that you don’t have access to. We probably don’t want your trade any more than you want countless people calling and visiting your house. Isn’t your time worth enough that you would appreciate being able to wash your hands of your old car instead of answering countless emails and phone calls? Wouldn’t you want to be respected instead of reviled? It doesn’t have to be as hard as this guy would have you make it. He had a bad experience at a car dealership and now has an ax to grind. I would trust his advice much more if he’d taken the opportunity to work as a salesman for a year. He’s no more talented than an anti-Bush activist at an Obama rally. It takes little effort to vilify car dealerships because we all grew up thinking car salesmen were bad people. Of course people are going to cheer! But examine his lecture for substance and you’ll find his lack of experience will cause you a great deal of frustration.

    There is no AS-IS disclosure on a new car, it’s warranty comes with the car from the factory–from the manufacturer!