Should You Haggle for Price When Buying a Car?

For most of the developed world, the concept of haggling for a purchase is a foreign one. We simply walk into the store, see the price on the shelf and pay it, no questions asked. The only time we might encounter the possibility of haggling or negotiating the price for something is if we travel abroad or we’re buying a car. By then, we often find that we lack the skills to successfully negotiate.

Should you try haggling for a better price when you’re buying a car?

Learning the Subtle Art of Negotiation

Negotiation is a skill that many of us neglect to learn as we’re growing up. Either we’re not going into sales, or we’ve never experienced a need for it, so we don’t bother to hone it. Whatever the reason, this lack of skill can leave us at a distinct disadvantage when shopping for a car — and car dealerships know how to take advantage of that weakness.

Before you meet with a car salesperson, make it a point to learn some negotiation skills. In addition to talking down the price of your dream car, you can use these skills for everything from working toward a promotion on the job to getting a better table at your favorite restaurant. You can also use these skills to recognize when someone is trying to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do, if only because you’re doing the same thing.

Research the Car You Want

Don’t go into any negotiation unprepared, regardless of your desired outcome. If you’re planning to haggle for a new car, you need to do some research first. Start by figuring out the true market value of your vehicle. You can often find this listed on sites like Edmunds. Compare that to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the price that your dealership has slapped on the vehicle you want. Make sure you’re paying special attention to things like color, trim and optional packages that can drive the price up.

Once you have that information, it’s easier to determine what kinds of offers might be entertained and which ones will be thrown out completely.

What About “No-Haggle” Dealerships?

You may find that your dealership is offering your dream car with “no-haggle” or flat pricing. Many dealerships are turning to this model because they assume you’ve already shopped around online and are ready to make a purchase when you walk in the door. They’ll offer you a test drive, have you sign a few papers and you might be out the door.

If a no-haggle price fits into your budget and you feel like you’re getting the best deal possible, feel free to take advantage of this offer. If it doesn’t, haggling may get you where you want to go.

Know When to Hold ‘Em

As the old song goes, you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Don’t let a preoccupation with haggling for the best price prevent you from buying a car. There will be opportunities when haggling is the best option, and there will be times when taking things at face value will serve you better.