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Walking into a car dealership can feel like entering a chess game where every move counts. You’re there to checkmate, not to get checkmated.
While it’s important to ask questions that will help you make an informed decision, there are some questions that could actually tip the scale out of your favor.
Here’s a look at the questions you should steer clear of to keep the power in your hands.
“What’s the lowest price you can give me on this car?”
It seems like a logical question to ask. Cut through all the sales tactics and get down to the nitty-gritty, right?
Well, asking this right off the bat puts you in a position where the salesperson knows you’re looking to haggle before you’ve even started. It can lead to a less flexible negotiation process because the dealer now knows your primary focus is on the price, not the value or the fit of the vehicle to your needs.
“Can I afford this car?”
This question might sound like you’re being financially responsible. But remember, you’re in a car dealership, not your bank.
Discussing your financial situation or questioning your ability to afford a car could give your salesman too much insight into your financial health. It can lead to a scenario where the dealer might steer you towards financing options that are more beneficial to the dealership than to you.
Always do your budgeting at home and know what you can afford before stepping into the dealership.
“What do you think about this other car I’m considering?”
Comparing options is great, but showing your cards by mentioning specific other cars you’re considering gives the salesperson insight into your research and preferences. This information can be used to sway your decision-making process, emphasizing the positives of their cars while downplaying any advantages of the competition.
It’s better to keep your options close to your chest and independently research the pros and cons of each vehicle you’re considering.
“How much do I need to put down today?”
While understanding the down payment is important, asking this question too early in the discussion signals to the dealer that you might not be prepared to make a purchase or that you’re overly concerned about upfront costs.
This can affect the negotiation dynamics, as the dealer might focus on lowering the down payment in exchange for higher monthly payments or a longer loan term, which isn’t always in your best interest.
“What’s my trade-in really worth?”
This is a tricky one. Of course, you want to know the value of your trade-in, but asking this directly can lead to lowball offers. Dealerships make a significant portion of their profits on used cars, so they have an incentive to acquire your trade-in for as little as possible.
Instead of asking them for a value, research your car’s worth ahead of time through trusted online sources and get quotes from multiple dealerships to have a strong negotiating position.
“Can you throw in some extras for free?”
Asking for freebies might seem like a good way to get added value, but it can actually weaken your negotiation stance. It signals to the salesperson that you’re near a decision point, ready to buy if just sweetened a bit more.
Instead of asking for free add-ons, focus on the total price of the vehicle and negotiate the best possible deal. Once you’ve settled on a price, then you can discuss any additional perks or accessories as part of the final agreement.
Remember, knowledge is power, especially at a car dealership. By avoiding these questions, you avoid showing your hand too early and maintain a strong position throughout the negotiation.
Do your homework, know what you want (and what you can afford) and keep your questions strategic and informed. That way, you’ll drive off the lot not just with a new car, but with the satisfaction of a well-played game.
Editor’s note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates’ editorial team.
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