Negotiate Your Next Car Purchase Like a Pro

This article is sponsored by PenFed Credit Union

While everyone loves driving around in a new car, many people hate the negotiation process. Luckily, most of the groundwork for a good negotiation happens before you ever set foot in a dealership. Be prepared and you can get a great deal.

Know your budget

Be realistic about how much you can spend — not only on a monthly payment, but also on gas and insurance. What kinds of features are must-haves in your new vehicle and which would you be willing to forgo in order to get a better price? This helps you start your car buying process in a realistic place and can save you frustration later.

Shop around for financing

Most dealerships are happy to finance your car purchase, but their rates may not be the best. And the super-low rates advertised on TV may be difficult to qualify for. In addition, long-term loans may meet your monthly budget, but can end up costing you a lot more in interest in the long run. If you know how much you’re qualified to borrow before you walk in to the dealership, you already have an advantage.

Go beyond the sticker price

Once you know what make and model you’re interested in, dig a little deeper. Today it’s easy to hop online and look up both the invoice price for a specific car and similar car sticker prices at other dealerships. The invoice price is what the dealer most likely paid for the car and will be lower than the sticker price. Other dealerships in your area may offer the same or very similar vehicles for very different prices. Use your knowledge as leverage.

Check for rebates

Some car manufacturers offer special discounts or rebates for members of the military and others. The dealer may or may not bring these up, so do your homework beforehand.

Now, you’re ready to go to the dealer and take your test drive!

The negotiations

Haggling: some people love it, some people hate it. But there are some simple guidelines that can help you end in a good place. First, start low. This gives you some room to go up without breaking your budget. Second, negotiate your trade-in separately, after you know how much you’ll be paying for your new car. That way, the money you get for your trade is icing on the cake. Third, don’t fall in love. There will be another car and another deal. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, be ready to walk away.

Let PenFed do the work for you

PenFed’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar, is available to all PenFed members. From researching the kind of car you want, to seeing how much other car buyers in your area paid, to competitive financing, our Car Buying Service makes it easy to get the best car at the best price. You can even handle your entire purchase online with no haggling and no hassle.

For more information, visit PenFed.org, or call 800-247-5626.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up