How to Haggle With Car Dealers

Good Housekeeping magazine has a story on their Web site about how to haggle. Not only does it address consumers’ fears about the process, but it actually tells you what to say. And it tells you what the salesperson at the dealership will probably say back to you throughout the conversation.

Here are some tips from the story:

Research rebates, loans, and MSRPs (manufacturer’s suggested retail prices) at auto sites like or Kelley Blue Book. Print out what you’ve found and take it to the showroom.

Check dealerships’ Web sites for their online price quotes. Then, start e-mail negotiations with an Internet manager. If you wind up talking face-to-face, bring your research.

Time your visit. Salespeople earn commissions partly based on the number of vehicles they sell. So plan to show up on a weekday morning, when customers are rare.

Calculate your opening offer. Phil Reed, consumer-advice editor for, suggests taking the best price you’ve found, subtracting rebates, and knocking off $500.

What to say:

Dealer: The MSRP is $25,920, but we’re prepared to sell it to you for $25,120.

You: Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of $20,000.

Dealer: That’s not possible. We pay the manufacturer $23,948, so I can’t go below that and still make a profit. The carmaker is offering $500 cash back, so I can go a little lower…to $24,620.

You: But the Web site I searched says there is a $4,500 unadvertised rebate that’s paid from the manufacturer to your dealership. So you’re not losing out by passing that discount along to me.

Dealer: Part of the dealer cash was factored into my original offer. I know you want this car. How about $20,920?

You: I also got online quotes from two other dealers, both for about $20,500. I would rather buy the car here, closer to home. But I’d need you to at least meet their offers.

Dealer: I can do that.

You: Great. We’ve got a deal.

The story also tells readers how to haggle everything from appliances to lower credit card interest rates. Click here for the full story.