It’s smart to negotiate with car dealers online. Otherwise, the odds of saving money won’t be high. Good luck beating a car salesman at their own game (and on their home turf)! Find out how to get a great deal on your next vehicle in the Busy Driver’s Guide to Getting a Bargain on a Car

1. Check out your options.

Car shopping websites like AutoTempest, Edmunds, and CarsDirect make it easy to find new and used cars for sell in your hometown. All you have to do is enter your zip-code and presto!

If you’d like to find more options, go to Google and do a search for “cars for sale (your city).” Don’t start this process until you have a general idea of the make and model you desire.

Note: If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, this blog will help you figure that out.

2. Find three dealers to contact.

Try to find at least two or three dealers selling the car you plan to purchase (or one just like it). You’ll see why this is important in step #3…

The best time to buy a car is towards the end of the month. Most dealerships have monthly quotas, so they’ll be more flexible. It might take a week to complete the purchase process, so I recommend contacting them when there are 5-7 days remaining in the month.

Most of the websites I listed in point #1 allow you to contact several dealerships at the same time. This will help you speed up the process a bit. Make sure to try all of those websites to confirm you’re getting the best deal possible on your new car. Just make sure you don’t accidentally contact the same dealer more than once!

3. Ask for a quote including fees.

You’ll receive a response from the car dealers within a day or so. Expect their responses to be vague. That’s not “bad.” How can they be specific when they don’t know what trim or features you desire? Here’s an easy email script that will help you fix that:

Dear (Name),

Thanks for following up so quickly. I’d like to buy a new (or used) car within the next week. Please respond the price of a (insert year/make/model here) and factor in any relevant fees.

I’m looking for a model in (color – first choice). If that’s not available (color – second choice) would be okay. Are those color options available? If there’s an additional charge for paint, please include that in the price as well.

I’d like to act fast, so I would appreciate a speedy response so we can close the deal soon. Provide as much information as possible (including the VIN) so I can make a final decision. Thanks for your time and have a great day.


(Your Name)

If a dealer fails to provide all of the information you requested, feel free to ask one more time. If they continue to be vague, forget about them and focus on the remaining dealers.  

Be 100% clear about the fact that you want to know the exact cost of the car. Not just the ticket price. You want to know about all the extra fees that will be tacked on later.

Most dealers will be vague at first, because they’d rather have that conversation in person. That’s Sales 101. Don’t let them have it their way. Here’s a simple script you can use for inspiration.

4. Interpret and compare their prices.

Organize the price quotes from lowest to highest in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet. Want to be thorough? Here’s a great resource from (note: their resources are a large part of what inspired me to write this blog, so thanks for that!).

5. Get the dealers to compete for your business.

Don’t forget the price quotes you received are 100% negotiable… and whichever car dealer bends the most is the one that will win your business. Best part? You can do this without leaving home!

As a side benefit, you won’t have to deal with weird pricing tactics like incentives and rebates. To win your business, the dealers must provide a total price (unless they want to miss out on a sell). Start with the most expensive dealer and send an email like this:

Dear (Name),

Thanks for providing with a quote so quickly! That said, I’ve received a better quote from (dealer with the least expensive price). They are selling the same exact car for (their price). This price includes (insert relevant fees here). Can you beat that price? If so, I’d love to give you my business. Let me know your best offer as soon as possible.


(Your Name)

For efficiency, feel free to send this email to two car dealers at a time. If they won’t negotiate, cross them off your list and move on to the next ones. If they offer to beat the very best price, update your email template to reflect that fact and repeat this process with the other dealers.

Feel free to follow these steps one more time after contacting each car dealer to confirm the price is as low as it’s going to get. When it is, contact the dealership who earned your business. Ask them to share the final price quote so you have it in writing, schedule an appointment, and close the deal! Print that email and take it with you just in case there are any questions.

If you follow this process as described, you could save hundreds or thousands of dollars! Stick that money in your emergency savings account and save it for your next auto repair. Your finances will thank you later. 

Share this article with your friends so they can discover the secrets to getting a bargain on a car (without having to set foot on a car lot), too!

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