As car buyers, most of us know that there are certain things you’re supposed to say and what are not to when buying a car. However,  it can still be a struggle to put those principles into words. After all, purchasing a car still remains a tough negotiation. And you’re at a disadvantage since the car sales representative are facing the deal every day, and you don’t.

This is why, in today’s blog, we have included the 5 questions (or traps) you’re most likely to hear from the “friendly” car salesperson. Beware of them and we have also included our suggested responses, which will keep the conversation going the way you want and lead to the best price you can get.


1.”What Do You Feel Comfortable Paying Monthly?”

Suggested answer: “We can talk about that later. I want to focus on the price you can get me on the car.”

This is not just applicable to buying a car but to all big ticket items. The sales rep simply wants to sell you a more expensive car, by extending the loan term and lowering your monthly payments. That could add hundreds or thousands of dollars in lifetime interest charges.

So the lesson is, do not go to the car dealership until you have understood your financing situation and of course the credit score. You will be in the driver’s seat during negotiations. But once you have a settled price, see what your dealer might have to offer for financing. It might be able to offer you rates that are quite low if you have good credit. And leasing may be the right choice for you.

Just keep your eye on the total cost, not the lower monthly payment. 



2. “We’re $5,000 Below the Sticker Price. We Can’t Go Any Lower”

Suggested answer: “Actually we’re not yet at the fair price I expect to pay.”

The point here isn’t $5,000—it could be $500 or $10,000. The problem is that the dealer is negotiating from the sticker price down. We’re often tethered to the first piece of information we hear, a phenomenon known as the anchoring bias. In this case, the sales rep wants to take that sticker, inflated with all kinds of fees, and offer you a bargain relative to it.

If you’ve done your research, you can beat dealers at their own game by dropping your own anchor initially. With car-buying, the key is finding the real cost of the vehicle to the dealer before you start negotiating. Services such as provide incredible detail on what cars are being sold for in your area. Bring a printout from the service you’ve used to find the dealer cost, so the salesperson knows you’re not blowing smoke.


3. “What a nice car you currently have. We can offer you S$15,000 for it”

Suggested answer: “Thank you, I may consider that. But that’s separate from how we’re going to price the new car.”

You’ve probably been told not to discuss the value of a trade-in before you settle on a price for the new purchase, but that won’t stop the sales rep from trying.

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If you’ve done your research, you’ll know what your car’s potential value is. Don’t be lured in by a high offer by the sales rep. Chances are he might be willing to exceed your trade-in’s book value, knowing he can make up for that on the purchase price of your new ride.


4. “Everyone Pays the Vehicle-Preparation Fee. It Makes Sure Your Car Is Ready”

Suggested answer: “Can you please show me the invoice?”

Legitimate fees are listed on the factory invoice, which the dealer should always share with you. Verifying that the fees on your dealer’s bill of sale are also on the invoice shows you’re paying attention. It’s not the end of the story, however. Some fees inhabit a grey area—you’ll likely have to pay them, but you might be able to negotiate.

new_2316156__before-you-buy-a-carBut whatever you do, don’t pay to have the dealer pull the plastic off your new car, see if it has oil in it or perform other mundane acts—vehicle-preparation fees, these are often called. The clothing store doesn’t charge you to take the jacket off the hanger, right?


5. “Isn’t That Amazing? Window Etching Adds Only a Few Dollars to Your Payment”

Suggested answer: “Is really nice. But no, thank you.”

You are going to be offered all kinds of products or services in your dealership’s financing and insurance office. Mud flaps, rust-proofing and paint sealants make the dealer a lot of money, but you can get them for less—often much less—elsewhere.

Look at a catalogue for accessories or your local detailing shop if you want your paint sealed. So hold your ground at the dealership.