QOTD: How Do You Deal With the Dealer?

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey
qotd how do you deal with the dealer

We spend a lot of time here at TTAC covering dealer markups, inventory shortages, and so on.

So it was only natural that this article would catch my eye.

I know we've asked similar QOTDs recently, so let's keep this one pretty narrow: What is your strategy for car shopping, both in terms of prep and once you get to the dealer? Let's limit this to what happens when you're actually in the process, not just browsing Cars.com and daydreaming about that nice Mustang. Same deal if you're on the lot but just kicking tires or checking out Monroneys. So let's focus on how you deal with salespeople either at the store or online/over the phone. Or how you arm yourself with research before sitting down with Slick Rick, the top salesman in all of Bumblefreak County.

Do you prep by securing financing from a third party and doing the other things in the article? Are there other things you do?

When you get to the store, do you prepare to threaten to walk out? Do you withhold that you have a trade until the numbers are run? What else do you do -- or not do -- as you shop?

Off to you, B and B.

[Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com]

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4 of 18 comments
  • Relton Relton on Nov 05, 2022

    For the most part, i have had good experiences buying new cars from dealers.

    My first new car was a 2007 BMW 335i coupe. It was a new model, and I had to pay full sticker. The salesman was very nice, and offered to mak me a deal on a 4 door 335i, but not the coupe. He arranged the European delivery, and everything went flawlessly. That was the ideal way to see Europ. Fly to Munich, pick up a nice new BMW, and dive less than a hundred miles east to France. The Germans know how to make cars, but the French know how to live. However, the first BMW dealer i went to wouldn't even talk tome. I drove up in my 12 year old Lincoln Mark VIII, and I guess the salesman didn't think I was BMW material.

    My wife bought a 2006 Mustang GT convertible, her first new car. The saleswoman was very accommodating, ordered exactly the car she wanted. When it was built, we were notified that it would be delivered in 2 weeks. We live about 20 miles from the plant, in Flatrock. I suggested to the saleswoman that she could just go and get it, and drive back in about an hour. So she did, and we had the car the next day. We got a small discount off MSRP, but not much. Mustang GTs were in short supply then, and the 0% financing was available for every Ford car excpt the Mustang GT.

    She bought her 2nd Mustang in 2017. Equally pleasant experience, got several discounts. My wife had just gotten a BFA degree (after she retired) and was entitled to the Ford Recent College Graduate discount. The 20 something salesguy looked at her funny for a moment, but there was no problem with it.

    We just bought a 2022 Audi A6. Again, ordered special, with all the options I wanted. And again, absolutely no hassle, other than I got a 10% discount off the MSRP through a friend who was a VW retiree. It came from Germany as promised, built as promised.

    We paid cash for all these cars, which made things simpler. And I knew exactly what cat and what options wanted when we decided to buy.

    We have also gotten good service, both warranty and other repairs, at the BMW and Ford dealers.

    I have heard lots of horror stories about buying cars, but that has not been my experience.

  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Nov 07, 2022

    How do I deal with the dealer? I say "No" a lot. It's funny, I learned it from my wife - she's a tough negotiator. She helped me get a good deal when I bought a new Tacoma ten years ago (I paid cash for it). When I recently bought a used car for Daughter No. 3, I told them I didn't want the already-installed LoJack system ("We put LoJack on all our cars!"), and I ended up getting it for free, then installed the iOS app.

  • Dave M. Dave M. on Nov 08, 2022

    With my 5th and probably last new car purchase pending, these are crazy times. I've ordered exactly what I want, and now need to wait patiently for 10-11 months. Just dropped a bit of $$ in my current car to make sure it holds up as a reliable daily driver until then. It won't be traded in, instead 'heading to the farm' as our vacation runaround.

    I'm paying MSRP for the new one (only the 2nd time ever; the first time was 40 years ago and I didn't know better), but the dealer will be adding approximately $1400 of protective crap on it. I've been back-and-forthing with the dealership owners that if I have to be tagged with the "mandatory fee", at least make it worthwhile like window tinting, wheel locks, oil change packages.

    In the literally hundreds of times I've helped other people process a new car search and purchase over the years, the internet and email are absolute saviors. It levelled the battleground tremendously. I prefer to send people to family-owned dealerships if possible.

  • Wjtinfwb Wjtinfwb on Nov 08, 2022

    Easy... Walk away. The buyer has the power in that they control the checkbook. If the dealer doesn't treat you right, walk away. Not willing to negotiate to a mutually agreeable deal? Walk away. Want's 30k over sticker to order your already reserved Bronco? Walk away. The beauty of the dealer model is they are all independent businesses. There will be an adjacent dealer who wants your business. And use Google, TrueCar, KBB and other online pricing and availability tools. 18 months ago the local Acura dealer offered me an "unheard of" deal of 4k off a '20 MDX AWD Tech. A quick TrueCar search of adjacent markets revealed MDX's at almost 10k off, due to a 5k Acura to Dealer incentive based on using Acura Financial Services for financing. That market was about 4 hours away. As soon as I shared that pricing with my local dealer, they immediately agreed to it with only the dealer installed mudguards, all-weather mats and pin stripe included at 50% off the $895 they had it listed at. Almost every dealer horror story can be tied directly back to a buyer who either fell in love with the vehicle and just had to have it NOW, or getting scammed at the F&I desk with excessive interest charges or unneeded warranties etc. Do your homework, get your financing approved in advance and know what you want to pay. Use email or texting if you don't like the face to face confrontation. You work hard for your money, make the dealer work hard for your business.