Single Strategy for Successful Vehicle Negotiations

May 20, 2016
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August 30, 2016

Negotiating a car deal is one of the most common things that people do. At one time or another you might be in a position to buy a car from a dealership or an individual.

SierraI have purchased many cars in my lifetime. When I purchased my used 2002 GMC Sierra. I had driven a few trucks and liked this one the best. I actually test drove one truck to another lot to look at another truck. When the salesman asked me if it was mine and did I want to trade it in, I told him I was test-driving it when I drove by his lot. He didn’t know what to say to that.

I decided on the one I wanted, I diligently did some research and crafted my offer. I figured it was a low offer and we would negotiate. When they immediately accepted the offer I was shocked and a bit peeved. I could have gotten a better deal! Granted, I got it lower than the offer price but realized I could have offered lower.

The truck was still under warranty so I got several things replaced and managed to negotiate a free oil change or something else free whenever I went to the dealer to get the warranty things serviced. That’s for another article…..

A good car salesman is highly skilled in sales techniques and you have to make sure you are prepared to go up against them. A client of mine recently went into a car dealer and almost walked out with trading in his car that he owned free and clear for another car that had more mileage and would have a car payment.

The salesman told him that his car was only worth $500 and the other car was selling for $9,000. After asking him a few questions and doing some research, I found out that his car was worth about $4,500 and the car they were offering him with the miles on it was worth about $3,500. The dealer would have turned around and sold his car and made a few thousand and would have taken him for another $5,500 on the car he was looking at. All in all it was close to $10,000 in the dealers favor. Bad deal all around for him. He hadn’t thought to see what his car was worth and the salesman sounded convincing when he assured him the car was only worth $500.

How do you keep from getting pulled into a bad deal like this? You have to do one main thing. Prepare In Advance. What does that mean exactly? You have to do the following to prepare for going to a car dealership.

  1. Do your due diligence/research – if you are going to trade in your car, find out what it is worth. Check the Kelly Blue Book ( for the value of your car. Research car websites where your model is listed and see what they are going for. Check Craig’s List for comparison.
  1. Decide if it’s more advantageous to trade it in or sell it outright. If you are serious about getting a new car, take your current car to a couple dealers to see what they will give you for it and if it’s below the book value, see if you can sell it for more. You might do better selling it than trading it in.
  1. Don’t jump at the first car you see or the first offer. They want to get you in the car anyway they can while you are on the lot. If they can get you attached to the car, then they will most likely get the sale.
  1. If you are serious about getting a new car, research the kind of cars you want. If they are available from a rental car company, go rent one and drive it for a day or two to see if you really like it. That way you aren’t being pressured with a sales technique to get you in the car.

Finally once you’re prepared with all the information about your car and the car you want, think about what questions you will ask and how you will respond to the sales persons questions. Make a deal with yourself not to get sucked into the “bright shiny object” syndrome which is that glazed over look that comes on your face when you really want something and reason goes out the window.

Bottom line you have to be prepared, pay attention and not let the smooth talking take you in a direction you don’t want to go it.


Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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