First Time Attempting a Negotiation: Calculator vs Offer Mismatch and More!

Sorry if this is a super obvious situation! TL;DR: Could not get the calculator to match the dealer’s offer so didn’t take it, but not sure how shady they were being, and also how badly did I fuck this negotiation up? Feedback please! :slight_smile:

For the last two weeks I’ve been poring over this site/forum (so, so helpful) and studying up on edmunds, cargurus, reddit, etc. I’m still very much a novice but I’ve been really, really studying so please bear with me! My car was on its last legs, and I had been reaching out to dealers in preparation of hoping to close a deal next week… when my current car died on me for good on the freeway yesterday. Hence, time isn’t quite on my side anymore, so I need to get better at this quickly. Eek.

I want to be clear that I’m not chasing a unicorn, just wanting a great lease with high residual, not married to any specific brand!

So today I found a 2020 Toyota Corolla SE with a couple hundred miles on it that had been at the dealer for five months, tried to get a written quote from the dealer to go along with the verbal agreement of sale price ($18500), but wound up just going in person today and hoping my trusty numbers from the leasehackr calculator would help back me up. (First mistake?)

The sale price they actually gave me was $21,500, but they listed a $3,000 non-taxed rebate to bring it down to $18,500. Apparently my understanding of rebates was not what I thought it was, so if that was a red flag, I was flying colorblind, please tell me. Still, even with that increased sale price I was willing to work with them, but they were listing over $400/mo with a high downpayment (they didn’t let me keep any of these quotes, and I took all my notes on the back of their quotes, second mistake!) – I wanted no downpayment and the calculator said it should be at $175/mo.

The numbers they were giving me, when I plugged them into the calculator, didn’t match up with their monthly payments at any point, but the rest of it was consistent. I had already calculated an estimate to death based on the edmunds MF and residual (MF was correct but the dealer said 60% RV instead of 58%), MSRP and sale price before I left for the dealer.

This entire time, though, I kept insisting all I wanted to do was get the sale price agreed on every time the two different salespeople asked me what I wanted to pay monthly. I said that didn’t matter, I’m only concerned with sale price right now.

At this point, I was expecting (maybe wrongly!) that after I agreed to the sale price, I’d work with a manager or more finance-ish person to work out the monthly payments/MSD/updated MF/etc. But they wouldn’t let me continue with the process until I signed an offer sheet with their bloated monthly payments that had no legal at the bottom explaining what it was I was signing (by signing here, you agree to…) – and this was all from a salesperson. (I didn’t sign it!) Is that normal? I wasn’t sure how to continue not discussing monthly payments with the salesperson when they were trying to get me to sign that I agreed to them in order to move on, despite me saying I wanted to talk to a manager or someone with more understanding of how money factor will impact my monthly payments… and the salesperson repeatedly insisting he could handle it. Next time, do I pull a Karen and insist to speak to a manager instead?

I was wary that they were tacking sneaky fees and taxes on, but the offer sheet was bare bones and I looked at every single line item/tax/etc (their offer sheets looked nothing like the ones I see posted on here), and when I asked for more detail, they said that was all there was. At that point, I hoped discussing MSD to get my MF down with a manager would maybe start to fix the discrepancy, because the sale price was fine by me (which is the most important step, right? Right??), so I was hesitantly confident that when the two salespeople finally got to the end of their ropes with me and fetched the manager, that he would understand the issue better. He lowered the sale price, and the monthly payments, but the latter was still too high for me and still over the calculator’s estimate. I had to explain MDS to him, he had to google it, but even if I remove that from the calculator, it still isn’t matching his numbers.

Well, I ended up walking away – even though the price of the car, based on the leasehackr calculator, said it was within my budget – citing that the numbers just weren’t adding up for me.

They wouldn’t give me a copy of the quote I passed up (“no, no, no, this is tonight only”), but leasehackr’s calculator (pasted below) told me I’d have a $164/mo payment with tax and the lowest he went was $234/mo with tax on $20250 – all based on the same information (though of course I didn’t see his computer). I quadruple checked my math putting it into the calculator, but the manager wouldn’t print the money factor or residual on the offer sheet, he only verbalized it. Our selling price, MRSP, verbal residual, verbal MF, 36/12, MDS, $0 drive-off, etc, everything matched, except the monthly payments. I will say that every single thing I tried to haggle down besides monthly payments eventually did come down with that manager, so at least this was good practice for me.

Here is the calculator I used with all the information they provided me plugged in – nothing left off. I know it’s not as helpful without their quote sheet (is that normal, too? For them to not give me quote offer?), or it may be useless, but I deeply need some feedback!

What did I do wrong? I need to try again and I want to learn. Thank you so much!

Where are you located?

Next time, don’t go into the dealer to talk numbers. Do everything via email.


You did your homework, which is great. Is the selling price of 20250 pre-incentives? If the dealer is baking the incentives into that selling price, they would get a monthly near 249.

I just think it’s unlikely you’re getting 15% off a Corolla, no matter which area you’re in.

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I’d be willing to bet they’re including the incentives in their sales price

Also, what is this 3k incentive? It just smells like a dealer discount, especially since it’s not taxed. I know for a fact Toyota would never give that amount as an incentive.

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75229, meant to include that.

Where are you getting the $3k lease incentive from? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t exist.

The quote sheet listed the MSRP and then discounted sale price of 20250, then below that listed the $3000 rebate. I asked specifically how the rebate was bring applied, they said it was what was getting the price down to $18500.

Would there be other incentives they baked into the sale price they didn’t tell me about?


Check with Edmunds to see what your area’s incentives are for this car. It will help you negotiate knowing exactly what this amount is. The rest would be just dealer discount.

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Going to Edmunds for RV/MF/incentive information is always step #1

The dealer printed it on the quote sheet and said it was a non-taxable Toyota incentive going on this month. :thinking:

Well as it turns out I did check, they said $600 lease cash, but when the dealership told me they were doing $3000 off instead, I figured they knew something I didn’t. Why would they list a $3k rebate if it wasn’t a rebate? Ty!

Your calculator makes no sense. Tax is on sale price less incentives and you’re likely double counting those. Your sales price is probably inclusive of $3K dealer cash.

If you remove that and fix the sales tax the dealers numbers make sense however that doesn’t mean it’s a great deal.

Also being in Texas you would choose the “Tax is levied upfront on the sales price” option

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It’s not an incentive from Toyota then. You’re in Texas, so you’re also going to be paying taxes on the entire price of the car.

I doubt they’re tax credits, that seems way too much on a car that MSRPs for 23k.

The only explanation is the 3k is just a dealer discount. They might be telling you the selling price is 18500, but your calculator is really at 17250. There’s definitely something fishy. The only way for sure is their lease worksheet.

They’re not discounting a 24K car down to 17K, full stop. If there’s an incentive of $3,000 then they’re screwing you on actual dealer discount and this is what you really need to fight for. 8-10% should be within reason before that incentive (I’m not versed in Toyota just yet so I can’t say if it’s a proper incentive)

Removing the $3k incentive does bump it up for sure. That’s incredibly helpful, thank you!

If they were it would be way under 200. Most likely the dealer is claiming that type of discount, but you’re probably getting 3k off, and the 600 is baked into it.

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See if they will do the 3k off, before incentives, put the 600 on top and give you base MF. It’s marked up. Also, why only 3 MSDs?