Negotiating. Really frustrated

I’m just not getting how to negotiate with dealers.
No one will send me hard numbers on a quote (they say if they send them I’ll shop around to beat them by $10). Is this a legitimate excuse or is it a red flag?

Of the ones that said they will match the numbers I ask for, when I go to see them in person they switch the numbers.

How do I do this? Ugh.


Here what I do:

  1. Send Mass to dealer that have your vehicle
  2. Pretend you want to finance the vehicle with special APR and ask for the selling price
  3. Wait until the internet sale manager contact you
  4. tell the internet sale manager you have better price from another dealer and would like to business with them if they can offer 2-3% more discount. You have to make your offer here.
  5. Do step #4 with other dealers, one dealer at a time once you get to a point where no body reduce further
  6. Exclude all publicly available finance incentives from their selling price and add lease incentives
  7. tell the winning dealer that you have decided to lease instead of finance and share your lease structure with him
  8. put security deposit to lock the deal and then go to the dealership to sign the application and pick-up the vehicle.
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If you use they will all reply with a price. Another way to start the dialog. Above is perfect though.

I’ve found that dealers who say that usually know they are going to come in more expensive than others.

What are the reasons for why you tell them you’re financing and then switch to lease later ?

Just trying to understand better

You cant always use the sales price of the vehicle for a purchase and a lease. Some rebates only work for purchases. Look up available rebates on edmunds and the manufacturers website.

Here is my strategy if the “email dealer for quote” method is getting you nowhere. Often times, dealers won’t give precise numbers over the phone/email, since they fear you will just shop that quote to a competing dealer. They should still give you a quote anyways, but whatever.

  1. Make a fake Truecar account (come up with some bogus name and address along with fake phone number and email…all you will use this account for is collecting Truecar quotes from dealers). More on why you want a dummy account, aside from avoiding dealer spam, below.

  2. After #1 is done, enter the zip code of the DEALERS you are interested in shopping at. Once you spec the car you want, you’ll get Truecar pricing for local area dealers for the car you are interested in (and select all applicable incentives when customizing the car you want). Do this several times until you have entered zip codes for all dealers you realistically will shop at. Each time you run a search, select the largest discounted unit, and make a note of the discounts somewhere (screenshot, excel spreadsheet, whatever).
    ***be aware that some of the discounts listed will be PURCHASE only, and will not apply to a LEASE.

  3. Analyze the Truecar breakdown for the lowest priced unit you are interested in. I’m including an example below for a 2016 Chevy Equinox LS:

    The main figure you want to zero in on is the “Certified Dealer MSRP Discount”. That’s the discount the dealer has agreed to give for anyone using Truecar for quotes, before any manufacturer incentives. Dealers typically have to pay Truecar a finder’s fee for anyone that uses the service for quotes…I believe it’s around $300 these days. This is the reason you should use a DUMMY Truecar account, so you can avoid the Truecar fee and instead have that money added back to YOU instead as an additional discount. If the dealer is getting charged $300 for a Truecar lead, guess who ends up paying for that fee? Hint: it’s not the dealer.
    So if the Truecar certified discount is $3,000, the dealer should be willing to give a discount of $3,300 if you negotiate directly with them, since they don’t have to pay Truecar.

  4. Armed with the MINIMUM discount the dealer should be perfectly fine giving out (Truecar dealer discount plus ~$300), now is the time to actually contact the dealer for real. Find the email info for the internet sales manager of the dealership (probably listed in the Truecar pricing breakdown somewhere), and say you are interested in stock #123456 (or a similarly equipped unit). Say you want at least (whatever Truecar discount + $300 is…ask for more of a discount if you are feeling lucky) off MSRP as a DEALER DISCOUNT, and also state what incentives you also should qualify for.
    Since the dealer now knows you have hard numbers in mind, it should make negotiations more straightforward.

  5. Once you hash out an offer from dealer A, it is now time to shop it to dealer B, C (and however many other dealers you want to shop at). Tell them dealer A has offered insert purchase/lease numbers, and ask if they can beat that offer, as you are planning to purchase in the very near future.

  6. Get the best counter-bid, and then take it back to dealer A to give them a last shot at beating it.

  7. Once you get the lowest/best offer, only then should you schedule an appointment to hammer out the final deal on paper. And be braced for potential surprises, even if you have seemingly struck a deal through email.

Note that even following these tips, you may still get stonewalled with dealers insisting you come in person to discuss any real numbers. And it is entirely possible to get better quotes without even using this Truecar-based method. This is just a way to start off with getting “DECENT” quotes
AND it’s also entirely possible that all local dealers in your area are offering only crap discounts through Truecar. The hope is to find at least 1 dealer that is offering large discounts off a unit that you can then use to negotiate a better deal.


If you start to negotiate with lease payment, then you have to focus to negotiate on MF and sale price. It is more complicated than negotiate with finance where you just negotiate on sale price.

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Your post made me think of how I’ve negotiated in the past that might help some people. If you have a good understanding of what a good price is, and how that relates to a lease payment, I actually like shopping based on a payment - making sure to shop on a zero-down basis. As in, I don’t care that much if a certain dealer is marking up the money factor if another isn’t, that will just make the marked-up quote not competitive on a monthly basis. If you know that $200 a month is fair, get that quote from a dealer and just keep shopping it down until you can’t go any further. I’ve learned over time to not worry about what I think the exact rock-bottom sales price is because I really don’t know. Dealer competition tells you what the best price is.

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If your going to go in shopping a certain payment then have all the particulars to back that up. ex: sales price, incentives, MF, residua,l tax rate etc.

The reason some people say to negotiate sales price first is because it will help the salesperson understand where you are coming up with your payment amount.

You could come up with a reasonable sale price based on comparable sales, add in lease cash, get the mf and residual, and come to a reasonable payment - and then have the salesperson laugh you out of the dealership because it seems much lower than they are used to seeing.

Most dealerships are not set up to deal with straight up quotes over the phone or email.

If you know the in-person process, the sales person is the one who you communicate with but it is the finance manager who really sets the prices. The FM does not talk numbers to someone until the sales person has locked in the parameters (model, terms, price target etc etc).

The internet sales rep (frequently called Business Development or Internemt Marketing) is just a “lead generator”. They frequently play no role in the process other than to get you to come in.

I prefer to go to dealerships with a particular enquiry about a stock number with their listed web price. I generally shop the lease specials, manager specials or even demo/loaner specials which is available on most dealer websites.

This saves a lot of time since the dealer has already published the approximate sales price and I can do the homework before setting foot in the lion’s den.

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Id say have all the details in order then set an appt to view a car that matches your needs. Then negotiate via email and/or text after you leave the dealership after the test drive.

Thanks for all the responses - lots of info. One other q though: every time I go into a dealership they say they need to do their own credit check to offer me any sort of numbers. Does this hit my credit every time and do they really need to do that?

This does hurt your credit to some degree when they run new ‘hard’ inquiries. Ultimately, you probably should not be leasing a new car if you do not already qualify in highest credit tier, which would give you the best money factors (i.e. lease interest rate). The way to overcome the “we need to run your credit” dance is preemptively tell every dealer that you are in the top credit tier (if that is true). There is nothing stopping a dealer from quoting a price based on an assumed credit tier.

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Rieuk - negotiating a good deal will take time and patience. Won’t happen overnight , so take a deep breath , get out your notepad and do some research.

Yes, It is frustrating - perhaps one of the most frustrating things people do in their lifetime : buying a new car. Thing is… that’s how they, the dealerships, like it… they want it to be frustrating.

That’s their secret sauce to making $$$$ - Frustration/stress.

Frustrate people, slow things down, misinformation, speed things up, aggressively ask you to take action, smooth talk… this frustrates the most patient of people.

Why do they do this? Why frustrate buyers?

Simple. To make you break down and mentally say “I give up”. To make you take a deal that is terrible for you as a car buyer out of sheer willingness to put an end to your frustration.

And…If you do give in, it will make you feel great initially – no more worrying! Plus they will compliment you on your smart and quick decision making. No more frustration, “just sign here and it will all be over soon”.

Your average person is going to fall for this sales technique a very large % of time. And it’s because we’re humans - we can only take so much stress before we “give up”

So…You finally give in, take a crappy deal, and convince yourself , your friends , your family that you “negotiated” a good deal ;). Inside, you tell yourself, “but damn, it was just too frustrating to keep fighting them…what else could I do?” You comfort yourself by taking a drive in your new ( overpaid ) car and try to reason to yourself that maybe the car was worth the extra $$ you overpaid , ahh, but these heated seats are really awesome, who cares what I paid! Oh well… and so, you move on… until a few years later

So, now that you know what’s going on, here’s how you can counter them:

  1. Be patient. Be prepared to negotiate for weeks, if necessary.
  2. Maintain control of the deal - YOU set the pace, when to go test drive etc.
  3. Ask for numbers and explanations & keep asking a 3rd , 4th time if they don’t answer. Eventually, you’ll get it or you won’t and if you don’t , you know they were BSing you.
  4. Get numbers via email and only goto a dealer After you agree on all details & confirm car is on the lot.
  5. Get the car and enjoy it - tell your friends & family you “negotiated a good deal” (only this time you really mean it :slight_smile: )

Good luck !


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Lol, this is great. That’s exactly who I do not want to be.


Being in a hurry to buy is the number 1 mistake. If you can walk away from dealer and think about the deal then you have already done the hardest part. Don’t worry about dealers who say price is only good if you sign now, just get a copy and walk away.

True. The hard part about that right now is that 2016 cars are on the way out so it’s all about finding the moment to strike. Being too patient might mean they all go out of stock.