Car Buying Cheat Sheet: Former Dealer Shares How to Negotiate Car Prices Confidently

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Last updated Feb 1, 2024

Our team of Car Coaches combines decades of experience in the automotive industry to help you, the consumer, buy a car without the hassle. That’s why we created this must-have resource for buying a new or used car at a dealership, whether in person or through the internet sales department. This car buying cheat sheet will help you negotiate car prices confidently, so you can drive away feeling proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Thank you to CarEdge’s Ray Shefska (former dealership sales manager) and Kimberly Kline (former dealership finance manager) for putting this together for car buyers everywhere!

Want to download printable versions of all CarEdge cheat sheets? Find them all here.

How to Negotiate Car Prices with a Salesperson

Use this cheat sheet to negotiate the best auto loan rates on new or used cars!

The best way to learn how to negotiate car prices effectively is to prepare for the situations and conversations you’re likely to encounter with the salesperson and finance manager. Feel free to print off this cheat sheet and bring it with you! Without further ado, here’s how an informed, prepared car buyer can expertly negotiate.

Salesperson: What do you want your monthly payment to be?

You: I’m not concerned with the monthly payment, I am only focused on the total out-the-door price.

Salesperson: So you’re paying cash?

You: I haven’t determined exactly how I plan to pay for it. I am only concerned about the total out-the-door price.

Salesperson: So you have a monthly budget in mind?

You: I have a total out-the-door price in mind, so I would only like to discuss that at the present time.

Salesperson: OK, how much cash will you be putting down?

You: I haven’t decided that yet and I won’t until we establish an acceptable total out-the-door price.

Notice a trend here? You really really want to stay laser-focused on the only number that matters this early in the game: the out-the-door price. Salespeople will try hard to learn more about how much money you’re willing to spend. If that can get you to talk about monthly payments, they immediately have an advantage over you. That gives them leverage to play with higher interest rates, longer loan terms, and lower trade-in offers. None of those are good for you, the buyer.

Salesperson: What are going to do with the car that drove here, will you be trading it?

You: I haven’t decided yet. We can discuss that as a possibility after we agree to an out-the-door price.

Salesperson: Now that we have agreed to the out-the-door price, what about the car you drove here, will you be trading that in?

You: I might, it depends on whether or not you can match or beat these written offers that I have already received. 

Salesperson: Now that we have agreed to the out-the-door price and agreed to the value of your trade, what do you want your monthly payment to be?

You: I’ll only discuss that with the Finance Manager.

Salesperson: Will you be putting any cash down?

You: I’ll be more than happy to discuss all of that with the Finance Manager. If you provide me with a credit application I’ll be more than happy to fill that out for the Finance Manager.

Salesperson: The Finance Manager will be with you shortly.

How to Negotiate the Best Auto Loan Rate with the Finance Office

Use this cheat sheet to negotiate the best auto loan rates on new or used cars!

NEW in 2024: Due to popular demand, we created this additional FREE guide: Auto Financing Cheat Sheet

Finance Manager: I assume that you have given some thought to a monthly payment and loan term that will be comfortable to you.

You: I have indeed and I have also secured a pre-approval from my credit union as a possibility for my loan.

Finance Manager: Would you consider financing through us?

You: I would assuming that you can beat the pre-approved rate that I have. Here is the pre-approval terms sheet from my credit union with all the particulars.

Finance Manager: So if I beat the rate you will finance with us?

You: Yes, if you beat it by at least ¼ of a percent. And I promise to at least listen to any finance and protection packages that are available.

Finance Manager: So you are open to some of our programs?

You: Possibly, if we can agree to a reasonable selling price on any items that I think have value. Oh, and if I do buy any products I would at least expect you to give me the buy rate from the bank on my loan. Once again though, you will need to beat my credit union rate by at least ¼ of a percent for me to even consider it.

Finance Manager: Great, let’s get started.

You: I’m all ears.

Finance Manager shares the MENU with additional products.

You: But first, before we go over product benefits, where is my base payment, amount financed, term and interest rate?

Finance Manager shows them to you.

You: Is there a prepayment penalty if I finance with you?

If there is no prepayment penalty, proceed with considering their menu options.

These are products you might see on the menu, and questions to ask:

  • Vehicle Service Contract (also known as an extended warranty)
    • Are you getting a fair deal? Remember, CarEdge brings you the LOWEST prices for extended warranties. Get a free quote here!
  • GAP coverage – In the event of an accident, GAP covers the difference between what a vehicle is currently worth and the amount you actually owe on it.
    • Does this GAP coverage pay 150% and my deductible?
  • Maintenance plan – Does this plan cover the major, expensive services or is this basic oil, filter & tire rotations?
  • Electronics Warranty – Your new car IS a computer on wheels, but be wary of dealer pricing on electronics warranties.
    • CarEdge offers a low cost Electronics Warranty with all the coverage you need. Get a free quote!
  • Tire/wheel coverage – Does this also cover cosmetic damage?
  • Paintless dent repair/windshield repair – Where on the vehicle and how large can the dent/crack be? How many are covered under the policy?
  • Paint and interior coverage 
  • Key care – Is this 5 years and unlimited keys?

Finance Manager shows you payments

You: (If you don’t see actual product price) Please write the actual product price next to each one.

Finance Manager: It just changes your payment by this much.

You: I see that, but I want to see the actual price of each product to help me make a good decision. 

At this point, negotiate prices down on any products you want.

Finance Manager: OK, sign here and here and here.

You: Please print my Bank Contract and Purchase Order first so I can go over them.

Go over each line of your itemized Purchase Order and make sure the bottom line (amount financed) on both documents match!  

Free Car Buying Help Is Here

Car buying cheat sheet

Ready to outsmart the dealerships? Download your 100% free car buying cheat sheets today. From negotiating a deal to leasing a car the smart way, it’s all available for instant download. Get your cheat sheets today!

Check us out on YouTube at the CarEdge main channel and our daily Ray and Zach LIVE SHOW.

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24 Comments

    • Justin Fischer

      Hi James, you can print out this entire webpage. We’re glad you find it useful!

      Reply
      • Joseph Vidro

        Hello James can you please email me the script for when I do purchase a vehicle. Thank you.

        Reply
        • Justin Fischer

          Hello, you can simply print out the whole page and use it. We’re happy to hear you find it helpful.

          Reply
          • Chris

            It would be a lot nicer if you had a pdf link attached to the article so it’s much cleaner and easier to print.

      • Denise Langlois

        Hi I can’t remember if I joined for 1 month or 3 months- I can’t seem to find JOINYAA – can u help me? I chatted with Justin last week with no problem.

        Reply
        • Zach Shefska

          Hi Denise! YAA is now CarEdge (same team, just a new name). Please contact us at “help@caredge.com” so that we can assist you!

          Reply
      • Michael Saczawa

        Hi! Love your videos! I’m considering building/ordering a car through the dealer. Do you have a video about what that process would be like? Are there ways to pay less than MSRP?

        Reply
      • Ed

        I’m another one who has been unable to find the free cheat sheet. What can we do to make this process easy? The suggestion to print the entire link is asking too much – 34 pages just to get a simple cheat sheet. Why?

        Reply
    • Tom Harrison

      I also never found the cheat sheet print out. Please let me know where to look on the CarEdge website. Thanks!

      Reply
      • Justin Fischer

        Hello! If you right-click on your computer, you will have the option to print, and to select which pages you want to print.

        Reply
        • Bketchum

          I don’t see the cheat sheet either. It says: Use this cheat sheet to negotiate the best auto loan rates on new or used cars! – however there is not a place to click.

          Reply
          • Justin Fischer

            Hello, thank you for your comment. We recommend printing this resource, becoming familiar with it, and taking it with you. If you right-click and select print, you will be able to select which pages you want to print. Alternatively, leave it on your phone and have it accessible with you at any time. I hope this helps!

  1. Michaelsuewahsing

    Hello YAA team you have gotten quite a large audience since 2019 I am one of your subscriber. I understand one of your favorite dealer Brandon does not want to be noticed for his integrity and and usefulness in the car buying business.lots of subscribers want to purchase a vehicle from him. But maybe he does not want to be bothered. He is from north carolina. We need more car dealers like him. Kindly assist you doing good job

    Reply
  2. Mike thomas

    Hi, do you have a chest shear for buying a car in cash? I’m planning to buy a car in cash and would greatly appreciate a similar cheat sheet that guides me through negotiating a cash purchase.

    Reply
  3. Chris Wilde

    I love cheat sheets. I’m glad you offer this one. Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Rob Jones

    I have not purchased a vehicle at a dealer in 20 years. YAA and CarEdge have been a big help. Does CarEdge have a cheat sheet for negociating the OTD price. I have the dealer’s internet OTD, but, I want to get the salesperson’s internet OTD where I want to pay. After looking at the vehicle taking a test drive, i then decide to buy, so do I just make an offer and see how this salesperson reacts? Then, if we come to an agreement on the OTD, I can tell the salesperson, I have a trade.

    Reply
    • Justin Fischer

      Hi Rob, this cheat sheet will help you negotiate the OTD. For more help, search the free guides here: https://caredge.com/guides, or better yet, connect with others on the Community forum here: https://community.caredge.com/home. For personalized help with negotiating your deal, I recommend working with a CarEdge Coach. Learn more about help options here: https://caredge.com/plans. We’re here to help.

      Reply
  5. Yolanda Enich

    If I have a payoff 16,874 and my trade allowance is 20,000 which I will have 3,126. Should that 3,126 show on the purchase agreement as a down-payment? I have a copy of the contract but I haven’t signed yet if you would like to see it.

    Reply
  6. Cathe

    I’m purchasing new going in with my own financing and a GM discount. Any suggestions or is my situation pretty straight forward. Have not used the discount before. Thank you

    Reply
  7. Brian McCleney

    Will these negotiation work for Internet purchases, where I do not have to go to the dealer?

    Reply

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