10 Things You Never Tell a Car Salesman

Car salesmen are trying to clean up their comic book villain image, but they still know more tricks. One of them is gauging the prospective buyer’s interests. Even when “playing it cool” prospective buyers can unintentionally tip their hand, giving the salesman an opening on how to play you. In that vein, here are the 10 things you don’t want to utter when negotiating with your car salesman. 

“I just love this car”

Car salesman
1940s family receiving the keys to their brand new car 1947 | Getty

Um, you’ve just killed some of your negotiating power. Now the salesman knows you desire the vehicle a lot. By not letting the salesman know where you stand, you give yourself a better shot at seeing him or her go a bit lower on price to finally sell you. 

“I don’t know that much about cars”

Being ignorant about cars won’t help you. Even if you think that means your salesman will give you a break because you’re clueless, it does the opposite. Let’s say he or she asks a question about what safety features you want, don’t say, “I don’t know?” Instead, say, “Tell me about them.” It’s a neutral comeback that also gives you more information, not them.

Car sales
A car salesman shows an automobile to a young couple | Getty

“I brought my trade-in with me”

Maybe you did, and you want it to be part of the negotiation. If the salesperson knows that, he may shoot you a good trade-in number, only to make up for it with a higher price for the car you want. Wait until you’ve been given some hard numbers before laying the trade-in on them. And have some idea of what your car is worth, then subtract a reasonable percentage the dealer will need to make a buck.

“I don’t want to get scammed”

Nobody does, that’s a given. So why say it? You immediately put the salesperson on the defensive. If he or she has had a good week they may not want to even bother with you. Treat them the way you want to be treated. If you’ve done your homework before entering the lot, you can’t be scammed.

typical car salesman
You typical car salesman | Getty

“My credit isn’t very good” 

As mentioned above, do your homework first. If your credit isn’t so hot, see what can be done to correct some of the issues before rolling into the dealership. Most banks will help you, and also give you some idea of what auto financing will run based on your credit score. They may even have a better finance program than the dealer. That way you’re approved before you start looking for your car.

“I’m paying cash”

If you think that means you’ll look like the perfect customer because you’ve got the money, you’re wrong. In most salesperson’s minds, you’ll be financing your purchase. So the extra stipend they get financing through their company’s financial group evaporates when you pay cash. Get the price down first. Don’t tell them about the cash until you’re done negotiating the deal. If they balk, you can consider financing a portion of the purchase price, then pay the balance off with your first payment. Just make sure there is no early payoff penalty, and no charge for the financing.

Car salesman
Car salesman showing a prospective customer the engine in a new 1937 Chevy sedan | Getty

“I need to buy a car now”

If you seem desperate or in a hurry, they’ll see “sucker” stamped on your forehead. The dealer knows you’ll walk off of the lot with one of their cars. Your bargaining wiggle room just wiggled away.

“I don’t want a bigger payment than $400 a month”

Again, don’t get into financing until you negotiate a good price based on your research. And calculate the rough monthly payment and length of term before getting to the dealership. That way you know approximately what price range you need to be within. Don’t forget destination fees when entering those figures.

Happy happy people
Happy buyers and happy salespeople at the car dealership | Getty

“I’m a surgeon”

That’s great, but why does your salesman care? If he or she knows you make lots of money, they know an extra $300 or $3,000 isn’t going to make or break the deal. 

“Does this car have mood lighting?”

Don’t let the small stuff get in the way of the elephant in the room; the price. Also, look over that window sticker with all of the options beforehand. And if mood-lighting comes standard, you should already know that because you’ve done your research.

RELATED: 12 Lies a Car Salesman Will Tell You to Close the Deal