3 Things to Avoid Discussing with a Car Salesperson

Buying a car can be a stressful and arduous process. There are a few things you can avoid discussing while at the dealership to make the process more streamlined. The car salesperson is there to help you, but also to sell you something.

These days, spending less time at a dealership and less time overall is ideal. By preparing ahead of time, you can go into the situation confident and knowledgeable. Here are a few things to avoid discussing while at the dealership to help you get the right price.

1. Your knowledge of cars

A potential customer looks in the window a new red car at a dealership.
A potential buyer looks at a vehicle for sale at a dealership | Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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If you are not the most knowledgeable person about cars in general, don’t fret. But also, don’t mention it. If the seller knows you don’t know anything, the salesperson can try to sell you all kinds of unnecessary upgrades.

While you might walk in looking for a base model Honda Accord, the representative could easily persuade you into buying a top-of-the-line Honda Civic if you don’t know what the product is.

As far as the salesperson is concerned, you are knowledgeable and confident about your future purchase. Do your research ahead of time to know the price of a car you might be interested in. You can do this on the specific dealership website or just by checking Google for locally available cars.

Don’t mention that you are heavily invested in a particular make or model, either. By telling a salesperson you are emotionally attached to a car, you are giving them the upper handโ€”the more information you give, the more information can be used against you.

The most important part here is the price. If you don’t get an appropriate price, you are willing to walk away. If the salesperson thinks you love a car, you might be willing to bend over backward to get it. Be willing to walk away to get a better deal!

2. Your finances

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Keep this information close to your chest at first. You are giving the dealership room to work in extras that you don’t need by offering your budget. In addition to this, do not offer up your credit score prematurely.

Be prepared with that information, but keep it to yourself. By knowing your budget, you can always spend less. If you give this information up immediately, the salesperson will likely try to offer upgrades that will come in at or above your stated budget.

Ideally, you want to maximize the discounts offered to get a better deal. For a dealership, maximizing profit is the goal.

If you plan on paying cash, don’t mention it to the salesperson right away. According to U.S. News, dealerships make a lot of money from financing cars.

“Telling them that you wonโ€™t be borrowing money will cause them to jack up the price of the car to make up for the profit that they wonโ€™t be making on the financing.”

While you might have expected to get a better deal due to paying cash, the dealership will likely try to maximize profit based on the number offered. You can tell them this once a price has been determined and you are going to sign the paperwork. Ensure that the price is not changed at that point.

3. Why you are shopping for a new car

A white car sits for sale at a car dealership
A car sits at a Ford car dealership in New Jersey | Angus Mordant/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Perhaps your car is broken down or seems to be on its way out. Telling the salesperson you planned on buying a car that day creates a sense of urgency on your end.

This gives the dealership the upper hand because you need the car. Make it seem as if there is no pressure on the deal and you are willing to walk away. If the salesperson knows that you are desperate to buy a car, you are offering yourself up on a platter.

If your car is running poorly or not at all, don’t mention it. This can hurt your trade-in value. As far as the salesperson is concerned, your car is in mint condition. Don’t let the value of your current car impact the price of your next car.

You can use various tools ahead of time to get a ballpark price on your trade-in value. Try this one from Kelley Blue Book or AutoTrader. Enter the details about your current car and get an estimate to help prepare ahead of time.

In the time of COVID-19, making an appointment ahead of time is also a good idea. Research your ideal vehicle and price ahead of time. Minimizing your time at the dealership is key. These days, a lot of the process can be done ahead of time. Take advantage of that.

Educate yourself on the price of cars you might be interested in. Don’t let a salesperson take advantage of you. If you find yourself being pressured, don’t be afraid to walk away.