How to Take Control of a Car Deal When You’re Buying from a Dealership

Aside from picking the right car for you and then signing your life away on the contract, talking to a dealership sales person can be the most daunting part of the sales process. After all, the sales person goes through this process multiple times a day, every day, and you only go through it once every few years or so.

Have no fear, Your Auto Advocate has your back as they have clearly laid out how to take control of the car deal the next time you find yourself at the dealership.

Tell the dealer what you would like to accomplish today

In order to illustrate what you can do to take control of a car deal, Zach and Ray Shefska from Your Auto Advocate put together a video complete with a skit. We’ll spare you the details on the impeccable acting jobs they both did, with Ray playing the customer and Zach playing the salesperson. But what’s most interesting is how Ray conducted himself from the get-go.

First, he told the salesperson exactly what he wanted to accomplish during his initial visit, which included “taking a look at a couple of vehicles” and not looking at any “numbers” unless he was enamored by one of the cars.

This is important because by doing this, you will tell the salesperson exactly what you’re intending to do without having to go through the back-and-forth banter that typically comes with the initial “meet and greet.”

A red 2021 Chevy Corvette sports car parked inside a car dealership in Colma, California, on Monday, February 8, 2021
A General Motors Co. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray vehicle for sale at a car dealership. | David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

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In the video, Ray clearly tells the salesperson that he’s “just looking today” and that if he absolutely loves the car, then they will talk about the numbers. By telling the salesperson that you’re just “gathering information today,” it will tell them right away that you probably won’t be buying a car on the first visit.

However, be careful, because a good salesperson could realign their strategy in order to entice you more after a test drive. A car purchase is an emotional one, after all.

Take control after the test drive

After you drive the car, the car salesperson will ask you what you thought of it and ask if you would like to go over the pricing for it. In their mind, if you loved the car, then it’s possible that they can sell you on it with some fair pricing negotiations.

However, as Ray and Zach outline, you can maintain control by not showing too much interest in the car. By telling the salesperson that it was “alright” or that “you’re not in love with it,” it will show them that you’re not emotional about it and they won’t be able to win you over so easily.

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Be a “Teflon wall”

If actually do like the car that you test drove, then you can go over the pricing with the salesperson. However, think of yourself as a “Teflon wall” that can deflect any of the leading questions that the salesperson will ask you in order to maintain control of the situation.

“The buyer should always remain in control. The buyer can stop the process at any point to gain control,” Shefska says in the video. “You just have to be the one that’s going to set how it’s going to go. So if the salesperson asks if you loved the car, you can say, ‘eh, it was alright.’”

And when it comes to talking about the numbers with the salesperson, you can stop the process by telling them that you’re still on the fence about financing or paying cash. By expressing too much interest in one way or another, you’re giving them your power. But if you remain ambiguous, it can give you a way out, if needed, or at least let you take control of the deal.