What NOT to Say to a Car Salesperson
During the car buying process, you can say a few things that can drastically harm your chances of getting a good price.
Here are the top things to not say to a car salesperson.
Table of Contents
1 - I Don't Know Much About Cars
In an effort to make small talk, many people open with one of the worst lines you could say to a car salesperson “I don’t know much about cars.” When a salesperson hears this, it sends bells ringing to try to upsell you on the latest and greatest features that you may not need. Even if cars aren’t your expertise, do some research ahead of time so that you know what you need and if an extended warranty will help.
2 - I Love This Car
Even if you like a vehicle and think it may be a good fit, do not tell the salesperson that you love it. Phrases like “I love this car” send the message that you are willing to pay whatever it takes. Instead, be clear that you will walk away if the price isn’t right.
3 - I Want to Trade-in My Vehicle
This is something you’ll want to discuss with your salesperson, but only after settling on the car's final price. Far too many car shoppers make the mistake of offering up a trade-in before the negotiation is settled for the new purchase. If you try to incorporate a trade-in too early, the salesperson will include it in the transaction. To ensure you get the best deal on both, keep the trade-in and car price separate by only bringing up a trade-in after negotiating the price of the car.
4 - I Need a New Car Now
Understandably, you may need a car pretty quickly if you are at the end of a lease or have issues with your current car. Even if you do need a car soon, don’t tell the dealer. Desperation is like blood in the water to salespeople. If they sense you are in urgent need of a car, they are more likely to increase the final price or force you back into a lease even if you want to buy.
5 - I Have Bad Credit
Always shop for the best financing interest rate before heading to the dealership. This way, you can ask the dealership to beat your best preapproval. Regardless, do not admit your credit is poor because this may make them believe you’ll agree to a higher interest rate.
6 - I'm Paying in Cash
The vast majority of car buyers do not have enough money to pay in cash. If you do, that’s great, but do not tell the salesperson right away. Salespeople often provide better deals if they think you are in the market for financing. They believe they can make up the difference via in-house financing fees. Wait until the price is negotiated to tell them you will pay in cash.
7 - I Make Good Money
Avoid telling the dealer what you do, especially if you are in a high-paying field. Some may assume you have a lot of money to spend and will try to get as much money out of you as possible. Price discrimination or selling cars at different prices based on what the buyer can pay is legal. Keep your job and salary to yourself to help ensure you get the best deal.
8 - I'm Not Good at Math
You may not have been on the mathletes team, but keep this to yourself. Do not reveal shortcomings related to the transaction to the salesperson. If you do struggle with math, bring someone with you who can help. Additionally, ask for a line-by-line breakdown of costs. Reputable dealerships are willing to talk through the numbers and answer your questions.
9 - This Is My First Car Purchase
Don’t let everyone at the dealership know you’re new to buying cars. This puts you at a disadvantage, as the salesperson may believe they can pressure you into higher prices or upselling. Remain neutral about the process, even if you feel nervous inside. Stick to relevant questions about the vehicle you’re interested in. Check out some tips for first-time car buyers here.
10 - I Don't Want to be Ripped Off
Car salespeople are professionals who are earning a living just like anyone else. Regardless of how you may feel about them or the stereotypes you hear, don’t reveal any malicious thinking about them. Many helpful, knowledgeable car salespeople want to help you find the right fit. Demonstrating a negative attitude to salespeople signals that you are on guard and sets up the interaction on the wrong foot. Look out for yourself by being observant, asking questions, and firmly negotiating.