1) Don’t rush into a decision! Take at least 24 hours to think it over. There are very few “one of a kind” vehicles. If the vehicle has been on the lot for 30, 60, 90 days, or more, it will likely be there tomorrow. (If the dealership tells you someone else is interested in that particular car, will you really get a good price if you are competing with another buyer?) The better dealerships will respect your request to hold the vehicle for 24 hours.
2) Don’t allow yourself to be pressured! Sometimes the pressure is subtle. If you are feeling pressured, it could be a good time for a break. You can always come back tomorrow.
Few people make good decisions under pressure. Are you one of them? Taking a break accomplishes two things:
It gives you some time to think about what you really want to do, and,
It sends a clear message to the dealership that you are a “thoughtful” customer that will ultimately get a fair deal, if not from them, then from someone else.
3) Bring a Friend! You can always bring a friend with you to the dealership. They can help with the negotiations, give you their opinion (buy, don’t buy), or just be there for moral support.
4) Use a Credit Card for Deposits! Leave your checkbook at home. Rejecting a charge to your credit card is within your control while getting a check returned requires cooperation.
Avoid making any deposit “just to hold the car”, the better Dealerships do not require them to hold a vehicle for 24 hours. The purpose of the deposit is simply to assure that you will return to the dealership even if you have decided to buy elsewhere.
Let the dealership know that you are not in a rush (“I plan to purchase a new vehicle in the next week or two”). If the dealer believes you need a car right away, you may lose some negotiating power.
Let the dealership know you have a limited amount of time for the current visit (“I have an appointment at 3:00pm, but can come back tomorrow to finish up if necessary”). Dealerships must respect your time and should answer all questions promptly. They should not keep you waiting. One reason for keeping you waiting could be to discourage you from shopping at their competitors.
Most importantly, you should only buy from a dealership which has treated you with respect and in which you are comfortable. If you are not treated well before the sale, don’t expect to be treated better after the sale!