How To Buy A Car (Without Getting Screwed)

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If you’ve done any reading on how to negotiate with dealers when buying a car, you’ll probably recognize all the steps mention in this tutorial by Rob Gruhl at Ignite Seattle. The problem with negotiating at a dealership isn’t that we don’t know the steps, it’s sticking to them when we have our defense worn down after one BS line after another. The best bit of advice in the video is that you need to bring a friend when you go to the dealership.

The video is only five minutes long but here’s an even briefer recap his tips:

  • Plan on two full weekends – Time is your friend, not theirs.
  • Get financing from your bank – You are unlikely to get a good deal from the dealer, this way you go into it knowing your amount, rate, and other terms.
  • Don’t sell your used car to them – There is no reason they should give you a good deal, Gruhl says they are looking to make $1200-$1800 off your car. Sell on craigslist, donate, or sell on ebay.
  • Pick at least three different cars – That way you have options and aren’t married to a single model
  • Test drive them – So you know how they handle, but don’t buy it after test drive.
  • Invoice is useless – Dealers know this, it’s a distraction, and competitive bidding is the real discriminator. Call 8-10 dealerships and bid them against one another. They will say they don’t do it but tell them that you will buy from them if they give you the best price today (they will bid, they always will).
  • Get the “drive it off the lot” price – That’s the real number, with all the fees, taxes, etc. added in.
  • Confirm availability – Make sure they have it, VIN number, and walk through the options
  • The first visit – You will probably leave because something bad will happen (car is gone or some other BS); Tell them “Sorry we had a deal, see ya.”
  • The second visit – Bring patience and a friend, they will try to tire you out, stick to your guns.
  • Don’t sign until it’s all set up
  • The Back Room – ignore those add ons, high margin stuff you can buy elsewhere, “Just say no”

Yes, all those tips were jam packed into five minutes. If you’re going to buy a car, or even thinking about buying a car, watch the video and you won’t be disappointed.

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “How To Buy A Car (Without Getting Screwed)”

  1. tom says:

    This was a great video, funny but very informative. thank you

  2. Bert says:

    I just bought a 2009 Toyota Camry from Boch Toyota ( in Norwood, Massachusetts. I followed a lot of the things mentioned in this article, especially getting the “Get the “drive it off the lot” price” from Consumer Reports for $14. It was well worth it. I paid $70 under dealer cost and they delivered the car to my town’s DMV (Dept of Motor Vehicles) to transfer plates. But before that I went to three different dealers in Connecticut (my home) and priced/test drove three different models. Doing your homework is well worth the time as I saved at least a $1,000. Just a side note, I didn’t want to buy a new car but my old one was totaled after hitting a deer. I guess it was my Karma to buy this car.

  3. I had a friend tell me about a dealer once that took his car keys and threw them up on the roof of the showroom to keep him there longer! I went through my credit union last time and was very pleased with their car finding service. They found me exactly what I wanted, and I still have the car 7 years later. I love my Pathfinder.

  4. I spent a year or two selling cars and I would add one thing to take into consideration about trading in your car as opposed to selling it to someone else and using the money for your downpayment. The total amount upon which you are taxed on the new car is figured after your trade-in amount is subtracted, but before any cash downpayment is made. So, if you have a trade-in your tax will be lower than if you don’t have a trade-in. Just something to figure in to your calculations. Additionally, if your trade-in is a real junker that isn’t worth anything, the dealership may give you more for it than anyone else.

  5. those are great points. Esp on the selling. Also, when looking for a new car, always look at the cost of ownership. Just because a person can afford the lease payment on the new Lexus, might not equate when insurance, gas, maintenance, etc is factored in. check out my blog post if you get a chance! regardless, great post.

  6. Jeff Lehman says:

    First of all…don’t buy a NEW car. That’s insane. The smart money buys good used cars with some warranty left on them. Lease returns and certified-pre-owned cars are a great bet…and often have better than new warranties.

    If you must buy new then do so at your own financial risk. Before you go to the dealer see how much a 2-3 year old version of the new car you are looking for is selling for. Subtract “new” from “used” – that’s how much money you will be leaving on the table if you buy new. Just humor me and do the analysis!

    Also – If the car you are interested in is in it’s first year of production don’t even think about buying it until they get the bugs out. Trust me on this no matter how well made cars are today!

    They guy is funny, but I don’t agree with all of his points.

    1. Have you seen that some dealer/manufacturer interest rates are zero or .9% lately? I don’t think a bank is going to offer that kind of rate. Definitely shop around on rates for used cars.

    2. If you live in a state that allows you to deduct the value of your trade-in from the cost of a new car and save on sales tax then you better know how that would affect your deal. Everyone thinks their trade-in is worth more than it usually is. Make sure you check with and to see what people are “asking” for cars in your area. Knock about 10-15% off that. Do the math, it might be better to get rid of your car than trying to sell it and pay insurance on two vehicles until you do.

    Do a lot of homework before you step foot into a dealership and it won’t take you two weekends and all the theatrics.

  7. Steve says:

    Good tips except for the “get financing from your bank.” I work for a bank and our car rates are terrible. FAR FAR higher than car dealerships.

    • jim says:

      Well obviously you want to check the rates and be smart about it but most banks will beat most car dealers.

      Then again, lots of dealers are offering 0% and you can’t beat 0%. 🙂

  8. tom says:

    Hey Steve,

    The dealership may have better rates but how about their track record. There is enough shady dealers out there, so you don’t necessarily want to get stuck with that.

    At least for me, the bank may usually seem like the best option because of the relationship with them, trust and track record.

    Just my thoughts.

  9. Lee says:

    Sure, get pre-approved for financing from your bank, but at least be prepared to listen to the financing options the dealer has.

    Dealerships have access to literally hundreds of banks and financing options available to them. And they will want you to finance through them as this is one of their revenue streams and the customer stands to benefit from it.

  10. tom says:

    Heres a major problem I see today. People go out to buy cars they cannot afford. When i say afford I mean, if shit happens, they have no funds to pay off the balance.

    Plus the car is depreciating in value and it is not an asset.

    See you should listen to Robert Kiyosaki about what he says about assets and money. With his information, it has changed my perspective on money a lot.

  11. steve w says:

    does anyone know if a fuel surcharge on a new car is legit or a dealer money maker

  12. Jim says:


    I was just wondering, how many cars has Rob bought in his entire life. Alot of what he is saying might have been the way to go about things back in the old days. But there has be one huge event that has changed the car buying process forever. It is called the Internet. Most consumers has access to a variety of sources via the web that should give you the right tools in buying a car. Also the lasted time i checked i didnt know that your bank or a credit union offers 0% or a special rate like the dealerships offer. Odds are if you are looking into buying a new car, most make and models have those special rates.

  13. Mike R says:

    Funny video. Unfortunately there is a lot truth to the sales process that Rob talks about. A lot of dealers are still trying to sell cars the way they did for the last 20 years. The internet is changing the process for how we buy cars. Thank goodness.

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