Four Insider Secrets to Buying Your Next Car

It wasn’t long ago when I was on the showroom floor, doing everything I could to get my customers to purchase that new car. These days, however, my goal is to help you, the consumer, feel confident when you’re in the market for a new vehicle.

What does it really take? Here are four of my best insider secrets.

Negotiate the final price of the car, not each part of the deal

If you start negotiating separate parts of the transaction, a dealer can “rob Peter to pay Paul.” Always negotiate the final price of the car. So many dealers want to work with you based on your monthly payment and down payment, not the final cost of the vehicle. Absolutely do not fall into that trap; work your car deal first.

Subvented financing or cash rebates?

These days, interest rates are quite low. If you have good credit, I always recommend you take the cash rebate versus the subvented financing, even if it is zero percent. The reason: If something happens to your car, whether it gets wrecked or stolen or you simply want to trade it in, you’re always better off having taken the principal reduction upfront, meaning that you’ll owe less on that car if something happens. In today’s market, with interest rates from banks and credit unions as low as 1.9 percent anyway, this choice often makes the most sense.

Beware of preclosing questions

Salespeople are trained to ask you preclosing questions to help you visualize yourself owning the car before you really do. Watch out for questions like, “Can you see yourself driving this car?” “Does this car work for you?” and “How does this car make you feel?” This is Persuasion 101 and it works. Similarly, the salesperson might ask you what your favorite kind of music is, and then bring the car around with that music playing.

Avoid one-price dealerships

The biggest problem for consumers who purchase at one-price dealerships is that the dealerships attempt to convey “transparency,” but in actuality, they are making their money somewhere. Your best shot at the greatest savings comes with your ability to negate the price of the car. Many car shoppers assume that if the dealer is upfront in terms of the cost of the vehicle, it also will be upfront about other aspects, and this simply isn’t true.

The takeaway

Car buying doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. If you do your homework, read dealership ratings, sharpen your negotiation skills, keep your emotions on the shelf and become a knowledgeable consumer, you can get a great deal and even have a satisfying experience.

Lisa Copeland is the author of the book “Car Buying, Her Way: The Fierce Girl’s Roadmap to The Car of Your Dreams.” She is a former dealership principal, keynote speaker and consultant. Find more information at and