The best way to buy a new vehicle
Not many people like the process of buying a new vehicle.  It’s not “user-friendly,” and wasn’t designed to be that way.  At From Car to Finish, we understand that, and with our 20+  years of experience negotiating over seventy five hundred new vehicles for purchase or lease, we want to make the process as simple and painless as possible.  While we also recognize this process is not for everyone, we maintain that it can be done with a little perseverance.  Just follow the basic guidelines laid out in this article and by using the pricing and comparison tools on the Car to Finish website.  This article will step you through the process of buying a new vehicle from start to finish.  It’s comprehensive because the process described has many steps, and we want to make sure you won’t miss any of them.  If in the end you decide negotiating the price of your vehicle is not for you, no problem – we also offer you the option of having us completely negotiate the vehicle for you.  So without further delay, let’s get started. 
  1. Choosing a Vehicle that Meets Your Needs
  2. Research Vehicles
  3. Test Drive Vehicles
  4. Get your Tools ready
  5. Contacting the Dealer
  6. Choosing a Dealer and the Ordering Process
  7. Other things to be Careful About
  8. Conclusion

 

1. Choosing A Vehicle that Meets your Needs  Without regard to brand or name, decide defining characteristics of what you want in your next vehicle.  Some examples of these characteristics are safety, reliability, ride comfort, handling, passenger capacity, cargo capacity, cost to insure, and overall look.  If it’s helpful to you, rank the characteristics, so that you are clear on which ones are more important. 

2. Research Vehicles  Before committing any time at a dealership and test-driving anything, research vehicles that have the characteristics important to you, and that may meet your needs.  You can easily research vehicles on our website using tools that will assist you in whittling down your choices  Additionally, you may find that although some vehicles may be comparable in many ways, they may vary widely when it comes to the cost to insure them.  If cost of ownership is an important factor when considering a vehicle, calling an insurance agent at this point to see the difference in cost to insure each of the vehicles you are  considering may help you whittle the list down further.

3. Test Drive Vehicles  Once you have done your homework about the vehicles you want to test drive, you are ready to start going to dealers.  If at all possible, find dealerships for each brand of vehicle you’re considering that are relatively close to each other.  By going to dealerships that are close to each other, the memory of the last test drive will be fresher in your mind for easier comparison.  If considering a vehicle with a manual transmission, be sure to contact any dealers you plan to visit ahead of time to make sure they have vehicles in stock.  Manuals now make up a fraction of the total vehicles available on lots at any given moment, given the trend toward automatic transmissions in recent decades.  Some dealers allow you to check inventory online on their site as an alternative, but bear in mind this method can be of questionable value if dealers don't update their website with inventory changes often enough.

It might be helpful to bring a notepad and make notes about all the things that stand out (positive or negative) for later reference.  If at all possible, try to not have a salesman in the vehicle with you.  Let the salespeople know that you are in the process of choosing a specific vehicle, and need to duplicate your normal driving conditions as closely as possible.  Be sure to mention this involves driving alone.  If the dealership wants a copy of your driver’s license photocopied for insurance purposes in case anything happens while you’re on your test drive, that’s understandable.  After the test drive, there should be no problem with getting the photocopy back, as the purpose for having it has passed.  If they try to get you to “buy today,” say you’re just trying competing vehicles for today.  If they further persist, gently let them know that how fast you’re able to leave the dealership and move on to the next brand of vehicle today will directly impact your decision to come back.  If they want a way to contact you, you can always say you’re not very reachable during the day, and take their business card so you know how to reach them should you choose to.

Once you finish your test drives, review all of your notes.  This will help you to rule out certain vehicles.  If you are having trouble narrowing the field, try driving some or all of them again to get your choice down to one or two vehicles.  Some tips for things to do during the test drive are:


4. Get Your Tools Ready  Once you decide on a vehicle, the next step is to figure out the exact make, model, and style (see table below for examples) you wish to start from.  Look up the vehicle’s invoice cost (sometimes called dealer cost) and retail price (sometimes called MSRP) for the base vehicle as well as all individual options and option packages available from the manufacturer  using the tools on this site, and print out a complete list to have as a reference.  The table below shows some examples of make, model, and style. 

Make

Model

Style

Toyota

Camry

LE V6 Automatic

Ford

Edge

SEL 2WD

Chevrolet

Silverado

Crew Cab LT 4WD

The cost information on our site is simply a national starting point.  In addition to these costs, there may also be regional or metro area specific fees added to an actual dealer’s invoice.  These types of added costs on the dealer’s invoice are legitimate, and may vary by region.  Some examples include an advertising association fee that represents dealers for a given region/metro area, or a flat fee meant to cover some other cost to the manufacturer for doing business in a particular region or state.  These costs are not from the dealer, but the dealer passes them on to you, so you must add them in when calculating the cost of your vehicle. 

Other items that you may see on the dealer’s invoice are physical items or fees that might be added to a vehicle on a regional basis by a distributor (a middle-man between the manufacturer and the dealer).  These items are on an actual dealer invoice, but not necessarily in the national starting points shown on our website.  This information is available on our website.  Check it out before proceeding.   

Having all this information up front will help you calculate the correct price for your car when it is time to do so.  By knowing about regional add-ons and fees before the dealer tells you a price, you will know if a dealer is being honest about pricing.  Keep in mind car buying is not meant to be a user friendly process, so results may vary in how successful you are in getting a dealer to commit to a fair price.  Remember, you always have Car to Finish available to negotiate a vehicle for you if you feel this is the case.  This article simply illustrates how to do it yourself if you’d like to try that route first. 

After all this prep work to determine the vehicle’s invoice and regional add-ons, your next step is to go to the vehicle manufacturer’s website.  Once at the correct manufacturer site, go to the “locate a dealer” section and type in your zip code.  Expand the results to include contact info for all dealers in your greater metro area at the very least.  This will be the list that you use to start contacting dealers to negotiate the price of your vehicle. 

5. Contacting The Dealer  The actual process of negotiating a price for a new vehicle is a lot simpler than most people realize.  It’s all about who you talk to and how knowledgeable you appear.  Dealers tend to size people up as they walk through the door of the dealership.  They have a lot less to go on when you’re “meeting” them on the phone.  Once you have done all of the prep work described above, you’re ready to start calling dealers. 

Once on the phone, the first step is to ask for a manager who has final say on pricing vehicles on the spot.  This might be a sales managergeneral sales managerfleet manager internet manager, and in some cases, a finance manager.  If the person on the phone tries to connect you to the internet manager, there are some things to be aware of first.

Internet managers have been added at many dealerships in recent years, and in some cases, the internet manager is just a salesman who handles sales leads that come in by email or phone.  If so, the internet manager does not have final say on pricing vehicles on the spot.  If this is the case, and the internet manager will still have to check with a sales manager or general sales manager on price, it is best to deal with a real fleet or sales manager who is the final decider on price.  At some dealerships, the internet manager really is a manager with the power to decide price on the spot.  In these cases, the internet manager really can be the best bet for getting the lowest price.  At larger dealerships, an internet director oversees the internet managers, making the internet director the best person to talk to over the phone.  The person in that position can decide pricing for sure, as they run the department.  An internet director or empowered internet manager tends to deal with customers who do more research on what vehicle they want, and who comparison shop between multiple dealers as opposed to checking with only one or two.  Because this tends to be their more routine type of customer, they may be authorized to have a lower bottom line than a sales manager, who can decide pricing on the spot, but may be looking to gross more since they’re on the “retail” side of the dealership.  That means they’re more used to customers who walk in the door cold with less knowledge about what they want and who may not be as savvy a negotiator, allowing more potential to be taken advantage of and pay more for a vehicle on average.

Now that you know what types of managers may be empowered to decide pricing on the spot, start by asking for an internet or fleet manager, then try sales manager if the internet or fleet manager is not empowered.  Once you are connected, confirm with whomever the voice on the other end of the line is that you are speaking to an actual manager with the power to decide price on the spot on the phone (because they’ll all say “I can help you”).  Sometimes the voice on the other end is still a pushy salesperson trying to get a piece of the action.  If they aren’t a manager, firmly repeat your request to reach a manager.  If they ask what this is about, say “a free referral on a (fill in with the make and model of vehicle you’re interested in).  If a manager isn’t available at that moment, ask to leave a message on the voicemail for that manager or request that person with whom you are speaking leave a written message for the manager if voicemail isn’t available.  Voicemail is preferable when available, as you have the chance to leave a message using your own words.  Keep your message “short and sweet,” so as to get the attention of the manager so they call you back.  Something like:

“My name is _____, and I’m looking to buy a (your make, model, and style of vehicle).  Please call me so we can discuss where you need to be as a markup or markdown from invoice or MSRP on in-stock or inbound unit from allocation.  I was recommended to you specifically, and need only a few minutes of your time.  I can be reached at (your phone number).”  Then hang up.

Managers at a dealership usually do ten things at once, so it may be a while  (sometimes days or up to a week) before they call you back—don’t take it personally.  When they do call, thank them for calling back, and reiterate your name and the make, model, and style of vehicle you want to purchase.  Dealers love to try to give a selling price as a default, so DO NOT get into specific color and options at this point, as that’s not necessary to get a commitment on profit. The reason for talking only about the price of the vehicle, and not the color or options is that if you do, they’ll be able to pin you down on a specific vehicle they have and give a specific price.  This doesn’t help you if you wanted a different vehicle or if that vehicle gets sold to someone else five minutes later (and nothing will prevent this from happening). 

By getting a markup or markdown relative to invoice or MSRP, you’re getting a formula you can use to calculate the price of a vehicle regardless of which color or factory options are on the vehicle you’re negotiating.  For example, if you’re looking for a Camry LE V6, and got a quote of  “$500 over invoice,” you’d confirm that’s over total invoice (i.e. the sum of the invoice of the base car AND the invoice of each individual factory option) on a vehicle they have in stock or on its way.  This way, you know you can add $500 to the total invoice of ANY Toyota Camry LE V6 they have in stock or on its way, and still be able to calculate a selling price no matter what.

Instead of a quote relative to invoice, the dealer may quote the profit relative to MSRP.  This means they’re starting from a different set of pricing, but still giving you the ability to compute a bottom line in any combination of color and factory options you may choose.  In this case, you’ll be starting at the MSRP for the base vehicle and each individual factory option on the vehicle you may choose, and add or subtract an amount to the total MSRP. 

Whether the dealer quotes relative to invoice or MSRP, you have the means to compute a bottom line on that make, model, and style of vehicle with any combination of color and options.  The Car to Finish website has complete invoice and MSRP pricing side by side for the base vehicle and all factory options available for that vehicle, so you can see what your vehicle will cost no matter how you configure it.

Let the manager you speak with know that you’ll be contacting multiple dealers in the area to get an idea of what the market is, and that this is their one and only chance to put their best foot forward and get your attention.  Sometimes they’ll say, “Get prices elsewhere, come back, and I’ll see if I can match it.”  Remind them (civilly, yet firmly) that you’re trying to give each dealer a fair shot at the deal, and if they don’t quote now, you might end up buying elsewhere.  Most dealers will see they have a customer there—which means a lot to them—and it’s a fair shot at a free customer for a few minutes of their time.  At that point, they should quote. Remember that you have nothing to lose by moving on to another dealer if they won’t quote, but they have fixed costs regardless, and the longer a car is on their lot, the higher their floorplanning cost.  (For more on floorplanning and why it is important, refer to it in the Car to Finish Glossary.)

Keeping a car beyond the floorplanning coverage period is much less desirable for a dealer.  If you can get some idea how long a dealer has had a vehicle on their lot (their copy of the invoice will show the date the dealer received the vehicle from the manufacturer) you’ll have a better idea how interested they might be to move it compared to vehicles there for less time.

Once a dealer has given you a quote over the phone, if possible, send a fax to them to confirm the commitments that they made.  The sheet you send them should include:

  1. The profit the dealer will make, phrased either as an amount to add or subtract from the total invoice (invoice of the base vehicle as well as any options on that vehicle), or an amount to subtract from the MSRP.  The latter only should occur if the vehicle is in high demand, and a dealer can realistically get sticker or above otherwise.
  2. The profit if the vehicle is factory ordered, (assuming it’s a brand that allows this choice) if different from the in-stock or incoming unit profit listed above.  Be aware that dealers can give a different mark-up or mark-down from invoice or MSRP on a factory order than they would for an in-stock or incoming vehicle.
  3. If there are any mandatory fees or physical items added by the dealership to every vehicle, other than the typical tax, tags, and title they must collect and pass on to the state by law.  Have the dealer list any non-state fees separately from the state fees to avoid confusion.  If the dealer adds any physical accessories or treatments, (sometimes called an “appearance” or “protection” package) have them itemize what’s in the package, so you know what you’re getting.
  4. Charges (if any) to locate and trade with another dealer in the area to get you a vehicle (providing a suitable one is available and the other dealer is willing to trade), and for how many miles away they’d be willing to go for that fee (or for no fee).
  5. Exceptions to the profit commitments made above and what they are.  (Be sure to leave no stone unturned!)  
  6. How long the quote is valid.  Make sure the quote is good for a long enough period of time for you to think it over, get your financing in order, make a decision, etc.  At Car to Finish, we get quotes good for at least 2 weeks, but typically for 30 days.

Have a manager at each dealership approve their quotes by printing their name and affixing their signature and the date on a copy of the invoice.  Ask them to fax the signed confirmation back to you so that you have a written record from someone with the power to decide pricing that they agreed to a certain price.  Written documentation will make them feel the need to honor it if their signature is out there on a piece of paper.  Let them know you’ll be in touch soon if you end up choosing them, and thank them for their time.  Also let them know that no matter what you decide, you’ll remember that they were up front, and that you will recommend them to others for that reason.  For those who don’t quote, politely but firmly let them know that if they can’t take a few minutes to quote now for a possible free referral, it makes you wonder how they’d treat you in the future were you to become a customer whose money they already received.  Remind them again that you can’t consider them if they can’t make any kind of commitment (because you’ll have nothing to go on from them when comparing them against their local competition), and let them decide.  End the call if they can’t or won’t quote.

6. Choosing a Dealer and Beginning the Ordering Process  Once you pick a dealer, contact them and congratulate them on having the best quote.  Be sure to talk with the same contact who gave the quote, and let the contact know exactly the color and options you want, and find out when the closest matching vehicle will be available.  Note that when telling the dealer what you do want, you’ll also want to be sure to tell them what you don’t want, so they at least try to find a vehicle as closely matched as possible to what you prefer.  They may still never find you exactly what you want (because that is subject to availability, which they do not control), but at least they would know to try to keep to a minimum any options beyond what you want when looking.  Once a dealer knows what to look for, they search for it on a computer that’s linked to the inventories of both theirs and all other dealers of that make, known as a locator.  If the vehicle is in stock or incoming already, they might ask you to put a “good faith” deposit (usually measured in hundreds, not thousands) to hold the vehicle for you.  If they find that the vehicle is located at another dealer in the area, they will almost definitely want a deposit.  There are two reasons for giving a deposit.  The first is that a dealer wants to know that if they’re holding a vehicle for you that they may otherwise be able to sell for a higher price to someone else, that at least you’re serious about buying it. The second reason is that if they end up having to locate and trade with another dealer to get you what you want, they incur a cost to get the vehicle, and in some cases, end up with a vehicle they wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to stock if you hadn’t wanted it.  That last part is especially important, as the vehicle they get for you may be a less desirable one for them to stock in their local market, and they may therefore risk being stuck with it beyond when the floorplanning period covers.

The deposit is something you can do over the phone with a credit card.  The preferable way to do it is to have a written record of what you plan to buy with your contact’s signature.  This is known as a buyer’s order.  A buyer’s order is a summary of what both parties have agreed to thus far.  It is NOT the final sales contract committing you to buy the vehicle.  The buyer’s order should list the agreed upon price for the vehicle and a breakdown description of the exact make, model style, color, and options on that vehicle, as well as the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle in question if one has been assigned to the vehicle already.  There is usually space on the buyer’s order for a credit card number to provide a deposit.  Ideally, the dealer can send it to you by fax or email. You would then look it over, make any changes if necessary, sign it, and fax or scan in and email it back.

At that point, you will wait to hear back from the dealership on when the vehicle is ready to be picked up.  If the dealer is getting your vehicle from another dealership, it could take a few days to get it and bring it back, depending on the distance they must travel.  If you requested to have dealer installed accessories to be added to your vehicle, you must allow time for their service department to install them.  Some brands, such as Honda and Acura, can only have accessories added this way, and sometimes the accessories are not in stock and must first be ordered.  This could also take a few days depending on how busy the service department is.

Either way, it’s ok to follow up at least once in the interim with your contact at the dealership to make sure things are proceeding as originally promised.  Dealers are usually doing multiple things at once and things can legitimately fall through the cracks.  The dealership should contact you as soon as the vehicle is ready to be picked up, but a follow up call allows for a safety net in case this happens. 

Once your contact calls to tell you your vehicle is ready for pick-up, go over with them what you need to bring to the dealership.  Regardless, you need to bring a copy of the buyer’s order.  If you already secured financing from a source outside the dealership, let them know this and ask what you need to bring to prove that.  Typically, you will need a bank check for the exact amount to be financed.  The contact (who should double check with the finance manager at the dealer) should tell you this amount up front so you know the amount to request from the bank.  If financing through the dealer, ask what you need to bring so they can check your credit and get you on your way as quickly as possible after the sale.  Some dealers allow you to charge your credit card up to a certain limit.  If this is the case, ask what that amount is before coming in, because it might affect how much of a loan you will get from sources other than your credit card.  (If using a credit card, you might want to pick one that gives back some kind of reward just for using it, such as points/miles, etc.)

Set a time to come in with the contact, verifying they will be there when you do.  Once at the dealership, look over your actual vehicle in person with the contact (or someone they designate who’s familiar with your deal) to make sure it’s exactly what you have itemized on the buyer’s order, so you can confirm it’s the same vehicle you agreed to purchase.  If so, the numbers should add up.  If the buyer’s order had a VIN on it, make sure it matches the physical vehicle you are looking at.  The VIN can always be found on the driver’s side far left of the dashboard up by the windshield.

If the vehicle is the correct one, take it for a test drive to make sure there is nothing wrong with it.  Feel free to take your time during this process, looking for scratches or any other blemishes or imperfections that a new vehicle should never have.  Dealers are much more willing to fix things BEFORE you sign on the dotted line, when they know you are so close to buying.  Don’t feel pressured into buying with a promise they will fix whatever may be wrong at a later date.  Feel free to come back another day and close the deal after everything has been fixed.  If you really want to get the paperwork completed that day, another option is to have the dealer put in writing what will be fixed at a later date, and have the manager initial or sign.   You will still have more leverage if you sign for the vehicle after any issues are addressed.

Assuming the vehicle is in deliverable condition, and the numbers match up, you move on to the finance department.  Your contact will introduce you to the finance person/manager.  In addition to doing the paperwork on the vehicle, this person’s job is to try to get you to purchase additional items for your vehicle such as treatments or extended warranty coverage that they will most likely claim “you can’t afford to live without” or that “pays itself back.”  Just say no.

First, if wondering if these items are worth the cost the dealer is asking, consider that the dealer is in business to make a profit.  If it were not worth their while, they would not be doing it.  This doesn’t mean you should be.  Dealers don’t always make their money on new cars, so they seek to augment that with profit from other departments.  These are some of the other departments.

7. Other Things to be Careful About

Dealer fees  This is a fee a dealer may have at their discretion.  It does not reflect any particular cost (they may tell you otherwise), and depending on what state you're in, may have a state mandated upper limit.  This fee can vary greatly around the country, from tens to many hundreds of dollars.  It can be negotiable.  Some example of fees of this type are: document fees, processing fees, conveyance fees, dealer handling fees, and dealer services fees.  

Physical treatments  A major source of profit for dealers is physical treatments that they can apply to your vehicle, such as paint sealant, vehicle undercoating, and fabric protection.  Some—if not all—of these treatments were already applied at the factory, so you pay for it twice if the dealer does it, too.  In addition to double-paying, there is questionable value to many of the treatments that dealers may try to sell you.  Even for those treatments that may have some value, dealer prices for these treatments tend to be so high that you are likely to pay more than the treatment is worth.  Physical treatments can always be applied aftermarket, so you should NEVER feel pressured to make a decision about them at the time you’re buying your new vehicle.

Physical items  Among the many physical items dealers may sell to add to your vehicle are wheel locks, splash guards, pinstripes, door edge guards, fenderwell trim, vehicle identification number (VIN) etching, and alarm systems such as Lojack.  They may group these items together under one neat name, such as an “appearance” or a “protection” package.  Even if these items have intrinsic value, they are usually overpriced and best avoided.  At the very least, shop around to get a feel for what they should cost at non-dealer retailers so that you have a point of reference.  Again, you can always get these items aftermarket, so no need to decide now.  

Dealer installed options/accessories  Some vehicle brands only allow dealers to install some or all of the options that other brands would have done at the factory levels.  Examples of brands that allow this are Honda, Acura, Volvo, and Suzuki.  Because the dealer does the installation, there is no set price for these options (or accessories), as each dealer sets the price for the part and/or the labor to install them.  As a result, the price can vary dramatically between dealers for installing the exact same part.  You will need to research which of these items you want on your vehicle on the website of the brand of vehicle you are considering.  Once you complete this research, you would treat the process of getting a price for each dealer installed option/accessory the same as getting a profit commitment for the vehicle itself.  You’ll need to let the dealer know you are getting installed pricing commitments for each individual option/accessory you are considering from several local dealers, and you want to give them a fair shot at the business.  Let them know they’ll need to put their best foot forward and give the lowest installed price (parts & labor) for each option/accessory you are considering, as it’s part of computing the price of the vehicle and can’t be done without it.  The dealer may still hesitate to make a commitment.  If they do, firmly remind them that if they will not commit to option/accessory pricing, you will no longer consider purchasing your vehicle from them.  Also remind them that if they are not able to commit up front to a price now, this is an indication to you that they are not committed to earning your business and trust, and that you will take your business to their local competition.  Of course, when using the From Car to Finish shopping service, we shop for these types of options/accessories for you at no additional charge.

Financing  Dealers also try to make back some profit by adding on to the interest rate their lender charges them.  Their lender could be the manufacturer’s finance arm or some independent bank with which the dealer has a relationship.  If you are considering financing your vehicle, check in advance with other lending institutions to see what you qualify for.  Credit unions, local banks, and trade associations with lending arms tend to give preferential rates to their members and account holders.  The information from one of these other lending institutions will then give you a basis of comparison to know whether the dealer financing is the most cost effective option. 

Sometimes the manufacturer will offer a choice of a cash rebate or special financing.  It’s not always obvious which one is better.  The From Car to Finish website has a loan calculator to help you determine your monthly payment by entering the interest rate for which you qualify, the length of the loan, and the amount to be financed.  For every percentage point you cut from your APR on a 48 month loan, you can save approximately $20.50 per $1,000 of loan. 

Trade-in  If you have a trade-in, this is another way—yup, you guessed it—for the dealer to make back a lot of profit.  To help you get a higher price on your trade-in, have your vehicle detailed before you bring it to the dealer to look over.  Bring your vehicle to multiple dealers, both new and used, so that you have a good idea of what you could reasonably expect for the vehicle if you choose to trade it in at the dealer where you purchase your new vehicle.  Bringing your vehicle to new car dealers who sell the same brand as your trade-in is also a good idea, since they tend to want to have a bigger selection of used cars for their brand.  These tips will only work if your trade-in has market potential to begin with, though.  If your vehicle is too old or has too many miles or dents, its value may be limited. 

Remember, you don’t have to actually “trade-in” your trade-in at the dealer where you buy your new vehicle.  By correctly utilizing this article or by using the From Car to Finish service, you are already getting a good price on your new vehicle.  This means that the dealer has less incentive to give a good price on your trade-in, too.  As mentioned earlier, they do have to make a profit at some point!

By now you may be wondering, “Can From Car to Finish negotiate the price that I get for my trade-in?”  Unfortunately, this is not a service that we can offer, and here’s why.  If you were in the market for a used car, you wouldn’t simply check the used vehicle classifieds in the newspaper, call a seller, and make an offer, right?  You would want to see the vehicle, kick the tires, and take it for a spin.  You really can’t get a clear picture of what the vehicle is like based on the seller’s advertising description.  The same goes for your trade-in.  Dealers will not be able to make credible offers on your potential trade-in before they see it in person, either.  That being said, From Car to Finish can still help.  By using the tools on our website, and knowing some basic things about your trade-in, you can look up the value of your vehicle to give you a rough idea of what you might get if you were to trade it in or if you were to try to sell it on your own to a private buyer. 

Extended service contracts  Extended service contracts are yet another item where the dealer can make big profit if they convince you to purchase one. An extended service contract is exactly what it sounds like—an extension of the original manufacturer’s warranty.  Many people assume extended service contracts will cover scheduled service or maintenance on a vehicle.  This is not generally the case.

The dealer may try to make the case to you that the warranty will pay for itself through covered warranty claims during the length of the warranty.  What the dealer will not say is that they set the price of the warranty, and you can easily overpay.  In addition, there are often many caveats that prevent you from receiving the full warranty coverage, such as hidden deductibles and other “fine print.”  Finally, if you purchase a reliable vehicle (which many vehicles are increasingly becoming), you may end up with few, if any, issues that the warranty actually covers.  The terms of some warranties allow for a refund of some or all of the warranty cost if you made no claims during the warranty period.  This may sound appealing, but you’re at the very least giving an interest-free loan for the life of the multi-year warranty.   

If a dealer becomes aggressive about purchasing an extended service contract at the time of the sale, keep in mind that you can almost always purchase an extended warranty at a later date.  There is no need to feel pressured into a decision about this at the time of the sale.  If you do not want to make a decision on extended service contracts at the time of the sale, ask the latest date at which you can purchase an extended service contract.  Tell the dealer you would like to think about it before making any decisions.  If you ultimately decide that you would like to purchase an extended service contract, shop it around with multiple dealers for the brand of vehicle you are considering buying.  Manufacturer's plans usually offer a few plans of varying length/coverage, so make sure you know all the choices and compare the same ones if shopping it around.  Once you settle on a specific manufacturer's plan/length of coverage, it should be an identical product at every dealer, so price will be what makes each dealer different.  

Because the dealer makes their profit up front on extended service contracts, they are more interested in getting you to buy one than in making sure it’s in your best interest as a vehicle owner to have one. 

A last thought on additional ways the dealer may try to make money from your sale:  

When in doubt, just say no. 

8. Conclusion 

Now you know the entire process of negotiating a new vehicle.  Although it may seem like there are a lot of steps and items to remember, you now also have a way to navigate through it all.  By following the steps outlined in this article in conjunction with the tools and pricing information the From Car to Finish website offers, you should have what you need to successfully negotiate a new vehicle.  However, if you still feel this process is not for you, you can use our complete, tried-and true negotiating service and let us negotiate the vehicle for you.

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