How to Survive…The Most Dangerous Game (Part 2)

Yesterday’s article was a pre-car shopping list of ways to prepare for battle. Today we’ll be talking about what you can do while you’re on site with the enemy to make sure you get the most for your money. If you didn’t read yesterday’s article go back and read it before you proceed; you’ll thank us later. If not, you might end up getting taken by one of  these\/ guys…

I’ll give you tree fitty….it’s a good deal…do it

Never Hunt Alone

You’re outnumbered the moment you walk into the dealership and they have the home field advantage. It’s important to have someone to watch your back. I’m not suggesting that some rogue salesman will try and throw a trident at you but it’s nice to have a companion with you for a number of reasons.

The first reason is that you’re engaged in conversation with the salesperson. You’re processing the info only to the degree that you can form a response. Your quiet friend isn’t necessarily burdened with the task of responding and has ample time to determine whether what was said is truth or foul smelling bullshit. Plus, with smartphone technology these days, they can look up info if they think something smells fishy….or bullshitty

It would also be ideal if person number two was a car person or a fellow Crank. The salesperson is likely going to throw a lot of unfamiliar terms at you that may sound like a foreign language. This is why having a translator is so helpful. Let them decipher all of the marketing acronyms from the useful info.


Set the Stage

If he (or she) is a remotely a good salesperson the first question (other than “how are you?”) that they’ll ask you is, “What brings you in today?”. It’s an honest question and the way you answer it makes all the difference; so be careful.

  • NEVER tell them you need to buy a car (even if you do).
  • NEVER tell them exactly what you’re looking for. Let them figure it out for you.
  • NEVER announce if you’ll be trading in a car.
  • NEVER say whether you’ll need to finance or not.
  • ALWAYS act like you’re just looking.
  • ALWAYS be vague about how much you’re looking to spend.
  • ALWAYS act like it’s your first time.
  • Always tell them you’re cross shopping a competitive product.
It’s unwise to tell the salesperson that you left the house with the intent of buying a car. Someone who left the house with the intent of buying a car is already sold on the idea of making a purchase. But an individual who isn’t convinced they need to buy anything (whatever it may be) is a much harder sell. I also wouldn’t tell them that you’re looking for something specific because if they have what you want their job just got a whole lot easier and they know it. It’s not a good idea to tell them whether you’ll be trading in a car or will need financing. I suggest leaving your car at home and take a different car to the dealership. That way they can’t scope out your “potential” trade in. I’ll explain this in more detail later in this post. It’s a very good idea to tell them that you’re also cross shopping a competitive product. That way they know they’re not the only game in town. Make sure you know what features or specs about the competition are better. Act like those features matter to you.

Emotional attachments are forbidden.

Walk Away (Don’t Fall in Love)

Never EVER….under no circumstances, buy a vehicle on the first visit. Always ALWAYS, walk away at least once. So often we fall in love with a vehicle when we visit a dealership for the first time. It’s a function of our imagination finally meeting reality. We have ideas of how something looks, feels, and performs in our minds leading up to the first date. When you finally come face to face with the vehicle all of a sudden the informational gaps disappear and we’re presented with very real feelings of attachment. It’s hard but you MUST keep from becoming attached to a vehicle and buying it on the first day.

First of all, if you don’t walk out of the dealership you’ve effectively left money on the table. If you walk away the salesperson needs to give you an incentive to come back. This incentive isn’t something they’d have otherwise offered if you’re on site. I mean why would they? You came to THEM so clearly you’re interested. If you walk away they are forced to sweeten the deal to bring you back.

My suggestion for the first day would be to come to a consensus about which car (or cars) you’ll be looking at. Drive them both back to back. Give the salesperson honest feedback about what you like and especially what you don’t like about it. Inevitably they’ll want to talk about some numbers. Try and get the rock bottom price for the vehicle worked out here or at least close to it. You should know from your prior research what others are paying in your area. Now tell them that you’re not prepared to make a decision today but you’ll entertain the pricing numbers for informational purposes when you go home to think it over. Do NOT, under any circumstances, tell them whether you’ll be trading anything in at this point. Certainly don’t tell them what it is.

It’s now time to say goodbye. Tell him thank you for their time and take whatever paperwork quote they worked up. Leave your call back number so they can get in touch with you.



Wait a day or so and you’ll probably get a call from them. Every good salesperson follows up on a hot lead. They’ll ask what you’ve been up to and if you’ve had time to go over the numbers and such. Tell them that you’ve been crunching the numbers and it will be quite a stretch at the current price. Then tell them the “bad news”. Tell them that you’ve also visited the competition to drive the aforementioned vehicle that you’re cross shopping. Tell them about things you learned about it that were cool. If you’re in a particularly good mood maybe throw him a bone about how his/her product was better in some small insignificant way. Then they’ll ask what they need to do to get you to come back. Ask for a price concession straight up. Don’t ask for a certain amount; let them figure out what will get you fired up about buying the car.

At this point it’s time to spill the beans. Tell them you’re thinking about selling your car on your own because you know that you’ll get more money for it. Tell them that if you can get X amount for your trade you’ll entertain his offer. The X amount should be about 10% higher than what you think you can get for your car if you sold it yourself and maybe about 25% higher than what you NEED. This does two things. It gets them to loosely commit to a number prior to seeing the car. Second, the inflated asking price of your trade gives you wiggle room for the lower price that they’ll try and give you. Be honest and tell him you’ll send him similar examples of your car selling for more than what you’re asking. Have these ready and send them via email.

It’s also a good time to get a “second opinion” from another car dealership. Call them up and tell them what guy #1 is giving you in terms of price and ask them to beat the price. Get something in writing from them via email or if you’re feeling frisky head over to their dealership too. It really just depends on how much time you’re willing to give up.


Get ready to crunch some numbers. All of the different incentives are not created equal. A lot of times you’ll be offered the option to pick a certain incentive. It’s important to figure out which benefits YOU the most.

Financing?: Sometimes you’ll be offered 0% financing for a certain period of time or a lump sum of money off the price of the car but you’re unlikely to be offered both. If you plan to pay the car off quickly then it’s likely best to take the money and run since the interest rate wont affect you very much since you’re planning to pay off the loan early. Calculate how much the financing will cost you in the time you EXPECT to be able to pay off the loan. If the cost of financing is more than the price break on the car then you should take the 0% offer.

Trade or no?: There is a neat thing about trading in a car that most people don’t realize. Let’s say you’re buying a $20,000 car and sales tax is 8% in your state. You’re going to pay $1600 in sales tax when you buy the car. What’s cool is that in most (if not all) states, you only pay sales tax on the price of the car minus your trade in value. So if your trade in is worth $12,000 you’d only pay $640 in sales tax because you’re only getting taxed on $8,000. So that saved you nearly $1,000. It’s definitely something to consider if you’re not sure whether to trade your car or sell it yourself. In the above instance you may be able to get an extra $1,000 to $1,500 for your car if you sold it on your own but then you’ll forgo the break on the sales tax and you might end up breaking even. Not only that, but it’s typically a headache to sell a car on your own. You’ll have to do the math and figure out whether selling it on your own puts you ahead ENOUGH that it’s worth the trouble.


Day Two

Come ready to get stuff done. Bring your trade and your checkbook but remember you don’t HAVE to buy anything on this visit. Day two may turn into day 3 or 4 depending on how hard you work the guy. I think I walked out of the Tacoma dealership 3 times before I brought the truck home. First thing’s first, make sure you have the price of the car 100% worked out before you let them officially appraise your trade. You don’t want the price of the car going up because they’re giving you more for your trade. This would be a great time to introduce his competition’s price on the car if he didn’t give you the price you wanted before. If he’s committed to anything over the phone or given you a “ball park” with regards to your trade, hold him to it. This is where setting the price expectation over the phone will come into play. He’ll likely come back with some lame ass reason why they can’t give you what you want for the trade. Act appalled that he’s going back on his word and maybe even leave. Really, the shit works. Your inflated asking price for your trade will likely put their offer right at the price point of what you NEED for the car. If you’re a sporting individual you can hold out for more. By all means, go for it…I encourage it.

So with the price of your trade and the price of the car settled you should be in the home stretch. There’s a bit of paperwork to be done but it’s nothing you really need to be concerned with. They’ll likely try and get you to buy some sort of extended warranty with the car just to try and make some extra money off you. The price on the warranty is negotiable too; don’t forget it. When I refused the 100,000 mile extended warranty offer the finance guy was downright offended. He asked what I’d do if the truck broke down outside of warranty and I said I’d either fix it myself or pay to have it fixed. Apparently that was the right answer because he cut the price in half. Now I’m covered till 100k miles. Before you buy anything like this make sure you know EXACTLY what it does and doesn’t cover. Also, if you don’t plan on having your car that long it’s probably not worth it.

Other than that it should be pretty smooth sailing. You entered into The Most Dangerous Game and made it out alive with a new car! Feel good knowing that you prepared well and conquered the task. Enjoy the new car and sleep well knowing you did the best you could!

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