A car salesman sells cars everyday. The average car buyer buys a new or new to them car 4 times in their life.

Who do you think has the advantage? When you go into the dealership, after having looked at a few cars, you will probably first be greeted politely and told to ask if you have any questions. The salesperson will leave you to look around for a bit, and then reappear if you seem to be ready.

You will be offered coffee and soda. It will be very pleasant and nice.

But just because the car salesperson is nice, does not mean that you have to be nice. Be polite but firm, and you will get better results. Many people want to appear nice, and thus aren’t as specific or persistent as they should be.

1 • Ask Questions.

Know how much the car costs, and what goes into the cost of the car. Some fees, such as the destination charge, are non-negotiable.

These are set by the manufacturer. Others, such as the prep fee, you may find questionable. Ask about any fees – what they are for, and why they are charged. Don’t let charges get slipped into the price – if the price jumps, ask why.

2 • Stay focused on the price.

Do not let yourself be distracted by trade-in values, fees, or financing.

It may be best, when the salesperson asks if you are planning on trading in your current car, to hedge. Say you haven’t decided yet, if you might be trading it in.

Also, stay focused on the actual purchase price: many people will pay more if the price is presented to them in monthly installments. In fact, it may be best to shop around to your bank and other financial institutions for a car loan.

3 • Make sure your appearance does not belie your words.

If you show up at the dealership driving an expensive car and wearing an expensive suit, it will be difficult for your salesperson to believe that you cannot afford the car if they keep the $50 prep charge.

4 • Be prepared to walk away.

Even if you really like a car, if the salesperson knows you have to have it, and in that exact color, they will not go to as much effort to keep you interested.

5 • Be prepared to go home and mull it over.

Negotiations can sometimes get very intense and high pressure – you may need to take a break and think in order to come to the best deal, and in order to see the whole picture.

Don’t let buying your car become a massively complicated task. Get your salesperson’s business card, and the quote you’ve come to so far on paper. If the salesperson says that the price is only good for that day, ask them why.

If it’s because of a manufacturer’s incentive, maybe you should just go for lunch and come back later. If it’s because of something their manager says, try calling their bluff.

Say you’re sorry, but you really do need to discuss this purchase with your spouse/family/Chihuahua and if the price actually will disappear, then you won’t waste their time in coming back.

The most important thing to do in negotiations is to stay calm and firm. Don’t tell the salesperson a range for what you are willing to spend, as the salesperson will then choose the number at the top of the range. Choose a price you are willing to pay, and stand there.

Even if you are willing to pay more, keep saying that number when asked.

Keeping focused on what is important to you will allow you to navigate the confusing path towards getting the best car price.