Navigating the waters of car buying can be tricky, but you're the captain of your auto financing journey, so you need to know what to say and do if you're set upon by pirates, er, make that set upon by salespeople. There's one word you should keep out of your vocabulary when working with car dealers, and that word is "yes."

Staying in Control of the Conversation

Even though you want to make a deal with a car salesperson, you have to know that you can negotiate. Learning what to say and when to say it can be a big first step toward getting your best deal on a vehicle. Blindly saying "yes" to whatever a salesperson is offering you is a good way to spend more on a car than you have to.

Think about it this way: a salesperson's job is to sell vehicles for the most profit possible, and giving them the upper hand by telling them your limit only works in their favor.

While it’s important to be honest with the salesperson you're working with, you need to make sure your honesty comes at the right time and that you can tell a car salesperson no.

If you give away too much information up front, a salesperson may take that information and use it in their best interest, not yours. So, it's important to keep certain things close to the vest until the time is right.

What NOT to Say to a Car Salesperson

There are a few things you can keep in mind to make the conversation flow in your best interest. Here are five tips on what not to tell a dealer:

  1. What Not to Say to a Car SalespersonDon't tell the salesperson you're new at this. If you let a dealer know that this is your first time buying a vehicle, or your first time buying a new car, it leaves them an opening to hit you with every additional fee and optional feature they can to maximize their profit. And why not – you already told them that you haven't done this before, so you don't know what is and isn't normal. Auto Credit Express tip: Always bring a trusted friend or family member that's an experienced vehicle buyer with you if it's your first time.
  2. Don't tell the salesperson you don't know your credit. If you don't know where your credit score stands, you don't know if you're getting the best interest rate available to someone in your credit range. Lenders set your interest rate based on your credit score, and the dealer doesn't have a reason to tell them you want to negotiate a lower rate if you don't know your own score. Auto Credit Express tip: Don't set foot into a dealership until you get familiar with your credit. You should get your credit score and credit reports and thoroughly look them over. Then, you can research common interest rates available to people in your credit range.
  3. Don't tell the salesperson the maximum amount you can pay a month. If your biggest concern is getting a monthly car payment below a certain amount, you can lose sight of the big picture. Auto dealers that know you're focused on a monthly payment can fit just about anything into your budget – and make a hefty profit doing so. This is because the lower you need your monthly payment to be, the longer they can stretch your loan term to get there. However, this costs you in the end because it means you pay more in interest charges over the longer loan term. Auto Credit Express tip: Always prepare a budget beforehand so you know how much you can afford to spend, and stick to it. Also, make sure to focus on the total cost instead of the monthly payment.
  4. Don't tell the salesperson your budget or interest rate. You're surrendering control if you tell the dealer what your budget is up front. Now that the salesperson knows how much you have to spend, they might make it their business to make sure you spend every penny. The same thing applies to your pre-approved interest rate, if you have one. The best time to reveal this is after you've settled on a price and before you sign a contract. This forces a dealership to beat the financing you already have if they want you to finance your vehicle through their lenders. Auto Credit Express tip: Get the best negotiated price you can without discussing interest rates.
  5. Don't talk trade-in until the time is right. The right time to bring up a trade-in is at the end of the transaction, after you've agreed on a car price. A dealer may try and roll your trade-in into the purchase, or list it on the same sheet if you tell them about it up front. Let them know you consider the trade in to be a separate transaction, and that you're shopping around for offers. Auto Credit Express tip: Get an estimated value for your trade-in from a trusted vehicle valuation site, such as NADAguides, before you head to a dealership. You should also get an appraisal from at least three different dealerships so you can compare offers. Make sure one is from a franchised dealership of the make of your car.

Getting Your Best Deal With the Right Dealer

Now that you know what to say to a car salesperson, and what not to say, you can work toward getting the best deal you can. If you're ready to put these tips into action but are struggling to find a dealer that can work with your credit situation, we have the solution.

Auto Credit Express works with special finance dealerships all across the country. Our partner dealers are experts at helping buyers in all kinds of credit situations, including bad credit, no credit, and bankruptcy. Fill out our no-obligation auto loan request form to get the process of getting matched to a dealership near you started right now.