What Not to Say to a Car Salesman [List]

what not to say to a car salesman

This is what not to say to a car salesman when you are trying to purchase a car. This is a list of questions, how you should answer them, what not to say and how to deal with car salesmen.

In fact, this is how I answer dealership questions when I negotiate great car deals for my clients all over the country. 

So if you want to learn how to stay in control of the car deal, you’ll love this list of tips for what not to say to a car salesman. 

Let’s get started. 

A car deal is more like the game chess than checkers. Here are 11 questions you will likely be asked and how you should respond. Remember, in any negotiation the person who speaks the most loses. Knowing what to expect and how to handle it could save you thousands!

what not to say to a car salesman

1. What payment are you expecting? Where would you like to be at on your payment?

Answer:  I’m not concerned with a payment goal right now. 50$ per month sounds good (wink).

It’s ok to be cheekie. It lets them know you know why they’re asking. You should, however, know the answer to this question but keep it to yourself. You can explain if you feel it’s needed, you are concerned with the total cost of ownership and not the monthly payment (even if you are). 

Dealerships will change financing terms to accomplish your payment goal which could cost you a lot more in the long run. When you’re requesting proposals make sure that the dealership is quoting the same term length so you are comparing apples to apples.

2. What did they quote you?

Answer: I’d prefer to know the best you can do upfront. I’m not going to share your quote with another dealership so they can beat you by ten dollars. I’m sure you can appreciate that.

Never show your cards. Never tell the dealerships what prices you have been quoted until you have picked a car you want to make a deal on.

3. What color do you prefer?

Answer: I don’t have a preference.

This is definitely a “what not to say to a car salesman” – No No – sharing your color preference up front. Even if you know you must have “pearl white”, don’t say that. If they know you want the exact vehicle they have in stock and they are the only dealership that has it they have the upper hand. That’s why before you ever enter a dealership you should know what vehicle you want to see. Try telling the salesperson it isn’t the exact color you want but if the deal is right, you’d consider it. Or when you get further into negotiations, “XXX dealership has the exact color and vehicle I want but I wanted to see if you would beat the deal they quoted me”.

4. What features must you have?

Answer: I don’t know if I need the heated seats, but I’ll consider them if the deal is right.

You should know the answer to this question too but answering this question can also give the dealership information they can use against you. What if the features you want are hard to find? The dealership can charge more if they know you have limited vehicles to choose from. Doing your research before hand regarding trim levels and packages can help you know what models you should be looking at.

TIP:  Never get too excited during a test drive. Even if you love the car, keep your composure.

5. What are you expecting to get for your trade-in?

Answer: I’ve done some research and XXX dealership is offering me $XXX for it.

Be realistic but at the same time, you should always expect a million dollars. You should have an idea of what your vehicle is worth but they don’t need to know what you’re expecting to get.

what not to say to a car salesman

6. What is your car payment now?

Answer: Why?

This is an irrelevant question. Just ask them why that matters. They’ll get the point.

7. Is there anything I can do to get you to buy today?

Answer: Give me a deal I can’t refuse and I’ll buy today. You haven’t done that yet.

If you have contacted at least five dealerships and gotten quotes from them and you are ready to buy the car, simply tell them what you are willing to pay and don’t budge. Be prepared to leave. You should have done all the research before making a decision so you need to stick to your numbers. Try showing them the lowest quote and simply ask them to beat it by $500 because you really want xxx color but that’s not what they have!

8. How much did they offer you for your trade in?

Answer: Another irrelevant question, but to be expected. You need to know how to answer and deal with car salesmen so you don’t share too much but also give them enough information to help you.

The number that matters is the bottom line number so you can say: “All I know is what the bottom line number is with X dealership”. Make sure you’re comparing a vehicle with the same MSRP so that if they check the other dealership they will see you’re not bluffing. Know the exact vehicle you’re comparing it to if they ask.

9. What car is it from xxx dealership where you got your quote?

Answer: Here’s the link.

Send them a link to the exact vehicle you have been comparing to. They need to know you have done your research and they will need to earn your business. Walk the walk.

10. We'll need to pull a credit report to see what you can qualify for.

Response: Tell them to assume excellent credit (if you know you have great credit). Add that you will use their financing if it benefits you but that you already have a pre-approved offer for financing.

You should always have a pre-approved offer for financing. If your credit is shaky let them pull your credit and make sure the other dealerships have pulled your credit also. Make sure all your proposals are for the same financing term so you can compare apples to apples. Also, make sure the rate is disclosed in the proposals. You should use a payment calculator to check their work. Don’t assume anything.

11. Do you qualify for supplier pricing?

Possible Answer: I’ve already received quotes under supplier price.

Possible Answer: Yes, I work for __ company. But I’d like to see the deal both ways, with and without supplier pricing.

You may also be asked where you work. This question is tricky because some manufactures offer rebates for things like military vets or police and firemen. You want those discounts but an employee discount price typically called supplier discount or friends and family price is not always the best deal. These are pre-negotiated prices that dealerships say that there is no negotiating the price. Just answer this question by saying they’ll need to earn your business by coming in under supplier price. There are a few scenarios where this approach can back fire so if you do work for a company that has supplier pricing tell them to work it up both ways.

Now it’s your turn.

If you want to spend the time to work your own car deal there is only ONE way to guarantee you get the best deal. You have to visit or call multiple dealerships and get proposals in writing. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples and don’t settle for anything until you can be sure you are getting the best deal possible.  These are just a few examples of what not to say to car salesmen. The more prepared, the better you’ll be at knowing how to deal with car salesmen.

Without the knowledge of knowing how to compare quotes this is not an easy task. If at anytime you get frustrated remember that’s why YCBA was created. We will do all the negotiating and research so all you have to do is enjoy your new car. We only have your best interest in mind!

If you have questions or feedback, shoot us a message or drop a line in the comments. We would love to hear what you did or did not say to a car salesmen when asked these discovery questions.

Why Trust Your Car Buying Advocate?

Watch this short video to find out why working with Your Car Buying Advocate makes all the sense in the world.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Ed Sutherland

    Email me about your fees to help me buy a car.

  2. Robert Dingus

    How much to deliver my new car to my home in Virginia

    1. Mike Rumple

      Hi Robert, the cost to ship is based on how far the car is away from you. If it’s a local dealership they may deliver for free. If the dealership is 1000 miles away then it depends on the transport market. The price of gas, etc. Hope this answers your question. – Mike

  3. Taylor Wright

    It’s interesting that you should know the type of vehicle you’re wanting before entering a dealership. I’ve been wanting to buy a new Toyota Carolla this year, however, I’m not sure what color is best. I’ll use these tips to try and find the best deal for a dealership.

  4. Addison Riley

    Seems like the dealer is playing a game at how much more they can get you to spend than the car is worth. I had this happen to me the two years back when the dealers kept being pushy on my then current car payment plan. I ended up not getting anything from that day because of their pushy attitude. However, did find a good dealership in Concord i.e. Calidad Motors that not only gave me a great deal on the car but also didn’t make me want to grit my teeth due to the unnecessary talking XD.

  5. Andrea

    What do you say when the dealership offers you a quote and they say it’s only good if you sign today? Had that happen before. I was much younger and it forced me to panic and say ok before looking elsewhere.

    Also, what is the flat rate fee for your services?

    1. Mike Rumple

      Hi Andrea,

      Great question, something we should add to the list. “Only good if you sign today” is simply a sales tactic. A slimy one, in my opinion.
      But here’s what I would say to:
      “I find it very hard to believe that this price is only good for today. If the car sells between now and the time I make my decision, I totally understand. But I’m not going to be pressured into anything based on you telling me the price is only good today.”

      It can be typical especially in the last couple of years with inventory low to see cars sell right out from under someone else. I’ve had this happen when I’m doing a deal for a client and they aren’t ready to pull the trigger, and the dealership does sell it to someone else. That can certainly happen. But the experience you had, is more than likely just a slimy sales tactic used to pressure you.

      Our flat fee service can be found here:

      Thanks for reading and asking your question! – Mike

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