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How to Negotiate Car Prices Online

How to Negotiate How to Negotiate a Car Price Online

Autohitch Guide to Negotiate a Car Price Online

If you’ve found the perfect car but are hesitant to go into the dealership to negotiate pricing, you’re not alone.

Stat: Every 7 out of 10 buyers say they are more likely to buy from a dealership if they can start the process online.

Thankfully, car dealers these days are equipped and eager to work with buyers that want to do practically any or all of their transactions online, and negotiating price is one of them.

Should You Negotiate the Price Online?

My first piece of advice in this article is to inform you that to negotiate a car price online, over the phone, or via email puts you at a disadvantage in getting a lower price at the dealership.


Dealers are more generous negotiators when they think someone is serious about getting into a car that very day, and they consider anyone communicating with them online as someone who might buy in the future but ins’t yet ready to close on a purchase.

Pros and Cons of Online Car Price Negotiation

Here is a list of pros and cons I put together for for those considering negotiating a car price online vs. visiting a dealership in person:

Negotiating Online:

1. Allows you to take your time and avoid high-pressure sales tactics
2. Enables you to easily compare prices from multiple dealerships
3. Provides more control over the pace of negotiations
4. Lets you maintain composure by negotiating from the comfort of home
5. Makes it easier to walk away if you don’t like the deal being offered

1. Harder to establish rapport and read non-verbal cues from the dealer
2. Email messages can be misinterpreted without conveying emotion and tone
3. Difficult to assess how the dealer truly feels about your offer
4. May still need to visit the dealership to finalize paperwork and pick up the car
5. Could miss out on last-minute dealership incentives or promotions

Visiting a Dealership:

1. Allows you to see, touch and test drive the actual vehicle you’re considering
2. Easier to ask questions and get immediate answers from the salesperson
3. May have more flexibility to negotiate add-ons, financing, or your trade-in
4. Could take advantage of time-sensitive promotions or discounts at the dealership
5. Able to complete the entire purchase process in one location

1. Negotiations can drag on for hours and be mentally draining
2. Salespeople may use high-pressure tactics that are hard to resist in person
3. Harder to compare prices with other dealerships on the spot
4. May need to make a decision faster without as much time to think it over
5. Could end up paying more than you wanted in the heat of the moment

My Tips For Negotiating a Car Deal Online

1. Research the Car’s Value (New and Used Car Techniques)

Research the Car's Value to best negotiate car prices online

Before starting any negotiations, it’s important to know the fair market value of the car you want to buy. You can determine this by:

  • Looking up the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) on the automaker’s website (New Cars)
  • Checking the invoice price, which is what the dealer paid for the vehicle, on sites like (New Cars)
  • Seeing what other buyers are paying for the same make and model using tools like Kelley Blue Book or Truecar (New and Used Cars)
  • See what dealers are paying for similar cars at auction via our service here at Autohitch (Used Cars)
  • Check active listings for similar cars on sites like Autotrader and Cargurus (Used Cars)

Aim to negotiate a price that is between the invoice price and MSRP. For used cars, look at comparable vehicles to determine a fair price based on mileage and condition.

2. Get Financing Before Contacting the Dealership

Before contacting dealers, get preapproved for a car loan loan from your bank, credit union, or an online lender.

This will go a long way to show dealers you’re a serious buyer (Despite my initial advice) and also give you a firm budget to work with which helps make searching easier.

Securing financing ahead of time also prevents the dealer from inflating the interest rate on dealer-arranged financing!

3. Email Multiple Dealerships

Email Multiple Dealerships to get the best deal online

Contact the internet sales departments of several local dealerships that have the vehicle you want (Specifically seek the “Internet Sales Department”).

Send them an email with the exact make, model, and trim level you are looking for. Be sure to mention any must-have options or colors.

In the email, ask for their best “out the door” price on the vehicle, including all taxes and fees. Let them know you have already secured financing and provide your zip code so they can accurately calculate the total cost.

Mention that you are contacting multiple dealerships to compare offers. Dealers hate this with a passion, but it creates competition and an incentive for each dealer to offer you their lowest price.

TIP: Ask them to send you a detailed breakdown of all the fees and add-ons so there are no surprises. Make sure it lists the VIN of the exact car and itemizes everything included in the out-the-door price.

Important Stat: 41% of car buyers only visit one dealership when shopping for a new car.

4. Negotiate Via Email or Phone

Once you receive price quotes, compare them to the fair market value you determined through your research. If a quote is higher than expected, reply to the dealer with your target price and see if they can meet or beat it.

Don’t be afraid to go back and forth a few times, hat’s negotiating.

Also don’t be afraid to let dealers know what their competitors offered and ask them to beat that price. Make sure all the offers you get are in writing in a way that another dealer will trust the offer is legitimate.

If a dealer is unwilling to negotiate online, you can try giving them a call.

But remain in control of the conversation and don’t let them change the subject to monthly payments or how you can come into the dealership for a better price.

Keep the focus on the total out-the-door price.

Bottom Line: If they’re not willing to work with you, you dont want to do business with that dealer beause it’s only going to get worse.

Buying a Car Online

In recent years the desire to skip the dealership has lead to a movement to completing the entire process of buying a car online.

Carvana is probably the most well known service that offers this, but there are a few.

If you’re considering skipping the dealership altogether, here is what I believe to be an accurate comparison and contrast of the process for buying a car online vs from a local dealership:

Buying Online:

  • Completely online process – browse inventory, get financing, sign contracts, and schedule delivery all through website/app
  • No negotiation on prices, vehicles sold at fixed no-haggle prices which may be higher than market value
  • Usually a friendly return policy that allows you to test drive the car for a week with the ability to get a full refund
  • Limited ability to get a pre-purchase inspection or see vehicle condition beyond photos
  • Delivery to your home is convenient but prevents seeing the car in person first
  • Some customers have reported issues with vehicle quality and title transfer

Negotiating with Local Dealers:

  • Initiate talks online by requesting a price quote via email, but complete purchase at the dealership
  • Ability to negotiate price by leveraging competing online offers from multiple dealers
  • Can see, touch and test drive the actual vehicle you’re buying at the dealership
  • Easier to ask questions and get immediate answers in-person from sales team
  • May have more flexibility to negotiate add-ons, financing, or your trade-in at the dealer
  • Established dealerships may provide better customer service for after-sale issues

When to Contact Dealers Online

The same rules of good timing apply to online car buying, so follow the guidelines below:

  • Shop for a car at the end of the month, quarter, or year when dealers are trying to hit sales goals and may be more flexible.
  • Avoid weekends when dealerships are busy. A weekday afternoon may get you a better deal.

Read also: When is The Best Time To Buy A Car

Finalize the Deal

Once you have an offer you’re happy with, confirm it includes all taxes and fees and there are no hidden costs. Ask the dealer to send over a purchase order detailing all the pricing and fees for your review.

If everything looks good, you can arrange a time to sign the final paperwork and pick up the vehicle. Some dealers may even be willing to deliver the car and paperwork to you.

My Final Tips to Negotiate the Best Purchase Price

  • Know your budget before starting negotiations and stick to it
  • Don’t mention your trade-in until after you’ve negotiated the price of the new car
  • Be willing to walk away if a dealer won’t meet your target price
  • Read all paperwork carefully before signing
  • Don’t fall for add-ons and extras in the finance office


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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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