The Secret to Beating a Car Dealer

By Adam Levin

NEW YORK ( —As players get ready to snap the football in every college and NFL home town in America, baseball builds up to the crescendo of the World Series and duck hunting season is less than 30 days away in some parts of the country, another kind of contest begins in earnest. Wading their way through billions of dollars of ads and eagerly navigating through fields of auto-malls throughout America, consumers are on the hunt for the best deal on a 2013 model, oblivious to the fact that they, indeed, are the prey.

Yes friends, the end-of-summer auto clearances are beginning in earnest as dealerships across the nation fight to "move metal," making way for the 2014 model year. Dealers are dropping prices and manufacturers are ramping up a new batch of 0% financing deals on many current models.

There's a whole lot of money floating in that new car smell and tucked tidily in the seats. Never forget, in the world of automobiles, the dealer wins by netting as much of your money as possible. Every deal point needs to be carefully thought out and vigorously negotiated. You win by knowing the rules of the sport and making them fight for every dollar.

While it's true that getting a good price is a big part of the hunt, the biggest, most important, super-secret strategy to turn the stealth hunter (them) into the prey: stand tough and fight to maximize your dollar throughout the process.

The Loan

If you are borrowing the money, the biggest ticket item will be your car loan. An astounding 80 percent of car buyers finance their vehicle at the dealership. Every one of them is a sitting duck for an aggressive salesman. Dealers have relationships with several banks, including the financing arms of manufacturers, and they earn a fee for every borrower they refer to the bank. The more money you are willing to pay for access to the money, the more money they make.