web analytics

Negotiating for a car


As I’ve been writing about recently, I’m in the process of getting a BMW. I’ve been looking at various high performance models within a strict budget based on what I’d get from selling the 4WD plus a bit extra, but that’s meant I’ve been looking at 2007-2009 models. After spending a lot of time and effort looking around at them, I’ve agreed with my wife’s opinion that they’re just a little too old, and carry increased risk of expensive things going wrong. So I changed my approach yesterday and had a look at what I could get that was a bit newer within the same budget, that still had good performance (because it’s important to me), but wasn’t necessarily up there in the expensive ‘high performance’ category. I ended up discovering that a 2011 BMW 535i just fits into the budget (with hard negotiation, that is), so I’ve been looking at them this week. It’s a 3-litre turbo-charged 6 cylinder, which fits into my requirements nicely, doing 0-100 in around 6 seconds, but not as fast as the others that do it closer to 5 seconds. Who cares about a second, right?

Now, one of the problems with buying a used BMW less than 4 years old is that they’re usually traded in on brand new cars, so you’re more likely to find them at a dealership as a trade than you are from a private sale. While I’ve enjoyed negotiating over the years, car salesmen are vicious hagglers, and the experience with them isn’t always enjoyable. There’s so much commission in it for them that it encourages them to fight with every customer to get their money. So when you’re looking to buy a car from a dealership, you really have to be psyched up for a vicious fight, because that’s exactly what you’ll get.

So I was at a dealership yesterday and the sales guy started his sales spiel by telling me that they had to purchase the car for more than its value to secure it as a trade against an expensive new car, and as a result, the price had zero room for negotiation because it was already being sold for less than what the dealer paid for it, but they just wanted to get rid of it so they reduced the price below what they sold it for. Blah-blah-bullshit-blah-blah.

I took it for a drive, and I liked it. I didn’t LOVE it, but I liked it. It was only a 3 minute drive, enough to tell me I’d enjoy it, but probably not enough for me to fall in love with it on the spot. Maybe later. The interior was lovely.


It’s probably one of the best cars I could possibly get for my budget, considering it was worth about $130,000 only 4 years ago, the same year I got my $46,000 4WD.

We got back to the dealership and the fight began.

I’ve had my own experiences as a car salesman and door to door vacuum cleaner salesman in my distant past, so I’m somewhat familiar with sales tactics and how they fight, and I’ll use that knowledge against them. First I picked apart their dealer extended warranty that came included with the car and pointed out how I wasn’t happy with it being part of the deal. I didn’t want to have a small cap on warranty benefits, with a requirement to get it serviced regularly at their expensive dealership, so I told them they can remove that to start with, and give me a better price. They eventually agreed, dropping the price by 3%. It wasn’t good enough, so after a couple more rounds I gave them my offer, which was 12% below their asking price. They told me it won’t happen. Then they brought in the Business Manager and some other manager. The three of them tried hammering at me, blows coming at me from all sides. It was pretty funny.

“We’ll lose commission!” Seriously? I don’t care about your commission, you can make it up on other sales.

“The dealership will lose money on this!” I don’t care how much you’re losing, it’s nowhere near how much I’m losing on this if I buy it.

“How about taking out dealer finance so it’s more affordable for you?” Do I look stupid to you? I’m not going to pay you what you want for the car AND pay you interest on top of that as well!

In the end, they couldn’t get me to meet them halfway between their asking price and my offer, which would have only been about a 7% discount. I was sticking to my 12% off the price,. They told me it won’t happen, and I told them that if they change their mind, they can call me.

The three of them sadly shook my hand and I left. They have my phone number, and if they want the sale they’ll give me a call. But if they’re not desperate enough, well there’s more cars out there.

Negotiation is fun if you know what you want, know what your bottom line is, stick to your guns, and have fun throughout the process. Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by them, just stick to your baseline. If you find you’re not able to deal with their overwhelming attacks to get your money, just leave. You have the power in all situations, not them.

So it looks like I’ve decided on the 2011 F10 series 535i. I’ll get a stock one ’cause my budget doesn’t allow for any M sport models (which seem to be rare at this point anyway) and then do some upgrades over time. I can do my own modifications to it anyway, with an engine tune to make it go faster, and external styling can be changed so it looks just a bit better. For example, the front bumper:





Whatever I end up buying is probably something I’ll stick with for at least 5 years. I had my last BMW for 7 years, buying it in NZ back in 2000 and selling it in 2007. I loved that car…. I plan on loving the new one.

Thanks for reading! Please add your own thoughts below.

Don't forget to subscribe for new posts sent to you by email!

%d bloggers like this: