Car Buying for Introverts

I wish this had been around when I bought my car:

I really don’t like negotiating in person, but I can be brutal over email.


I did my own negotiating in person, when I bought a car (14 years ago now). But, I did ask that my partner stand behind me and look mean. He’s a mechanic who wears coveralls, and looks like a hells angel, so he can absolutely nail mean.

I’m not sure what impact he had on the situation, but when the salesperson tried to talk to him, he just said he was only there to make sure the car wasn’t a lemon. And he scowled. My sweetie.

If I have to do it again, I’ll email.


My parents basically negotiated for me, having discussed on the way there what options I wanted and what I could afford.

You know my parents: stepfather is an ex-salesman whose company worked on major, years-long projects, mum is a former VP of purchasing for large financial and telecommunications firms?

So we all sit down in the car sales office, and my stepfather plunks down a fistful of pencils, a thick block of graph paper, and a desktop solar calculator. They insist the salesman talks to me, not them, and every time the guy mentions a number my stepfather notes it on the graph paper, punches it into the calculator, and notes the running total. If the salesman goes too fast, he gets asked to repeat. Meanwhile, my mum is questioning why every single fee and add-on is contractually necessary, and wonders why the salesman isn’t offering to waive any of them. Doesn’t he wasn’t the sale?

And when my mum pauses to catch her breath, my stepfather goes back over the numbers and asks why this or that features are bundled together, and why I’m being asked to pay for it when I quite clearly stated I wasn’t interested in it. Wasn’t that right? (That was my cue to nod.)

At the end the salesman said he couldn’t do anything else for me, and we all looked sad, apologised and thanked him, and got up to leave. He ran away to the manager’s office, and came back with an offer only a few hundred more than what we were hoping for.

So I got the car, but the manager said we couldn’t come back to his lot (that was the third car a family member had bought there). Oh well.


Sadly, I bought a car once. Buying it was simple. No negotiations at all. A Fiat 500.


Well, of course you get what you say without negotiation if it’s a fiat.


I took the email approach in 2001. I decided on the vehicle I wanted, then sent requests for offers to all the dealers in the region, asking for an itemized list of all fees and charges and a fixed final total.

Not many of the dealers understood the concept back then, but I got two actual responses, one of them a very good deal (I had done my research re dealer cost, etc beforehand). I didn’t do the back-and-forth bidding war, because I knew the dealer wasn’t making much of a markup, and my time is valuable too. I called the salesman, we agreed on a colour, and he called when the car was ready. I went there with a cheque already made out with the agreed amount, quite prepared to walk if they tacked on any extra charges. They didn’t, I signed some papers, and I drove my new car home.

When I was ready to buy a new car in 2014, I tried something different. A friend had told me about a broker he knew and had given me his phone number. I called the broker, told him what I wanted, and a few days later got an email with a good offer from a local dealer. I agreed to the price and a few days later the new car was delivered to my house. The delivery guy sat down with me at my dining room table, I signed the papers and gave him the cheque, and he handed over the keys. He was the only person I met face-to-face during the whole process, and I never left my house. The broker’s fee was $100CDN, which was included in the total charge.

The guy who delivered the car told me he has delivered vehicles from Toronto as far as Ottawa (a five-hour drive).

This site is what I used to get dealer price, any current incentives or discounts and an estimated dealer markup, usually about 3%. A dealer they have an arrangement with will contact you with an offer but you aren’t obliged to take it. If you go the brokerage route, you can compare offers.

One section of the article is terrible advice. Don’t, don’t buy a new car without test driving it and as many competitors as you can. The car has to suit you. The rave review you read online may have been written by a 6’3" dude who has no trouble reaching the pedals or seeing over the dash, or a 5’6" dude who has no worries about headroom, or a single woman who never travels and is unconcerned with luggage space, cupholders, or back seat legroom. In other words, people who aren’t you.

My wife is very sensitive to back support, or the lack of it, and can tell in 15 minutes if a car is going to give her pain on a two-hour trip. We rejected half the cars we drove for that reason, and rejected others because of poor rear visibility or because the dash screen was unreadable in sunlight. These are things that only a test drive can tell you.

If you don’t like even going into a dealership, the formula is “We’ve just started looking, we’re not ready to make a decision yet.” I say “we” because it’s always good to have another person along. Politely refuse any offers to sit down at a salesperson’s desk.


You will hold this against him for at least a day, probably less if your misandrist blog money is not paying for the majority of said car. But it’s the PRINCIPLE.

That bit FTA cracked me up.

So much this. When I bought my last car, I did a lot of research online before I ever stepped on a car lot, because I wanted to make all the rational and analytical decisions I could before I had to talk to a person and actually negotiate. I’d crunched the numbers for the features I was looking for and settled on what looked like a fun little crossover SUV. Went to test drive it, and within 15 minutes was like “nope, no way.” It was fun, but it was way smaller than it looked online. :upside_down_face:


USAA has a car buying program. They will find the car you want and search inventory of dealers near you. Then they negotiate the price for you.


Wow. Sounds like you have some Fiat lucks.


What is all this price negotiation? Does this really happen?
If the dealership doesn’t give you a firm price you should leave.