Let’s Make A Deal

Everything is negotiable when buying a new car

when they can get you,” he says. “If you don’t, they have to work with you.” While waiting for the oil change, he spoke with salespeople who offered him $16,000 on his trade-in, which Hicks had paid off that March after taking out a low-rate loan against his house. Hicks paid $24,000 for the G20 and wanted to trade it in for $20,000.

“They kind of make you wait awhile,” Hicks says. Salespeople would periodically come out and tell him they couldn’t close the $4,000 gap on the trade-in. Hicks was unflappable. “I’m cool with that,” he’d say. And why not? Hicks felt he was in the best negotiating place of all — he was content not to buy the new car if the price wasn’t right. After all, he had a car that was only four months old. “I was willing to leave. I was willing to walk out of there.”

About an hour or two later, a salesperson came back with a figure Hicks was willing to work with. He ignored the dealer’s comments that the dealership wasn’t making any money off the sale. “All they’re doing is making me a satisfied customer.”

The $20,000 trade-in allowed him to negotiate the deal he wanted on the new car. He told the dealer he wanted to pay no more than $375 a month for three years. The dealer offered $320 a month for five years. Hicks refused to budge; the dealer relented. Hicks wound up paying less than $17,000 for the new car. He opted for the sports package, which had better handling and sporty rims.

ONE FOR THE ROAD TRIP
Denifield Player and his wife, Bettye, were planning an Independence Day trip to Columbus, Georgia, and were concerned that his 1988 Mercury Cougar wouldn’t survive the five-hour trip from his hometown of Gainesville, Florida. It was time to upgrade.

Player, an associate in anatomy at the University of Florida in Gainesville, liked the look of the Saturn a friend had recently purchased and decided to look at one for himself.

He looked at the Saturn Ion sedan. At first, says Player, he thought the sedan would be swallowed up by big trucks. “But the Ion holds its own on the highway.” He also wanted to make sure the car was durable, as he tends to drive cars into the ground. “I just wear them out.”

In July, he settled on a taupe Ion sedan, which cost $15,000. Player opted for a lower monthly payment — $278 — stretched out over a longer period of time — five years. Normally, he arranges his financing through a credit union, as he can have his car note automatically deducted from his payroll, but GMAC offered him a 1% APR.

Despite Saturn’s no-haggle policy, Player feels he got a good deal. Though the price of the car remained fixed at around $14,000, the dealership was offering a choice between two incentives — 0% financing or $2,000 cash back at 1.9% (significantly better than his last financing arrangement, which stood at 6%). Player took the 1.9%.

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