Smart Spending

How To Buy a New Car or Truck

Most people love the feeling of driving a new car off the lot. But they dread negotiating the deal.  And they always wonder if they got the best price. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some buying tips that take the pain out of buying a new car, help you by a new car or truck and get the best price you can.

First, you can’t negotiate from a position of power if you don’t know which extras you want before you start the buying process. So settle on the model, trim package, and options before you start talking price.

Next, check with your bank or credit union to get their best car loan rates. Then head to the Internet ( is one site to try) to check out any current factory incentives (cash rebates or low interest rates). Be aware that factory low interest rates are reserved for customers with outstanding credit. If yours isn’t that great, you’ll need the rate from your bank to counter the high rate you’ll be quoted at the dealer.

Continue your Internet search to discover what buyers are actually paying for the vehicle in your area. Find that information at Select the vehicle and options you want and click on “True Market Value Pricing.” That’ll tell you the best price you can expect to pay for that vehicle.

This next part is important; go to each local dealer’s web site and check their inventory. You’re looking for your vehicle, with your preferred options and in your preferred color (have a backup color in mind). If the dealer has your car in stock, they’re more inclined to deal. will ask if you want price quotes from dealers in your area. Click “YES” and provide your phone number and e-mail. You’ll get calls and emails from the local dealers asking for your business. Because you did your homework, you’ll already know if the calling dealer has your vehicle in stock. If they do, get their quote. If they don’t, you may be able to get a better deal on your backup color by telling them it isn’t your first choice. If their dealer’s quote is too high, just tell them they have to beat (not just meet) the “True Market Value Pricing” you got from They’ll tell you that price isn’t accurate. Trust me, it is. So stick to your guns.

One final note on how to buy a new car, dealers love to negotiate based on monthly payments so they can hide their high interest rates. Keep the buying and financing negotiations separate and refuse to negotiate based on monthly payment. Once you nail down the price of the vehicle, then you can give the dealer the rate from your bank and tell them to beat (not meet) it.


Rick Muscoplat is the automotive editor for The Family Handyman magazine. Rick has been involved with cars since age 11. He’s honed his car buying skills over the years by helping friends and family negotiate the best deals on their new cars.