"Virtually every car dealer in America will sell you a car for less," says author Remar Sutton. "All you have to do is ask. And know a few things in the process, like how to handle salesmen." Among the tactics he says you should watch out for:
* The Demo Ride: You should test-drive a car, but remember the salesman figures "you've got to like the scent of new plush, and he hopes your reason will be smothered under all this beauty and comfort."
* The T.O. (Turn Over) System: The salesman can't get you to bite, so he calls in the sales manager who then turns you over to the general manager to dicker some more--on the theory that "a fresh face can do miracles." You are so worn down, you buy just to get out of the place. Tell the salesman "you would prefer to deal with him alone or not at all."
* Getting a Deposit: Often salesmen will attempt to get a deposit during the negotiation, which means you probably are less likely to walk away without buying. Don't make a deposit, says Sutton, until your offer on a car has final approval from the management.
* The Raise: The salesman agrees to a deal but comes back a few minutes later to tell you his boss won't sign unless you pay a few bucks more. Don't fall for it.
* Lowballing (or Highballing): You are shopping several showrooms. On your way out, one dealer quotes you a price he knows no one else can match. You come back exhausted from your search to find that price no longer holds, but you buy anyway to end it all.
* Sales Promotions: "The prices may not really be lower," says Sutton, "but the pressure to sell is greater. At sale times a good bargainer may not get a better deal but may have an easier time negotiating that deal."
* Ads: Read them carefully. The low-cost lure may apply to only one or two specific cars on the lot. The sales staff will try to get you to buy something else.