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Buying a Car: Can You Negotiate Price by Email?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro

Many shoppers interested in buying a car don't like the idea of visiting a dealership. Some dealers employ high-pressure sales tactics. Others work too quickly for many car shoppers, and that can mean that you don't have enough time to think about your purchase. But in today's Internet age, do you really need to visit a dealer to agree on a price? We examine whether you can carry out an entire car purchase by email -- except for the part where you drive the car home.

Why Email?

For some shoppers, car buying can be exhilarating. You get to test drive new models, pick options and colors, and haggle over the price of the car you've chosen. But many car shoppers don't like the experience because it can be very high-pressure and fast-paced.

As a result, many shoppers turn to the Internet when it comes time to buy a car. Oh, sure, you'll need to be there in person for the test drive, but the Internet allows you to take your time searching for the car you want, check reviews to see what models are recommended, and even see which local dealers carry your car of choice equipped exactly how you'd like it.

Negotiating prices over the Internet is the next logical step. Doing this allows you to think over the dealer's offer and ask friends and family for assistance or advice throughout the process. It also gives you a little extra time to come up with counter offers of your own. But can you do it?

Be Persistent

If you really want to negotiate over email, you'll need to be persistent. Many dealerships will ask you to come on down to finalize purchase details rather than work with you over the Web. It's harder for you to walk away when you're negotiating in person because you've already taken the time to visit the dealership.

If a dealership insists that they won't negotiate over email -- and if you feel that's the only way you want to carry out the purchase of your next car -- let them know. Tell the salesperson that you're very interested in the car, but you'll only proceed further if you can negotiate the price online. If you're met with resistance, be forceful, and if a dealer suggests that they won't negotiate online, don't be afraid to walk away. Remember, in nearly all cases, there are other cars available at other dealerships.

Take Your Time

Once you've found a dealership that will negotiate with you through email, remember to take your time. Part of the reason that an email negotiation is better for some shoppers when buying a car is that it lets you think through your decisions more clearly than you can in person -- so don't be too eager. Just like when you're negotiating in person, eagerness is quickly detected over the Internet, and dealers can use that to their advantage when settling on a price.

Bring the Emails

Our final piece of advice: Once you've fully negotiated the price of your next car to your satisfaction, bring the emails to the dealership as proof of an agreed-upon price. Most dealers won't try to back out of a price that you've mutually decided on, but it will be nice to have the emails present just in case. After all, you don't want to carry out the entire negotiating process a second time once you arrive at the dealership.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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Buying a Car: Can You Negotiate Price by Email?