Car Buying

Buying a Car: Red Flags That Show a Dealer You're Eager to Buy

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2016

If you're interested in buying a car, you probably know that negotiation is key to getting the best deal at most dealerships. But if you look too eager to buy, you can spoil your negotiating power. As a result, we've listed a few red flags that show a dealer you're ready to buy. You'll want to avoid the items on our list if you want the best deal possible, as they make you stand out as an especially eager car shopper.

Need a New Car

One way to show that you're too eager to buy: if you look like you seriously need a new car. Oh, sure, you may seriously need a new car -- if you're starting a new job, for instance, or if your previous car was in a crash. But if possible, you'll want to avoid showing up to a dealership in a rental car, as it sends a clear message that you're paying for your vehicle by the day and you need a new one as quickly as possible.

Here's something else you may not have considered: Don't clean out your old car before visiting a dealership. When the dealer inspects your car for a trade-in appraisal, they'll see that you've cleaned it out -- and they'll take that as a sign that you're already prepared to get into a new vehicle. Leaving your car a little cluttered shows that you're not quite certain you want to buy today -- and that could give you more power when it comes time to negotiate.

Title and Registration

This is maybe our biggest tip to avoid seeming too eager: Don't show up with your vehicle's title clearly visible. While you may want to bring your title in order to facilitate trading in your current vehicle, you absolutely want to avoid making it obvious that you have it with you. If a salesperson sees your car title, he or she will assume you're looking to make a deal today -- and that will limit the dealership's willingness to negotiate.

Likewise, consider your car's registration. If it's expired or expiring soon, a dealership will likely see that you're ready to get a new car right away -- and that may keep the dealer from offering you as good of a deal as they would if you looked like you had more options.

Falling in Love With One Car

Another red flag that tells a dealer you're ready to buy is when you've fallen in love with one car. No matter how much you love a car, don't let the dealer find this out when you're on your test drive. Instead, play it cool when you're buying a car. Tell the dealer that you like the car but you're not sure about it, and bring up various points that could help you negotiate a lower price. By telling the dealer that you must have one particular car and no other, it suggests that you'll be buying today -- and that means there won't be as much room to negotiate.

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.
Buying a Car: Red Flags That Show a Dealer You're Eager to Buy - Autotrader