Car Buying

Buying a Car: Why Won't a Dealership Accept Your Offer?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro December 2015

Negotiating a price is usually an important part of buying a car. But negotiating can get tense and tiresome -- and negotiations can fall apart entirely if a dealership doesn't meet the figure you say you're willing to pay for your next vehicle. So why won't a dealership accept your offer? There are more reasons than you might think -- and we're rounding up a few of them so you can understand why you may not be able to buy the car you want at the price you're willing to pay.

It's Just Too Low

One reason why the dealer won't accept your offer: it's simply too low. Although you may read all about online invoice pricing and you might do your best to find out what shoppers paid for similar makes and models, there are a lot of factors that can go into a dealer's pricing structure -- and in some cases, a dealership simply cannot discount the car any more than the price they're already offering you.

In order to test out this theory on a new car, consider this strategy: contact multiple dealers and express interest in roughly the same new vehicle at approximately the same price point. If they all reject your offer, it's probably too low to be a viable selling price.

The Dealer Spent Too Much

If you're interested in a used car and you can't reach an agreeable price with your dealer, one reason could be that the dealer spent a little too much on the car, so they're waiting for someone to come along who doesn't plan to negotiate quite as seriously. This happens often in the used-car world, especially if the dealership had to spend money to recondition the car in order to fix scrapes, scratches, dents or mechanical issues.

Keep in mind, however, that the dealership paying too much for a car isn't your problem. You shouldn't pay more to fix the dealer's mistake -- and if you can't agree on a price, you should consider looking elsewhere to see if you can find the car available elsewhere for a lower price.

The Car Hasn't Been There Long

Another reason dealers may not be very willing to offer steep discounts is if a car hasn't been at the dealer for very long. Whether you're interested in a new car or a used model, the principle is the same: If the car has only been on the lot for two or three days and there's already an interested buyer, why should the dealer offer a sizable discount? A car that's been sitting on a dealership lot for a long time is a lot more likely to sell with a big discount than a vehicle that has just arrived.

The Dealer Thinks You'll Pay More

One final reason the dealership is rejecting your offer: because the sales staff thinks you'll pay more for the vehicle than you're offering. Although it isn't always easy for dealership sales staff to make this kind of determination, a buyer saying something like "I love this car!" or "This is the one!" is a clear sign that they plan to walk out of the dealership with that vehicle. That's why we strongly suggest that you never make statements like this when you're buying a car -- regardless of how much you like the vehicle -- since it can damage your leverage when you're trying to reach an agreement on the price.

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: Why Won't a Dealership Accept Your Offer? - Autotrader