September 2022 update:
If you haven't shopped for a new or used car in the past couple of years, you may be in for a rude awakening. A perfect storm of a worldwide pandemic, supply chain issues, a semiconductor chip shortage and vehicle shortages has drastically changed the auto market since 2020. Where there were once markdowns, there are now markups. It is not uncommon to pay over MSRP, and discounts are rare. This seller's market means that shoppers don't have much leverage in terms of negotiation. These days, if you don't like the price you're being offered, salespeople know that there will likely be someone else who will pay that price.
The article below was written before these changes occurred, when the market was much more stable and predictable. Dealerships were flush with cars and were often willing to negotiate for a reasonable discount. Since that is not currently the case, much of the advice here may not apply. That said, the current situation may not persist indefinitely. The car buying tactics below are still helpful for anyone shopping today.
If you want to buy a new or used car this year and potentially through 2023, you'll need to reset your expectations for what a "good deal" is. If you manage to find a dealership that is selling the vehicle at MSRP or "sticker" price, that is probably a win for you, though it's always a good idea to shop around and compare prices. Just be prepared to cast your net farther to see what other dealers are charging for the same vehicle. Dealer websites may not always list the correct price, which is why we recommend contacting the dealer directly to determine if there are any markups or unwanted dealer-added accessories. If all you find in your area is a glut of marked-up new cars, stay the course and know that even these inflated prices may still be negotiable.
Read our Car Buying Tips for 2022 for more detailed information.
For many people, the thought of negotiating with a dealership car salesperson fills them with dread. This feeling is partly because people see negotiating as confrontational, and they would prefer not to haggle. But with a change of perspective and a few simple negotiation tips, you can potentially save thousands of dollars off the sticker price when you buy your next new or used car.