Is there anything worse on earth than buying a car from a dealership?

I hate the whole process, I hate the salespeople, I hate the hidden fees, I hate it.

I’m one of those people who takes really good care of his cars, but drives them until they don’t drive at all. I hate nothing more than sinking money into a depreciating asset. My goal in life is to own as few cars as possible.

But, with a car on its last leg it was time. I’ve been scouring for deals for a long time, found one, but unfortunately through a dealership. Paint protection fee? Whatever. Your internal documentation fees? Get out of here.

So I don’t intend now to buy a car for another 10 years so I don’t know why I’m asking - but what are some tips so I can feel worse about getting taken for a ride?

Do your research and then negotiate an out the door price. As long as I get the price I want out the door, including taxes and fees, I don’t care how they get to that number.


I usually buy used from owner.

Find the make/model you like. Email 2-3 dealerships and negotiate final price of the car. Go to dealership. Sit down and sign papers, just say no to additional add ons. Walk out.

Our last car purchase took less than 1 hour at the dealership.

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I’ve always heard never divulge how much you’re willing to pay monthly, if you will finance, down payment amount or anything specific until you’ve finalized a price. And never fall in love with a single vehicle that you’re not willing to walk away from. I sort of like the trend where buying a car by bartering is going away.


This is essentially what we did - or so we though until the came with a couple of stupid fees that were supposedly non-negotiable. I said, “Everything is negotiable, it just may mean negotiations have failed… so get rid of the ‘paint protection fee’ and your documentation fee or we’ve got a couple of other options and all the time in the world.” But I HATE having to do that crap. I’m sure the guy thinks I’m a massive jerk and curmudgeon - and I’m pretty sure 20yo me would have just saw my father sitting there saying what I did, in the exact same tone and level of anger that I did.

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Be a curmudgeon. Don’t let those rats push you around. Ugh I hate all this crap so much. We just moved, contacted the movers a month ago, went over the two locations, did estimates three times…day of moving “oh, here is another $300 fee” then when they left “sorry, it was $350”…we fought them. I’m tired of being nice to people to try to push people around for more money.

I honestly think being a jerk is the only way those people will respond…because their whole goal is to just frustrate you into paying more.

Ah movers - my favorite mover fee was when I got a bid to move a big piece of furniture I had bought from a private seller to my home - it was heavy enough and nice enough I didn’t want to get the bros to move it for me, I wanted pros. So they gave me a bid based off of the 2 hours of work it would take, and an estimate for any time over that 2 hours. So they load it into their truck, and then their truck won’t start - so there’s going to be delays until they can get it repaired. No problem… I’m not in a rush… so two hours later they get it going and deliver the furniture, putting me 1.5 hours over the time… and they charged me for it! I about burned the place to the ground.


lol. I love it. What a great story.

Two root canals on the same day. That might be worse, but not by much.


Prepping for and getting both a colonoscopy and endoscopy on the same day might land on that list,


Doing it through Costco was easy. Costco negotiates the price, and it’s a good one. I didn’t hassle with a trade-in.


i have found the power of google and Yelp helpful in today’s connected world.

I had a situation where I had canceled an insurance policy and it continued to draw against my debit card for 2 months before I noticed. They refused to refund the 2 months erroneous billing, saying I should have caught it earlier. I even had a docusigned and dated document that I completed on their website that they acknowledged…still they would not budge.

I filled out a scathing review on google and received a call from the owner of the brokerage before the end of the day telling me I would get my refund and to please update my review on google. Finally some leverage for the consumer.


I rarely purchase from dealers, but have on occasion, and I do the following:

  1. If possible, purchase the car the last day of the month or better, the last day of the quarter.
  2. negotiate a cash price (+tax and license) that I believe is fair from having done a bit of market research,
  3. Tell them I have limited time and they have no more than 5 minutes for checking offers with higher ups, (this is a game they typically play to keep you around so long you’re more likely to give in at some point). Be prepared to leave if they violate the time constraints.
  4. Once we have agreed on a price, politely say goodbye, no deal, if they add ANYTHING (other than tax and license) to the price, and leave.

I have left in the middle of negations once, never returning. Every other time, I got what I wanted.

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I hope you didn’t update and left the scathing review.

Second that. The Costco price on my 2014 Outback was the dealer invoice price. Fine by me. They can have the factory incentive money. They need to eat, too. Historically I’ve been willing to pay 2 to 3% above invoice.

On top of that, I’ll plug the dealer. Mark Miller Subaru is far and away the best dealer I’ve ever worked with. A friend of mine just traded off a 2015 Legacy for a 2021 Outback with them. He’s in total agreement with me. Best guys ever to work with. I periodically get the urge to trade for either a new, more powerful Outback or go back to something like a 4Runner, but I can almost guarantee it will be from a Mark Miller dealership.

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Last time I bought a car I looked under the hood, drove it around the block and got out my credit card and said yes I’ll take it. The salesman added up all the extra fees and gave me final price, expecting a counter offer or something. I said okay, you can put it on the card.

As he was running the card or finalizing some paperwork in a back room I could overhear a conversation with his co-worker that sounded like…holy crap how naive is this customer?

No, I just have too much pride to haggle, not worth my time. People love to share stories about how firm they were with a salesman like it’s some show of courage. It’s a really stupid system we have set up with dealers. It’s part of why I don’t buy cars often.

I’m one of those that loves to work car deals. I end up doing a few per year for friends. Since you’ve been out of the game for a while you can negotiate your entire deal without setting foot in a dealer. I work all my deals via my phone and text.

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I had a friend do that - and figured out some way to go through their finance, pay it all off in a couple of months that saved him a couple of thousand beyond their negotiated price. I need to ask him what he did (of course you need to have excellent credit and the ability to buy a car outright for it to work).

Internet helps a ton on this. I showed them that we were looking at a couple of comparable cars and explained the pros and cons of each as I saw it and then took the lowest priced one and said, “If you can match that - we’ve got a deal…” Of course he protested some minor points, which I had a counter point, which was basically, “Yeah… that matters more to you than me…” For example, “Yeah, but this one has 8” touch screen, and that one only has a 5.5" screen"… “Yup, but I don’t even care about that… in fact, I’d rather have knobs that’ll work for 20 years…”

At the end of the day I got a very, very good deal if the internet is any indicator, so that is good. That was one point I conceded on as we haggled… I was getting a good deal. That also probably means they bilked the guy who traded it in.

I do a lot of negotiating in business, and I get how that process works, and there is kind of this mutual respect… and also the ability to not take it personally when people fight to improve the negotiation. I always find it funny that car salesman always seem to be kind of mad at me in the end. My wife always gets concerned about that too… and it isn’t like I’m trying to starve the guys - but I always say to her, “They’ll never sell it to you at a loss… and the easiest way to tell if you’ve gone to low is if they laugh at you and won’t even consider it. If they pretend to be mad, you are in the range…”

Next time I’m calling UteMachine, though. You going to be available in 10 years?

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