How We Negotiate a Car Deal by Email (with Real Life Examples, Templates, and More!)

Written by Ray Shefska

My career in the retail automotive business started in 1977. Buying a car doesn’t have to be anxiety inducing, stressful, or painful. Instead it can be confidence inspiring, fun, and convenient. Let me show you how.

June 19, 2020

Buying a car online is more common today than ever before. As such, a lot of people ask us, “How do you negotiate a car deal over email?” Or, “How do you negotiate a car deal without going into the dealership?”

Those are two great questions, and today I thought we’d share exactly how we do it with you. Below you’ll find templates you can use for your own email outreach, and above you’ll find a video where we explain exactly what steps we take to negotiate a car deal via email, and how you can do the same.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Does how I negotiate change if it’s a new or used car?

  • Yes! No two used cars are the same. That, plus the fact that a lot of dealerships have moved to “market-based” pricing of their used inventory, means it’s harder than ever to negotiate on a used car. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, but for many dealerships their appetite to negotiate on a used car is less than on a new car.
  • Negotiating a new car via email is a considerable amount of work, but much simpler. You’re going to find a handful of dealers that have the vehicle you’re looking for, and then you are going to send the email template we discuss in a little bit to each of them. After that you’ll get multiple out-the-door price quotes, and you’ll let each dealer know who has the lowest price, and ask them if they want to match it or beat it.
  • Back to used cars, you’re going to have to convey a sense of urgency to get the dealer to budge off of their internet price, and that usually means telling them you’ll put a deposit down on the car ASAP if they discount it x%.

If you’re thinking about buying a car, you might enjoy this article if you haven’t read it already: How Much Do Dealers Markup Used Cars?

Who to email at the dealership?

  • You can fill out an internet lead form, but don’t expect much to come from that. At most dealerships you’ll be required to put your phone number in the lead form and you will receive a phone call from an internet salesperson within 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If entering a phone number isn’t required, don’t be surprised if you receive an email asking you for your phone number as an immediate response from the dealer.
  • Your best bet is to work directly with a sales manager, or better yet, the general manager of the dealership. Why? Because they have the final decision making power, and they may delegate tasks back to a salesperson, but they’ll at least be able to negotiate with you, rather than wasting your time sending dozens of emails back and forth with the internet rep.
  • You can get the GM’s email address from the internet salesperson, or, on many dealership websites they list their staff on a “team” page, and you can just grab it there.

What to say when you email them

  • Negotiating via email isn’t rocket science. First and foremost, you need to be committed to the vehicle you’re reaching out about. I’m not saying you need to be ready to buy it at all costs, but you need to be in a mindset where you would actually buy the car should the dealer be able to make a fair deal with you.
  • Send an email that looks something like this:
negotiating a used car via email template
  • What makes this email work?
    • It’s friendly.
    • It’s straightforward and to the point.
    • We’ve made it clear which vehicle we’re interested in and what our budget is.
    • We’ve built credibility (something you can do, even if you don’t have 43 years of dealership experience).
  • Here’s another example.
negotiating a new car via email template
  • What makes this email work?
    • Ask for the detailed out-the-door price, and tell the dealer your zip code so that they can run taxes, title, and registration for your locale.
    • Tell the dealer about any manufacturer incentives you qualify for.
    • Tell the dealer what your timeline is.
    • Again, be friendly.

What to expect as a response

  • There are two types of responses you’ll encounter:
    • Friendly and want to make a deal.
email thread from negotiating a car deal
  • When can you come into the dealership?
    • You’ll mitigate this by working directly with the GM.

How to get a lower price

  • Persistence, and holding your ground. I wish there was more to it, but that’s the truth. The whole reason why you need to reach out to so many dealerships initially is because you need leverage to work dealers against one another.
getting a lower price on a car via email

The template

Here is the initial email template we use when we negotiate a car by email.

[NAME],

Good morning,

My name is [name] and I am in the market for a car. I have been coached by Ray Shefska, of Your Auto Advocate. Here is a link to their website: https://yourautoadvocate.com/ this will give you a little insight into how much I understand about the process. I want nothing from your dealership other than a competitive price and an ease of doing business.

My zip code is 08054, and I am looking to purchase the following: 

2020 Honda Odyssey in the Touring Trim. My preferred color is Red Scarlet Pearl but the Platinum White Pearl is also acceptable. I presently own a 2011 Accord and a 2016 Pilot, so I will qualify for Honda Owner Loyalty. I am prepared to pay cash but would entertain financing if that would offer a better out the door price. I am looking to take delivery by month end at the latest. I would move sooner if the deal warrants it.

Please provide me with your best detailed out the door price including all fees and please be competitive as I am contacting several dealers on his behalf within a 75 mile radius. 

Thanks so  much and I look forward to hearing back from you.

All the best,

[name]

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2 Comments

  1. Kevin

    Thanks for sharing this. Love your website and its objective. I would use your services but I live in Canada. Your youtube videos are also really enjoyable. All the best to you !

    Reply
  2. Michael Thomas

    Your advice is spot on. My daughter’s 17 year old car crapped out, I gave her mother’s car to her and then needed a car ASAP. I asked the 4 OKC, OK Toyota dealers for a price on a new 2018 Toyota Yaris iA. There was a $1000 rebate on this car (or 0.9% which we took). 3 dealers told me $17,000 for their $18,000 car. The dealer I bought from $15,000 (including the rebate) for their $19,000 car. I emailed the guy back, said have it ready, and he did. We also wrapped TTL & some accessories into the final price. Happy wife as it was her very FIRST new car!
    P.S. a co-worker wanted a Toyota Tundra, so I email the same dealer, my wife and I met my co-worker and her husband there. When it came time to evaluate their trade in the number was $6,000. The internet mgr said “No, it will be $7,000.” The used car mgr asked why and the internet mgr said “You know how we get referrals from happy customers.” Used car mgr said “Yes.” The internet mgr said “Well, THEIR referral is sitting right over there.” The used car mgr had a incredulous look on his face and said “Done.” 🙂

    Reply

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