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Question: I'm trying to buy a used Honda Accord, but I'm running into car dealers who won't take me serious unless I finance through them. I want to pay cash! What am I doing wrong?

Hi Tony

I very much appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to consider my email. My problem is that I've been in the market for a used Honda Accord, and have had nothing but rotten experiences at the car dealerships.

Reason: I will not trade in my current vehicle (will sell it on my own), and I will be paying with cash. The first few salesmen I spoke to, I was forthcoming with this information and they basically showed me out the door! I have wised up since and have not volunteered any information until after the test drive and we start talking price.

When I make an offer - I start at about 18% off the sticker price and my final offer is 15% off - they laugh at me and claim that they own the car for more than that (oh please!).

Others wouldn't get off the subject of how much better off I'd be if I financed, and that it would "do wonders" for my credit to go ahead and finance, and then just pay the vehicle off with my cash. I couldn't finance even if I wanted to for reasons I don't want to discuss and besides that, it's none of their business.

Because I'm a woman and I'm buying a car on my own, they must think I'm a total idiot pushover, but when they realize that I know a little bit about their "game," they want nothing to do with me and practically push me out the door!

What's going on here??? I thought they wanted to make a sale!

I'm REALLY getting frustrated not only because of that, but because the market here in Milwaukee is lousy for Accords. I'm seriously considering just looking for a private seller. Every dealership I step into is a complete waste of my time. What am I doing wrong? Am I being too picky about the car and price I want?

I would appreciate your professional opinion more than you know!

Thank you!

Lynn M.


Hi Lynn,

Car dealers do make a lot of money arranging financing for their customers, but this is the first time I've ever heard of a car dealer letting a deal slip through their hands because you want to pay cash. How stupid is that?

The next dealer you go to simply tell them you're paying cash and that's all there is to it. Tell them to just tell you the price of the car. Tell them not to worry about financing or a trade. They will try to convert you to financing, but as long as you stick to your guns they'll get the point.

If they give you too much grief tell them you're going to another car dealer where they will appreciate your business. You are in control of the whole process. All you have to do is leave, and they have nothing. If that's what they want oblige them. There are plenty of car dealers out there. You may also be able to find a clean car from a private owner. Search your local classifieds.

Lynn, I don't think you're doing anything wrong. There are a lot of ego-maniac jerks in the car business. That's not to say they are all that way, but apparently you just happened to run into a few of them. Keep searching . . . you'll find a normal person who will appreciate you as a customer.

As far as negotiating a price, keep in mind that dealer cost on used Accords is a little on the high side, but you can be sure the price they are asking is probably marked up at least $2,000 to $3,000 or more. How low they will go depends on the car dealer. They know that Accords are hot sellers, so they will probably hold out for a high profit of at least $1,500 to $2,000. Possibly more!

There's no way to know for sure what their dealer cost is on a given car, but making them a ridiculously low offer will get them to come back with a lower price. If you go through that cycle a few times you'll know when they have hit their bottom line.

If they won't negotiate with you say "Goodbye . . . it's your loss!"

Keep plugging away. You'll do just fine. It's not you . . . it's them!

All my very best...

Tony Iorio

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