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Why Are Dealers Still Insisting That I Negotiate In Person?

We're also discussing other forms of dealership etiquette

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As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are talking about negotiating car deals in the age of coronavirus, removing dealer stickers and the ability to still get a killer deal several months from now

First up, have dealers not yet been clued in that people don’t want to come to the showroom anymore?

Ive bought and sold a few vehicles over the past few years, all of which I negotiated prices and financing for over email, yet I still find that maybe only one in four of the dealerships I contact are willing to offer me a price breakdown, etc. over email. The rest will not answer my questions and instead try to direct me to come into the dealership. I’ve been poking around a new Toyota Supra lately, and figured that with my state (CA) closing showrooms for the time being due to covid all dealerships would be prepared to conduct business online, yet still I’m finding that most will not answer direct questions or offer price breakdowns. Am I doing something wrong here? Is there some magic set of words that will get dealers to work with me without a runaround?


There are no magic words, and I suspect that the emails you are getting about coming into the dealer are just a part of their usual automatic response system. Unfortunately, a lot of dealers have not really adjusted their communication methods in order to adapt to selling cars during coronavirus.

In fact, I had a conversation with a dealer the other day about having one of my clients place a deposit to hold a car while the paperwork was processed and the salesman said: “Well, our owner is an old fashioned guy and he secures deals with handshake.” I told him that with the current situation he may want to rethink that policy.


Anyway, in regards to your Supra, there will eventually be dealers that will cooperate and give you quotes in writing. There is no secret method to this, you just have to put the time in and grind it out.

Next up, is it too much to ask to have the dealer take their decals off my car before I buy it?

I’m in the market for a new vehicle...or might still be after this pandemic is over, and I absolutely hate having dealership stickers/badges on my vehicles. I’m just not interested in being a rolling billboard. I’ve removed them myself in the past, but they can sometimes be a pain, and I’d rather not risk messing up the paint if I accidentally mess something up. If I ask for it, will dealerships remove their stickers/badges for me upon purchase?

This is a common request and it’s really no big deal. Often dealers will prep and clean the car while you sign the paperwork, or in this day and age, they will do so before they deliver it to you. They can easily remove these decals without damaging the paint and it only takes a few minutes. If you’ve already bought a car with one of these dealer stickers and want to take it off yourself, the typical method is to take a hairdryer or something and loosen up the adhesive, but there are dozens of YouTube videos that will step you through the process.

And finally, will all these good deals be available in the summer?

We are interested in the new 2021 Yukon XL which is supposed to arrive in summer however may be delayed due to C19. Would appreciate your advice.

Is paying dealer invoice at 7 year/0% offer realistic? Given the current economic climate, can I do better or am I being unrealistic? Also, can I get as good of a deal ordering exactly what I want from factory, or better to find what I want on the dealer lot?


Being that this car is not actually for sale yet it’s hard to say what is and is not possible. The 0 percent thing is contingent upon GM continuing to offer that program. Obviously, once you are ready to buy if that APR special isn’t available, you uh, won’t be able to get it. Sorry! However, given the economic climate, chances are good we will see low APR specials in the coming months.

As for the price, it all depends on demand. If the economy roars back (unlikely) and folks are snatching up Yukons dealers will try to get top dollar, if inventory is sitting dealers will be more flexible. Typically you want a new model to sit for 3-6 months before you start seeing any serious movement, but it may be possible to find deals at launch.


In regards to the factory order versus buying off the lot, again if demand is down a good dealer will order you a car at a competitive price before rebates. The gamble is that if the rebates are strong when you order and get dialed back once the car comes in, you may lose out. However, in this case rebates are likely to get better as we get deeper into the model year.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at!


This post was originally published on April 10, 2020.