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 How to win car loan negotiations at the dealer
  Times of the year for the lowest car loan interest rates
By the EchoBay Loans Expert
 How to win car loan negotiations at the dealer
Dear EchoBay Expert: I'm getting ready to do battle with the finance manager at a car dealer and need to know some strategies for negotiating the best auto loan. What are your strongest tips?

Dear Loyal Reader: When negotiating for the best car loan possible, the best advice to follow is the timeless saying of "He who cares less, wins." Don't walk into the finance manager's office feeling that you need him to arrange financing for you; make him feel like he needs to prove that he can be of service to you.

They're probably not the only dealership in town, and let them know you know it. Dealerships need to make money, and to make money they need to convince you to get a car from them and arrange financing through them.

The best way to do this is to go in with offers from their competitors (i.e., banks, credit unions, online lenders). Unless you're dealing with a manufacturer's special, interest rates are negotiable. If you don't like the offer thrown on the table, tell the finance manager you'll be going elsewhere for your finance needs. He may be willing to come down some once he realizes you're serious.

Another step towards getting the best auto loan is realizing that you should never discuss your trade in until you've been given a set price on the car you're purchasing. Salespeople love to play with numbers and they're great at making the worst deal possible look like a steal. You're not obligated to discuss your trade in until you're ready to.

Also be sure that you avoid the temptation to negotiate the car purchase from the stance of your monthly payments. Salespeople love the line, "Where are you looking to keep your car payments?" The minute you give them the answer, they begin to calculate how much they can milk you for while keeping you within that payment bracket.

When you're in the finance manager's office, let them know that you won't be paying any nonsense or "junk" fees such as prep fees, promotion fund charges, paint sealers, pin striping, or unnecessary extended warranties.

Also be prepared for the fact that the dealer is probably going to try to play the "your credit stinks" game with you. Bring a copy of your credit report with you, and you'll be able to counter any claims they make about the interest rate you qualify for.

 Times of the year for the lowest car loan interest rates
Dear EchoBay Expert: What months of the year can I find the lowest interest rates on car loans?

Dear Loyal Reader: The lowest interest rates are to be had in the summer and fall months, when car dealerships and manufacturers are trying to clear out last year's models to make room for the new cars that will be coming in. Think of it as a clearance sale.

Another great time to take advantage of low-interest financing is when the different vehicle manufacturers begin to compete for business by offering specials such as low interest rates or rebates. Some of the lowest rates are to be had during the holiday season.

Since people aren't usually buying cars at this time of year due to spending their money on holiday gifts and parties, dealers are usually willing to negotiate a great price in order to move inventory and make a sale; and that means they're also usually more willing to negotiate their interest rates.

Another time that dealerships are worried about moving inventory is at the end of the month. If a dealership manager hasn't made his monthly quota and you come in at the right time, he's going to do whatever he can to turn you into a sale, and that equates to a great savings opportunity for you.

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