Your Complete Guide to Using a Car Buyer’s Agent

If you’re like the majority of car buyers, you may not relish the thought of buying or leasing your next car. It’s not easy to shop in a dealership without feeling pressured, and there are hidden costs to buying online with a car buying service. How can you protect yourself? A car buyer’s agent just may be the hero you need.

What is a car buyer’s agent?

A car buyer’s agent—also known as a consultant or concierge—works with car dealers to help you get the best price and deals on vehicles. This can include leases as well as purchases, and new and used vehicles. The agent will work with you to determine your needs, vehicle specifications, and budget. They will then locate the vehicle you want and manage the negotiation process on your behalf, saving you time, hassle, and—most importantly—money!

Related post: What Does a Car Buyer’s Agent Do?

How does the buying process work with a car buyer’s agent?

Many clients already know what kind of vehicle they want when they contact a car buyer’s agent for help. However, even if you haven’t fully decided—or even if you’re just starting your search and have no idea what kind of car you want—most car buyer’s agents will help you through the decision process before they begin searching for your new vehicle and negotiating on your behalf. Throughout these stages, they’ll keep you posted. Once your agent has negotiated a satisfactory price, they’ll make arrangements for you to close the deal—often at a dealership, but sometimes at your home or office. If necessary, your agent may also arrange to have your new vehicle shipped to you from a distant location.

How do car buyer’s agents get paid?

A car buyer’s agent works only on your behalf and never accepts dealer commissions. The agent’s only payment comes from you, the client. While some car buyer’s agents base their fees on a percentage of your overall deal savings, at Car Pal we charge you a flat fee for our service, regardless of details such as how much time we take to make your deal, whether you are leasing or purchasing, whether a trade-in is involved, or whether we’re negotiating for a new or used vehicle. We want you to be happy; it really is that simple.

How is hiring a car buyer’s agent different from using a car buying service or a car broker?

The terms car buying service, car broker, and car buyer’s agent are often used loosely, but there can be differences in the ways they operate.

Many car buying services, such as TrueCar,, CarFax, CarGurus, Costco, and Sam’s Club (to name just a few) promise an easy buying experience with discounted pricing. But here’s the catch: they aren’t car buyer’s agents. Such car buying services receive commissions from car dealers—which you, as the client, usually end up paying indirectly. This means that these services cannot honestly represent your needs and best interests. They don’t negotiate on your behalf, or offer the individualized, personal experience that you’ll get when you work with a car buyer’s agent.

A car broker may offer this kind of personal service, but may or may not receive dealer commissions. Some car brokers are former dealer sales associates who now work on their own. However, be aware that their allegiances can still vary, so do your homework before hiring a car broker.

A car buyer’s agent is the only kind of car buying service that works solely for you. Because a car buyer’s agent doesn’t receive payments from car dealers or manufacturers, they can provide personalized service according to your needs.

Related post: CarGurus v. Car Pal

Why should I use a car buyer’s agent?

The reality of obtaining your next car is that unless you’re buying a used vehicle directly from a private seller, a dealership is always involved, and you provide any payment the dealership receives. Working with a car buyer’s agent can help you minimize this amount.

Once you’ve decided on the vehicle you want, the negotiation process for a favorable deal begins, and it’s almost never easy, no matter how reputable the dealership may be. Remember that dealerships are always focused on profit. They’ll offer you many options and services, along with details to remember and comparisons to make. Even if you’re knowledgeable and highly informed (and even if you organize everything scrupulously on spreadsheets!), it can be a daunting process.

This is where a car buyer’s agent can make a difference. A reputable car buyer’s agent will have knowledge of (and likely a good amount of experience with) car dealership and manufacturer practices. They’ll know the right questions to ask, and whom to ask. They’ll have outstanding negotiation skills. Most importantly, they’ll be able to use these talents on your behalf so that you save time, money, and the hassle and stress of negotiations.

Related post: Why We Never Hard-Sell You on Car Pal’s Services

How can I be sure I’m getting the best deal?

Working with a car buyer’s agent can go a long way to giving you peace of mind about your vehicle negotiations. But for even more peace of mind, here are some of the most important questions to ask yourself, and things to do.

  • Is a dealer insisting this is a great deal? (If they are, check it against other sources, or ask your agent to do so).
  • Are you paying for features you don’t want? (Make sure you’re not!)
  • Are you agreeing to extras because you want to appease a salesperson? (Don’t.)
  • Is your intuition telling you something? (Trust it.)
  • Sleep on it.
  • Keep a spreadsheet for your own reference.

Related post: Vehicle Deal Secrets That Car Dealers Don’t Want You to Know

What if the car I want is hundreds of miles away?

If your new or pre-owned vehicle is only available from a distant location, a dealer may tell you that they simply cannot arrange to ship it (often because it’s an opportunity for them to sell you a local vehicle that may be pricier or more profitable for the dealer, even if it’s not the car you want). However, your agent can make arrangements to have the car you want shipped to you. Many car buyer’s agents have built trusting relationships with shippers who will transport your car safely and promptly for an appropriate fee, while you still save on your overall deal. An experienced agent will also be able to discern which fees are excessive and which may be too low. If a shipping fee seems too good to be true, it may be because the shipper does not provide prompt delivery.

I need a new car but I don’t have much time or patience to shop. Can I really trust a car buyer’s agent?

Because a car buyer’s agent is not affiliated with any manufacturer or dealership, they can be one of the best sources of unbiased advice, and will work with your evolving needs and specifications. A reputable car buyer’s agent has the knowledge and experience to spot pricing that is too high or too low; to negotiate for the features you want while eliminating those you don’t; to avoid common dealer sales tactics; and to ensure that your overall process goes smoothly. You’ll drive away feeling confident and satisfied about the time and money you saved, AND about the respect and consideration you received throughout the process.

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