Published in Metro Newspaper, Written by Mike Goetz, 2013-09-25

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New research suggests that some car buyers will negotiate better if they get all sweaty first. This is not about potentially using body odour and/or unsightly pit stains to force car sellers to cave in early during the negotiation process.

According to the MIT researchers, it's all about how "physiological arousal" - expressed as an increased heart rate and body sweat induced by running or fast walking just before a negotiation experience - can make some people perform better when it comes to hammering out the deal.

Unfortunately it just seems to work for people who look forward to negotiation. The arousal makes them feel "revved up" for the competition.

For research participants who dreaded negotiating, "arousal" had the opposite effect. Increased heart rate and sweaty palms only increased their nervousness, and they almost always reported being bummed out about their subsequent negotiation experiences.

So the folk wisdom to always go into these situations "cool as a cucumber" may have to be revisited, especially if you like to haggle.

Of course, there is another big tool you can leverage to get a better deal on a car - just learn how do to it properly.

One place you're not going to learn how to do it is in the dealership, when you're in the middle of negotiations, says Viraf Baliwalla, a consumer advocate and president of Automall Network, a vehicle buying agency.

"It is not the salesperson's job to educate the buyer, it is their job to try and sell you a car," says Baliwalla.

He notes another reason not to look to your salesperson as your confidant: "The auto industry has conditioned us to buy in a certain way - a way that favours the auto industry."

He says this is not "dealer bashing," only telling consumers the reality of the marketplace, where they need to be as prepared as the person is sitting across from them at the negotiation table.

To this end, he has created one of the first workshops in the country on car buying. The first one will be held this Saturday at the Kitchener-Waterloo campus of Conestoga College in Ontario (Course Code GINTO292 Car Buying - Saving You Money).

Followup workshops at Conestoga are planned for November and January, and in Toronto for the 2014 winter term.

An online version of the workshop is planned to be available to all consumers across North America sometime in the New Year.

The course will cover the tips and tricks of the auto trade, the process they will experience at the dealership and some number crunching too.

As an example, he notes how consumers typically choose a zero per cent financing option over a cash purchase rebate, even though in some cases they would save thousands by getting their own car loan at their bank at the going interest rate, and grabbing that big cash incentive. It's all in the numbers.

Knowledge sounds like a better tool in the long run than relying on a fast heart rate and a bit of sweat to swing the negotiation in your favour, but it's your call.

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