Car Negotiation

10 Tips on Negotiating the Best Price on a Used Car

If you are interested in purchasing a used car, there is usually some flexibility on the price. However, if you are an inexperienced car buyer, there is a high chance car dealers may try to trick you into extras you don’t want or a car you weren’t even thinking of buying. To buy the right used car for you and your needs, you not only have to do your homework on the model and what prices similar models are fetching, but you also have to negotiate to get the lowest possible price. Some of you may have a parent who can help, or know of a mechanic or salesperson who can help with the candy-coated sweet talk the car dealer will feed you to get you to buy a used car at a top price, or with a finance contract consisting of high interest terms.

Car Negotiation

Here are 10 top tips to help you negotiate when buying used cars.

1: Set a Target

Once you decide to negotiate the cost of a used car, you will need to set a target. It would benefit you if you did this before starting to car shop, so you don’t spend your time looking at vehicles you can’t afford. Having an actual target price is the most reliable way to secure your negotiations because it will help you concentrate on not allowing the dealer to push for more than you can afford.

2: Research and Find the Right Car

Knowledge is power. Discovering the right used vehicle and learning all you can about it is a crucial part of used car price discussions. Once you’ve determined the make and model, as well as the years you’re prepared to buy, go through all the features and choices the car offers. You’ll also need to research general repair issues, and find out any recalls the vehicle model has been subjected to in the past. By doing your homework, you will be able to use any faults, common issues, or comparison pricing as a negotiating ploy.

3: Know What a Good Price is

There are several means available to shoppers to help decide if a car price is appropriate or not. There are many established and popular used-car valuation sites you can use to track used vehicle prices so you can ensure you’re spending a fair price for a used vehicle. Used vehicle prices can also depend on the area the vehicle is being purchased and sold. As you study the costs, watch out for regional disparities. Fixing your target price depending on the national average of the car you desire to buy could disrupt your haggling chances. You might end up offering more than you need to or too little for your region and hamper the haggling process before it even gets started.

4: Know the Importance of Mileage

As opposed to used vehicles, new car pricing is straightforward because all new cars have the same number of miles: zero. And they have a set price for all their features and options. Two used vehicles that are the same year and make, for example, can have vastly different miles on them and feature different aftermarket options such as a sunroof, rear spoiler, or sports exhaust.

Before you bargain for a used vehicle price, learn how mileage influences car prices. The more miles a vehicle has, the less a buyer should pay unless you are contemplating an electric car, then you will need to refer to my article What to Look for When Buying an Electric Used Car

5: Dealer vs. Private Seller Impacts What You Pay

Part of negotiating the price of a car is knowing the seller’s costs. While you’re seeking to get the best price, the seller is trying to earn the most money. When you’re dealing with a private seller, you can usually get a lower price on the same vehicle because a private seller doesn’t have a lot of the expenses associated with the buying and trading cars on a commercial level. A dealership needs to pay for utilities, advertising, staffing costs and added overheads. 

6: Have a Proper Inspection

You need to have any used vehicle you’re considering buying professionally inspected not only to ensure you’re not buying a lemon, but also to give you some leverage in bargaining for the price. The inspection usually reveals some things that may need doing so you can factor these into getting a better deal. An inspection can also reveal concerns with the car that you may determine are too critical, leaving you no choice but to walk away from the deal. 

7: Old Money vs. New Money Negotiation Tactics

In the old days, people used to be able to get a good deal by waving cold hard cash in front of a dealer for a quick sale. However, things have changed, and so has the value of paying up front compared to financing. Car dealers these days make little money on selling a car outright, preferring to lure the buyer into signing up with their finance company offering repayment terms over a number of years at what seems a good rate, but when you add it up it ends up costing you far more than you bargained for. If you are going to need finance, be sure to find your own rather than use the car dealers’ preferred associated company.

8: Communicate Effectively

There is nothing wrong about offering a low price. However, if the price you offer is too low, the seller will just laugh and not take you seriously, which makes the discussion unlikely to be a success. They will see you as a time-waster. Another common tactic of a car dealer is to first find out how much you want to spend. This is a ploy to get you into a car you hadn’t even thought of buying that is retailed within your budget instead of the car you went there for – priced slightly higher. Let the dealer know what car you are interested in without talking about money up front. Instead, get the dealer to discuss the merits and history of the car. By striking up and directing the conversation using clear communication, you will end up with the best price. Therefore, if you are not skilled at communication, you should resist participating in the car negotiation, instead taking someone who is experienced in negotiating tactics

9: Do It in Writing

One approach to lessen the distress is to negotiate by email or text messages. This can help you keep check of your emotions and concentrate on the facts. You’ll also buy time to reflect on what the dealer is offering and to consult your examination to ensure you’re getting a fair settlement. It’s a lot more comfortable to walk away from a bad deal if the seller isn’t right in your face. Also, you’ll have a documented record of the conversations and agreed-upon costs if you change your mind or deal with a different staff member.

Be friendly

10: Be Friendly!

This last tip applies to both buyers and sellers— be friendly and be courteous! Many people go into car negotiations with a guarded, somewhat reserved feeling of hostility at the slightest hint of not getting their way. Remember: the seller isn’t out to hurt you. They’re just seeking to get the best possible deal for themselves — just like you. 

When you’re discussing, be polite. Don’t be hostile towards the seller or the car. Adhere to the facts about the history, the condition, and what the vehicle is worth with mileage in mind. 

Remember: Keep cool and calm, and don’t get too attached to a particular car if the deal goes south. There are always plenty of other used cars like the one you are interested in on the market, with people adding more each day of every week. 

Think of used vehicle price negotiation as less of a race and more as a means for getting both parties a deal that they’re satisfied with. With the right mindset and lots of research to back yourself, you’ll be negotiating like a pro in no time.

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