How To Haggle For A Used Car

By Ashley Henshaw. May 7th 2016

One of the best things about buying a used car is that the price is often negotiable. Many sellers are willing to alter their price, especially if their potential buyer is knowledgeable. According to ABC News, a good haggler can save 10 to 15 percent off the listed price of a vehicle. Here are some key tips for how to successfully haggle for a used car.

Get Financing First

If you’ll need financing to purchase a used car, get that lined up first. This puts you in a better position to negotiate because you’ll have a budget in mind and you’ll have more time to find a good interest rate. It’s also a great way to avoid dealership financing since their deals aren’t always the best. (To learn more about how to get the best car financing deal, see 6 Easy Tips For Getting The Best Deals On Car Financing.)

Don’t Be The First To Name A Price

When you approach a seller about a used car – whether it’s an individual or a salesman at a dealership – always try to get them to name the price first. This will help you gauge what they hope to make off the vehicle and you save yourself the risk of starting with a bid that’s too high. Keep in mind that this price is often more than what they expect to make off the car. By starting with a relatively high price, the seller hopes that you feel like you’re getting a better deal when he or she agrees to settle for a lower price.

Start Low

Maybe you already saw the list price for the vehicle or the seller just told you the price. Whatever the case, suggest a much lower price than what you want to pay. They likely won’t go for your first bid anyway, and when you end up compromising you’ll hopefully be a lot closer to your expected final price.

Do Your Homework

Never try to negotiate a price for a used car without doing some background research first. Find out how much similar cars are selling for and look up how much a certain feature or defect should affect the cost of the car. For example, if the used car you want doesn’t have a CD player, you can specifically mention that fact when haggling for a lower price. Use guides like the Kelly Blue Book to find out how much the used car you have in mind is worth. Also check out a site like Carfax.com to see a particular used car’s history. If you know the car was in a big wreck last year, you could use that information as a bargaining chip to lower the price.

Mention A Pricing Guide

While doing your homework is important, it also helps to let the seller know that you’ve been researching prices. This shows the seller that you are serious about getting a good deal and that they won’t be able to scam you when it comes to putting a value on the car. When the seller knows that you have a good grasp of how much a particular type of car is going for these days, he or she is less likely to try to swindle you. Try mentioning guides like the Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds.com. (For more information on car buying scams, see 6 Car Buying Scams To Watch Out For.)

Don’t Be Too Enthusiastic

It’s a rookie mistake to appear too excited about a particular car. If the seller knows you’re really enthusiastic about the used car, he or she may be less likely to budge on the price in the hopes that you’ll pay more due to your attachment to the vehicle. A good tactic is to bring along someone else when you go to see the car. Instruct this person to discourage you from buying the car even when you express interest. If the seller sees that you might be backing out of the sale, they may lower the price to pique your interest again.

Mention Another Seller

If you’re looking for a used car, then you’ve probably been to at least a few dealerships or individual sellers. Don’t hesitate to mention this to the sellers you see. If they know that they have competition for your business, they may be more flexible when it comes to pricing.

Be Reasonable But Firm

It’s a bad idea to make a ridiculously low offer (it comes off as either disrespectful or unintelligent). Therefore, once the initial numbers have been given and you’ve gone back and forth a bit on price, make a firm but logical offer. It’s important to make your offer close enough to what they want to make them really consider it. At this point, you may want to mention that you can’t go any higher.

Make Them Wait

If you’re getting close to the price you want, consider telling the seller you’re just not sure about the deal and walk away. The fact that they were so close to selling the car may make them more open to the idea of bringing down the price just a little bit more. This is a risky move since someone else could snatch up the used car you want while you’re trying to get the seller to come down further. Therefore, it’s best to gauge the individual situation and to only leave the seller hanging for a short time.

Make Sure the Contract Matches Your Price

Whenever the deal is finalized, don’t sign anything before looking it over very closely. Make sure that the price that you and the seller agreed upon is correct and that the financing terms (if any) are what you expected.

Buying a used car can be a little overwhelming for those who’ve never haggled before, but with these tips in mind you can find a great deal without having to go back and forth with a seller for too long.

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