Negotiating The Price Of A Used Car

  • Date posted4 years ago
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Whether you are buying a car at a dealership or entering into a private transaction, negotiating the price of your next used car is a skill that you need to learn.

You may have an idea that negotiating is all about meeting in the middle, but it’s not. That’s called a compromise. You want to ensure that you get the best deal for you.

There’s a lot that you can do to improve the deal, and today I’ll run over a few essentials to get you started.

Know The Market

Once you’ve found a car that you are interested in, you are going to have to decide if it is reasonably priced or not. The best way to do this is to check one of the many public price calculators.

This is going to give you a rough idea of the ideal price for a car of the make and model that you are looking at, at various different mileages.

This is just a general idea though. If you’ve found your car on an advert, you are going to have to read the details and make an estimate of how these will affect the list price.

Set Your Maximum Price

This is essential in any negotiation. You need to have a clear figure in your head before you walk into the negotiation that is the maximum that you will pay.

Even if the car is everything you wanted, you need to have this number fixed. It’s your ceiling above which you have promised yourself you won’t go.

Remember, you’ve managed without this car your whole life. There are thousands of other cars. If your seller wants more, and won’t come down below this price, you walk away.

Ask For Some Alone Time

When you view the car, take a pen and paper with you. This is good for two reasons. First off, you can write yourself a check-list of things you want to check, and secondly, you can make notes as you look over the car.

It’s difficult to do this whilst the owner of dealer is breathing down your neck, so ask for 5 or 10 minutes to look at the car privately. If they won’t, then that is a bad sign, and an indication that you should walk away.

Similarly with a test drive. It’s completely normal for the owner or dealer to come with you, but if they won’t let you drive it, walk away.

When you’ve checked the car over, now is the time to decide what you think the car is worth

Be Polite, But Firm

It’s very unlikely that the car you look at is going to be perfect. It’s also very unlikely that it’s priced near the list price. It’s completely normal and expected for the asking price to be more than the car is worth.

Here’s where you need to be on your guard. You will have to point out the issues with the car.

Your notes that you made earlier will come in handy here.

You’ll need to bring up each point with the owner. Do this politely, Remember that if this is a private sale, that this is their personal car you are critiquing.

Make Your Offer

Make your offer and stick to it. This is the really hard part. Once you’ve stated your price, moving will indicate that you are unsure, or a little green. Stick to your guns.

Very often, showing the money at the same time is a great move. Let them see that you have the cash, but that your offer is final.

If you do move price, then move once, and once only. No more. If there’s still no dice. Walk away.


If you make the sale, then well done. Enjoy your new purchase and make use of other car services in your area to bring your new ride to tip-top condition.