How to Negotiate the Price of a Used Car


2015 Kia Optima

So, you finally found the ride you want, and it’s all over but the cruising, baby. Well, you haven’t actually bought the vehicle yet, but that’s a piece of cake. Or is it? Unless you know how to haggle, you’re the one who could be taken for a ride.

Here’s how to negotiate the price of a used car.

The Issue

Every used vehicle is different because it’s, well, used. Even among the same model, you’re going to get variations in mileage, age and overall condition. Because there’s no factory invoice, it’s hard to know where negotiation begins.

Whether you’re buying from a store or private seller, what is known is that instead of throwing a number out there, doing your homework first will give you needed leverage. You’ve got to research the market.

Take the Car for a Whirl

Yeah, you can get often get away with not trying on clothing before buying, but that’s not a good idea for vehicles. And while you’re test driving, make sure your senses are alert for any sounds or smells that could be indicate a potentially pricey problem.

If the vehicle’s owner is hesitant to let you drive it or has some excuse, keep it moving. Dealers on the best used car websites always let you test drive.

Show Good Manners

Sure, you can hit the dealership all assertive and cocky-like, but that’s not really necessary and kind of makes you look like a lout. What’s more, the salesperson may not want to do business with you at all (some things aren’t worth it).

Your aim is to purchase the car at the amount you’re willing to shell out. You don’t have to be a pushover, of course, but polite and respectful are better.

Turn on Your Heels, if Necessary

Yep, you can walk. While you’re negotiating, you need to compartmentalize your emotions, attachments and flexibility. If your suspicion is that “something in the milk ain’t clean,” as the saying goes, trust your gut, and walk away.

Look the Ride Over

We’ve already alluded to using your senses when buying a used car, and none is more important than your sight. Yep, you’ve got to visually inspect the vehicle for scratches, dings and stains. And while you’re looking, ask how many miles are on the tires and when the oil and brakes were last changed. Find out whether maintenance records are available.

Check under the ride for oil or other fluid and see what the engine compartment looks like. Also, see what condition the fluid levels are in.

Check Out That Title History

The last thing you want to do is throw away your time on a car that’s been in a crash or that has a salvaged or rebuilt title, so you need to check the vehicle’s history report. What you uncover may also help you with the price of the car.

Getting the Right Car Price

Scour online used car buying sites for info you can use in the negotiation process. You can also go to used car listing sites and get a few quotes from some area dealers on the ride you’re looking to buy. Take the lowest ones with you to get the best price.

Now you know how to negotiate the price of a used car. The main thing is to take your time and not fall victim to a rush job that could wipe you out financially. Do the work, trust your instincts, and come away with a ride you can celebrate.


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