The nature of used car-buying is that since there the price of the vehicle isn’t set in stone, negotiating the price is always an option. However, dealers aren’t usually going to just give in and offer you a lower price, so it’s important to know how to negotiate with them. Here are six expert tips for negotiating at a used car dealership to get the best possible price on a used vehicle.
1- Know What the Car is Worth
When buying a new car, knowing its approximate trade-in value beforehand will give you an edge in negotiations. A few quick internet searches can help you find a used car’s approximate retail value, and you can always consult Kelly Blue Book (KBB.com) to see both retail and wholesale values for used vehicles. Once you know what the vehicle is worth, start by making an aggressive offer at around 10% below the wholesale value. Many dealers won’t accept an offer that low at first, but it provides a good base to negotiate a price slightly below market value, and every once in a while a dealer will take you up on this kind of aggressive offer.
2- Follow-Up Before Closing Time at End of Week or End of Month
Used car salesmen are often under increased pressure make a few final sales before closing time on weekend nights or on the last day of the month. (Tactics for Negotiating the Price of a Used Car) Remind the dealer that you’re a sure buyer if they’ll meet your price, which will often motivate them to give you a slightly lower price for a guaranteed sale. Even if they weren’t sold on a buying price at the beginning of a week, or on the 20th of a month, if you wait till Sunday or until the end of the month, dealerships will likely be more open to your price.
3- Inspect the Car for Mileage and Condition
While vehicles at a used car dealership will usually have undergone some maintenance to make them more presentable and ensure they’re in working condition, you still want to do a close inspection of the car’s interior and exterior. If the car has particularly high mileage, or if it has minor dents, scratches or worn tires, you can use these as leverage in negotiations. (How to Negotiate the Price for a Used Car) Citing these flaws, however small, will increase your chances of getting a lower price.
4- Visit Multiple Dealerships
Even if you have a preferred dealership that you’ve bought from before, visit a few local dealerships that have the vehicle you’re looking for. Use the same negotiation process and ask for a similar price from each dealer. Not only will this let you compare buying prices from different dealers, but citing slightly lower offers from other dealerships can give you potential leverage in negotiations.
5- Be Polite
While you’ll sometimes see tips that suggest that threatening to walk out, arguing excessively, or telling a dealer to “take it or leave it,” are good negotiating strategies, this is rarely the case. Keep in mind that you’re likely not the only potential buyer, so being rude to the salesperson will only make them less inclined to negotiate with you. Being polite gives you a chance to get on their good side, and makes it more likely that a dealership will accept your offer.
6- Don’t Over-Negotiate
Finally, it’s important not to keep trying to get a lower price, or to spend too much time in negotiations. Tell the dealer right away that you’ll buy the car as soon as they hit your target figure, and if they make slightly less favorable counter-offers, politely decline, give them your number, and leave. Over-negotiating can lead to unproductive arguments, so the best strategy is to simply inform them that you’re a guaranteed buyer at your target price and leave them to consider your offer.