How To Negotiate When Buying a Used Car

Negotiate Successfully with a Used Car Salesman

Photo of car for sale

So you've decided not to buy new. That's good -- a used car is cheaper and usually just as good as any new car. However, you still have to deal with those troublesome salesmen in order to get out of their lot without having your bank account ravaged. 

Let's go over some ways to prepare you for "The Big Negotiation".

  1. Be Prepared! Figure out what kind of car you would like. Do your research, get online and check out the review for the car you're after. Check out the average pricing and see what kind of value this car holds. Is it the car you really want? Does one used dealership price it for $2,000 more than the used dealership that's 2 hours away? Find out if there are any manufacturer defects, or recalls, and what the most common issues are with the car you have your eye on.
  2. Walk in with confidence! Car salesmen are like wolves -- they can smell the fear in you. You have got to walk in there, educated about the cars you want to look at, firm about your price, and carrying a trick up your sleeve. When you are prepared, you can get what you desire and drive out with a smile.
  3. That trick up your sleeve... You see that sticker price on the car window-- you do realize that is not the actual price, right? It could be higher, lower, or there could be very small fine print involved. If you have done your research, then you know how much your chosen vehicle should be priced. You should also have that exact amount in your pocket, so to speak. If you walk into a dealership, never ever tell them exactly how much you have to spend. If you have $25,000 to spend, tell them you are absolutely not willing to go over 18,000. Now, you know you will have to spend over that, and so does the car salesmen. They have little extras they don't tell you about when they are convincing you to buy this car. Things like:
    • Financing
    • Tabs
    • Warranties
    • Monthly payments
    • Licensing
    • Taxes
    • Other fine print charges you don't discover until later
  4. Walk away! There is going to be a time when the salesman tells you that he can go no lower. His price will most likely be more than the price you told him you could spend. If he seems firm, walk away. It is taught to every salesman, to never let the customer walk away without buying. You are going against this cardinal rule when you walk away. Which means they only have one option if they don't want you to leave, and that's to bring the price down.

    This will be a hard issue. If you are dealing with an older, more experienced salesman, he might not care about one lost sale. However, if you are dealing with a new sales brat, then you may have lots of luck. Most of the part you are negotiating about has nothing to do with the price of the car, but it has everything to do with how much the salesman makes. A veteran salesman knows someone else will come and buy the car, while a newbie is eagerly trying to keep his job and make lots of money.

  5. It is very important never to let on that you have more money than you told them. They believe they will still get you in the end, because there are plenty of things they don't have to tell you about in detail, and they try to stop you from asking questions before you sign on the dotted line. When you are negotiating on the price of this vehicle, make sure to tell them you intend to pay for everything with that amount. Later on, they will try to get you into higher payments or higher interest so that you are paying twice as much as you originally thought.
  6. Get a Prebuyer's Inspection! Prebuyer's inspections can be one of your strongest assets when negotiating. That car you are looking at could have a hefty oil leak underneath it, or the tranny could be showing signs of wear.

    Get a mechanic to meet you at the dealership, or drive it to a shop near the used car dealership you are shopping at. Have the car fully inspected. If you choose to test drive the car and drive it to a mechanic, then you have a secret weapon. It is likely that you now know more about that car than the salesman does. If you choose to have the mechanic come to the dealership, this is a great tactic. It makes the salesman sweat. They have to allow your mechanic to inspect any vehicle of your choosing -- if they refuse you, then you already know you're not going to shop there.

    There are certain things that a mechanic, or a very well experienced inspector, knows to look for that you might not know about. Make sure to pull the mechanic aside and ask for their true opinion of the car. Does it need anything? Are there any problems? How long before you will need to put money into this car? And ask any other questions of that nature. Even if the vehicle is in excellent shape, the mechanic might be able to find good points for you to negotiate. Worn tires, oil leaks, handling, and fluid checks can be great negotiating tools.

Buying a used car doesn't have to be as hard as it seems. When you are prepared and confident, there is no reason for you not to drive away happy. So go out and get that car!

Amanda invites you to visit her article on Helium for more information about negotiating with car salesmen.

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Ya, the only problem with that is that when all of the 'Seniors' there are wolves, there is little to nothing those salesman can do even if they do care about their customer. They still have to follow what the boss says. In anycase, I don't have car salesman for what they do, they are there to make money, otherwise that job would not be there.

By Amanda Carter