Buying a used car can be a stressful experience. Nobody wants to overpay, but you don’t want to miss out on a good deal either. Let’s find out how to negotiate price when buying a used car so you get your money’s worth.

Know Who You Are Dealing With

If you are buying from a used car lot or from an online source, be aware that you are dealing with professionals. Even when a car is advertised as for sale by owner, a career used car salesperson might be behind the ad. This doesn’t mean that the seller is a dishonest curbstoner, but they still might have more experience than they are willing to admit.

Know the used car before you buy. Order a pre-purchased used car inspection from CARCHEX now.

Gather Some Numbers

Once you decide on a particular used car, gather some price data.  Kelley Blue Book is a good place to start. Also look at online auto malls for the same car you are interested in to see what others are asking. Calculate an average price then subtract 10% – that’s your starting price. Then choose a price that is the absolute most you are willing to pay for the car. That’s your ceiling which you should consider to be set in stone.

Get A Pre-Purchase Inspection

A pre-purchase inspection can be a used car buyer’s best ammunition. These inspections can be done on pretty much any car in the country, and they give you a detailed evaluation about the condition of the car before you buy. Besides protecting you from buying a piece of junk, an inspection gives you negotiating power. You’ll see why later.

Let’s Make A Deal

Now you are ready to make an offer. Contact the seller and offer your starting price. Don’t be surprised if they reject this offer. On the other hand, if they accept, be prepared to close the deal fast. Try to avoid “buyer’s remorse” which means you feel like you could have gotten a better deal since 10% off the average price is very good.

Avoid Financing Traps

If you are buying from a dealer, avoid the trick question, “How much can you pay per month?” This could be a ploy to lock you into a monthly payment plan where you end up overpaying in the long run. Remain focused on negotiating total sale price alone, and tell the salesperson politely that you will handle the financing on your own.


Once you make your initial offer, the seller will probably make a counter-offer. They might try to convince you that their price is the lowest possible. If it’s lower than the average price for that particular model, you might consider accepting. In most cases, however, their counter-offer will be above average. This is when you can quote the prices of other similar cars on the market and the inspection data you have on hand to refute the seller claims that their car is “as good as new.”

Haggle Till You Win

If, as in most cases, the seller’s counter-offer isn’t acceptable, raise your original offer by $200 – 300 dollars, and see if you can reach a deal. This back and forth will continue until you meet at a price that both parties accept.

If negotiations get stuck above your ceiling price, be firm and walk away. Don’t get tempted to keep haggling just to get the car. Leave your contact information with the seller since they just might call you back.

Remember, there are plenty of cars on the market. Patience and sticking to a game plan will pay off in the end.

While no inspection can detect car problems 100%, our car  inspections can pick up a lot of damage that might go unnoticed. Order a CARCHEX pre-purchase used car inspection today.

(CARCHEX inspections are physical, not mechanical, inspections.)

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