How To Negotiate When Buying A Used Car To Bring That Price Down

How To Negotiate Buying A Used Car: Buying a used car is often less complicated than buying a new car because the seller has fewer opportunities to add “extras” to increase the price. Plus there are no waiting lists and there are plenty of cars to choose from. However, if you are an inexperienced car buyer, you are more likely to be fooled by car salesmen. To buy a good used car, you not only need to have basic information about the car and inspect it thoroughly but also haggle to get the best price. However, you should go into the talks well prepared. Whether you are buying a used car from a dealer or from a private seller advertising the sale, you should know in advance how much you are willing to spend and be prepared to walk away if the seller insists that you pay more.

Get the best deal by negotiating on a used car

There is no predetermined price for a used car that you can negotiate. Every used car is unique in some way, and that is reflected in the price. Many things can affect the transaction you are negotiating, such as the average selling price of comparable cars, scheduled maintenance, whether the car needs to be cleaned, and more. These may be small details, but they can make a significant difference when it comes to how much of a discount you can get on the used car you are considering. Use these factors to negotiate a lower price.

A new car loses about 10% of its value as soon as it leaves the lot, and another 20% in the first year. After three years, the average car is only worth about 60% of its new value. That may be discouraging to the first-time owner, but it’s a fantastic value for the savvy used car buyer.

Do your Research at home

To save time and effort, do some research before you go to the dealer to look at and try out cars. Before you go to the dealer, you should first make a list of the models you are interested in. After that, you should ask around and use the internet to find out more about them. We are a great source of that information, so make sure you check out our many buyer guides! Make sure you learn all about the common problems of the car you are looking to buy. Use that knowledge and ask the seller if those problems have been taken care off.

In addition to the many research tools available on the internet, you should also consider an online marketplace for buying and selling cars. Used car websites make the buying experience easier by providing detailed, searchable listings, vehicle reviews, buyer’s guides and other resources, which means your vehicle could be just a few clicks away.

Get your load pre-Approved – negotiate with leverage

If you are looking to finance the purchase of a used car, get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan, as this can be a useful bargaining chip when negotiating price. A used car salesman will then see you as a serious contender, not just someone who is looking around and trying to haggle for fun. Let them know that you are serious and ready to drive back home with the car if everything checks out. Including the price.

Factors Influencing the purchase and the negotiation

Negotiating a lower price on a used car isn’t as frightening as it appears. Going in with a clear mind and your research is half the battle. The experience will be far smoother if you do your homework, plan for rejections, and manage your expectations. Go in with a price range that you’re looking for and base this range on the research you’ve done. Keep in mind that deciding on a range depends on the other factors too, these include:

The exterior state of the car, if it was smoked in, wear and tear of the interior, a number of previous owners, extended warranties, after-market features, extras like winter tires, or recent replacement of important features like brakes are all factors that can affect a car’s selling price. Use these variables as bargaining chips when negotiating the price of a secondhand car.

Take a Test Drive before you negotiate

After you have completed the visual examination, you should ask the dealer for a test drive. While many sellers do not offer a test drive, this is actually quite necessary so that you can make the best evaluation of the automobile. A reasonable and good dealer will allow you to take a test drive. But if he or she answers no, it’s time for you to go as well.

Make sure you check out Lifeonfour’s guide on how to inspect a used car before purchasing it.

Click HERE.

Recap – How to negotiate for a used car in 5 steps

1. Come well prepared

If you want to negotiate effectively when buying a used car, you first need to get a feel for the actual price you’re buying. Therefore, you should determine in advance the usual price range of the vehicle you want. Make sure these cars are directly comparable to each other. Because the models vary widely depending on the version, this means that the prices of the vehicles on offer can vary widely as well. The more features a car has, the higher the price. So, commit to models and trim levels – and compare prices on these cars only.

2. Time your purchase and negotiate accordingly

The best time of year to buy a car depends on two factors: how urgent the seller is to sell the used car and how competitive the market is. So it doesn’t matter whether a model is in peak season or not. The old advice on buying a convertible in winter no longer applies. In fact, used car price comparisons show that winter has the highest average prices. Why: Many car owners want to use their vehicles in the winter and only offer them in the spring. That’s why used car prices are cheapest in the spring, stay mild until summer, and start rising again in the fall. Therefore, a used convertible can be more expensive in winter than in spring. If temperatures rise again, it could come on the cheap — i.e. if sellers want to buy a new convertible themselves and want to get rid of the old one.

3. Assess the weaknesses of the car you are inspecting

Take a close look at the vehicle and write down everything you notice during your test drive and visual inspection – you can take advantage of all of these when negotiating the price. Look for wear on the steering wheel, seats, or surfaces that indicate use. There is room for negotiation if this does not meet the stated age or mileage. Some models, like the BMW F10,  are also known for typical defects that appear after a few years of use. Use the car’s weaknesses as arguments in the final negotiation.

4. Try to win additional bonuses if negotiations are not moving the price

Is there nothing you could do about the price? Then there’s the “invisible discount” option. These advantages include, for example, free initial services if required at the purchase. Also, communicate to the seller that he will win you over as a potential customer for his mechanical services. Then he is more inclined to meet your requirements.

Also ask if the seller will offer something like a set of summer or winter tires, include new floor mats or a first aid kit, or donate fuel vouchers. It’s also possible, for example, for dealers to take over statutory liability for registered or extended defects with a more comprehensive used car warranty – for free, of course. Even if this doesn’t reduce the actual purchase price, you will at least benefit from the discount later on.

5. Negotiate a used car calmly and firmly

If you are buying from a dealer, make sure to first negotiate the price of the used automobile. Then you may talk about any trade-in options of your present vehicle or financing options. Salespeople will try to group everything together. They can do this by emphasizing how you are getting a good deal on one aspect, say, finance while concealing the fact that you are getting a horrible bargain in another, such as the price of your trade-in.

You should begin with a reasonable price. However, aim to make it 15 to 25% less than your desired final price. You should not bargain at all at first. Instead, you should inform the vendor what your maximum price is and that you will only buy if they meet that price. Or you let the dealer set the first price. In this manner, you can ensure that your beginning offer isn’t too high. Whatever approach you use, remember to stick to your guns about not exceeding your maximum price.

The seller may not immediately react to your initial offer. It’s critical not to jump in and fill the void by raising your offer price.

If you aren’t familiar with vehicles, the “bad cop” who comes with you should be. Allow them to inspect the vehicle to ensure that it is in good condition. Make sure you and your friend are on the same page before making the offer. Discuss your negotiating approach ahead of time, and define your desired price range and maximum price jointly. Getting into an argument or questioning each other in front of the seller afterward will not help you obtain a better offer.

If the seller makes a counteroffer and you want to consider it, that’s OK. Inform the seller that buying a car is a serious choice that should not be taken lightly. If the seller has other possible purchasers, be aware that if you delay, you may miss out on the car. But remember, unless you are buying a really rare and unique car, there are other cars out there. Never rush things.

If you and the seller cannot reach an agreement, gently state that your offer is final and binding. If your offer was reasonable, the seller may still contact you. If you are actually interested in the vehicle, always leave your mobile phone number with the vendor.

If you are still interested in a vehicle, you can contact the seller an hour or so before the weekend’s closing time. Try to speak with the same salesman and see if the car you want is available at the price you desire. If the salesman or the dealership as a whole had a bad week, the seller may be willing to sell to you.

Frequently asked questions

How Much Negotiating Room Is There On A Used Car?

Based on our experience (one of our writers used to be a used car salesman) there is usually anywhere from 1000-3000$ of negotiating room. Based on how long the car has been selling and how much interest there is the sellers will then adjust the price for the interested buyers. If they are in no rush to sell the car and there are other people in line, do not expect any particular price drops when you try and negotiate.

In other cases, let’s say you are buying a 2006 S-Class with the early Airmatic suspensions, which is considered a car that not many people are willing to buy, you can expect a significant amount of room when it comes to the price.

How To Negotiate Used Car Price When Paying Cash?

Let the seller know you have cash ready and that you are serious. Used car dealers know that it does not happen every day that a buyer with cash on hand wanders onto their yard. Let them know you have the cash and play the game from a perspective of power.

Can You Negotiate Used Car Prices At A Dealership And Is It Allowed?

Not only that you can, you definitely should. It is definitely allowed and being practiced on a daily basis. There is almost always a certain room for negotiating and you can get a better deal than the price you see on the listing.

Can You Negotiate Online Car Prices?

Nothing is stopping you from messaging the seller online and making a lower offer or asking what their lowest price is. However, we do not recommend it. Seeing the car in real life is greatly beneficial and discovering the real state of the car can help you set up a basis for successful negotiations. If you discover a big scratch that was not mentioned in the online listing, you can always use that to lower the final price.


Because of depreciation, purchasing a used vehicle may provide a greater financial value than purchasing a new car. A good deal on a used car may be obtained by completing extensive web research, inspecting and test-driving vehicles, and comparing costs. If you do negotiate on a used car effectively, you can save even more money!

Private sellers are usually less expensive but carry more risk, whereas dealer lots and certified pre-owned automobiles are more trustworthy and are covered by lemon laws in most states. If you want to finance a used car, it may be a good idea to be prequalified or preapproved for a loan before you start negotiating. When purchasing a car from an individual, transfer the title as quickly as possible to avoid ownership confusion later on.

Bring a mechanic if feasible, especially if you’re purchasing from an individual. Check for service records and past ownership as well, if they are accessible. Whether you buy from a dealer, find out if there is a warranty and if an extended warranty is available. Make sure you also read up on some negotiating tactics before leaving the house!