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How To Get A Great Deal When Buying A Used Car

Buying a new car is simple. You walk up to the dealership, pick the vehicle you want, sign the papers, and walk out with a good-smelling car. Buy buying a used car is not so easy. You want an affordable price, but you don’t want a rolling trashcan. Dealers and sellers seldom want to sell a good car that someone wants at a reasonable price.

The best way to get the price you want is by negotiating. Here are some things to know when going into negotiations for a used car.

Photo: Apart

Do Your Research First

If someone found a vehicle and jumped on the first deal they saw, it would be a mistake. The next vehicle could have been a better deal. Setting up criteria and finding at least three vehicles that match prevents acting too early.
In addition to researching cars, always perform due diligence about the specific car listed. Some vehicles have a history of being exceptionally good or bad, with various potential issues. Many online tools also give price estimates based on the make, model, mileage, years, etc. Most sellers will list their vehicles above this price, of course.

Photo: Serhii

Speak With Experts

Don’t trust everything a dealer says. They are trying to sell you on their product and aren’t afraid to bend the facts a bit. You might be knowledgeable about vehicles, but just a test drive and a once-over won’t be enough to spot details the dealer is hiding.

So, you should get a third-party inspection. If you want the best estimate, find a trusted mechanic. A mechanic will provide information about the car’s problems and how much it might cost to fix them. If they tell you something the dealer didn’t mention, you can use that to haggle the price down.

Photo: Picture

Don’t Be Too Focused On Price

Indeed, the biggest factor when choosing a car is the price, but it isn’t all about the price. If the car is still just perfect, consider some alternatives to help lower the cost or sweeten the deal.

Dealerships will often accept trade-ins to offset the cost. A trade-in will lower the overall price, but it also reduces the sales tax, a hidden benefit some might miss. Be warned; this is another haggling point. Dealerships might try to confuse people by haggling both prices simultaneously. Keep it clean and ask to handle them as separate matters.
If a trade-in is insufficient, look for add-ons like an extended warranty or free oil change. These add value to the deal without pushing harder on the price. A dealership might be more likely to accept these as they do not affect the sales income.


Be Calm And Prepared To Walk Away

Much like you wouldn’t buy a house or take a job if the price point or workload didn’t match, you shouldn’t buy a car if the price point doesn’t make sense based on your research. The buyer’s job is to open negotiations and ask why the car is listed at that price.

Don’t panic or get frustrated if the salesperson gets defensive or evasive. Understand that salespeople are just trying to do their job and turn a profit, much like you are trying to save money. Continue to clarify why the price is so high and ask for an explanation and documentation.

When a dealer refuses to budge, tries to talk you out of an inspection, or won’t/can’t give a good explanation, be ready to walk away calmly. Knowing you have other options already gives you confidence. Sometimes, a salesperson needs the threat that you are willing to walk away to get the conversation going in the right direction. And sometimes, the deal just isn’t what it should be.