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The Best Way To Negotiate How Much You’ll Pay For Your Car

After deciding how much you can afford to spend on a used car and looking into the best deals, you’re ready to negotiate with the car dealer for the best bang for your buck. But how do you haggle for an agreeable price if you’re not confident in your negotiating prowess?

The good news is that you can easily make a strong case by being well-prepared in advance. You’ll also want to watch out for red flags and know if the better option is to move on to a different option.

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Good Research Is Key

When procuring a major purchase, you’ll want to avoid impulse or uninformed buying, and you’ll want to get the best value and price. If you hope to convince the salesperson that the price you are offering is fair, you’ll need to be sure to bring researched information to back up your offer.

You can approach the dealer well prepared by looking for your chosen vehicle’s value online. The best sites to visit for this information is Kelly Blue Book car values, CarGurus Instant Market Value, and Edmunds’ True Car Value. These sites provide different calculations, but they help determine the average sales price you should expect to pay.

With this information in hand, you can look for similar vehicles in your area and use all this information to negotiate a reasonable price. Watch out for red flags if the price is much higher and the dealer can’t present a reason for the increased cost (e.g., a different vehicle package).


A Mechanic’s Inspection

Before you sign on the dotted line, you should hire a reliable mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. The reasoning behind this is similar to having a home inspection before purchase. It’s essential to test drive the vehicle. Still, it is equally important to ascertain any hidden mechanical or structural defects through a mechanic’s inspection.

The best method for finding a reliable mechanic is through referrals and word-of-mouth. If that is not available, look for good reviews online. In addition to finding out whether the vehicle is road-worthy, a mechanic’s inspection could give you information that you can use to negotiate a discount. If the dealer is unwilling to budge on the price, the inspection results will provide you with a firm grip on whether the vehicle is still worth the cost.

One reason to walk away might be that the vehicle’s condition is far worse than indicated by the dealer. Or an even worse red flag is that the dealer refuses to let you get an inspection or tries to talk you out of it. In these instances, it is perhaps time to move on to your next choice.


Other Negotiation Options

Sticker price need not be the only means to obtain a discount. If the dealer won’t budge much on the price, or simply because it doesn’t hurt to ask, consider negotiating on other related items, services, and your trade-in.

When you’re ready to negotiate your trade-in value, it’s also essential to do your research—and bring it with you. The same online sites you used to determine the best used car prices can also help you determine how much you should expect to get. And remember that a higher trade-in value means more money off the bottom line, so less sales tax. Keep your used car purchase and trade-in negotiations separate to avoid confusion. You don’t want to get less for your trade-in to cover the dealer’s discount on the purchase.

Haggling is an ordinary step in buying a used vehicle. You want to get a good deal, and the dealer wants to make a profit. Meeting in the middle with counteroffers and alternative savings choices is part of this process.

Plan to spend several hours with the buying process, but know when to walk away if the dealer is unreasonable or if you notice red flags. It’s a significant investment, and you want to be satisfied that you achieved the best bargain.