10 Tips for Haggling Over a Used Car

More Tips for Haggling Over a Used Car

Before you even take a look at the car, have the right price in mind.
Before you even take a look at the car, have the right price in mind.

7: Know What's a Good Price

Let's say you've decided you can spend $15,000 on a used car and found the exact make, model and year you desire. It fits your budget and is the one you want, so it must be a good price, right?

Not so fast. Just because you can afford to pay $15,000 for the car does not mean that's a good price for it. In fact, the auto may be worth much less than $15,000, and paying that price for it would be throwing some of your money away. So should you do?

There are a number of tools available to shoppers to help determine if a used car price is fair or not. Kelley Blue Book is one of the more established and popular used car valuation sites. Newer sites like CarGurus and iSeeCars also track used car prices so you can make sure you're paying a fair price for a used vehicle.

6: Know What a Good Price is for Your Area

Used car prices depend a lot on the area the car is being bought and sold. Big four-wheel drive trucks, for example, are in higher demand in northern rural areas than they are in southern cities. If you're shopping compact cars in an urban area where there's a high demand, you'll need to adjust your negotiations to reflect that the seller probably can get other offers for the car. Unfortunately, you're going to probably pay more. If, on the other hand, you're haggling over an all-wheel drive crossover in an area that doesn't see a lot of snow, you'll have the upper hand because demand for that kind of vehicle will be low.

As you research used car prices, look for regional variations. Setting your target price based on the national average of the car you want to buy could throw a wrench into your haggling. You could end up offering more than you should or too little for your area and stall the haggling process before it even gets started.

5: Know the Impact of Mileage and Options

Compared to used cars, new car pricing is easy because all new cars have the same number of miles: basically zero. They also have a set price for their features and options. Two used cars that are the same year and make, for example, can have vastly different miles on them and different features.

Before you negotiate on a used car price, understand how mileage impacts used car prices. The more miles a car has, the less you should pay. Similarly, a fully kitted out used vehicle with all the bells and whistles will command more money than the same model with just the basics. If you don't need a lot of car tech, you can score a deal by looking for a stripped down model. Also, if you are looking at buying an automobile with a lot of miles on it, you can use that to try and get the seller to lower the price. Look at the prices on cars of the same make and model with similar mileage to bolster your case.

4: Where You Buy Impacts What You'll Pay

Part of haggling the price of a used car is understanding the seller's costs. While you're trying to get the best deal, the seller is trying to make the most money. When you're dealing with a private seller, you can often get a lower price on the same car because a private seller doesn't have a lot of costs associated with selling. On the other hand, a dealership has to pay for things like utilities, staffing costs, advertising and other overhead. Keeping the seller's costs in mind will make you a better negotiator because you'll be able to understand where the other side is coming from. You'll also be able to shop around for the seller with the right combination of price and services for you.