A lot of people dread the negotiation part of buying a used car. It should be done anyway, and fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult, particularly if you’ve done your homework and are well aware of the vehicle’s worth.
Picture this: the seller asks for an amount that is higher than the car’s actual worth based on your research. You can start by talking about any issues you have regarding the condition of the vehicle. Tell the seller, for example, that while you are happy with the way it drives overall, you think it should get new tires, and that the book puts its worth at this amount so you’ll be glad to pay a price that’s slightly lower for it.
At this point, the seller will decide to either accept your offer or make a counteroffer. If his counteroffer is still too high for you, you can insist on your offer or you two can meet halfway, splitting the difference.
Here are a few more pointers that can help:
Don’t fixate on the monthly payment. In the eyes of the seller, you are a cash buyer even if you’re buying the car through a preapproved loan, which means negotiations should be on the vehicle’s price instead of on your monthly payment. This lets you avoid a common trick used by salesmen:
Begin low but within the ballpark. If you lowball the seller, they won’t treat you seriously. Make your offer low yet still attractive instead. Then you can go up gradually, maybe in increments of $250.
Don’t trap yourself in the sales office. Rather than being left alone while the salesman is out talking to his boss, explore the showroom or get some coffee. When buyers are uncontrollable, salespeople are usually thrown off balance, and that can give you an advantage in negotiations.
Take it slow and repeat the numbers you hear as you go. Go slow, or if possible, write down the numbers thrown at you while negotiating. Confirm whether you’re talking about the “out-the-door” price, which covers all taxes and fees, or just the price of the vehicle. And be sure to ask about the fees in detail. Some dealers charge bogus fees to recover any profit they lose during negotiations.
Be ready to walk away. Finally, if you don’t seem to be making any progress toward a deal, or you think you’re being treated badly, just leave. Goodbyes are unnecessary.