In Part One of How To Get a Used Car Bargain, we stressed the importance of deciding on your price range and arranging financing before you shop. We also told you how to identify good used cars that you could buy at bargain prices.
In Part Two, we showed you how to shop for used cars by locating several likely candidates you might want to buy. Then we showed you how to test-drive and evaluate the overall condition of these "target cars."
In this final installment, we'll look at how to negotiate for a used car, focusing on purchases that take place at car dealerships. (Negotiating with private-party sellers usually is quick and less stressful.) Then we'll show you how to cover all your bases before you sign on the dotted line.
Step 5: Negotiating for a Used Car
Just the word "negotiating" makes most people cringe. Add in "used cars" and some people run away in terror. But negotiating doesn't have to be a grueling experience. With the right preparation and a few simple rules, negotiating can actually be fun and exciting. If you strike a good deal, it gives you a great sense of satisfaction. And if you use Edmunds' True Market Value® (TMV®) pricing, it streamlines the process and allows you to avoid much of the haggling.
Here are three simple rules that should carry you safely through the negotiating process:
- Know the numbers before you begin negotiating.
- Always be ready to walk away from a deal you don't like.
- Make a low (but reasonable) offer and then sweeten the deal by raising it in small increments.
Rule 1: Know the Numbers
By now, you should know the approximate value of the used car you're considering. Before you leave for the car lot, print out the Edmunds.com TMV page for the used car you want to buy.
Just knowing this value will make you a better negotiator. After all, if a dealer is insisting a car is worth $14, 000 but your research tells you it's worth only $12, 000, you'll negotiate with more conviction.
The dealer will usually try to justify his asking price. But if you have looked up the TMV of the car on Edmunds.com and included all options and allowed for the mileage, you should be very close to the right price.
Rule 2: Always Be Ready To Walk
Don't get your heart too set on one particular vehicle, no matter what the dealer says about the current "sale" going on at the dealership. There's always more where that came from. If a dealer thinks you're in love with the car you just test-drove, you'll be in a weak position to negotiate. But if he thinks you might walk away without buying, you will have more leverage when the negotiating starts.