How to Negotiate for a Used Car

How many cars will we buy during our lifetimes? A dozen such purchases is, on average, only one car every eight years. So we all know how to negotiate for a used car, right? Probably not as we approach the process from the wrong perspective.

The problem with negotiating for something we really want is that...we really want the object of our desire. That weakens our negotiating position significantly.

To improve you skills at negotiating for a used car consider these tips.

You Have Power
There are many cars and many dealers. There are private and public sellers. You can buy in your town, in your area or on the internet. There are online and print resources. Because you have all these options or choices you have a lot of power. The power you now wield is the ability to work one option against the other to get the best deal possible on the car of your choice.

You Have Work to Do
Knowing how to negotiate for a used car starts by understanding your needs versus you wants. The first step in buying a used car is to select the car that best meets your needs. Take a moment and write the primary reasons for buying a used car. Then number the reasons based on their importance to you with one (1) being the most important.

Second, prepare or update your annual budget and decide how much you want to allocate to your car purchase, When you do this also factor in insurance (insurance for a Porsche is much more than for a VW Bug) and even taxes if your budget is really thin.

Finally, consider which options are important to you and which fall in the nice-to-have-but-not-worth-paying-for category. You want to deflect the traditional add-on sales attempts at the dealership.

Start Shopping and Stay Focused
The list of reasons to buy a car and the budget will help keep you focused on selecting the right car for you and staying within your budget. It is easy when in the presence of a practiced salesman to be lead towards a more expensive model, extra options and more car than you actually need or can afford. Keep the lists handy and refer to them frequently to keep you on track for making the right purchase for you.

There are ample resources to help you evaluate the cars that may meet your needs. Periodicals and the Internet offer specs and price ranges. Using your list and personal desires narrow your list to a few makes and models that fit both lists. Then browse the Internet and regional newspapers to see how many matches you can find. You are researching price and availability at this point; not looking for the right car. Make sure you make copies of the best deals you come across as you may need to refer to or even provide them later.

Negotiate for Your Car with Confidence
If you can find one of the makes and models locally you are ready to start negotiations. At this point you probably know more about the make, model, price range and availability than the average used car salesperson. Use that information to strike the best deal possible.

If the salesperson will not come down to what you know the low market is, then leave your number and walk out indicating you have other opportunities. At this point the salesperson only has one buyer unless the model you have selected is a very unique, high-value car. This means he will need to come after you and improve his deal or, which might be the case, he paid too much to get the car and is not in a position to be competitive. Either way, you time is valuable and you need to know if you can deal with him or need to go to your next option.

The point is, being well-informed gives you the confidence to negotiate firmly and fairly and, if appropriate, walk away. You have developed options and so control the negotiation. Knowing how to negotiate for a used car is simply understanding your needs and wants in a car and then following a disciplined approach in selecting and reaching a fair agreement with some who is interested in only your money.