Tips on how to haggle when buying a used car

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Below is a well prepared comprehensive guide on Tips on how to haggle when buying a used car, a lot was discussed like how to Chat and talk politely to the dealer, Do read to the end to discovers all the tips talked about in this article.

There is known law that stands against haggling when you’re buying goods or products. To haggle is very legal, and you should leverage its potentials when buying a used car.

Obviously, some private sellers may offer to sell their used cars at a high price, while others will keep it at an average price.

Similarly, different dealerships may offer varying prices for the used cars in their lot.

Thus, in order to get the best deal, you have to haggle and compare prices from different sellers and dealers. We have a guide on What to ask when buying a used car check it out.

You can most often see the prices from the dealership websites or the car sales platform where a private seller had uploaded the used car “for sale.”

However, there are different factors that determine the final price of a used car.

Irrespective of how flashy and neat the car may appear on sight – there are quite several things to look into, and those things are what to determine the final price of a used car.

How to haggle for a used car

There is no fixed price for the cars you see on a dealership’s lot – your haggling capability determines the final price.

Be sure to have researched the car you want to buy, most especially, get the different prices from different sellers and websites – that’s where to start and then apply the tips below.

Tips on how to haggle when buying a used car

According to Philip Reed, senior editor at Edmund, “Do everything you can before physically going to buy the car.”


  • Don’t settle for a lower model because it is cheaper
  • Always take note of discounts and dive into them when you can
  • When you see the car you want being advertised at a dealership website, check other dealership sites to see if the same car is available on their site, too. That’s a great way to start bargaining.
  • You should know that buying used cars can be quite confusing and complex.
  • Private sellers tend to offer lower prices than dealerships; however, you stand more risks when you buy from a private seller.
  • When you buy from dealerships, sometimes you are covered by lemon laws.

Inspect the used car thoroughly

The state of the car’s exterior and interior are among the key determinant factors for negotiating the final price.

Inspect the used car
Inspect the used car
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When a car flaunts a beautiful look, the seller may tend to increase the car’s price – however, if the car’s interior components are not in good shape – that should affect the price drastically.

While inspecting a car, there are several things to check out. They include taking the odometer reading, test driving, and checking out the dashboard to ensure it’s good.

Also, when inspecting the dashboard, take time to check all these:

  • Speedometer
  • Tachometer
  • Odometer
  • The engine coolant temperature gauge
  • Fuel gauge
  • Turn indicators
  • Gearshift position indicator
  • Seat belt warning light
  • Parking-brake warning light
  • Engine-malfunction lights

All these dashboard components should be working properly, as they are all important.

If any of these components are reading or working, you should indicate/notify the car salesperson – that should be a way of removing some bucks from the used car’s price.

Other hidden things to inspect on a used car include the tire threads, upholstery, handbrake, gear selector, easiness of the doors, rooftop, front seat adjustment clips, and every other thing you deem necessary to inspect.

If you don’t know pretty much about car inspection, you should go with someone experienced in that aspect – preferably, a car mechanic. After inspection comes the next big aspect of buying a used car – test driving.

Experience and knowledge is power

If this is going to be your first time buying a used car or a new car – arguably, you may not know how to get a car salesperson to agree at your price; thus, it is advisable to go with someone who already knows how to negotiate with car dealers or private sellers.

You’ve heard people say, “Knowledge is power,” that’s very true, especially in the negotiation game.

A new buyer may be in haste and then start telling the salesperson the type of car he wants and how much he is willing to offer.

That’s not a professional way to approach a car salesperson or dealer.

While you may need to tell the dealer the type of car you want, it is not so professional to expose your budget.

Once you tell the seller how much you budget you’ve got, it may be difficult to haggle; so, here are the tips for regard.

  • Be sure to have gotten all important information about the car model you want to buy
  • Don’t go straight to the point to tell the dealer the type of car you want; this will give you the flexibility to check out more options that may be better than what you previously had in mind.
  • Don’t disclose your budget – try to know the dealer’s final price; if it is ahead of your budget, that’s when the negotiation starts in.
  • Ensure that you have checked/inspected the car before negotiating for a fair price. If you haven’t checked the car and start haggling with the dealer – you both may agree at a price, and when you finally check the car, you may notice some pitfalls that would cost pretty much to fix. Thus, the checks should go first before the price negotiation.

Use the pitfalls you discovered as key points for haggling

Typically, used cars do have one or more bruises; it may be a faulty CD player, blown-out speaker, worn upholstery, fuel gauge not reading anymore, or any other problem.

These bruises may seem insignificant, but they do matter and should be fixed. Hence, if you had noticed any damage (either physical or technical), you should point it out to the dealer as one of the reasons to bring down the price of the used car.

The more issues, inconsistencies, errors, wears, or damages you find on a used car, causes the car to depreciate.

However, if you discover a lot of pitfalls, go for another car, regardless of if the seller/dealer promises to fix all of them.

Thus, one of the first things to do when you walk into a car dealership lot is to request the vehicle history report for the car you wish to buy.

There is a lot of information you can get from a car’s history report that can help you negotiate the price and value of the car.

All in all, you should hold on to the pitfalls you discover on the used car as your key point(s) for haggling.

This can help you to save up some money from your budget and buy the used car at the best possible price.

Nevertheless, there are still more handy tips on how to haggle when buying a used car.

Chat and talk politely

When chatting or talking with a salesperson, always try to be polite. However, you have to be careful not to allow the salesperson to know your top limit.

Let’s say you are going to pay for the car right away without signing up for car loan or financing, don’t let the seller know about this.

Usually, dealerships make more profit when you apply for car financing deals; having this in mind; you have to play smartly and allow them to arrive at a final bargain.

When you have known about their finance deals and terms, you can carefully decline to opt for a finance deal. 

Start with a price lower than your budget

Okay, after making your price research, you’re on a budget of $23k– that’s the maximum amount you are willing to pay for your next car.

When you get to the dealership lot and have examined every aspect of the car to confirm that it is worth buying at your budget, you can start negotiating at $21k.

Now the trick is this – if the salesperson says its $25k, don’t feel awkward to say $21k.

More so, when you make an offer, don’t make any further order until the salesperson gives a reply.

If the seller says your bargain is not good enough, you can increase it to $22k and insist that’s your last bet.

Ensure not to make any impressions that you’re willing to pay more than your bargain.

Sometimes, the dealer or seller may come down from $25k to $24k or even $23.5k.

When this happens, pretend to leave on the basis that you don’t have enough budget; the dealer may try to pressurize you into going for a finance deal.

Turn down the finance deal offer and start to make gestures to leave the lot. Most times, the car dealer will call you back and offer another discount; this time, the dealer may say $23k or $22.5k. Now, you’re going to buy the used car at your budget or save $500.

Note: the prices discussed here are mere assumptions. Some people save up to $5k from their budget after haggling with a car salesperson.

Also, if the dealer isn’t willing to give a reasonable discount, you can always walk out and check the next available option.

Another important thing to always have at the back of your mind is the state of the car – the core components must be working fine, and the fancies should still be intact.

Any critical damage noticed on the car should lead to a drastic fall-down on the price.

Be tactical, calculative, and persistent

Everyone would love a lower purchase price, but not at the expense of driving home with the worst car on the lot.


Thus, you should not seem too harsh or persuasive when negotiating with the car seller or dealer.

When you look too demanding, a dealer may not consent to your negotiations and may lose the willingness to sell you the best car he’s got.

Hence, if the dealer’s price is way up above the average from what you have gotten from researches, don’t shout it at him, instead, in a polite manner, explain to the dealer that you’ve done the research and have an idea of the car’s worth/price.

A professional car seller may try to come up with some distractive discussion, but never yield to that, stick to your topics/questions.

Another way to appear tactical is this – if you’ve noticed that the car has been parked in the dealership’s lot for a long time, you can smilingly tell the salesperson that at a fair discount you can help him free some good space on the lot for a new car to be parked.

Also, try to make the dealer see reasons why you’re insisting at a lower price; point out the minor errors on the car, which you observed during the inspection.

All these are in a bid to make the dealer understand why the used car’s price should be cut down a bit.

If the dealer sees your suggestions as valid points, both of you can agree on a price; else, he may offer you a handshake and tell you that your price isn’t enough to drive the car out of the lot.

If you really needed the car, try increasing your offer and see if you can get the car.

Nevertheless, you should know that most dealers will want to shake your feet to see if you will agree at their price.

Thus, be persistent in your offerings and never make an impression like you’re willing to increase the offer.

Sometimes, you may need to walk out of the dealership – you may receive a call afterward (from the dealer) telling you to come to pick up the car at your price.


In negotiating the price for used cars, you need to be smart, polite, strategic/tactical, and persistent. Always carry out a thorough inspection before haggling for the car.

Test driving is a must and should be provided with the car’s vehicle history report. Read up other interesting tips for buying used cars from our homepage.

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