You Are the One with All the Power

The process of buying a used car can be inconvenient at best and downright torturous at worst. Depending on the dealer you work with, you may be exposed to all the slimy tactics that give car salesmen such a bad reputation. What many people don’t realize when they go to buy a car, however, is that you are the one with all the power in this situation. Since it’s up to you to decide when you are happy with a deal, you can often save yourself quite a bit of money by doing a little negotiation. Here are a few tips for how to haggle with a used car salesperson and settle on a price that you think is fair.

Do Your Research before Going In

The car buying experience has changed significantly over the last decade as most dealerships are forced to list their current inventory online. As a buyer, Internet listings put you at a major advantage because you can do your research before you even set foot on the lot. Use the information posted about a car online (such as its make, model, and mileage) to calculate its current value on the Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds websites. You can also usually find the VIN number for a used car online and then take a look at the Carfax report to see if there are any red flags. Once you have all this data, including a suggested purchase price, you can head to the dealership well-armed with information.

Plan Your Opening Offer Wisely

Making a reasonable opening offer will often give you a leg up in the negation process, so it’s important to be smart when planning your first bid. The reports you pull from the Internet will usually let you know the average trade-in value of a car, how much it would sell for in the private market, and the average dealer retail price. Anywhere in the range between the trade-in value and the dealer’s price is fair game, but you may find that a dealer won’t take you seriously if you try to lowball the offer too much. On the other hand, you should never show your hand too early by offering top dollar right off the bat.

Have Confidence, but Don’t Be a Jerk

You need to remember that you are going to be dealing with someone who makes sales for a living. If you show weakness during negotiations, the salesperson is more likely to take advantage of you. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be overconfident or rude. A “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude rarely gets you the results you’re hoping for, and it may end up killing the deal.

Don’t Try to Rush the Process

Buying a car is exhausting, and it’s only natural to want to get the process over with as quickly as possible. If you let on to your dealer that you are in a hurry, however, he is probably going to find a way to rush your negotiations, and you may lose out on a good deal.

Arrive with Your Financing Lined Up

Make sure you know your budget and credit health. Check credit reports and credit scores. Then, make an appointment with your bank or credit union to discuss car loans before you head to the car dealership. Unless the salesperson is able to offer you a great deal (such as zero-percent financing), you will usually find that the interest rates you can secure with a private lender are better than those available from the dealer. Once you have a financing quote from the dealership, do the math on your own to decide upon the best plan.

Make Negotiation Fun and Be Ready to Walk Away

The car buyers who get the best deals are the ones that have fun negotiating. Remember that the back and forth between you, the dealer, and the mythical manager in the back room is essentially a game. Don’t be afraid to call your salesperson’s bluffs or to stretch the truth occasionally to secure a better deal. The single biggest mistake consumers make, however, is getting too attached to a car before you’ve signed on the dotted line. You need to be prepared to walk away at any moment if they deal isn’t going your way, so don’t start thinking a car is yours until you’ve handed over the check.

Secure a Great Deal

Buying a used car is always going to be stressful, after all, you’re making a big financial commitment. But you have more control over the process than you might think. By preparing in advance and negotiating well, you can often secure a great deal on your new vehicle and maybe even enjoy the experience.

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