Everyone loves a deal on used cars. Car buyers want to make sure they’re getting the best deal, while car dealers will always be happy to negotiate.
However, when you’re haggling on the price of a used car, or any car for that matter, there are certain ways to go about it.
Here, we’ve asked members of the Car Dealer Magazine Forum for the advice they’d give customers before they stepped into their showrooms.
It’s handy to know what a car dealer would say to you before you walked into their dealership and here we’ve shared their top tips to help you get the best price for your next used car.
Be honest with used car dealers
‘Just be honest,’ said forum user and used car dealer Casper. ‘There is nothing worse than a customer trying to make up faults to get money off the car they’re looking at.’
Dealers will prefer you’re honest about how much you’ve got to spend on the car you’re looking to buy instead of making up excuses as to why you think it’s worth less.
‘If someones comes in and says the £3,000 car I’m selling is only worth £2,600 because their friend said it is, then I’d be like “it’s £3,000”,’ said Casper.
‘However, if someone came in and told me they liked the car, but could only afford £2,600 I’d work with them to see what I could do.’
Pick up the phone and speak to the dealer
Forum member Highline8 recommends the best way to get a decent used car price is to pick up the phone rather than email.
He said: ‘Pick up the phone, speak to my salesmen and make a genuine enquiry. I tend to ignore long email enquiries as experience has proved most of them to be time wasters.’
He also agreed with Casper that you need to be realistic on budget.
‘Don’t be a dreamer,’ said BHM. ‘If I have a car advertised at £8,995 and you only have £8,500 to spend then, depending on days in stock and general stock profile of the business at the time, we should be able to do something.
‘If you are ringing around thinking you’ll get £1,000 off a car you are wasting your time and ours.’
Deal with an experienced pro
‘Car sales guys usually get a hard time,’ explains forum user Trade Vet. ‘Don’t deal with an order taker, but go for an experienced pro instead.’
He also suggests if you’re ‘pleasant and straightforward’ about your needs and you like the service you get, go back again in the future.
Trade Vet adds: ‘If you are happy with the service, it makes sense to stay loyal to the same dealer especially if the same sales guy remains. They will be pleased to see you and will do favours if you need them.’
Don’t make up faults
Used car dealers are more than up for a deal on the cars they are selling, but don’t try and pull the wool over their eyes by making up faults, says forum users Have A Word With The Wife.
‘Be ready to do business, say that you are ready to do business, you will be asked,’ he says. ‘Do not waste people’s time, be confident and calm, and friendly – and do not make faults up.
‘It must be kept friendly, but not over friendly so keep it business-like. Do not let whoever came with you look bored and just ready to pay sticker price – I can suss these out!
Do not make the first offer
Have A Word With The Wife also says you should wait for the dealer to offer you the first price before starting to negotiate.
He said: ‘Explain how you can make the sale today, explain that you understand it is a business and that they have overheads and introduce lightly why you want or need this discount – do not make the first offer.
‘The final price from the dealer is your starting point. If you can not get this lower there maybe discount on another item the seller offers, so find out first.’
But cheekily, our used car dealer adds: ‘But do not do any of this – just pay full price.’ He is, of course, joking.
Treat used car dealers with respect
There’s a common misconception that dealers are ‘out to get’ customers and starting off with that in mind will set the deal up to fail.
User Catalyst Auto says he has one simple piece of advice: ‘Treat everyone how you would expect to be treated.’
While forum member Noacross adds: ‘Biggest one for me is BE NICE. Nice, normal, polite people get much further with us (buying or even when a car has issues).
‘A buyer is as much selected by us, the seller, as them selecting our car. If they don’t pass the test, they won’t get anywhere and we don’t have to sell to them as much as they don’t have to buy from us.’
Cash is not king – this is not 1976…
Car dealers hate cash. Offering a dealer cash will absolutely not get you a better deal. Every one of the used car dealers we spoke to for this feature said rather than give you a better deal for cash they’d be more inclined to avoid it.
Used car dealer Noacross said: ‘Cash is not a help to us, neither is no PX or no finance deal, so it won’t secure a better deal.’
Why do they hate it? Car dealers have to make checks as to where money comes from and provide an audit trail. What’s more, most banks these days charge business customers to deposit cash.
Prepare your part exchange
Every used car buyer wants a good deal on their part exchange, but few will put in the legwork to get it ready for sale. Just as you would if you were selling it privately make sure you present it in the best possible light to the car dealer.
Car Dealer Magazine forum user Awc1000 said: ‘When it comes to part exes, bring everything you have for the car on first viewing – not handover. Spare keys, service history, bills etc – show me the stuff so that I can try and show you more money.’
Used car dealer Casper adds: ‘And leave the px as is when it actually comes in if you’re keeping the stereo and leaving a hole in the dash – tell us – and if you’re putting the alloys back to steel wheels, tell us.’
Don’t bring your mechanic mate with you
Nothing gets a car dealer’s back up like a mechanic friend who insists everything is wrong with the car when it isn’t.
One of the Car Dealer forum users described these as ‘Snap Ons’, referring to the trade tool branded clothing they often wear.
Used car dealer MrC said: ‘Saying “I used to be an engineer” means an extra £200 on the price.’
While used car dealer David Horgan adds: ‘Don’t bring your carpet and torch – it makes you look stupid.’
Golden top tips
There are some general rules to follow, says Car Dealer forum user Jimmy Glen, when visiting a used car dealer that he believes everyone should follow.
‘Don’t always expect us to round your new car payment down to the nearest hundred pounds,’ he said.
‘The part exchange car isn’t worth what’s owed to the finance company. Your negative equity isn’t our problem – we aren’t here to pay your shortfall.
‘And always be decent. You wouldn’t be any other way if you went to a nice restaurant – why treat us any differently? Not all car dealers are the same.’
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