How to haggle for a car

By Joe Marczynski

Amazing discounts, offers and extras await those who learn how to negotiate on a car effectively.

If ever there was a right time to haggle your heart out, it’s when buying a car.

Whether you’re looking for a new model or a second-hand one, cars are simply not one price and one deal for all.

So, how to negotiate on a car? ?

Research, research… and then research a bit more!

First up, do your research. We can’t stress this point enough. Walking into any sales situation clueless will put you on the backfoot, and that is never a place you want to be.

If you’re buying new, what is the wholesale value of the car you’ve got your eye on? If you’re buying a used car, what is the market value? Knowing this will allow you to spot unfair mark-ups and absolute bargains quickly. ?

Watch out for unfair markups

If you’re dealing with an unfair, unjustified mark-up you can tackle this head on.

Find out what exactly you’re getting for that money; a special, metallic paint job? A booming sound-system? If there’s nothing tacked on, someone is trying to pull a fast one on you. Knowing the real value of the car will mean this doesn’t come off. ?

Be wary of utter bargains

Absolute bargains might seem like a dream come true, but they should set off warning bells. Why is the car so cheap? Chances are that you haven’t come across a clueless seller (although it does happen from time to time!).

It’s likely that at closer look you’ll discover the problem. Is the second-hand car sporting a dodgy gearbox that got fixed in later models? Is the mileage ridiculously high, meaning that you’ll barely get two years use out of it? Knowing the issue means you can decide whether it’s something you can live with (or get fixed) or not. ?

Set your price

Once you’ve done your research and figured out what you should be paying for a new car, figure out what you can pay for that car. Do your sums and figure out the absolute maximum you’re willing to pay. Don’t cross this threshold for anything; there will always be more cars out there. ?

Insist on a test drive

Taking the car for a test drive can throw up certain issues that the seller may not have been entirely upfront about. You may find that the speedometer is inaccurate, or the wheel and tyres are pulling to one side. You simply can’t learn these things from looking at photos. Discovering issues will help to inform your final decision, and if you decide to take them on, you can use them as leverage to bring down the price. ?

Point out the car’s downsides

This likely won’t work with new cars, but it certainly will with used cars. Find the vehicle's weak spots and make sure the seller knows you’ve spotted them. It might be a scratched paintwork, torn upholstery or be missing something you consider an essential, like an AUX cable. Highlighting these issues shows the dealer that you’ve got your wits about you and strengthens your haggling position for later.

Find leverage

If you’re haggling with a private seller, can you offer cash? Doing so is likely to be a bonus for them, so you could offer this in exchange for a discount.

Alternatively, if you’re going down the dealership route, consider part-exchange. Some places will offer you cash for your vehicle while others will take in exchange for a discount on your new car.

Consider both options and find the best deal for you. It could be that selling on your current car privately will bring in even more than part-exchanging, don’t forget.

As with all secret weapons, keep your cards close to your chest until it's time to haggle. ?

Stand strong on your offer

Some sellers will fall back on making you feel guilty when you make an offer, but as long as you’ve done your research and know that it’s fair, stand strong. That’s just part of the haggling game! Dealerships have financial reserves to dip into when they need to, and it’s them that are trying to sell to you, not the other way around.

Be confident in your offer; hesitation does not a great haggler make. If the seller is simply not giving in, walk away. It could well be that your phone rings a few hours or days later with a brilliant offer...

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