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How to Negotiate a Used Vehicle Purchase

You’ve found a vehicle that is right for you, and are ready to talk with the seller about a potential deal. When it comes to negotiating the price of a vehicle, the key is to settle on a deal that benefits both parties. Here are some negotiation techniques to keep in mind before you commit:

14 used car buying negotiation tips

  1. Do your research. Look into the make and model of the vehicle that you want to buy. One way is to check out the Canadian Red Book to see what the average price of that make and model of vehicle is. You should also investigate that particular vehicle to see if there are any common issues with this model. If so, you’ll want to ask the seller and inquire about this during a pre-purchase inspection by your preferred mechanic.

  2. Take into account other factors. There are several things that can influence the selling price of a car: the age, the mileage, the wear and tear both inside and out, how well it was cared for, any flaws or mechanical issues it may have, the car’s accessories and added features and any recent updates made to the car.

  3. Get the CARPROOF report. Get the VIN from the seller in order to run a CARPROOF Vehicle History Report on the car you’re interested in. This summary will tell you if the vehicle has ever been in accident, if there are any outstanding liens on the car as well as give you insight into the registration and branding history. This important information can be used as leverage in the negotiation phase.

  4. Take the car for a pre-purchase inspection. Get an independent, licensed mechanic to give the vehicle a detailed inspection. Bring your CARPROOF report with you as you’ll want to verify that any accident damage was properly repaired.

  5. Remember the sales tax. If you’re purchasing the vehicle privately, keep in mind that when you register your vehicle, you’ll have to pay sales tax on the price you paid for the vehicle (if you’re purchasing through a dealer, then this will be part of that purchase process). Check with your provincial licensing office so you know how much you’ll be required to pay.

  6. Know your walk away price. Before going in to the sales office, determine what amount is the highest price you’re willing to pay for that particular vehicle.

  7. Be a team player. If you’re going to make the offer with your significant other, make sure you’re both on the same page. Talk about your negotiation strategy beforehand and together decide what your ideal price is and determine your maximum price. Arguing or questioning each other later, in front of the seller, won’t help you get a better deal.

  8. Ask the tough questions. If the CARPROOF report does reveal that the vehicle has been damaged, check to make sure the vehicle has been properly repaired. Ask to see if this incident has impacted the vehicle in any other way. The same goes with any issues that are discovered during the pre-purchase inspection as well as any visible damage or flaws – don’t be afraid to bring it up! These things could influence the price of the vehicle and give you more room for negotiation.

  9. Consider value-adds. Sometimes another opportunity to get more value for the price you pay is through add-ons. Examples of this are things like under-coating, or other services. If these are items you like or might have purchased anyway, then they could be a great thing to ask about to gain more value for your purchase price.

  10. Be respectful. Don’t give the seller a lowball offer that’s way below the seller’s asking price. You’ll risk insulting the seller and they probably won’t want to negotiate with you any further.

  11. Have confidence in your offer. When you make your offer to the seller, say it with confidence. Don’t mutter it, or say it in a way that makes your price seem like an uncertain question. Be assertive and state the offer in a way that shows the seller you’re serious.

  12. Check your emotions. When you’re bartering back and forth with the seller, don’t get angry, pushy or arrogant and take caution if you find the seller acting this way. Keep in mind that the goal of the negotiating process is to find a fair price that both you and the seller can be happy with.

  13. Don’t rush the decision. If the seller makes a counteroffer and you’d like to think about it, that’s OK. Let the seller know – buying a car is a big decision and not one you want to rush into. If the seller has other potential buyers, then know that you could lose out on the car if you wait.

  14. Be prepared to walk away. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to buying a used car. Don’t get too attached to the vehicle, especially if you and the seller can’t come to a deal. Whenever you go into a negotiating situation, you need to be prepared to walk away if that’s what it comes down to.