2009 Winter Auto Guide
A close up of a black, white and red gear shift
7 key steps to buying a used car

Negotiate your best price
8 of 8

Never accept the asking price. But unless you are willing to just walk away, don't make a ridiculous low-ball counter offer. The seller won't take you seriously and negotiations may come to a screeching stop.

Consider countering with an offer 10 percent to 15 percent less. A little additional horse-trading should save you $1,000 or more.

With a dealer:

  • Make sure the price includes any extra fees and add-ons.
  • With a trade-in, first negotiate the price of the used car and then negotiate the value of the trade-in.
  • Ask for extras, such as carpeted floor mats, an free extended warranty, new tires or free service.

If it's a private owner:

  • On the initial phone call tell the owner you have less to spend than the asking price, then ask if you can still come see the vehicle. If he says yes, you have him thinking in lower terms.
  • Only inspect a used vehicle in daylight.
  • Once the price is about settled, point out some deficiencies you haven't mentioned before and ask for another $500 off. When the seller sees the light at the end of the tunnel, he may give up a little more without argument.




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