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12 Tips to Negotiate a Used Car’s Price

You’ve found a vehicle that looks like it could be your next car and you’re ready to talk with the seller to see if you can lower the price. It may seem like an uphill battle, but if you use the tips listed below, negotiating the price of a used car will be far less stressful than you may think.

How to negotiate for a used car

Negotiating a lower price on a used car isn’t as scary as it seems. Going in with a clear head and the research you’ve done is half of the battle. If you do your homework, plan for rejections and manage your expectations, the experience will be far smoother. Having a specific number in mind when going into a negotiation could hurt the entire process. Instead, go in with a price range that you're looking to get and base this range off the research you've done. When you're choosing the range, keep in mind that there are many things that can influence the price of a used car, so plan for those.

How much can you negotiate on a used car?

There isn’t a set amount that you can negotiate a used car for. Each used vehicle is different in one way or another, and the price will be a direct result of that. Many factors can influence the deal you’re negotiating. Things like: what’s the average selling price of similar cars, was the scheduled maintenance kept up with, does the car need detailing, are there winter tires included? These may seem like tiny things, but they could be a major difference maker when it comes to how much of a discount you can get on the used car you’re looking at. Use these factors to negotiate the price.

Negotiation tips:

  1. Do your research. It’s important you get a great car at a fair price, and the first step to doing that is understanding how much it’s worth. Start with knowing what similar vehicles have sold for in your area so you can make an informed decision on the vehicle you’re interested in. Find out what the car is worth using our Value Range tool.

  2. Get the CARFAX Canada report. Get the VIN from the seller in order to run a CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report on the car you’re interested in. The report will provide important information about the car such as accident history, outstanding liens, odometer reading and service records. It will also give you insight into the registration and branding history. It also gives you access to a free History-Based Value report that takes the history, location and several other factors about your vehicle then provides you with a suggested value of the vehicle. This critical information can be used as leverage in the negotiation phase.

  3. Consider other factors. There are several other things that can influence the selling price of a car such as colour, if it was smoked in, wear and tear on the interior, number of previous owners, extended warranties, after-market features, extras like winter tires or recent replacement of important features like brakes. Use these as factors as opportunities to negotiate the price of the used car.

  4. Take the car for a pre-purchase inspection. Get an independent, licensed mechanic to give the vehicle a detailed inspection. Bring your CARFAX Canada report with you as you’ll want to verify that any previous 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. Check with your provincial licensing office so you know how much you’ll be required to pay.

  6. Know your walk away price. Before you start the negotiation process, determine what amount is the highest price you’re willing to pay for that particular vehicle.

  7. Work as a team. 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 range 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 CARFAX Canada 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. Control what you say and how you say it. It’s important to be confident when you’re negotiating a lower price on used car, but there’s a balance. Don’t be pushy or overly confident, it may scare the seller away. On the other hand, don’t sound uncertain when talking – your negotiated price shouldn’t be a question. You may feel frustrated that the deal isn’t going the way you hoped, but don’t show it. Don’t get angry or difficult to work with, it won’t change how the negotiation is going in your favour.

  10. Show respect. Don’t give a lowball offer that’s way below the seller’s asking price. You’ll risk insulting them and they probably won’t want to negotiate with you any further. Think of it from the their point of view: if you were selling your used car, would YOU want someone giving an offer that’s excessively low?

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

Now that you’re ready to negotiate like a pro, learn about the entire used car buying process with the CARFAX Canada used car buying guide.