By: Sarah E. Sanuth, is an insider in the automotive industry  with many years of experience in the car dealership and repair business

When it comes time for us to purchase a used car, we all want to try to get the best deal. So how do we ensure that we are going to be taken seriously and get what we want?

Both used car dealerships and new car dealerships offer used vehicles for sale; but both approach the situation much the same. Adhere to following the below tips and you will be on your way to better negotiation when you purchase your next used vehicle.

Dress for Success

Yes, you will need to dress the part of an informed, intelligent car buyer. You don’t want to show up wearing a T-shirt and jeans, nor do you want to wear a suit. The more professional you dress, the more serious you will be taken.

Salesman will read what you are wearing and play upon it. If they see that you don’t care about your appearance they will assume that you don’t have the money or ability to purchase either a new or used vehicle. If you show up wearing diamonds and a suit, they will assume that you have all the money in the world to spend.

Familiarize Yourself

Take the time to review documentation from a previous car you purchased. Make note of any mistakes that were made during that process, or items you paid too much for; and bring that knowledge with you. It’s like taking a test in school. The more you study the better the grade you will receive.


Research the dealership and the vehicle you are interested in purchasing. Knowing more about what you are dealing with arms you with knowledge to come out on top.

Keep Test-Driving Separate

You don’t have to buy the same day you test drive. Simply tell the salesman that you are interested in test driving the vehicle, but are looking at a few different cars. Test-drive the vehicle and then leave the dealership; after all you have another vehicle you need to look at.

Never express Urgency

You should never buy a vehicle in a rush, and never tell a salesman that you need it now. If they know you need something now, they will play into that by trying to put you in something NOW.

Know what it is Worth

Check car classifieds sites such as or for advertised prices on used vehicles you are interested in purchasing. and will also give you a guideline of what you would expect to pay for the vehicle.

Don’t Get Emotional

Think of the whole endeavor as a business deal. Never get excited. Salesmen play on emotions and will exploit it.

Prices aren’t set in Stone

The asking price is just that, an asking price; there is always room to move. Keep in mind that used car dealers have less room to move than new car dealers.

Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t be afraid to low-ball. Throw a number out there that you are willing to pay for the car, never use the term up-to. If you are ever asked up-to, stick to the same number you threw out there.

Play One Dealer against the Other

If you have found a better price somewhere, go back to one of the dealers that didn’t do so well price wise and politely tell him that you have found the vehicle for $X, and ask if he can look at the numbers and beat that price.

Distance Buying

Distancing yourself from the car buying process can make for better negotiations. Other than test-driving a vehicle, there is no real necessity for you to enter the dealership until you are ready to sign the paperwork. This will help you make an objective, sound decision.

Keep Prices Separate

If you are going to finance your next used vehicle, don’t fall into the whole payment game. Negotiate the price of the vehicle itself as one number. Payments and Interest are another negotiation altogether.

Secure Financing before Shopping

Check sites such as for lenders, and interest rates; you could also try your local credit unions. Knowing the amount you can finance before shopping helps make a starting point for offers you will make on a vehicle. This will also help you avoid getting into a term or interest rate the dealer might try to impose on you.


Used vehicles almost never come with a warranty, or at least any long term warranty. Make sure that you at least try to walk away with a minimum of a 30 day/1,000 mile warranty. Not all companies will offer a warranty, you must ask for it; but the standard is between 30 days/1,000 mile and 3 months/3,000 miles.

If you have purchased a vehicle that doesn’t have a remaining manufacturer warranty or extended warranty, start looking at obtaining an extended warranty.  For more information on extended warranty, read the article on tips on buying extended car warranty.
If you follow the tips above, you will be on your way to making a more informed decision about the purchase of a used vehicle, and ensuring that you get the best possible price.

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