Before negotiating the price of a used car, conduct thorough research to determine the local asking price of cars of similar make, model and condition. Once the market rate has been determined, assess the actual condition of the used car offered for sale.
Thorough research is crucial to negotiating a low price on a used car. Use online classified sites, such as AutoTrader.com, to determine what the going local rate is for cars of the same make, model, year and mileage. This information will provide a general range for an acceptable offer for the car.
After researching the market conditions, assess the condition of the used car by obtaining the car's history report to discover negative information, such as accidents or poor maintenance history, which can be used to negotiate a lower price. Additionally, arrange a test drive with the seller to further assess the car's condition. Any defects noted may be used to lower the price. If possible, have a trusted mechanic inspect the car.
Prior to negotiating, attempt to determine the seller's motivation for selling the car. A private seller may need to sell a car quickly for personal reasons and may be more willing to accept a lower offer. Further, car salesmen may be more motivated to accept lower prices near the end of the month to meet their quotas.
Finally, be willing to end negotiations if the seller insists on a price that is higher than acceptable. Be particularly careful when negotiating with used car salesmen, and be prepared to end the negotiations with them if the negotiations continue for an extended period of time.