Get the vehicle history report Carfax and AutoCheck are two popular choices to confirm the odometer reading, ownership history and reports of accidents and flood damage. For more, see: 10 Tips for Buying a Car Online.
Most people selling cars are not professional salespeople and are not as skilled at haggling. Also, they might be moving, or, having purchased a new car, need to make space in the driveway. Before you hand a private seller your money make sure they have signed the title also called the pink slip over to you. You will also need to insure the car before you drive it away.
It is a less structured process than buying from a dealer, but if you are looking to save as much as possible, and if you trust the seller, a private party purchase could work. Dealers are also more likely to clean and perform a basic inspection of a car, plus they are governed by Federal Trade Commission rules as well as state and local regulations. The amount you can knock off the price ultimately depends on what the car is worth, how strong your financing position is and how long the car has been on the lot.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you open negotiations.
Kelly's Blue Book KBB is a free online resource for determining what cars like the one you are interested in sell for. The most important thing to remember is to set your buying max before trying to negotiate. Otherwise, you could end up paying more than you intended for a car.
If you want that used car, but are nervous about reliability, you might want to look into factory-certified offerings. CPO vehicles are thoroughly inspected, any maintenance issues are addressed, and they are cosmetically sound — no shredded interiors, bashed fenders or missing trim. When talking to a dealer by their nature, certified cars are sold through dealers, not private individuals about a certified car, have them show you its inspection report, which will list all of the areas checked, whether or not there were any recalls on the model and even details such as tire tread depth and the thickness of the brake pads.
CPO cars tend to have less wear and tear.
Sure you can use Facebook to play Candy Crush Saga and keep in touch with friends and family, but you can also use the popular social. Find your next car on AutoTempest! All the used car sites in one search, including craigslist*, cojatacom.tk, AutoTrader*, eBay and more. (* No affiliation).
Mercedes, for instance, will only certify cars six years old or less, with fewer than 75, miles. The German brand then adds a year and unlimited miles to whatever initial warranty is left, plus hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption protection, and service loan cars. You pay extra for CPO cars, however. It turns used-car buying into a new-car-buying experience. Like new cars, CPO vehicles are best purchased at the end of the month, when dealers are looking to make quotas and are more receptive to haggling.
However, a used car sale is not generally cyclical this way, though timing can still be employed. Conversely, there is usually an uptick in all sales around April, when people blow their tax refunds, so avoid shopping then, if possible. For more, see: 5 Tips for Dealing with Car Dealers. Knowledge is your best resource for getting the best deal. Knowing what other cars like the one you are bargaining over sell for is key to talking down a price. But what else? See: Cars That Depreciate the Least. Consider this example. The takeaway? That gives you as the buyer some leverage in terms of getting the dealer to cut you a better deal on price.
Come off as too demanding and the dealer may not be willing to make any concessions in your favor. Go in too soft and they may see you as a pushover. When you sit down with the salesperson and present your offer, be firm but polite. A salesperson may try to distract you by discussing financing, insurance or extras like a maintenance plan; this is a trap you should be prepared to avoid.
Take the opportunity to clearly make your case as to why the dealer should accept a lower price. The goal here is to get the dealer to acknowledge anything that might justify accepting your offer. At this point, two things can happen: The salesperson will suddenly suggest that the two of you can reach an agreement on price or he or she will shake your hand and tell you to come back if you change your mind. If the salesman chooses the former, be ready to make a counteroffer to any price that's suggested.
At this point, you can increase your own offer slightly, but remember to keep your absolute ceiling in sight. One ploy is to adopt hardball tactics to try and you wear you down. This is where the true test of your negotiating skills comes in. Hand over your phone number and say that if they change their mind about making a sale, to give you a call.
Then wait and see what happens. If you know what you want and what it should cost, you are halfway there. Select a route that has a little bit of everything: hills, rough pavement, curves and even a stretch of highway. However, you can give the car a pretty good initial inspection. Select a test drive route that has a little bit of everything: hills, rough pavement, curves and even a stretch of highway.
Drive the car with the radio off — you can test that later. Pay attention to the following things:. After the test drive, check the back-seat leg room and cargo capacity. If you liked driving the car, and it seems to be in good condition, you should still take it to a mechanic.
Private party sellers are pretty relaxed about this. CPO cars are thoroughly inspected and include an extended factory warranty. Chances are, the seller is asking more than the market average. But it really needs a new set of tires.
A counteroffer revises the initial offer and makes it more desirable for the person making the new offer. Visit a Mechanic. In some cases, online classifieds will have links to free vehicle history reports. Shelby GT Enter your registered email address to request a password reset link.
You can go back and forth until you agree. Before taking ownership of the car, you should add it to your insurance policy. Make sure you get a title and have the seller sign it correctly.
Most states allow about 10 days to register the car in your name. If the lender is a bank, offer to meet the seller in a branch office and sign papers there. In a dealership, be ready for the finance manager to pitch you additional products and services. Just make sure all the other terms of the loan are the same.
Before the contract is drawn up, the finance manager will also likely pitch you additional products and services. Buying an extended warranty at the right price can provide peace of mind. But check first to see how much warranty still remains on the car. This covers all the parts that make the car driveable, such as the engine, transmission and suspension.
Once you sign the sales contract, the car is yours. The contract will include the agreed-on sales price and these additional items:. Some dealerships might include additional fees, some of which are bogus. At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. Our opinions are our own. What's next?
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