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How to Spot the Best Deals When Buying Used Cars

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 04/16/2019

Buying a car, pre-owned or new, should be a fun experience. However, many used car buyers are sometimes overwhelmed in their quest of getting an appealing vehicle that fits their budget. It often feels like a sacrifice has to be made, either pay more or choose another car. However, you can get the vehicle you want at an excellent price. It is critical to note that buying a used car should not be a spur-of-a-moment decision. It should be a process taken step by step so that you can save money while getting a great used car. Here is our guide to getting the best deals when buying used cars.

Research Extensively

Before selecting a particular car, ensure that you know everything about it. Find out what consumers who have bought and driven that car have to say by reading reviews and checking reliability rates. Remember that a great deal is tied to the vehicle’s specifications as well as the price. If the vehicle’s features are acceptable, find out the average price of the car across various car selling sites.

toy car calculator money

Arrange Financing Early

When you find a car you want in excellent condition and at a great price, you need to close the deal immediately. If you delay, another buyer will get to the dealer or private seller before you get financing. After finding out the average price of the used car you would like to buy, your immediate concern should be where you will get the funds. This way, when you come across a deal that is too good to pass, you will be ready.

List The Ways You Could Get the Car

You can only tell you got the best deal if you compared prices from multiple sources. Sites like and eBay have an extensive collection of private car sellers and dealers. Car auction sites like are also worth a visit. Many dealers and private car sellers choose to use auction sites because of the large number of buyers who visit these sites. Auction sites often provide a better price than most of the other sites. When you see the asking price listed on the website, you can also try asking for a discount to get a better deal.

Car Auctions

Choose a Car That Is Not in Demand

Cars that are in high demand have a higher price tag than those that are not. This does not mean that the car in low demand has a problem. The market for a vehicle is influenced by various factors including the brand, the marketing strategy used by the manufacturer and the preferences of buyers in a particular area. People tend to buy cars that others have tried instead of trying out other brands and models. Some vehicles share the same features but have different asking prices For example, the BMW 3 series, Acura TLX, Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, and Infiniti Q50 compete in the same category. Some of these cars are popular while others are not, yet most of the specifications are the same.

Thinking about Trading In Your Car?

If you intend to trade in your car for another, consider the rate you will get at the dealership against what you are likely to get by selling it to another buyer. Instead of looking at trading-in your current car for another as one transaction, you should look at them as independent decisions you need to make. You may miss out on a great deal if you only look at the trade-in offers from the dealership.

car finance

Consider the Overall Cost of the Car against Monthly Payments

When discussing payment plans with used car sellers, they will likely mention monthly payment plans as opposed to the total amount of money you have to pay throughout the stipulated period. Some dealers will offer a lower monthly rate with an extended payment period while others will have a higher monthly rate for a shorter period. However, the only way you will know if the deal is worth it is by concentrating on the actual price of the car. Compare the total price in both cases before deciding on which dealer to use. Of course, if you find the low monthly rate favorable and worth the overall cost, then the deal may be worthwhile.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

Used car sellers often negotiate based on the impressions they have of the buyer. Price discrimination exists in almost all businesses, and the automobile industry is no exception. If the dealer gets the idea that you are desperate or too excited about a car, chances are you will pay more than a person who doesn’t seem too interested. If the seller is more desperate to make a sale than you are to buy the car, you are more likely to get a good deal.

Shop Where Many Do Not

Online Car Sales

Most buyers choose to go where many people do, mainly because of the vast selection of cars and the marketing strategies used by dealerships. New dealerships do not get as much traffic as those that are well known. Until they get their footing in the business, they keep their overhead costs as low as possible. These dealers can afford to give lower rates.

Whether you are buying the car from a dealership or private seller, or an online auction, you need to know how to approach the sale and get the best price possible. Private sellers may not have the negotiating skills that car sellers have. However, this does not mean they will take any amount you offer. It has to be an amount they find acceptable without feeling like they are selling the car at too low a price. Like you, private sellers want to make the process as short and painless as possible.

Further Reading

Sellers at dealerships negotiate every day. They know what clients need to hear and how to convince them that they are getting the best deal. Knowing the negotiating points, such as the condition of the car and repairs you need to make, will help lower the asking price.

This is one of the reasons why buying at auction is such a good alternative. You can put your best price upfront, and if someone outbids you, move on to another vehicle. With tens of thousands of cars going under the hammer each day across the US, there is always another vehicle of the same model coming along. Keep your bids low, and find out what these vehicles are going for online.

We have some fantastic guides to getting started with vehicle auctions here: