There’s nothing wrong with doing a bit of haggling or offering a counteroffer or two when going to purchase a used car. The ball is in your court, after all, and there are plenty of dealers and private sellers who want and need a sale. After doing a fairly rigorous search online, you should have a decent idea of how much a similar make and model is going for, so although the dealer has to make a living, too, you should have in your mind a price point beyond which you will not go.

Get It Right

It is worth checking out similar makes, model and trims on at least a few national used car websites; make sure, though, that you’re putting in all the relevant details, including the age, mileage and even specific trims of car, ie. there are sometimes at least three or four different trims in the range, each with their own features and enhancements, even different engine sizes. Decide what you need and don’t be sidetracked by other cars in that range, that aren’t right for you.


If you want to pay cash there could be a discount to be had, whereas if you’re wanting to trade in your existing car that’s important to know. If you want to pay by taking out a finance agreement, ensure that you work out what you can realistically afford per month. Consider taking out a personal loan from a bank because you can sometimes get a better deal, especially if you’re a long-term customer of that bank. A salesman might try to ask you what your monthly budget is and then extend the duration of the finance agreement or ask for a larger deposit. Beware of this; you might regret it in the long run.

Check It Out

On a reputable car checking website like Just Car Checks you should check for the following things:

• Whether there is a car finance agreement that still pertains to the vehicle
• Its service history and mileage history
• Potential costs over the medium term, ie. new tires, new brakes, DSG oil & filter change etc.
• Any damage to paintwork

These are factors which you use to your advantage in order to get a better deal.

Negotiation Time

The most important rule is; don’t feel you have to stay but be prepared to walk away. Being in a rush or coming across as desperate will only put you at a disadvantage so try not to put yourself at one. If you happen to have fallen in love with a certain car, don’t let on; the dealer or seller will be looking for clues that you’re more desperate than they are. You might consider bearing these rules in mind, when getting to crunch time with a dealer:

  • Offer a lower offer on your first attempt, thus allowing you to increase it once or maybe twice before settling and not budging
  • Don’t be shy in mentioning other dealers and offers which look better than the one you’re engaged in. Competition is the mother of salesmanship.
  • State a final offer but be willing to bend slightly, to the actual final offer that’s in your head.

When purchasing from a private seller, there might be a little bit more leeway; you won’t have the assurances and warranties there are customary from a dealership so can expect to be more handsomely rewarded for the extra risk you’re taking on.

  • Don’t drive a very long distance unless you’re willing and ready to walk away from the potential deal; they may well factor this in and try to squeeze you.
  • Spend time examining paintwork and bodywork; you have every right to do so because it won’t have gone through the checks that a dealership will have done.
  • Consult a reputable car guide buyer’s report prior to visiting the seller; being armed with as much information as possible, including possibly failed MOTs check our free MOT history check, it will put you in a strong position and really give the impression you know what you’re talking about.

Overall, sellers are not that dissimilar to buyers, and will likely trade places regularly, over the years. Be reasonable but do your homework; you could end up with a really good deal.