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How Much Should You Pay for a Used Car?

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 12 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
Used Car Negotiating Car Dealers Private

Buying a car can be a daunting prospect, especially for first time buyers. Good deals on used cars can be found through private buyers but there are certain points to be aware of when buying a used car.

Sourcing the Best Used Cars Sales Points

Used car buyers looking to find a bargain should concentrate on private sales. There are of course other places from which to buy used cars such as car dealers or auctions. But the private sales route has much more scope for finding a used car at a low price. In most cases the buyer will not be hit with the extra fees that come when buying a car through an auction or a dealer. Car dealers are trying to make a profit and the price of the used car will not be the price the dealer paid. Taking the private sales route can include online sites such as Ebay, Gumtree or one of the many used car websites.

Know the Value of the Intended Used Car

The make, year and mileage of a used car are all factors that will influence the price. The higher the mileage and the older the car the lower the price should be, unless buying a classic car. The actual condition of the car will also make a difference, such as the condition of the bodywork. There are a number of different factors that will influence price including the popularity of the car, size of engine and sometimes even the colour of the car. Buyers should always check online to assess the value of the used car they are intending to buy.

Haggling over the Asking Price for a Used Car

Most used car sellers will expect some haggling over the price but not always. Some online sellers will state that the price shown is the end price and there will be no negotiating. But when it comes to private sales there will usually be room to negotiate, even if it is only £50 off the actual price. Good negotiators will claim that they never pay the full asking price. Buyers who are unsure or nervous of negotiating should take along someone who has experience. Negotiating factors that may bring about a lower sales price will include:

  • Are there any faults that were not mentioned in the car advert such as chipped paint or dents?
  • If the car tax is about to expire then take off a year’s car tax from the price
  • Find out if the car advert has been relisted or has been on the website for a long time; this can show a lack of buyer interest
  • If the car advert has been listed for a long period of time the seller may be willing to take a lower price
  • Take some examples of the same cars at a lower price in order to strengthen your bargaining power; Autotrader magazine can be used to find examples
  • Read the advert and find out why the owner is selling; there may be some clues to whether or not they ‘need’ to sell rather than want to
  • Always take a test drive, and if any faults occur this can lead to a better negotiating position

Be Safe Rather than Sorry when Buying a Used Car

Inexperienced car buyers should take the precaution of bringing either an experienced car buyer or a mechanic to the sales meeting. A seller should not have any problems with someone fully checking over the car. Checks should be made to assess whether the car has been in an accident or whether modifications have been made. Some modifications can actually devalue the price of a car. If the car does need some minor repairs then the cost of this should be subtracted from the sales price.

Inexperienced buyers should not become excited and pay more than their budget, even if their heart is set on a particular car. Internet sites are awash with cars and there is really no point in paying well above the actual value of a used car. Always remember to check the car’s history as this will highlight whether the car has been in an accident. A history check is also a safety check to ensure that the car has not been stolen or that there is still outstanding finance on the vehicle. Remember that the economic climate will influence the buyer’s negotiation power, and with used cars it is generally always a buyer’s market.

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