Can You Negotiate A Car Price?

Negotiating prices isn’t something we do every day. For most items we buy, prices are set by the seller and often can’t be changed. But when it comes to buying a car, things are different. Not only can you negotiate the price of the car, but you probably should.

Most car sellers expect you to negotiate the price. As a result, the asking price may be higher than it should be since they are assuming you will negotiate the price down. So refusing to negotiate the price of the car can cost you money on your next purchase.

Negotiating is not a skill everyone has. Luckily, there are some tips you can use to help you handle your next car purchase. Above all, make sure you go into any price negotiation prepared. Get a free car history report with our VIN checker tool so you have all the information you need to settle on a price.





Do Your Homework

The first step to successfully negotiating the price of used cars is knowing everything you can. Really, your research should begin when you first decide to start looking for a car, since you’ll need to figure out what model of car best suits your needs. And once you determine that, you’ll need to learn all about that particular car and what its value is so you can find a good deal.

The Kelley Blue Book is probably the most trusted source for prices on both new and used cars. The website lets you search for a particular make and model of car and gives you a good benchmark for the value of that car depending on its mileage.

Unfortunately, there’s more to the value of a car than just its mileage. Every car is different, and that’s especially true when it comes to used cars. A car’s mileage can give you a good indication of its age, but you also want to know about the condition of the vehicle, what specific features it has, its service history, and any potential mechanical issues the vehicle might have.

Can You Negotiate A Car Price?

That’s why it’s so important to get a complete car history report. Once you’ve found a car you’re interested in, make a note of the VIN and enter it into our VIN checker tool. It will tell you about any safety recalls issued for the car, its ownership and service history, any accidents it may have been in, any odometer rollbacks it may have had, and lots of other useful information.

Negotiating the price of the car with the vehicle’s full history in your back pocket is the absolute best way to ensure you don’t pay too much. A knowledgeable shopper is a safe shopper.

Shop Around

Once you have a clearer picture of the make and model of car you want, it’s time to shop around. Prices can vary a lot from one seller to the next, so it’s important to do some research. and Kijiji can be great online sources for used cars. Both private sellers and commercial dealers advertise on these sites, so you can get a good idea of what a car like the one you want goes for. In general, commercial dealers will have higher prices than private sellers. However, they may also offer financing and even warranties on used cars, so it can be worth the additional price. Also, big dealers have a better selection of cars, so you can see multiple vehicles in one trip. On the other hand, remember that car dealers are professional negotiators. It’s usually easier to negotiate money off a car with a private seller who really wants to get rid of the vehicle rather than a professional with quotas to hit.

Know Your Budget

You probably already have a good idea of how much you can afford to spend on a car. But it’s important to get these numbers clear in your head. It’s not just about how much the car costs, but how much you can afford more generally. For instance, you may find a car that is offered at a very good price because it has some cosmetic or mechanical issue. Can you afford to fix the issue? If so, you could be getting a bargain. But if not, you may be better off buying a more expensive car with fewer problems.

This is even more true if you’re thinking of buying a used car from a dealership or commercial seller. Often, these businesses offer financing, and will do their best to dazzle you with the numbers. Paying, for example, $100 a month for a car doesn’t sound like very much, unless it turns out to be for five years. But dealers love to play these tricks to make cars sound cheaper than they really are.

If you’re thinking of financing, get a clear idea of what you can afford to pay each month. Not only does that include the price of the car and the interest on the loan, but it should also include maintenance, gas, and all the other costs that go along with car ownership.

Knowing your budget can help you negotiate with the car seller more effectively, and it will keep you from paying more than you can afford.

Be Ready To Walk

In any negotiation, your ultimate power comes from your ability to walk away from the deal. That’s why it’s important not to get too attached to a car before you have the keys in your hand.

Whether you go to a dealership or a private seller, remember that the person you’re talking to wants to sell the car, otherwise they wouldn’t have it on the market. If they can’t come to an agreement with you on the price, you can always walk away. There are plenty of used cars on the market, and if you keep looking, you’re sure to find one that fits your needs.

At the same time, it’s important to be reasonable. It’s fine to negotiate the price of the car, but you need to offer a price that makes sense for the seller. No one’s going to sell you a mint condition three-year-old car with 20,000 km on the clock for $500, and you may insult people by making lowball offers like that.

Instead, offer a price that is in line with what other, similar vehicles are selling for. You can even bring printouts of online ads to demonstrate a reasonable price for the car you’re after. This will show the seller that you are an informed purchaser who has their facts straight.

Any issues with the car give you more leverage to negotiate with. So if the vehicle history report turns up an accident or a safety recall, you can use that fact to support your offer of paying a lower price.

Be Nice

Reading through all of these tips may make you feel like buying a used car is a battle of wills between you and the seller. But it doesn’t have to be. Ultimately, the best deal is not one where you feel like you ‘won’ against an adversary. The best deal is one where all parties walk away happy with what they got.

Getting the right car at the right price is important. The average Canadian spends more than an hour every day in their car, so you want to make sure you’re happy with it. Doing your research beforehand and knowing the full history of a car can help you understand what a reasonable price is, and help you negotiate in good faith.

Be polite when negotiating a price, but be firm about what you know. Follow these tips, and you’ll find that negotiating the price of used car is much easier than you might have thought.


1. How much money can I negotiate off a used car price?

There’s no simple answer to this question, because it depends on several factors, including how realistically the car is priced in the first place. As a general rule of thumb, it’s not unreasonable to start at 15 or 20% of the asking price, but that depends on a variety of factors.

Knowing the market value of a car can help you here, since you will know how much the seller has added on to the price of the car. Offer what you know to be the market value or even a little less, depending on the condition of the car and any mitigating factors such as previous accidents, cosmetic damage, high mileage, or known mechanical issues.

2. How can I get a dealer to reduce the price of a car?

Remember that car dealers know exactly how much money they need to make on a car for the sale to be worthwhile for them. With that said, they will usually try and get as much money for a car they are selling as possible. That means there is often some wiggle room in the quoted price.

Knowing the car’s market value can help you enormously when it’s time to negotiate. If a dealer charges way more than the market value, you know they can drop the price a lot and still profit. Alternatively, if they are charging close to the car’s market value already, then there may not be as much room to take money off the price.

3. What should you never say to a car dealer?

Every negotiation and every individual is different, so it’s not always helpful to approach making a deal with hard rules of what to say and what not to say. There are no magic words to either use or avoid. However, there are few phrases you might be better off not using during negotiation for a car.

“I can afford this amount each month.” You absolutely should know this, but there’s no need to tell the dealer the exact figure. Otherwise, they will try to find a financing deal that takes you right to your limits or even just a little beyond it.

“I’m buying with cash.” While you might think this will get your best deal, the opposite is often true. Dealers make a lot of money on financing deals, so they are more likely to give you a break on the price of the car if you will sign a financing contract. Be vague about how you intend to pay until the price has been settled and agreed upon.

“I need a car to get to work tomorrow.” This is music to a car seller’s ears. If they know you need to drive the car away that day, they will be a lot less willing to lower the price.