How to negotiate the price of a car

So you’ve taken the car for a test drive and decided you would like to buy it. How should you go about getting the best price possible?

Whether you’re buying from a dealer or privately, here are my top bartering tips.


Start below what you’re prepared to pay

You’ve a price in mind that’s your limit. Your opening bid should be below this, because the price will only rise from your first offer.



Don’t make silly offers

I know I shouldn’t take it personally, but as a seller I find ridiculously low offers an insult. My mentality as a seller becomes defensive and I can take the stance that they’re a time-waster and I’ll not budge on a penny. So keep your offers sensible.


Be Nice

Be friendly and polite, someone you would like to do business with. The seller will be more inclined to make a deal with you.

Poker Face

Being nice doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep emotion out of the sale negotiation. Never let the seller know your maximum limit. You should be prepared to call their bluffs and leave the forecourt.

Hold your price limit with a third party

Defer the maximum you can spend to someone else not present. It can be your partner, a family member, or your bank manager. If the maximum price is with someone the seller can’t work on, you’re at an impasse. See if they blink first.


Be prepared to walk away

Unless you’re buying a particularly rare car, there are plenty more fish in the sea. If you’re prepared to walk away, you’re in a better position to negotiate. You can leave your offer and tell the seller to call if they’re still interested.


Know your finance options

If you’re getting the car on finance, shop around for a car loan beforehand. Having your own prearranged finance puts you in a stronger negotiating position and often gets you a much better deal on repayments.1


Know the value of your own car

If you’re planning on trading your car in get an idea of the value first. Agree a price separate to the transaction for the new car. If a dealer has offered you a good price, consider they may need to make more on the sale.



Point out the faults

During your inspection, you may have found some minor issues with the car. Low tyre treads, a bumper scratch, or worn seat trim. Use these to your advantage to beat down the price.


Use the paperwork

Just like the faults, if the car is due a service or the MOT is short, use this this to knock the price down.


Don’t be rushed

The seller may say other people are coming to view the car to put pressure on you to close. If you’re not happy with the price don’t fall for this one.



Shake on it

When you’re happy with the price, shake on it then ask for it in writing. From dealers, make sure you know the total price you pay to avoid hidden costs after the sale price. When buying privately, get a receipt with the sellers details, the car model, registration, and how much money you have exchanged.