Buying a car: Negotiating tips to get a fair car price

DriveramaOct 14. 2021

Anyone who wants to buy a used car will usually encounter certain challenges in the process. One of these is the unpleasant haggling, or negotiating the purchase price of the car. But there is no need for you to work up a sweat. With this article, I would like to offer you a few tips on how to negotiate your next car purchase to ensure you get the fairest price for the car

Determining used car prices: How do private sellers and dealers do it? 

Before we talk about price negotiations, we should first look at how car prices are in fact determined on the open car market. 

  • Used car prices in the case of private sellers

With private sellers, it is difficult to predict how they will determine the sales price of their used vehicles because this varies from seller to seller. Private sellers are not subject to any guidelines when selling cars [link]. They are therefore free to set their vehicle price as they please and then hope that somebody will want to buy the car at the determined price.

In order to get an indication of the highest possible price, many private sellers go online to look at offers of comparable vehicles on the internet. Some also pay a visit to their local car dealer and ask him how much he would offer for their vehicle in order to have a point of reference. They then add a premium to this and try their luck on the open car market. 

  • Used car prices in the case of car dealers

With professional car dealers, the whole process is of course more orderly. Especially since dealers have enough experience to determine realistic prices for used vehicles. However, this does not mean that these are always fair prices with no room for negotiation - quite the opposite. 

The biggest factors which have an influence on the sales price of used cars are the interior and exterior condition of the vehicle, the make, the model and its equipment. The mileage and the year in which the vehicle was built also play a major role. Accident damage and certain other defects, whether or not they have already been repaired, give the buyer room to negotiate the sales price.

Most dealers estimate their prices subjectively, based on their individual experience and location. Despite a subjective price estimation, almost all dealers include a mark-up in the final price because they already expect price negotiations on the part of car buyers. 

How can the car buyer determine whether the price of a used car is fair?

The answer to this question is simple: compare the offer with other comparable used car offers. In my view, this step should never be skipped, because it allows you not only to determine a reasonable sales price, but also to find other vehicles which can be shortlisted. 

This is why I would advise you to look for vehicles which are as close as possible to the one you want. This is easier said than done, as you not only have to find the same model, but the equipment should also match as closely as possible. In addition to this, the used car should have comparable mileage and be in a comparable condition.

Good luck!

 Of course, the best option is to find a used car dealer who you know won’t rip you off [link] and will ask a fair price for the car instead. Hmm, I wonder where you can find one of those? 🤔

Used car negotiation 

When buying a car, you should protect yourself from con artists

As I mentioned earlier, special caution must be exercised with private sellers. The reason for this is that they often conceal important details in order to be able to achieve a higher sales price. According to police statistics, the mileage on about 30% of all used cars in Germany has been tampered with. So my advice to you is: stay away from con artists! But how? 

There is a simple solution to this problem: Check the vehicle history. History reports contain a clear listing of relevant facts about the used car. The information in the vehicle history includes the actual mileage, the number of previous owners and accident damage along with photos and much more. 

With the help of this report, the buyer can effectively protect himself from con artists and avoid unfair price offers. It also provides useful information about the vehicle’s maintenance intervals, as well as a valuation from which you can tell what price the vehicle was sold for in the past, if it was already offered for sale.

What is the best way to negotiate the price of a used car?

Room for negotiation is an individual matter when buying a car! Traders leave themselves “room to manoeuvre” in the initial sales price because they expect price negotiations. Some price negotiations can be unpleasant, but in most cases they are worth it.  

Tip: Our team of cross-border specialists compares prices of used cars on all of the European markets on a daily basis. This activity enables us to offer fair prices which eliminate the need for price negotiations when buying a car.v

You can negotiate the price of a used car with these 4 tips

1. Poker face, self-confidence and no emotions

If you decide not to buy a used car from Driverama, I can only recommend that you put on a really good poker face. Even if it has to be precisely this car, try not to show any emotion to the dealer during negotiations. If the salesman realises that you are desperate to buy the car, he will only give you a small discount or none at all; this puts you in the weaker position. Instead, you should remain cool and objective in order to steer the conversation towards possible weaknesses and shortcomings.

2. Highlight the weaknesses of the car

Have you found one or two scratches on the used car, or can you see that it already has a high mileage? Make it clear to the dealer that these defects bother you and make you uncertain about buying the car. 

When talking to the dealer, mention any details which are not quite right, even if they do not influence your decision in any way. This will put you in a better position to negotiate the price of your dream car. So act like Grouchy Smurf and address all of the things which you find to be negative about the car.

3. Don’t let the car dealer put you under pressure

A lot of sellers try to persuade buyers to buy quickly with hackneyed phrases like “This is a limited offer valid today only”. Don’t let these empty statements drive you up the wall. When buying a used car, take plenty of time to decide. After all, you want to buy your dream car and not an old jalopy!

If the car dealer wants to continue to put pressure on you, mention to him that you still want to check out the competition. This will often get him to make you a better offer.

4. Buy your car at Driverama.de

If you don’t feel like going through all the rigmarole, I would recommend our used car platform [>link to e-shop once it is online]. I will make you a fair offer and the best thing is: you can do without all the haggling. Our transparent appraisal system leads to the fairest car price you will get on the market. In addition to this, the whole process takes a maximum of 59 minutes. Fast, fair & transparent, that’s what we offer you at Driverama.   

In short, not every used car purchase requires price negotiations! 

Before you simply accept an offer to buy a car, you should be well informed. Buying a car at a fair price (without Driverama) requires a lot of research, comparisons of cars, time and good negotiating skills. Hopefully, I have contributed towards the latter with my 4 negotiating tips. 

Good luck buying your car!

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Germany HQ:

Driverama Germany GmbH

Maximilianstraße 13

80539 München

We are member of AURES Holdings