10 Ways to Get the Best Used Car Deal

Everyone has their tricks when it comes to car buying. The most important thing is to make sure you get the best used car deal when you’re shopping around. Not only do you want to pay as little as possible, but you also want to avoid getting stuck with an unreliable car. Here are 10 ways to get the best used car deal in 2022.

Getting the best used car deal during the pandemic

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a shortage of inventory everywhere. Most people cannot find the car they want because automakers can’t produce more new models. This has impacted the new and used vehicle market tremendously, especially making cars more expensive. Since new cars aren’t in production, for the most part, used ones are being sold for even more money. These tips from U.S. News & World Report will give you the best chance at making a great used ar deal happen when you’re ready to buy.

Research, research, research

A kia car dealership, there are many ways to get the best used car deal possible right now.
Interior of a KIA dealership | Eduardo Parra /Europa Press via Getty Images

Researching the used car, you’re interested in has always been an integral part of the buying process. However, it is more important than ever before in the current market. The internet makes it easy to find which vehicles are being upcharged, which ones are worth paying a premium, and more information. Additionally, the used car market is controlled by supply and demand, so research a car that isn’t ultra-popular.

Finding a model that other people aren’t as interested in can be the difference between getting ripped off or not. Models like the Ford Bronco that are reserved for a year and are impossible to find will be way overpriced. Try to find a model you want and like, but others don’t.

Buy at the “wrong” time

A Honda SUV drives in the snow, how can you get the best used car deal possible?
A Honda SUV in the snow | Danny Lawson/PA Images via Getty Images

Continuing on the theme of supply and demand, buying at the wrong time can be beneficial in the current market. For instance, buying a convertible in the winter or a heavy-duty plow truck in July. Additionally, end-of-month and year sales are critical to dealers. That’s why early in the month or year, they’ll have more inventory from trade-ins on those deals. Buying a used car early in the month will usually mean more inventory to choose from.

Don’t focus on the payment

The outside of a Mercedes-Benz dealership, how can you get the best used car deal right now
Mercedes Benz car showroom is seen in Gdansk, Poland, Poland | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Salespeople love to use a monthly payment to make it sound like a great car deal. At the end of the day, if you put $200,000 down on a Ferarri, it’ll have an outstanding monthly payment too. That doesn’t mean you’re getting a great deal or anything close. Instead, focus on the total cost of the vehicle with fees and taxes, plus the interest of the loan.

Honing in on these things instead of the monthly payment will help to avoid being swindled by a good salesperson. Most of them are trained to help you focus on the monthly payment because $308 per month sounds a lot better than $75,000 with $55,000 down.

Look for used car deals offered from dealers

This included everything from certified pre-owned to other warranty offers. Whether or not the price changes, including a warranty on a used car is a massive bonus. Certified pre-owned vehicles are sold by the dealer that manufactures them. So only a Nissan dealer can sell a certified pre-owned Nissan Altima or Nissan Titan. These CPO vehicles can come with benefits like factory warranties, guaranteed fixes for specific problems, and more.

Dealers can only offer these warranties on vehicles that meet specific criteria. Although the requirements change from automaker to automaker, it’s usually something like below 50,000 miles and less than five years old. This allows dealers to make minor repairs and be confident in their sales.

Avoid buy here, pay here dealerships

Used car dealership, buy here pay here lots are not the best place to get the best used car deal
Used cars are displayed on a sales lot | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While these places’ prices might look attractive enough, it’s seldom worth the headache. Manufacturer dealerships are required to fix specific issues on every vehicle they sell. They’re held to a particular standard with inventory, making them much more trustworthy to buy from. Buy here, pay here dealerships, and used car lots aren’t held to the same standard. They’ll be the first place to sell you an actual lemon, and your used car deal will turn sour quickly.

They also primarily target people with bad credit who won’t make payments. After giving customers insane interest rates on vehicles, they’ll quickly move to try to repossess moments after a late payment.

Try not to show too much emotion during the buying process

a used car for sale with stickers on the windshield
Used car lot | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s completely natural to be excited about getting a new (to you) car. However, you might want to try to hide it a little bit until you’ve driven off the lot at the end. Getting the best used car deal can sometimes heavily rely on interactions with the salesperson assigned to you. Salespeople know and are trained to capitalize on things that get you excited.

They’ll point out each item that you like repeatedly, making the car sound good. Sales staff use it against you as they try to raise the price or keep it firm in negotiations. Either way, you can like the car without seeming eager to avoid being taken advantage of.

Each car is different, get all the information you can

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport on rocks
2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

You never want to make an offer on a used car without knowing its history and anything else you can find. Ask for historical accident and maintenance reports from the dealer. They can likely print out or show you a CarFax, AutoCheck, or another similar report. These will give you the time and date previous owners serviced the car or were in an accident, plus the severity. These types of findings instantly give you a peek into what you’re dealing with.

Specific things to look out for in reports like this are flood damage, frame damage, engine repairs, or major accidents. Things like this can be repaired but often lead to more problems down the line. Used cars like this are better off avoided altogether.

Don’t negotiate what’s unnegotiable

Starbright Yellow 2022 Kia Seltos with mountains in the background
Starbright Yellow 2022 Kia Seltos | Kia

Certain parts of buying a used car, like registration fees and taxes, cannot be changed. Unless you travel to another state, these payments will be the same anywhere you go. However, customers can negotiate vehicle prices, advertising fees, delivery charges, and more. Although the cost for some of these items may be low, negotiating each item down a bit can result in severe savings.

RELATED: Walk Away! Here are 5 Deal Breakers When Buying a Used Car

Buy from a dealership

White Porsche dealership with Porsche written in red on the outside with grass and shrubbery.
Porsche dealership | Getty Images

Especially in the current used car market, it’s better to buy from a dealer than a private seller. Private sellers will take every advantage of the current seller’s market, but with no benefits to the buyer. Private sellers might save you money on the cost of the vehicle, but you’ll miss out on regulation from consumer protection laws, the threat of bad online reviews, and less overall work.

Dealers make the process much easier, especially following the transaction. Most dealerships will take it upon themselves to cover your registration, purchase, title, and sometimes even your insurance transfer. This can be weeks or months of work that you don’t have to deal with when buying from a dealer.

Don’t be afraid to walk away from bad deals

A row of Toyota pickup trucks in line at a dealer lot, get the best used car deals with these tips
Toyota trucks on a dealer lot | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sometimes it can be challenging to walk away from a salesperson or seem rude by leaving. However, it is one of the most effective things you can do when offered a terrible deal. If the deal on the table is bad and the seller isn’t being flexible enough, get up and walk out. One of two things is going to happen in this situation.

The first option is the dealer representative gets up and follows you and attempts to persuade you to come back inside. In this case, you now have the upper hand and may end up getting a much better deal. Secondly, you might leave the location altogether. If the deal being offered was firm and a complete ripoff, you’re better off leaving. Salespeople are trained to talk you into buying that car you love despite it being a bad deal. Removing yourself from temptation is the best thing you can do.

Make sure to get the best used car deal

In conclusion, there are many steps you can take to make sure you get the best used car deal possible. Although the market and sellers are against you right now, it is still possible. Buying from reputable sources and doing a ton of research are the most essential tips. Knowing what you’re looking for and knowing you can get it is integral to the buying process.

RELATED: 12 Lies a Car Salesman Will Tell You to Close the Deal