When you buy a used car, you expect to go in and negotiate: to drive the price down and walk out with a bigger deal than you anticipated. There’s just one problem: as the face of the used car industry, like so many others, changes drastically due to online shopping, you may not be able to negotiate as much as you think.
In fact, in many cases, the dealer may turn you down flat when you attempt to negotiate over the price of a car.
Why negotiation is failing
When most consumers today go shopping for a new car, they start online. It’s much easier to browse Google for used cars of a specific make and model–about which you have likely already done your research, so you know exactly what you want–than it is to turn to go to dealership after dealership, hoping that they’ll have the model you want in stock.
Not only that, price checking online is much simpler than it was in the days before Google: now, consumers can see all the available models of a specific vehicle and the price assigned to them by each dealership. The good news is, that means you can quickly and easily choose the dealership with the best prices, which means you don’t end up over-spending.
The bad news? When you go in to negotiate, the dealer may have no interest in dropping the price on your used vehicle.
In many cases, dealerships are already posting the lowest prices they will take for their vehicles. They don’t want to miss out on potential customers just because they’ve put too high a markup on the vehicle. Unfortunately, that means that they don’t want to negotiate down–and, in fact, may not be able to.
It’s not your negotiation tactics
There are tips and tricks everywhere for negotiating about the price of a new car, whether you’re looking for a fast SUV or a good, reliable vehicle for a new teen driver.
Some people claim to be fantastic at negotiating. Others want to offer you a look at how you, too, can walk into a dealership and walk out with a fantastic deal. These days, however, it’s no longer about negotiation tactics like convincing the salesperson that you aren’t really interested in a particular vehicle or that you have another vehicle you’ve already looked at just waiting for you to return.
The reality is, the salesperson just doesn’t have any wiggle room to negotiate and still leave the dealer with a profit on the vehicle.
Where you can still negotiate
While the used car market doesn’t offer as much room for negotiation as it once did, there are still some points that you can negotiate on–and some places that can help you get the funds you really want. Consider:
New cars offer more wiggle room. They just have more options, from factory rebates to upgrades added to your vehicle. In some cases, you may be able to get a better deal on a brand new vehicle than one that has only been used for a couple of years.
You may be able to negotiate the selling price of your car. In some cases, dealerships have more room to offer you extra money for your current vehicle than they do to drop the price of the vehicle you’re buying.
Choosing the right used vehicle is less about finding a dealership that will negotiate down on their price, and more about finding a good deal based on the MSRP of the car.
Don’t be surprised if you only have a few hundred dollars’ negotiating room on your next used vehicle purchase–and be willing to do your research to ensure that you get the best deal possible.