According to the researchers at LendingTree, in 2021, we saw almost a 36% increase in the average amount folks financed for a two-year-old used car. That translates to more than $7,100, and it reflects how much used car prices rose in just a year. Madison, Wisconsin had the biggest jump at 45.5%, and Chattanooga, Tennessee is number three at about 32%.
While now may not be the best time to buy, auto experts tell me that prices will cool as the weather does. So when the snow hits the ground, you can likely hit the car lot. But do you know how to get the best deal? There are actually experts who teach people how to negotiate. So I chatted with Andres Lares, managing partner at the Shapiro Negotiations Institute. He says if you’re uncomfortable with haggling, write a script before you go and practice saying it.
“You've now worked on it,” said Lares. “You've literally written down on a scratchpad. You don't have to write down every word, but then when you actually say it at the dealership, the same would go with when you're negotiating your salary or the same would go if you're a salesperson with a product, when you actually tell it to the party, it actually feels like you've done it before. And so there's a phrase we like to say, ‘Nothing convinces like conviction.’ And by going through the scripting process, you're more confident. And the more confident you are, the more likely you'll convince the other side.”
Here’s Lares’s Do List for Negotiating:
- Build Rapport. That car salesperson is a human being just doing his job. Connect with him.
- Establish that you've done your homework. Know the Kelley Blue Book price for the car and the price other sellers are charging for the car. Not only does it send the message that you’re prepared, but it also shows the salesperson that you’re serious about making a purchase.
- Ask about incentives and deals before you name your price. The dealer may have an offer better than the price you request.
- Consider actions and phrases that will help progress the negotiation. A common negotiation strategy includes throwing out a mid-range price (lower than the listing) and seeing how they respond. Often, the other party will counter with something in the middle again or stick to their original offering. You don’t need to say yes to the first price. Often, offering to walk away may help persuade them to lower the price as well.
- Compromise. If you find the seller or other party isn't willing to come down in price, consider other options. If it is a new or used car, can the dealership throw in free oil changes for a year?
Here’s Deanna’s Do List for getting the biggest bang for your buck:
- Set a car-buying budget and don’t budge. While this may seem to contradict Lares’s last tip, it’s not. You can compromise. But don’t let a shiny new car and a charming salesperson talk you into buying a car you can’t afford. Stick to your budget.
- Be able to walk away. Don’t get emotionally attached.
- Find affordable financing before you hit the lot. Because lenders consider used car financing riskier than new car financing, rates may be higher. Shop around.
- Be prepared. Know your credit score. Also, research the Kelley Blue Book price for your car before you hit the lot.
- Get a vehicle history report. Carfax and AutoCheck are the best-known companies that sell history reports. New Yorkers can also get free vehicle information at NYVincheck.com.
- You can also get limited information at a number of free sites including the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Vehiclehistory.com, Iseecars.com, CARFAX and AUTOCHECK.
- Make sure the person selling the car owns the title to the car. Click here to do that.
- Ask a trusted mechanic to inspect the car before you buy. First, after you test drive the car, have it checked by a mechanic. I called 10 auto repair shops in the Rochester area this spring. All had good reputations with the BBB, and the price for a pre-purchase inspection runs from $20 to $130. And if that helps avoid buying a money pit, that's a few bucks well spent.
- Goodyear, A+ BBB rating, $62.50
- Chili Automotive, A+ BBB rating, $125.00
- Independence Car Care Center, A+ BBB rating, $59/99
- Lewis General, A+ BBB rating, $19.95
- Vesa’s Automotive, A+ BBB rating, $55
- Rytek Automotive, A BBB rating, $80.00
- Schoen Auto, A+ BBB rating, $78 or $130
- Tony’s, A+ BBB rating, Manager didn’t quote a price.