If you’re looking for a great used car deal, the chances are you’ve heard all of the usual advice – do your research, shop around and get a full check before sealing the deal. The thing is, most dealers and private sellers have heard this advice too. They’re expecting you to haggle on price and in all likelihood, they’ve done their research and added a margin to the car price for that exact reason. So how do you get a true used car bargain?

Get your finance sorted first

If you’re planning to get a used car on credit, you’ll want your finance in place before you go shopping. A pre-approved loan ensures you’ll stay within budget. It also gives any dealer who is keen to sell you a car on their finance a little incentive. They’ll have to beat a deal that’s already on the table for you. That’s a strong position to be in when you’re looking for a great used car deal.

Buy from a private seller

In most cases, the best deal on any set of wheels is going to be with a private seller. Why? Because a private seller doesn’t need to worry about overheads like a dealer does. On top of that, a dealer can have a car sit in the forecourt for a while. A private seller, on the other hand, most likely needs to shift their wheels so they can buy the car of their dreams. If they’ve already gone ahead with their purchase, even better for you! They’re more likely to be keen for a quick sale to recoup some of the cost of their new car.

Look for the unusual bargains

Once you’ve decided what you want, think about the places and times of the year with a good supply but low demand for that kind of car. If you’re looking for a small electric car, rural areas are likely to have less demand than inner London. A full-sized twin cab pick-up will have fewer interested buyers in the cities.

It’s the same for the time of year you choose to buy. A great used car deal for convertibles will be likely to happen in winter – no one wants the windows down, let alone the top in freezing temperatures!

Get multiple insurance quotes

It’s not just the price of a used car you need to worry about, it’s on-road costs too. Car insurance can vary greatly between the makes and models of different vehicles. Get some quotes on a few of the cars you’re considering. This will help you spot a truly great used car deal not only from the price but your expected costs once you buy it.

Prepare your part exchange

Trading your current set of wheels in for a reduction on the price of your next car is fairly common practice. To get a great used car deal from the salesperson, make sure you have everything for the car you are exchanging. That means the spare key, full-service history, receipts for work and parts – the whole shebang. If you can show the dealer this, they can show you more money.

Don’t bother offering cash either. This isn’t going to win you any friends nor will it grease the wheels for a great used car deal. Dealers have to provide an audit trail of where car payments come from. Cash makes this a nightmare for them and banks charge business customers for depositing cash.

Choose your time and words carefully

If you’re buying from a dealer, early in the month can be a good time if the previous month was a bumper time for part exchanges. However, the other end of the month can also be good. This is when salespeople are more likely to be looking for sales to make monthly quotas.

Whichever time you do decide is right for the dealership you want to buy from, remember your manners. Used car dealers are people too! You’ll always get a better deal if you are friendly, polite and show the dealer some respect. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Keep your emotions in check to negotiate a great used car deal

Buying a car is exciting and getting a great used car deal is nerve-wracking! But showing your feelings is going to make it harder to negotiate a bargain. Negotiating with the seller online can help if you’re really nervous. Otherwise, taking a friend along can help to calm your nerves and keep your poker face in place.

When you have found the car you want, it’s a given that you’ll have to haggle a little. Dealers won’t have any emotional attachment to the car they’re trying to sell you, but a private seller probably will. Be prepared to back any offer you have with marketplace facts. Remember you can always leave them your contact details and walk away if they won’t come down on price. Chances are if they get the same bad news from other interested buyers, they’ll be giving you a call within the week.

Never be afraid or too embarrassed to walk away from a deal that’s too expensive or just doesn’t feel right. Buying a car is a big decision and one you should avoid rushing. Size up any deal you’re offered and consider the value you’ll get from it. Added extras are easy to say yes to when going through the paperwork with the salesperson and a nightmare to pay off if they’re not improving your driving life. It is always easy to walk away and find a great used car deal somewhere else than it is to be lumbered with a lemon.

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