What About Used Cars?
Getting an online quote for used cars is slightly tougher since condition levels and mileage vary. It isn't quite an apples-to-apples comparison. Dealerships are willing to talk price over the phone or via email, but you'll want to make sure you've seen and driven the car before making a serious offer.
As when you're buying new, your goal should be to have a list of at least three vehicles you're interested in. Try to get as close as you can to the year, trim level and mileage. We'll now proceed with the assumption that you've test-driven them all. Reach out to the used-car salesperson at the dealership and ask for a price by email.
In some cases, the price quote will be the same as the listed price. Here's how to counter that: Use the Edmunds appraisal tool and enter the year, make and model of the vehicle you're interested in. Make sure that the trim, miles and options match as closely as possible because those factors will affect the results.
Pay attention to the following numbers: The dealer retail price is an estimate of what dealers will be selling the car for. The trade-in value is what the dealer might have paid for the car at auction or from the prior owner. Your goal is to make an offer in between those, allowing for some profit on the dealer's end. For example, if the dealer's asking price is $25,000 and the trade-in value is $22,000, you might want to counter with about $23,500 and work your way up.
Some salespeople will be more receptive to negotiating than others, but explaining that you've done some research on pricing goes a long way in showing that you're a serious and educated buyer.