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Reader Question: How Do YOU Save on Buying a Used Car (Share YOUR Tips)

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Used Car

Check out this question from reader Jamie…

I was wondering if your readers have any advice on buying a used car? I haven’t shopped for a car in 14 years and have no idea what I’m doing! I’m going tomorrow and was hoping some clever deal finders had advice on how to negotiate a price and how to pick a SUV or minivan!

If you have any tips, please share!

Join The Discussion

Comments 79

  1. Tammie

    I’ve always had a number in mind that is approximately ten percent lower than what they are asking and say, “This is how much I have. This is how much I can do. I understand if it doesn’t work for you.” Then I pause and let it be silent. I never have to pay more. It works every time.

  2. Ph

    Great advice and I’m not even buying a car…. Hipsters are the best they know how to save $$$$!

  3. Rachel

    I bought a used 2016 Equinox back in November with 1500 miles on it. I researched online and found the used vehicle I wanted. I got to the dealership and the vehicle I wanted had sold. They had the vehicle I ended up buying. Practically brand new at a used car price. They certified it for me and gave me the buyers package. The previous owners took it on a road trip and didn’t like the silver color so they brought it back and bought a white one. Their craziness was my gain. Best deal ever.

  4. Susie

    I just bought one at the end of 2015 and I used Truecar (through my work we had bonus deals and Consumer Reports uses it too – see if they have anything like bonus cash back) and had a pre approved loan through my credit union. The dealership had to honor the Truecar price, which was $2500 less than lot list price and I had my loan ready to go. I would’ve negotiated the lot price anyway so it saves you the energy. The only thing they had wiggle room on was my trade in value and they spent two hours trying to negotiate that (for a $2200 car…). I ended up being firm and they paid it off and I left with my new car!

    Also don’t let them do weird math. There’s a lot of “oh well we’ll take this off and the tax will take you down to here, plus if you pay this now, etc.” just look at hard numbers and question their math. If they have to talk you through it more than once then it’s probably sneaky.

  5. HeatherG

    We actually enjoyed our experience with Carmax, since there wasn’t the back and forth of haggling price. We had a monthly payment amount in mind, picked out a 2013 Hyandai Santa Fe, they showed us 5 bank offerings and we chose what worked. In and out in less than two hours!

  6. Jen D

    If you are buying used I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend buying private party!! I purchased both of my last two vehicles this way and frankly I don’t think I will ever go through a dealership in my life. Yes, it’s a little more work. But the benefits FAR outweigh the costs. You are avoiding dealer markups by cutting out the middle man, there is more room for negotiation because most private parties are very motivated to sell, no sales tax, the biggest depreciation has already been absorbed by someone else, etc. etc. Just make sure they have all their maintenance records, ask lots of questions, have it checked by an independent mechanic if you want to (I have actually never needed to do this and never had a problem, but it’s definitely not a bad idea especially if you are buying a car more than 2-3 years old) and if you have a bad gut feeling about the vehicle or person selling it, just walk away.

    You can find sample bills of sale online or create your own and have both parties sign and have it notarized. Make sure you get the title signed over to you if you are paying cash, or you can even obtain financing through your credit union or other lender. I financed through the credit union and met the seller there, they notified his lienholder (he still owed on it too) and had us sign the title transfer documents and everything, then he was mailed his lien release documents from his lender as soon as the payment cleared from my bank to his. Even with that being the most complicated private party sale scenario (buyer and lender going through 3r party financing) it was pretty quick and easy!

    I honestly can’t recommend private party buying and selling enough. I have used Craigslist and classified listing services for MANY things (buying and selling furniture, cars, I even found a roommate through CL in college that I am still friends with today!) and I find for the most part the people I have dealt with are overall good and honest. Just be safe and make sure to always bring a friend or family member when meeting and test driving a vehicle with a stranger – obviously!!! 🙂

  7. Katie

    Keep hold of your keys! If you have a car you want to trade in, go with them to check it out, but don’t give them your keys. Also, be willing to walk away! This is not the only car, dealership, or deal in the world, so if it’s not what you want, leave!
    We needed a minivan about 8 years ago and went to the local dealer to scope it out. I told the sales guy my needs (a basic minivan with no bells and whistles)
    He proceeded to show us the 30Thou+ stuff he had.
    I don’t need a DVD player, a moonroof, or Bluetooth technology!
    They had a board in the showroom with the “must sell” vehicles.
    The lowest was a 2005 Chevrolet Town and Country for $10,000.
    I got it for 8.
    I was willing to walk away if they wouldn’t match my existing payments, with better credit than when we bought the trade in.
    They caved, I won.

  8. Morna

    I was going to buy used when I bought my car last year but Hondas hold their values so well and finance rates are higher on used. It made more sense financially to buy new. I had some rough experiences with haggling before….I’m not afraid to walk away. I was suspicious of any deal the guy told me about. So I searched in True Car and found out what they were offering was awesome. Of course they tried to tack on all those packages. No thanks! My credit is not great..hardly even fair but I walked away with a new Accord for exactly the price I wanted to pay. Gotta live that. The dealership was a “no haggle” dealership and there really wasn’t any. In only haggled over my trade in.

  9. Christie

    Did you make a purchase today? If not, I have several tips that I want to share if it is not too late! 😀

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