How To Make Sure You’re Getting A Good Deal On A Used Car

As my father always used to say, “The day you drive off the lot is the day your car is worthless.” Although he may have been a little extreme, I knew he was trying to make a point – he was telling me to make sure that I knew which one I wanted before I made a final decision. He was a used car salesman for over 40 years and always advised me on either leasing a car or buying a used car with a couple of years on it. He would always get a deal on them because he worked in the industry, but one day he told me the secrets behind finding a good deal.

The 5 Ways to Find a Great Deal

Always Have a Benchmark 

Back in the day, every car salesman and buyer would carry around what they called, “the black book.” This basically gave a range of values assigned to almost every car in the world based on the year, model, make, and condition. This is what many people in the industry used to call, “the bible.” Fast-forwarding into modern society, there are many programs that people use to evaluate the street value of a car, given the year, model, and make – but there is no benchmarking tool that is quite like Kelly Blue Book. Go to Kelly Blue Book prior to buying the car and find out the industry average value of the vehicle you are interested in.

Add-in Potential Cost Factors 

Most used cars that are sold by owners need to have an inspection. The owner of the car usually doesn’t do this and states, “Oh yea, the car runs great.” Next thing you know, you’re dragging your engine from the middle of the interstate. If you’re buying from a dealer, chances are they inspected the vehicles but make sure to ask them for verification. If the seller of the vehicle did not do an inspection, I would ask them to lower the price of the vehicle so you can pay for a full-inspection – hopefully finding anything that will cost you money in the future. If the mechanic states, “Your belts are frayed, the oil needs to be changed, and your battery needs replacing in the next two years,” then look at the total costs and factor these prices in as deductions for the car.

Find Undervalued Cars

Some cars hold their value much better than others, but it doesn’t mean that one of those cars is necessarily better than the other. For example, Honda is known for holding its value over the course of many years of operation, whereas Nissan vehicles depreciate faster than Honda – although this may not be the case any longer. Finding cars at a great value may mean forgoing your dream car, but when looking for a deal, sacrificing the vehicle make and model you desire may save you thousands in the long run.

 Never Buy the First One 

Unless the deal is outrageously good and you did your homework on what the vehicle should be priced at compared to the offered price, never buy right away. Rule number one of car buying is simple, “Never buy the first car that you see or settle for a price.” Car salesmen may tell you that they’re offering a “steal” price and you won’t find a better value anywhere else – yet when you leave and go to the next dealership, the salesman is offering you something better. Car salesmen may take the approach of “our cars are worth the price” and not offer you a deal, but then call you for the next three months to come back in for a “special rate”. Always negotiate and never take what car salesman says as the total truth.

Look for Signs that Say, “For Sale by Owner”

Working with current owner negotiations and buying from a current owner is usually a better deal than going to a used car dealership. This is mostly due to overhead and the professional sales techniques of car salespeople. Current owners want to get rid of the car and want cash, therefore lowering the amount you’d have to pay to get it. They are more willing to negotiate and lower the price if you don’t have the sticker price money right away. Used car lots do this sometimes but not to the extent that many owners may go. You’ll find your best deals on Craigslist or other third-party online directories.

Matthew Hall has followed in the footsteps of his father and entered into sales in the city of Plano, Texas. For those who have purchased questionable vehicles, he fully recommends Linear Automotive at for inspection and repair. You can find more about him on Google+.