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How to negotiate a deal for a used car

How to negotiate a deal for a used car

Want to negotiate the best price when buying a car, whether it’s new or used? Check out specific tips from Zuto’s experts, and get the knowledge you need for the best possible price.

Whether you are looking to buy a car outright or purchase using car finance, negotiating on the price of the car can be worthwhile when looking to secure the best deal possible.

Knowing how to negotiate the price of a used car is all about confidence and understanding what you should be looking out for when car hunting. So what exactly should you be keeping in mind when you negotiate to ensure you bag the best deal?


Ahead of car hunting, you should set a realistic budget to understand the options you have available and whether buying through cash or car finance is more suited. If you are unsure how much you should be looking to spend each month, Zuto’s car finance calculator will help break this down for you.

Once you have found a suitable car, you should carry out independent research to help determine market value as well as overall history and condition of the vehicle. There are lots of sites available that will help you get a rough idea of market value, helping you to understand how reasonable the car price is. At Zuto, we are able to run these checks for you free of charge to help give you peace of mind when buying a car.

It is also worthwhile finding out why the seller is selling the car if you are looking to purchase through a private seller. You should also try and figure out how long they have had the car. If the car has been sitting there for 30 days or more, it may be due a price reduction. You should be able to ask the car dealer for this information, but can also do your own independent research by looking through available paperwork.

Contacting the seller

Once you reach out to the seller and express interest in the chosen car, it’s important you know what questions to ask, including:

  • How is the overall condition of the car?
  • Are you able to provide full car history including past services?
  • Are there any issues with the car currently?

Inspections and test driving

Once you’ve covered these key questions, you should give the car a thorough inspection to ensure the condition matches closely with this information.

As for specific issues to look out for, make sure to look for the following and note how much it costs to fix them as this will help you when negotiating the final price:

  • Scuffed alloys
  • Dents
  • Scuffs on bumpers
  • Tyre tread lower than 4mm
  • Brake wear and tear
  • Missing second key

As well as looking out for these potential leverage points, it’s crucial you understand the car’s service history. If the car requires a service or MOT within the next few months, this is a strong negotiation point as this would typically cost you upwards of £120 depending on the vehicle.

If you’re happy with the overall condition of the car, you should take a drive to test performance, making sure you listen for any unusual sounds coming from the car. It is always a good idea to bring someone experienced with cars to come on the test drive as they may spot potential mechanical issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.

The negotiation

After completing the inspection and test drive, if you are still interested in the car, it is now time to begin the negotiation process.

Going into these conversations, you should be fully prepared with market value of similar cars to hand, enabling you to make an offer below the initial asking price. Consider any damage you noticed on inspections as you may be able to use these as negotiation points, resulting in a price reduction.

Now is also a good time to consider any differences between the car and the advertisement. Sometimes you may find that when viewing a car, there are some things that don’t quite match the initial advertisement. Lots of people fail to keep a note of this, but it is well worth doing as any differences between this and the car when viewing can often be a good bargaining tool.

A common one to look out for is checking the advertised mileage vs the mileage on the car when discussing the purchase. If the car has a higher mileage than previously advertised, you should negotiate around this to ensure the deal reflects the change.

Closing the deal

Following negotiations, you should feel confident that the final asking price reflects market value of the exact car type and model, as well as any signs of wear and tear. If you are still unsure of the price or feel pressured by the dealer you should be prepared to walk away to avoid going above budget.

If you are happy with the negotiated price and are looking to purchase through car finance, ensure you check all financial information such as interest rate and the total amount payable over the contract period.

If you are currently looking at car finance options for a new car, visit our car finance calculator to help you understand how this could translate into monthly payments.

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