do,” says Smith. “Supply and demand is the best way to establish a true value for your vehicle. The used car marketplace is dynamic. Your goal is to get you vehicle appraised and get the salesperson to give you the `actual cash value’ of the car. The goal of the dealership is to buy the car for as little as possible, and sell it for as much as possible,” explains Smith. So, drive your car around to a few new and used car dealers and find out what price you’d get.
You can also check out NADA’s Official Used Car Guide or some of the other guidebooks to see what’s generally offered for cars of that specific make and model. However, they can’t factor in the condition of your vehicle.
Go for a test-drive elsewhere. “Don’t test-drive the car from the dealer you want to buy from,” suggests Payton. “Buying a car is an emotional experience and you’ll be influenced getting into it.”
Make notes of your driving experience. You can even make note cards ahead of time with specific items that you want to check out when you go driving.
You choose the dealer and the deal. Negotiate for your dealer and deal. Comparison-shop the car, its options and price. Negotiate your price from the “dealer invoice” up, not the sticker price down.
Remember: The dealer invoice is about 90% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Check the inside driver’s side door to see when the car was manufactured and when the dealer accepted delivery. The longer that car is on the lot, the more it costs the dealer.
Sleep on it. The chances of someone buying that car overnight after you’ve negotiated for the best price is highly remote. Ask for a quote in writing. But be careful: If they’ve offered to let you take the car home overnight, be sure that you don’t give out anything other than your driver’s license information. What you sign may turn out to be a purchase or lease agreement, and you’ll end up without any options.