How to Negotiate the Price of a Car (Advice From a Dealer)

By Kijiji Autos

Once you find a vehicle you're interested in, it's time to negotiate a fair price. This may feel a bit intimidating, but it doesn't have to be.

As dealer Ryan Thompson from Ernie Dean Chevrolet Buick GMC explains in this video, doing your homework is a vital step in becoming a great negotiator. Knowing how to negotiate car price can save you money and make the car-buying experience less stressful. Following these helpful tips can help you negotiate new car prices and teach you how to negotiate used car prices at a dealership.

Here's what you need to know before putting in an offer:

Don't start with a lowball offer

You may be tempted to start with an offer well below asking. Don't. Whether you're purchasing from a dealer or a private seller, opening negotiations with a lowball offer can be seen as an insult, and this can affect the seller's willingness to negotiate with you. It's a much better strategy to research comparable vehicles to determine how much wiggle room is likely built into the price. This can help you make an informed offer.

Understand what variables affect car pricing

One of the most important things to understand about car pricing is that prices are affected by many different variables. It's not as simple as just comparing two similar cars. Each car has its own history and unique features, so each car will also have a different price.

Here are some of the variables to keep in mind:


Year Newer cars are generally more expensive than older ones, but exceptions apply. Some years may be more expensive due to special features or scarcity, or less expensive due to reliability issues.


Different car brands command different prices. Luxury imported cars like BMWs usually have higher price tags than more accessible car brands like Toyota or Ford.


When comparing car prices, make sure to focus your research on a particular model. Most dealers won’t consider price adjustments based on the asking price of a different model.


Car models come in a variety of trim levels. Higher trim levels usually come with premium features, resulting in a higher resale value.


While all used cars are likely to show some wear and tear, a well-maintained car is likely to command a higher price.


The higher the mileage, the lower the value. Kijiji Autos listings feature Car Mileage Analysis, allowing you to quickly assess whether a car has below-average, average or above-average mileage.


Vehicles that have been involved in accidents or used as rentals or commercial vehicles are less valuable. Always ask to see a vehicle history before purchasing a used car.

Consider the pros & cons of paying cash vs. financing

It seems like paying cash for a car would get you the best price, but dealers say it may not make that much of a difference. The most important thing is to choose a payment method that works for your budget. Here are some things to consider before deciding how to pay:

  • The main benefit of paying cash is saving on interest and avoiding monthly payments.
  • Paying cash is a great option if you have the money available. But putting all your savings into a car purchase can be risky if it means you'll have no funds left for repairs, emergencies or other life events.
  • Financing allows you to get behind the wheel of a car without needing to pay a large sum of money at once, as you'll pay in smaller monthly installments over a set period of time.
  • It may be slightly more expensive in the long run, but financing could allow you to keep a healthy bank balance, so you have funds to save, invest or use for contingencies.
  • If you don't like the financing terms offered by the dealership, it's a good idea to look into personal loans or lines of credit offered by your bank.

Keep warranties in mind

Another variable that can affect a car's value is warranty coverage. Depending on the age, make and mileage of the vehicle, it may come with some form of warranty. A car that is still under warranty will command a higher price than one without. The dealership may also offer the option of purchasing an extended warranty for your vehicle, or you may be able to negotiate adding coverage to your deal. Learn more about warranties here.

Don't focus just on the MSRP

When purchasing a car, you can negotiate more than just the asking price. You may be able to negotiate for a better interest rate or to have extra products like warranty coverage or winter tires added to your deal. If you're planning to trade in your current vehicle, you should be able to negotiate a better value if you do your research first. Learn more about trading in your car.

Stay in touch with the dealer

Sometimes a deal doesn't work out. Maybe you decide not to purchase the vehicle or it sells to someone else. It's a great idea to stay in touch with the dealer. Inventory changes daily at dealerships, and by keeping the conversation going, the dealer can let you know when they have a car they think you'll like. It might be a different model or a different trim level than what you were originally interested in, but it also might be an even better deal.

Be prepared to walk away

A good negotiator is prepared to walk away and knows when to do it. Remember that there are lots of vehicles out there, so if the dealer can't meet your target price or you don't like the terms, it's okay to walk away. You shouldn't agree to a deal that you're not comfortable with.

Compare similar vehicles

When you find a car you're interested in, it's time to do your research. Start by visiting our Model Overview Pages where you can learn about car models, years and trims. This will get you up to speed on key information about the vehicle you're interested in.

Check the estimated car value using a valuation tool like those offered by CARFAX or Kelley Blue Book. Then compare the prices of similar models at other dealerships and online at Kijiji Autos. If you find the price of a car is higher than comparable models, there's likely room to negotiate.

And remember, you can always ask the dealer how they've determined the asking price. A good dealer is knowledgeable and willing to share information about the vehicle's history, condition and value. The more you know, the better prepared you are to negotiate.

Ready to find the car of your dreams? Watch this video on how to find the right car for you, then browse Kijiji Autos for thousands of new and used cars for sale in your area.

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