Consumer Reports

I am looking to buy a 2003 Honda Element. The car I found is in good shape. It’s been on the dealer’s lot for 8 months, so he has just downed the price to $8,999. It is Front wheel drive. A/c and a cd player with front speakers, not back. No other perks. It has only 39,000 miles on it. Consumer reports says this car should be sold at a dealership for $6,800.00. Is that right? This guys buys cars at an auction… he has an independent used car lot. I had the car checked out and it is in good shape and the carfax report is a guarantee buy back. Should I pay 8999 for this car or tell him 6800 or forget it?

On the 2003 Elements with less than 100k miles range from $8,000 to $14,000. Where on CR did you get that $6,800 price? Regardless, the only way to know what a reasonable price is requires that you search in your area for similar cars. Price guides are just that, guides, nothing more.

Ask Consumer Reports if they will go purchase the car for you for $6800 and then give the organization $150 for its trouble. A dealer prices a car for what he thinks he can get for it. Perhaps you can work him down a couple hundred dollars. However, if I am the dealer and I think I can get close to $9000 for the car, I’m not going to sell it for $6800 just because some publication says that this is what it is worth.

Should I pay 8999 for this car or tell him 6800 or forget it?

You can do what ever you want…but I’m with “texases” and the dealer asking price seems reasonable given the car is in good shape. It’s in your ball park and how badly you want the car. IMO, in FWD, your use is more limited as a hauler than with awd. Even w/o snow conditions, awd offers better near load limit handling control than fwd.

There are other pricing references, two principal ones being Kelley Bluebook and NADA. They’re available at the bookstore. Prices among the different references do vary somewhat. Use the lowest as a bargaining chip.

But,as others said, the local market rules.

Do not pay more than trade-in value for a used car in today’s market. Check, and – find the lowest trade-in value and offer that. $9k is too much for a $6,800 car.


The car is “worth” whatever the dealer can get someone to pay for it.

$7k is about book trade in on an excellent (perfect) '03 Element. Of course, about no dealer gives book trade in these days and if this example rolled through an auction they should have paid a lot less for it. To ME it would be worth no more than the $7k price if it was all perfect, but that is me.

If you have to have an Element and this is the only one in town, then you just have to try bargaining the price down with the dealer. Look around and see what others are available near you and what the ASKING price is. If you can get others for closer to $7k then make this dealer an offer and if they don’t agree then buy one of the others. If they paid more than $7k for it then they paid too much and nothing you can do but find another Element to buy.

Keep in mind, car dealers make more per unit on used car sales (by a bunch) than new car sales.

Folks I know have traded cars and negotiated a decent trade, then check the dealer’s ad or web page a week later to see their cream puff being offer for many thousand more than they were given in trade. Even with room to negotiate a lower price, the dealer is still looking at a nice profit.


Just to bring up a point about trading in your car. It seems some dealerships and independent dealers dont want to talk about any place, book or internet location that reflects trade-in-value. They say they have a guy that buys them from them and here is the price he will give on it. When your dealer says that, find a new one!!!

I have to say, if your really want the Element, and it has no perks to it. The dealer will want to be getting this car off of his lot, so it’s in your best interest to negotiate a reasonable price for a car that is that old with no perks. But beware of a car that has been sitting for that amount of time as the gas and oil will begin to form gummy deposits, and that can be a real nightmare.

You can’t rely on an auction car even at the average price. They are the worst as far as bad potential goes. Most of them have had about zero upkeep. Some of these cars have their original oil filter on them. The dealer’s reputation or your past success in buying used or auction cars has no bearing on the future of any single car. If you have $4,000 of extra money to pay for possible repairs, go for it. This is at your own risk.