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How to skillfully negotiate the price of a car already at KBB value?

I am a college kid looking to replace my 87 Accord with a '98 EX edition with 104,000 miles. Automatic, 4cyl.

(for those who read my thread about a car with 123k, this is actually a different car, dont be confused).



This car is for sale at a Honda dealership close to my college.



I have never bought a car PERIOD. The cars I’ve driven around thus far have been old hand-me-downs.



They want 7,000 for this car which is also it’s KBB Value (rounded to the nearest $100).



I am going to take my dad with me if I decide to actually purchase the car.



I was thinking about offering say, $6500 plus my trade and see what they say. What would you guys suggest ?



This is assuming the test-drive and inspection go well, of course. I’m going to look at this car in 2 days. Thanks.



Your trade in would not be worth much. You are better off selling it locally.

Now the KBB value you quote is the dealer price or private party? I never pay dealer price, esp for a car this old. the only time I might consider paying close to that is with a car that is almost new and the dealer would provide or transfer a full warranty at no extra charge.

The next question is how are you going to pay. Cash is the best, otherwise they play around with numbers and you won’t even know but will be paying something close to a new car.

See what the private party value is, then have the car checked. Ask for repair records. If everything checks out offer $1000+ less and be ready to walk away. The market is soft and you are in the driver’s seat. I would not pay more than 4-5K for a '98 with 100+KM no matter what it is and what the condition is. You are going to be the LAST owner of this car.

Offer whatever you think it is worth or what you can afford. Most dealers will not look favorably on your 87 trade, so selling it separately on the private market may work out better, unless you want to dump it quickly.

Check out edmunds.com and nadaguides.com to see what their recommended values are. Factor that into your offer. Since all car sales are down, you may expect a bit better discount than a few months ago, but that is dependent on your negotiating skills and how badly the salesman wants to sell the car. Many times, I start out at around trade value and work up a bit, depending on how badly I liked the car and how well it was maintained.

I would also get an independent mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection and ask about maintenance records, especially timing belt, on the 98. This info may be used as leverage to either get some needed maintenance done as part of the sales contract, or a reduction in price, based on what the maintenance schedule says for this car.

Edmunds says that it’s worth about $6500 if it has everything but the rear spoiler. I’d start at $6000 if it’s loaded. BTW, loaded means top line sound system, leather seats and steering wheel, power driver’s seat, and auto transmission. Don’t mention price first. Show how much you know about the car and mention that you looked it up on Edmunds, since they quote a lower price. If you have any other cars on the list, mention them as well. It’s hard to sell a car right now, even one like this. You control the negotiations, not them.

Thanks for the great advice. The value I quoted was the Dealer price. As far as selling my car locally, it is barely even driveable. Nobody would want it. I will check again for the private value and go from there.

Next, I am a cash customer and know all about their little games.

Thanks again,

Thanks for all the helpful responses! I am printing this page out.

If you know about Dealer games, why are you buying at a Dealer? think you can beat them? who has more experience beating people out of their money with a vehicle purchase?

Maybe if you paid attention you would see that I was simply refering to the fact that I am paying with cash and not financing through them i.e. not falling prey to their $$$ game.

The only thing I would advise is that you keep this in mind.

The less talking the better for your side of this transaction. Once you sit down in an office and start negotiating with the salesman, “going to check with the sales manager”, etc. then you’re playing their games.

Personally, I would not even enter the building. Say very little, don’t be swayed by BS, and I believe it’s Mr. Meehan who has given the best advice in the past.
Tell them they get one shot at the price and you’re either buying or leaving.
Don’t be worried about offending anyone. It’s business and they’re under a lot more pressure to sell you a car than you are under to buy one.

As for your '87, you might call up a few scrappers and seeing what they will give you for it. If it is barely drivable it is probably the best you can get for it. You should find plenty of scrappers in the local paper either under parts or towing services in the classifieds, and as a bonus they will pick it up. Just think of what you get as the trade in value.

Thanks! I am going to take my dad with me if it comes down to the #s and we will make our offer and then simply leave if they do not take it.

Your trade is absolutely worthless to a dealer. They will auction it off or junk it. They are not interested in old cars.

They use the value as a bargaining chip to basically add another variable in the mix to confuse the real deal.

Forget your trade and simply negotiate price. Be ready to walk. 123k does not make the car appealing to the masses. The only appeal here is the Honda name.

I’m going to make a slightly different suggestion here. First, check all the ads in the paper, especially this dealers ads to see if they have listed it at a different price. They will list a couple of cars at a real low price to entice customers into the dealership, they try to switch them to a higher priced vehicle. You would not feel good if you offered them a take it or leave it price and then found out that it was on sale for a lower price.

Don’t make the first offer. An old rule I heard once was that the first to mention money, looses. Ask them to make you an offer. Don’t counter offer immediately. When they make you an offer, then say something like “I was hoping you would do better” or something to that affect. Completely suppress any emotions that you may have to their offer. If they start with something like this offer is for today only, come back with something like “I think I’d like to see the special offer for tomorrow”.

Once they make a serious offer, then you might try an offer lower that theirs and see what they do. When you get close on price, you might also ask for services like a few oil changes or a future tune up or something. Another line that might work if their first offer is too high is “Aren’t you ashamed of an offer like that?”

Not that I would suggest this, as it is totally unethical and would generally work better with a private seller than a dealer, but it is amusing:

Some cars have a diagnostic mode for their dash clusters. You can usually find them described on line. Triggering a dash diagnostic mode requires a sequence of steps, such as holding the trip meter reset button while turning the key to the run position.

Diagnostic mode will start all the lights in the dash cluster flashing and all gauge needles sweeping back and forth from lock to lock. Digitals displays will start flashing various codes related to your car’s VIN and other information. If you don’t know what is going on, it is quite startling.

As I say, I would not advocate this, but if you can search your car on line and find out if this is possible on that car, it would be a good way to rattle a salesmans’s cage. Just make sure that he does not notice the unusual steps that you take to set it off.

What Is The Warranty?

I have bought new cars and used cars from individuals and dealers. I usually pay closer to KBB trade-in for used cars, particularly if there is no warranty given. The only reason I would pay more at a dealer is if they give a warranty. Many lots give a 30 or 60 day (often drivetrain) warranty. It needs to be in writing and you need to know if it covers parts, labor, or both. I would expect it to cover both. Without a warranty I buy low to have a little to spend if something is wrong, sort of a DIY warranty.

It takes time and work to ferret out a really good deal. Don’t rush it. You can’t just see something and buy it. By shopping for a while, you will teach yourself which cars are a good deal. One-owner or long-time-owner cars, especially with maintenance records, seem to make more sense. They can answer questions.

Some vehicles suffer from specific make/model common problems. There is a ton of information online. Do your homework and do some research before you buy. Know what you are getting into. It will be worth it.