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Newby Negotiators Part II - Edmunds TMV vs. Reality

Found a 2004 Mazda 6 with 90+K miles for $9K. Edmunds’ “true market value” shows $7,746. NADA/KBB shows $9275. We are having the car looked at so we don’t know what is going on with the car yet but looks and drives fine (first impression).

Has anyone successfully negotiated a price down to the TMV price?

What is the difference between TMV and NADA/KBB?

All of those numbers are AVERAGES. They are not the gospel, and cannot be applied to every car of that make and model. Some cars are worth more, some less.

Those numbers give you an idea of the price range into which a given car will fall. It’s YOUR job to negotiate the best price, but don’t put too much emphasis on the numbers you find on the Internet.

They are for guidance, that’s all. Now you have a range. Work within it. Try for the low end.

Private party sale? Offer $6000 cash if the car checks out ok. Used car dealer? Offer $6100. Worst they can say is “no”.

Forgot to add…a dealer is offering the car.

I find it interesting that people look for things like Edmunds as the definitive source of what a car SHOULD sell for, when in fact it is only reporting what cars have sold for.  In the end, it is willing seller and willing buyer.

I Shoot For A Price Very Close To “Trade-In” Value When Buying Used Cars. It’s Tougher To Find Them Than TMV Cars, But They’re Out There. Read Joseph Meehan’s Advice. He’s Got It Right.

My advice is to look at many cars, test drive them, and compare. Saturate yourself in the market. That way you will teach yourself what a good deal looks like when it comes along. Nobody can teach you the fine art of negotiating. It’s something you have to develop over time, by trial and error. As others point out, walking away is one of your best negotiating tools and shows that you are no fool.

If you are not mechanically car savvy it makes the process harder. Make sure you don’t don’t buy a repaired wreck.

Again, personally I find it unbelievable to spend 8 or 9 thousand on a 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 year-old used car, but I guess people do it. 90,000 miles on a car puts it in a low price category, without a doubt. I’d go for something newer or lower miles at that price range.

Are you paying cash for this vehicle ?


Since you are getting the car “looked at” the dealer is going to assume you have strong interest in the car. That will make him stand his ground.

Bring the TMV print out and the KBB print out, that shows you did your homework. Also, bring the report from the mechanic looking over the car, in writing if there are defects. Also, include the estimate of repair costs to correct the defects.

I think the offer should be closer to the TMV, as I feel KBB values are inflated. In the end you and the dealer settle on a price. Be prepared to walk away from the car. Since you paid for an inspection the dealer isn’t going to expect you to walk. You need to look at some other cars. The dealer must believe you are willing to take your business elsewhere. If he thinks he has you hooked on his car, he won’t deal.

@CSA…yes we are paying cash. BTW, I find your responses very thorough and to the point. Thanks for offering your advice and opinions.

Good point. The moment of truth comes this afternoon. More to follow…

Yes! my wife’s car was vandalized and damaged. The insurance is paying with $100 deductible.

But I looked up the car’s value in the latest available book. It showed 25% LESS than what the insurance estimator said they would value the car! The car is in good condition with some rust spots.

Edmunds and other services used to be useful, but in recent years it seems that they are all in cahoots with the finance and lending institutions- the TMV on new cars being sold is well above the “real value” you can actually buy the car for and the TMV on the same car when it is used and you’re trying to trade it in is always less than the real value of the car when you sell it to a private party. Who does this benefit, not you the customer of course. The books are used by the dealers and finance companies to sell you for as much as possible and to give you as little as possible when you’re trading in.

In the end, it is willing seller and willing buyer.

To a point…If you’re financing the purchase…the fiance institution is NOT going to give you a $10,000 car loan on a car that’s only worth $5,000. Some use NADA…others us KBB or Edmonds. You can pay any price you want for a car…if you pay cash.

I have a 2004 Mazda6, V6. it’s a great driver’s car, save the mediocre MPG. You don’t say if this is a 4 cyl or 6? That said, the 6 is notorious for engine and pre-cat problems. PLEASE make sure you get a decent warranty. I had to replace my properly maintained engine (and both front cats) at only 81k.

The books are used by the dealers and finance companies to sell you for as much as possible and to give you as little as possible when you’re trading in.

Trade in values are WHOLESALE prices. Dealers try to sell you at full retail. You negotiate with the dealer as close to the wholesale price as possible. I’ve seen the difference as high as $10,000 dollars.

Having been in the market for a while for a used car, I should add that it seems since the economy crashed, the used car market has gone crazy. The used cars are selling at very high price. One example was a 2009 car with 36K miles on it, it just sold for $500 more than what you could get a 2011 brand new one, minus a sunroof. I think one should just make an offer and be ready to walk away.