Pricing for used car


I am looking a buying a used 2006 Mazda 3 from a dealer.

Their price: 16,770

dealer retail: 15,317

private party: 14,276

So do I offer to buy it for the dealer retail?


Start below that (maybe 14,500) and have it (15,300) as your target price. You can always go up, if you want to BUT you can not go down. Just remember that the price is negotiable & they want to sell the car. Get it checked out by an independent tech before buying.


I was wondering about the ‘start low’ strategy. It’s a headache but if its the only way to get to the right price, then it has to be done. I was thinking of short-circuiting this and telling them that says “15,317” and that’s what I’ll give them, non-negotiable.


I have spent my entire life in the car business. My dad was a salesman for many years and then opened his own used car lot. Here is my opinion of the negotiation process.
If you go in and give the dealer a bottom line non-negotiable price they will spend the next 30 minutes telling you that can not meet that price. At this point you have 2 options stand your ground and leave or make another offer. If you make another offer you will end up paying more then your target price. If you stand your ground and leave you can not go back. If you go back another day the salesman knows you want that car, either because you could not find anything else, or it is the best deal you found. At this point the negotiation process is in his/her favor.
If you lowball the dealer you will spend an hour or so as he runs back and forth to the ?sales manager? for approval. In the end you will end up near to your target price.
There is another aspect to the negotiation factor as well. When you give them a one time offer and they say ?yes? you will always think you could have gotten it cheaper and the sales person will always think he ?left money on the table?. Spending an hour to an hour and a half negotiating the prices gives both parties satisfaction. The seller will believe he got every dime the buyer was willing or able to spend, and the buyer will believe he got the vehicle as cheap as he absolutely could.
Although it doesn?t seem all that important negotiation on price will make you feel better about what you are buying. It helps to eliminate buyers remorse and gives the new owner a positive outlook about the purchase of there vehicle. This feeling of euphoria will help you to overlook minor problems with the vehicle 6 months from now when the new wears off. ?It?s not perfect but I got a great deal? or ?Yeah I had to spend a little money on it but I made up for it in the price I paid? are statements I have heard many times from happy car buyers. Also if you negotiate the price and play the dealerships game I have found they are more willing to help if an unforeseen problem comes up. Remember you negotiated the cheapest price possible and the dealer thinks they got all the disposable money you had at the time of purchase. This gives them incentive to help you in your time of need (sympathy factor).
In the end it is up to you on how to proceed with the purchase and there are pros and cons to both approaches and this is only my opinion. Hope it helps and good luck.



Thanks for the input Michael. I’ll consider your advice when making an offer.


Offer them 14.5. They will refuse. Leave you phone number and say “call me if you change your mind.” They WILL call, and either accept your offer or make a counter offer. Either way, YOU control the final price.

If the car is a “hot model” with willing buyers waiting on line, this will not work. But if Mazda 3’s are not flying out of the showroom, they will be flexible. The Edmunds price means NOTHING. The only thing that REALLY matters is what someone is willing to pay…Is this car a lease return or what?


See if the dealer has a website. I would not be surprised if they have it listed on the web for about $15,500 and I bet from there you can negotiate down further. The sticker prise on a used car lot is the sucker prise.


It’s hard to know with so little information. You didn’t say what options or the style. The average markup for an s Touring sedan in outstanding condition vs. clean condition is about $740. Low mileage is another plus. I don’t know you , so I don’t know how much of this you took into account when you priced the car on Edmunds. While I like Edmunds, you might also try and for comparison.

NADA prices it at $16,775 and KBB says its worth over $18,000. Of course, that depends on the options, condition, and mileage. I priced the same car I mentioned above with the bose stero and auto transmission.


Don’t even think about that deal. Get a new Mazda3.

These are great little cars. Wise choice.

The 2009’s should be in. You’ll see the price of a new 2009 is not much greater than their asking price for a used 2006. Even more important – if there are any leftovers (2008s) on the lot, or at a competing Mazda dealership, you may be able to snag it for the same or lower price than the used jobbie. So again, pass it by!