What should my counter offer for a used car be?
September 28, 2009 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the middle of negotiating with a dealer for a used car. I need to know what a good counter offer would be and how many offers I should be expected to make.

I know I want a used toyota tacoma truck. I found one locally on the internet. I really want to buy it, however I don't want to go into the dealer yet and get milked so I'm communicating with a salesman from the dealer through e-mail.

The truck was listed for $11,700. I sent an e-mail expressing my interest and also my findings that kelly blue book and edmunds list the value of the vehicle at $8,100 and $8,300 respectivly and that "this amout was closer to the amout of the load I've been approved for" without coming out and making an offer.

I have been approved for a loan for up to the whole asking price.

The dealer e-mailed me back saying they "taked with the boss" and will be willing to sell the vehicle for $10,800.

What would be a reasonable counter offer? And how many counter offers should I be expected to go through? Is there some magic percentage that they are allowed to go down? What's the lowest I can offer and still be taken seriously?

I want this truck, but I don't want to feel like I got a bad deal.
posted by FairlyFarley to Work & Money (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is no way for anybody here to answer that. We don't know the condition of the truck, mileage, or how well it was maintained my the previous owner(s). The price of the truck is simply what somebody is willing to pay for it. How many other Tacoma's in the same general condition are available for sale near you? How much are they going for? KBB and Edmunds list several values, retail, private sale, and wholesale. Which one are you looking at? Very very generally speaking, you should be paying somewhere between retail and wholesale.

You are going to have to do some work on this yourself. There is no magic price that makes it a "good deal." If you can afford it and feel good about paying it, it is a good price.
posted by COD at 8:57 AM on September 28, 2009

You shouldn't necessarily do all of your haggling via email on a used car. A new car, sure...but a used car you really need to go see and check the condition in person. Once you've done the homework that COD recommends you need to go into the dealership and check it out. Then you can offer whatever your number is, and go from there.

They can't milk you if you don't let them. If they aren't coming down in price to what you think is reasonable, then walk away. You can always buy another car at another dealership.
posted by cabingirl at 9:07 AM on September 28, 2009

Used car pricing is insane. We were looking for an Acura TL a few years ago, and some places were listing used ones at a higher price than the new ones. We called and asked them, and they essentially told us to come in and bargain with them. I expect that is what this place wants to do too. I would go over there, make the offer you want to make, and immediately leave if they don't take it. But bear in mind that they do things every day to extract the maximum amount of money from customers, and you probably buy cars so infrequently that you are not immune to their techniques. Take a look at the other car-buying threads for more useful advice.
posted by procrastination at 9:14 AM on September 28, 2009

Best answer: Read this first.

We can't know what the fair offer is really. We're not there and none of us know what the truck looks like in person. Too many variables. Unfortunately... you are going to have to go visit the dealership. I know that prospect can be about as appealing as a root canal without the benefit of Novocaine for some people. Take print outs of the KBB and Edmunds values, make sure they compare with the actual truck, and go from there.

If you're ready to start dealing, sit down with someone and talk about what you want to pay for this truck. If you don't like how things are going, you have a wonderful card to play: Get up, thank them and walk out. Don't hedge, don't waiver, just go. They have your email address already. They'll chase you. And, there are other Toyota Tacomas in the sea, er road.

A couple things though: I don't tell them too much about me when I go to buy a car. They make a lot of small talk in order to ascertain certain definitions of you as a buyer -- how much you net, how much you want to pay monthly, how you drive, etc. Go in with financing of your own (which you seem to have). And tell them you are looking at a ton of other trucks that day.

Also, with my trade-in, I parked it a half block away and told them I didn't have a trade... until I had already worked out a price I wanted. Then I introduced the trade and knew the very fair value on it, also via KBB and Edmunds.

Good luck.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:21 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One last thing, never let anyone have your ID (to run any checks) or car keys (for a trade) or anything like that. You don't want to be in a position where you cannot just walk out of the place because Stan from the Financing Desk has your ID or Tom is out evaluating your trade. Your property stays with you, or you with it, at all times.

I went with them when they took my trade for a test drive. They bristled at me going (I didn't ask, I just said "Okay let's take it for a spin!") I straight out asked, "Why can't I go?" and no one had an answer for me. I also kept going up to the desk with the somewhat rookie salesman every time we made an offer and he had to "run it by his manager."

I fully and completely admit I was an enormous pain in the ass that day in March, and when I left they probably all cartwheeled around the showroom and did 6 Hail Marys, but damnit if I didn't get the car I wanted at the price I wanted.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:28 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Why do you need a counter offer? Simply reply that that offer is too high especially in light of your previous email. Let him come down again.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2009

Best answer: As someone who works with lots of auto dealers, I can tell you that the Toyota Tacoma pickup is the #1 most sought after vehicle in the used market. It's one of those models everyone seems to want, and simply put, the dealer knows they'll be able to sell a Toyota Tacoma without having to bargain too far. If it was a hard-to-sell model it would be a whole different conversation. Something to keep in mind.
posted by dacoit at 11:10 AM on September 28, 2009

Best answer: I think one of the big factors here is mental:

This one particular truck is not the only possible truck you can buy. The mind has a way of getting tunnel vision at times like these. Remember that you can burn every bridge you've got with these people and be A-ok to just go somewhere else and buy another truck. Moreover, they are probably never going to tell you to leave, no matter what you say or do. Be firm, uncomfortably firm.

Always ask for the "out the door" price (the price after everything is said and done, taxes, fees, all of that). It gives you more room to take out their fees and what not. Ask them how they need the check made out (at this point, they will be more than happy to tell you).

If you can get approved for a personal loan through a bank, get the money into a cashier's check made out to the exact "out the door" price you were quoted. They are going to try and pin all sorts of extra little fees and what not onto the price at the end, don't let them. Getting the cashier's check made out to the exact amount means that they are kinda stuck with the price they quoted (and you can say "I already have the check made out exactly as you asked, if you are not going to take it, I am out of here").

Firm, uncomfortably firm (and remember, this truck is not perfect, there are others out there, if this goes to shit, it doesn't even matter a little bit, it might even be better because you will have gotten one round through it and be ready for their crap the next time).

Good luck!
posted by milqman at 12:13 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I've heard that used car dealers typically make a lot of their profit on exorbitant interest rates on financing they provide. So, if you were financing the vehicle through them, then sure, they might have been happy to sell it to you for $8,300 -- but since you have your own financing, they know that they will not have that profit from the 19% interest rate.

I think what you are offering (the $8000 - $9000 range) is reasonable. It really depends on how much you want that car. You can count on the dealer to be as sleazy and duplicitous as possible, so factor that into your negotiations.

I think you're smart to do all the negotiation by e-mail. You may want to make a final offer (say, $8750) and make it clear you will go elsewhere if they can't accommodate you. Then just don't contact them for four or five days. When they see you are serious -- i.e., not eager to buy -- the price may become more negotiable.
posted by jayder at 3:38 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older What is being solicited by this hand gesture in...   |   Riot at the Concerto? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.