Negotiating Used Car Price Over Email: Getting the Best Deal

April 18, 2019


Buying a car can be quite stressful for a first-time buyer. It is even trickier when you opt for a used car and decide to shop on a budget. Unlike new cars, it is not always easy to compare one used car with another similar car.

Used cars vary on mileage, condition, availability, and pricing, among other factors. And when the time is of the essence, you may want to shop for used cars from private sellers or dealers online.

In this article, we want to give you a head start in buying your next used car. We will take you through the steps of negotiating used car price over email. Let’s get started.


How to Prepare For the Negotiations

Before you start the negotiations, you need to shop around for the car that fits your needs. Identify the features you want.

It is advisable that you visit various car dealers and check on the available used cars. Understand the kinds of flaws in such used vehicles. Similarly, determine how the condition of these cars affects their pricing.

Various online reports list the types of used cars to avoid. A good example is Carfax reports and Consumer Insight reports. In these reports, you will find highlights of the car models that have a negative rating in the market due to their poor road-worthiness ratings.

buying a used car online

These reports are important because most car dealers will capitalize on the buyer’s lack of research on the types of used cars available in the market. Such dealers, for example, tend to place a hefty price tag on car models that are hard to find.

Do your homework to counter these deliberate attempts from the sellers.

Narrow Your Search

Now that you have done your preliminary research, start negotiating used car price over email with a handful of car dealers or private sellers. For these sellers, compare the financing options they offer their customers, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

You should also consider how much space the car model offers, especially if you enjoy taking weekend trips.

If you already own a car, inquire about the trade-in options available. Also, spare some time to do a full inspection of the vehicle you want. And if possible, visit the car's location and test drive several cars that fit the criteria you want.

Car Dealer vs. Private Seller

Most car dealers maintain a network of past and potential buyers. They use these contacts to set their future used car sales prices. On the other hand, a private seller may only have a handful of interested buyers offering him/her unattractive offers. 

Therefore, the amount you end up paying to a car dealer is likely to be far much lower than the one you would provide a private seller for the same car. Use this basis to negotiate a much lower price when dealing with private sellers.

Additionally, when negotiating used car price over email, take into consideration whether the car dealer or private seller has a deadline for selling his/her used car.

Negotiating Used Car Price Over Email

As the deadline approaches, the seller will be more willing to settle for a price that you propose. As you start the negotiations, never be quick to pay the suggested amount. Extend the talks as much as possible to make the seller give in to your proposed counter offer.

Be Objective

Always handle the negotiation process over email calmly and professionally. Avoid getting too emotionally attached to any particular used car that you want to buy. By being objective, you stand to be the winner in the process.

Also, when negotiating used car price over email, ensure you have other alternative used car choices. This approach will help you to stay calm and composed during the negotiations.

Never Make the First Offer

When negotiating used car price over email, it is advisable that the car dealer or private seller makes the initial offer. This approach will help you to start the consultations on the lowest proposal possible.

As the negotiations proceed, you should be making counteroffers to push this price even lower. On the contrary, if you are the first to make an offer, you already set a limit as to how many more offers you can make.

Making a blind offer first can easily set you to pay high prices. This price might be far much more than the average price for that particular car model. On the other hand, when you start the negotiations with a counteroffer, the seller’s matching proposals can only get lower.

Once the initial offer is on the table, make a counteroffer by highlighting the various flaws of the used car. Unlike new cars, it is usually difficult to buy a used car within its warranty period. Therefore, use this limitation to bargain for the best price possible.

Know Your Limits

When making an offer or a counteroffer for a used car, it is always prudent to start with a ridiculously low price. Never aim at matching the seller’s price offer halfway. If you do this, you are likely to end up paying much more than you would have spent if your first price was absurdly lower.

Negotiating Used Car Price Over Email

Having said this, you need to know the most economical price limits you can make or accept without losing the negotiations.

As you figure out your limits, remember that every seller or car dealer has a bottom price beyond which he/she will not be willing to make a sale. This price covers the buying cost together with the maintenance expenses for the vehicle.

If possible, ask the seller to provide proof of the costs incurred to refurbish the car. Have a look at all supporting financial documents, including invoices and insurance policy agreements. As you negotiate on the price, you also need to invest in the best available car.


The thought of negotiating used car price over email can be quite intimidating for a first-time buyer.  And when you are ill-prepared to deal with a private seller or car dealer who has a lot of sales experience, you might end up paying a hefty price for the car.

This guide takes you through easy steps you can use to ensure you negotiate for a price worth the used car you want. Try them today.

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