Right now is a great time to buy a used car. It is cold and it is Christmas. The last thing normal people are doing is buying cars. That means there are deals to be had, provided you have decent negotiating skills. So Exchange and Mart advises buyers that haggling could significantly reduce the price and offers top tips to help buyers bag a bargain.

Know what you want and what it’s worth – The first step for buyers is to know the market and do some research, which will give them confidence when securing a deal and will convince the seller that they are a serious buyer. Decide on what your needs are and what you’re willing to compromise on. And set a budget in your mind. Look at similar used cars to get an idea of what they’re selling for.

Know what you’re buying – When the dream car turns up, it’s time for the buyer to think with their head not their heart. Always conduct a vehicle history check to see if it has something to hide; is it an insurance write-off, stolen or has it got a dodgy mileage. Also consider having an expert look over the mechanics and pay attention to the bodywork for signs of rust or a quick touch up with the spray paint.

Open Low – Buyers should go in with an offer that’s lower than the going rate for similar cars on the market, then let the seller negotiate up towards a price that suits both. If buying a new car from a dealer, it’s worth remembering that many car industry sales targets are set on a monthly basis. That means it’s easier to get a bigger discount towards the end of the month, whether it’s a reduced price or optional extras.

“It’s important to take the emotion out of car buying, which means resisting the seller’s charm and any special offers,” explains Lynn Clark, Brand Manager for Exchange and Mart. “Buyers should keep calm and stay poker faced as they look around. And if buying from a private seller, be on your guard for body language and facial expressions. Keep an ear out for inconsistent stories about the car’s history and don’t be afraid to walk away.

“If you are buying online you obviously can’t look the private seller in the eye or take into consideration how they are behaving. Instead, investigate the seller’s history by reviewing the ratings from other buyers to ensure you’re dealing with someone who will deliver the car according to the terms you are offered.

“Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Equally, never pay more for a car than you can afford. There are plenty of deals out there, so never settle for a bad deal. A car is an investment so don’t make any rash decisions.”


Expert haggling tips: what NOT to say

• I really like this car
• Have you sold many cars today?
• What sort of discounts are people getting on cars at the moment?
• Please can I have a discount?
• Are you sure you can’t meet my budget?
• Is that all that my old car is worth?
• What will it cost if I pay in cash?

Expert haggling tips: what you SHOULD say

• I’m interested in buying this car from you, but to do so I need more
than you are offering in part exchange on my old car
• I’m ready to do a deal today at the right price or I’m a cash buyer
• Has this car ever been in an accident?
• How much discount will you give me?
• Can you meet my budget – if not, I can buy elsewhere…
• If your manager is the one making the decision, can I talk to them?
• I’ve seen a better deal at… (a nearby competitor).
Make sure you really have or you’ll look silly
• If we can agree on £xxxx (price) then you have a deal