Tips on haggling for a used car


Car Key

If you're looking for an affordable alternative to a new car, a second-hand  vehicle might be a good option for you. Many used cars are just as reliable as new cars but can be much cheaper — if you know how to haggle for the best price.

With the rising cost of living, it’s wise to be well-versed in negotiating a good deal. Whether you’re buying a car privately or from a dealership, you should make sure you’re paying a reasonable price.

In this guide, we’ll look at how to negotiate the car price and get a fair deal, using top tips from car sales representatives.


Should you haggle with car dealers?

You may feel more at ease haggling for a lower price when buying a used car from a private seller, but you have negotiating power at dealerships, too.

We spoke with car sales representatives to discover their take on customers who haggle and to learn 10 of the most important things to know before buying a new or used car. According to the experts, it’s unlikely that customers can negotiate a lower price on a new car because the manufacturer sets the pricing. However, dealerships often have more flexibility on used vehicles because they don't have the same pricing constraints, so it's essential to know how to haggle for a used car.


Do your research first

If you’re considering buying a used car, it’s important to do your research first to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

You should ask the seller directly for all the necessary information, but you can also check the car’s MOT history using GOV.UK. Plus, you can run a background check using sites like Consider the car’s mileage and any visible signs of wear and tear, such as bad tyres or high mileage. If there’s room to secure a better deal, be prepared to bargain.

Before you barter, research the starting point of the car online. A car value calculator on sites like can help determine a reasonable price for the vehicle you want to buy. If you have this information, you’ll have a better idea of how much flexibility the car salesperson might have to negotiate.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re offered the best car deal in your area. Check private listings and dealerships to ensure you’re offered a fair deal, so you avoid overpaying. Used car haggling is simple, as long as you’ve done your research first.

man looking at laptop


Be firm on your budget and be patient!

Make a clear commitment to your budget. If you’re opting to use finance, rather than lowering the purchase price, dealers may often look to reduce the monthly payment by extending the loan period. Be firm with the car salesperson and stick to what you can afford.

Found the perfect used car? Try to avoid accepting the first offer. This is can be a good rule to follow, and negotiating a better deal may involve asking for a reduced sticker price or extra freebies, such as a free service plan from the dealership.

Negotiating a used car price involves patience, so be prepared for a lengthy process if you want the best offer.

You might also consider part exchanging your current vehicle. While a part exchange may get you a better deal overall, it isn't always the most cost-effective solution. Take time to look at the options available to you and consider selling your old car privately to see which would be more profitable.


Be friendly — but don’t show your hand

A friendly relationship with the car salesperson is a great foundation for a successful negotiation. It helps to address the sales representative by their first name, and to keep a calm and polite conversation moving. The car salesperson who has a good rapport with the customer is more likely to find a solution for them.

However, when it comes down to numbers, it’s best to hold back. The less information the car salesperson has about your budget, the better. A cash buyer may benefit from a more straightforward process that doesn’t involve applying for car finance. But paying by cash doesn’t guarantee you a better deal, so keep this information to yourself until you’re ready to make a decision.

Finally, make sure the dealer knows that you are a serious buyer. That way, they will do all they can to close the deal.

Baby in car with Dad


Looking for help to finance a used car?

Buying your dream car might be made possible through car finance. And for many buyers, spreading the costs can be a more affordable option than paying for the purchase in an upfront lump sum.

Many dealerships offer car finance, but it's important to consider all your options to determine which finance method is right for you. Always check that you’re getting the best deal and you’re not paying too much in interest. To find out more about the different car finance options read our ultimate guide to financing a used car.

At Shawbrook, we offer car loans ranging from £1,000 to £50,000. What’s more, we believe in an honest and transparent approach to personal loans. That’s why when you apply for a quote with us, we’ll offer you a guaranteed, personalised rate without impacting your credit score.  If you’re considering using a personal loan to finance your car purchase, visit our car loans page for more information.


All loans are subject to status. The interest rate offered will vary depending on our assessment of your financial circumstances and your chosen loan amount. Terms and conditions apply.


Other articles you may be interested in...

Check out our other articles to help with purchasing and financing a used car.

Family in car