9 out of 10 used cars have a defect. Don't risk buying a lemon!
When it comes to negotiating a new car deal, the result may relate directly to how much effort you put in.
To make sure you do an 'apples for apples' comparison of the deals on offer, decide what car and equipment you want and stick to it. It’s probably best to commit this to writing so you don’t get talked into something you don’t want or need when you start shopping around. However do not sign a written contract and/or pay a deposit until you are certain the vehicle is one you want and can afford. Otherwise you may be stuck with a legally binding oral or written contract.
Always get a firm, written 'on the road' price or change over figure if you have a trade-in. Shop around as many dealers as you can comfortably visit and don’t be afraid to play one against the other to get the best deal.
Dealers usually offer more attractive deals on new cars they have in stock, so if you want a particular colour or specific equipment, you may have to wait for one to be ordered in, and potentially pay a higher price.
You may be offered accessories or extra equipment to 'sweeten' the deal, but don’t accept substitutes in place of accessories or equipment you want. Make sure you keep notes of what is on offer so you can judge the best deal and include the details in the contract when it comes time to sign up.
Private sellers can be either easy or hard to deal with, depending on their knowledge and motivation to sell. If they have an emotional attachment to the vehicle they may have an unrealistic expectation of its value and be unwilling to negotiate. Alternatively, they may not have a good idea of the vehicle’s value or need to dispose of it quickly, making the negotiating easier.
Determining the Right Price for a Car
There is no 'right' price for a used car. Ultimately, the final value of any used car will depend on the car’s:
- age (year of manufacture)
- model (basic versus luxury)
- general condition
- kilometres travelled
- post factory modifications or accessories (if applicable)
- the perceived value of the car to the buyer and seller (market forces)
Many people are under the impression that car dealers have access to a secret book that lists the price of every car on the road.
However, while that book, commonly known as a dealer price guide, does exist it’s far from secret. Anyone willing to pay the subscription price can access this information, though its value to the average person would be questionable.
The price information the dealer guide contains doesn’t refer to particular vehicles, but gives the probable value of a vehicle that has travelled a certain distance and is in a certain condition. In effect, the guide merely provides a starting point from which an approximate value can be calculated by a suitably qualified and experienced person.
The reality is there is no ‘right price’ for any car. Two vehicles of the same make and model can have totally different values for a whole range of reasons. These can include factors such as its age, condition, kilometres travelled and the intangible ‘market forces’ - how popular the particular model is in the area in which it is being sold. Obviously, the seller’s motivation and expectations and the perceived value on the part of the buyer will also affect price.
For these reasons, buyers need to do their homework and research the values of similar vehicles in their geographic area in order to get an idea of what to pay. Newspapers and online car sales sites are a good starting point or you can use RACQ's online Car Value Guide to help you to get an idea of what a used vehicle is likely to sell for. Just enter the vehicle's details into the price guide and we can tell you the approximate price range for it.
Alternatively, if you are an RACQ member, once you've found the used car you want to buy contact our Motoring Advice Services. Based on the car’s details, we can provide an approximate price for that make and model. Call our Technical Advice Department on 3666 9148 or 1800 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
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