Buying a used car is like going into battle: you need to be prepared, you need to stay sharp, and there’s a fairly high chance you’ll die. Also, the entire thing is a pointless display of sword-waving in order to ensure wealthy people become even wealthier. Before you go searching for used cars for sale near you, it’s important that you’re properly armed and prepared to deal with the nightmarish throng of marauders who call themselves “salespeople.” These monsters are the enemy, and today I’m going to give you the skills you need in order to defeat them.
Trick #1 – Do Your Research
When people tell you, “Knowledge is power,” they don’t mean that you can use knowledge to heat your home or run a car; believe me, I’ve tried. What they’re saying is that information you know can be used to empower you – used as a weapon to vanquish your foes, and in this world, there are many of them. To this end, the more you can learn about the auto industry, your vehicle, and any model you’re interested in, the better.
What you don’t want to do, however, is stick to the usual, run-of-the-mill websites for advice about the industry and buying a car. Let me tell you a secret: Kelley Blue Book is run by two guys and a large house cat, all living out of the basement of one of their parents, with little more than a single 1994 Dell laptop between them. The information they share is largely made up, and on more than one occasion, I’ve seen the both of them drinking heavily while their cat browses strange, cephalopod-based artwork on the Internet.
The best car research you can do comes from random forums and image boards like [redacted] and [redacted]. These sites are well-known for their carefully-vetted posts and moderators who are committed to sharing the truth about the auto industry. Believe me: the best advice for car-buying always comes from strangers online.
Trick #2 – Know How to Haggle
The information and knowledge you have is great, but you have to know how to use it. If you know the vehicle you’re interested in should only cost about $20k, and the dealership is trying to get you to cough up $30k for it, then you need to know how to use your knowledge as an advantage. This often comes down to that age-old tradition: haggling.
Most people don’t understand how to haggle and when they try it, they just end up embarrassing themselves. First of all, don’t become emotional; remain calm and always approach the negotiation from a place of quiet dignity. Second, you want to use a high-pitch voice whenever you’re haggling – the higher, the better. Really get up there; it should hurt you slightly to talk that high, and if the salesperson doesn’t recoil and cover their ears, you’re not doing it right.
Research has shown that people in authority take extreme falsetto voices more seriously than any other register. If you can go up an octave mid-sentence, then all the better. I once witnessed a man save more than $8k on a used vehicle by screeching like a barn owl and flapping his arms aggressively as a show of dominance over the salesperson. Establish your presence and make yourself seem larger and more impressive in any way possible; salespeople are essentially like bears: they can run fast, climb trees, and feed mostly on grubs.
Trick #3 – Use Every Advantage
One of your biggest strengths as the customer is that you, ultimately, have all of the power in any transaction. You have the ability to simply walk away from a deal if you don’t like it and take your business somewhere else. Use this advantage by shopping around, comparing prices at other dealerships, and using the offers or prices you’ve received from elsewhere while negotiating to get the best deal possible.
In addition to this, you’re going to want to use your best dance moves while you haggle for the lowest price possible. Most salespeople don’t respond very well to the latest TikTok dances, so skip those if you can – but if they’re your best, then you might need to use them. I recommend anything from the early-mid 1980s, particularly New York post-industrial Latin-American revised Second Edition farmhouse Hip-Hop low-transit-middle-score sandwich style, though only if you can do it authentically. If you try to front or bring some weak middle-school game to the yard while haggling, you’ll be laughed out of the dealership.
Editor’s Note: These really work! Using the author’s suggestions and secret techniques, one of our editors was able to cut about $5k off the price of his most recent used car. Tricks #7 and #12, in particular, really proved useful and have not only changed how we shop for cars but also how we live our lives each day. Thank you.