How to Make an Offer on a Vehicle

Buying a vehicle can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time to do so on your own. It’s not something you do every day, but it is a skill that will come in handy in the future.

As you shop around, remember that the price tags on available vehicles aren’t necessarily set in stone. So, it is in your best interest to know how to make an offer on a car or truck that you want and negotiate it well.

Part 1 of 1: Make an offer

Step 1: Shop around. Before you buy a car, look around to get an idea of what vehicles are available in your area and the price at which they are marked. There are various resources that can help you find an affordable vehicle, including print and online classifieds.

You can also visit dealerships and look at vehicles, and test drive them in person. This will help you decide what car or truck you want to buy and how much you are willing to pay for it ultimately.

NADA website
Image: NADA Guides

Step 2: Consult online resources to determine vehicle worth. With an idea of what kind of vehicle you want, check to see how much it is really worth by consulting a website like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or NADA Guides. Vehicles are usually priced higher than what they are worth, so this step will help you determine what you can reasonably offer to pay for your desired vehicle.

Step 3: Narrow your options. Even when you decide the make and model of vehicle to buy, there may still be many cars in that model available for purchase. Whittle your list down according to factors like whether you prefer an automatic or standard transmission, your preferred color, your budget, safety features and other options that you want in your future vehicle.

Step 4: Test drive the vehicles on your list. If you find yourself genuinely interested in purchasing a vehicle, ask a certified mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic, to perform a pre-purchase car inspection to make sure that everything is in good working order and note anything that may need replacement or repair in the near future.

  • Note: Such things are not necessarily deal breakers, but they will reduce the vehicle’s worth and, consequently, the amount of a reasonable offer.

Step 5: Choose a vehicle. Make a choice, and honestly assess what price range you are willing to pay. Once you make an offer on a vehicle, there is no turning back if the dealership or individual in possession of it accepts your offer. Be confident in your decision before moving forward.

Step 6: Decide on an offer amount. Consider the car’s worth, given its current condition and any repairs needed in the near future, to come up with a reasonable offer.

Although dealerships and individuals selling vehicles expect to negotiate on the price, you will not do yourself any favors by low-balling, or offering far less than a vehicle is worth. This only insults the person with which you are negotiating, and they will not be inclined to settle on a deal.

Step 7: Make an offer. Commit and make an offer on the vehicle of your choosing that is on the lower end of what you expect to pay, but is also fair to both parties involved.

Expect the other party to make a counter offer of less than the price tag and more than your initial offer. Respectfully point out any problems with the vehicle that affect its worth, and when you ultimately make a final offer, be prepared to stick to it.

Once you have made your final offer, be prepared to walk away, keeping your budget and dignity intact; hopefully, the dealership or individual will accept that offer, and you will drive away in a new or new-to-you vehicle. Otherwise, locate another vehicle you wish to purchase and begin the process of negotiation anew.

Once you have successfully made an offer on a vehicle and honed your negotiation skills, take pride in your efforts. If you ultimately closed the deal on your desired car or truck, you undoubtedly saved money over paying the sticker price.

If your first experience of making an offer on a vehicle didn’t turn out well, learn from the experience and try again. You will likely be successful on the next attempt, provided your offer is reasonable and you negotiate with respect for the seller and yourself.


Next Step

Schedule Pre-purchase Car Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Pre-purchase Car Inspection. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(5,189)

Rating Summary
4,847
184
37
38
83
4,847
184
37
38
83

Attila

19 years of experience
906 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
285 reviews
Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Car Title in North Dakota
Your Your car title is what binds you to your vehicle as it proves you are the registered owner. This is a powerful title to hold, and one you will want to keep track of. Unfortunately things can happen and...
How to Effectively Deal With a Car Salesman
When it comes to buying a new or used car, some car salesmen and women like to use high-pressure tactics to make their sales. Their job is to get as much money as they can for the vehicles they sell,...
How to Find and Purchase a Classic Citroen
With many firsts to its name, including the world's first mass-produced front-wheel drive car, the French automobile manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen group began manufacturing its Citroen line of vehicles in 1919. Finding classic Citroen cars is much easier when you...

Related questions

Car won't start sometimes
The vehicle and engine would decide on the actual cost to repair the problems. The no start may be more than a battery (https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/battery-replacement) or starter (https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/starter-replacement). I recommend having a pre-purchase inspection (https://www.yourmechanic.com/services/pre-purchase-car-inspection) done on the car to ensure...
Should I buy this 1997 BMW 528I
Hello. BMW makes a fantastic vehicle that, as you know is well known for its performance and luxury. With that comes a little more of a price tag in terms of maintenance and upkeep as with any performance or luxury...
Question about a potential buy (2003 Hyundai Tiburon)
Just by looking at the photos, I notice the mileage is very low for the vehicles age. They say the door handle that is broke in picture is replaced. The clutch has been replaced. The seats look rough in the...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com