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.


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Attila

19 years of experience
814 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Fiat 500L L4-1.4L Turbo - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey
Attila was on time and very professional. It was obvious that he was knowledgeable about automobiles. I appreciated that he kept me involved and show me things and gave tips throughout the inspection.
Hyundai Sonata - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Scotch Plains, New Jersey
Excellent. Called to confirm arrival time and discuss reason for visit. Gave straightforward analysis of condition and did not recommend repairs not necessary. Would recommend.

Miguel

21 years of experience
221 reviews
Miguel
21 years of experience
Lincoln MKX V6-3.7L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Did a great job in identifying issues with the MKX. I will continue to use this company. Thank you.
Jeep Grand Cherokee - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Hawthorne, New Jersey
Perfect experience. Miguel is experienced, knowledgeable and very patient with explaining everything. I’m very happy and would recommend him.

Diana

18 years of experience
62 reviews
Diana
18 years of experience
Mitsubishi Lancer L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Staten Island, New York
Diana went above and beyond for my pre-purchase inspection. She obviously knows her stuff, and she was very upfront and honest about everything. Easily the least aggravating car-related experience I've ever had.
Chevrolet Trailblazer - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Avenel, New Jersey
On time. Extremely informative with tons of pictures. And a repair estimate that I can leverage a lower price for my vehicle with. If I do buy...I will certainly book Diana or any YourMechanic tech for the work recommended.

Michael

15 years of experience
16 reviews
Michael
15 years of experience
Saturn Vue V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Jacksonville, Florida
Thankyou Micheal your your patience with us and willingness to answer all of our questions and to explain everything to us.
Chevrolet Corvette - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Jacksonville, Florida
Michael went to see a car for me for a pre sale inspection before i drive it accross states, and he gave me a lot of valuable infos, all the infos i needed actually. Very pleased with his service.

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