Negotiating the best price for your part exchange car

Andy Newbound

By: Andy Newbound

Buying a new car can be an exciting time. Researching the different models and trims available is half the fun, as is narrowing down your search to the final few favourites.

Once you’ve settled on the car you really want, haggling over the final price can often decide whether you get a good deal or a great deal. One of the main factors when buying a new car is negotiating the best price for your part exchange car, and over 3 million buyers opt to part exchange their vehicles every year.

If you have an existing car, a reputable dealer will likely offer to take your vehicle as part of the deal to buy your new one. This doesn’t mean the dealer expects to get the car for free. Instead, they will offer to buy your car and knock the amount they’re willing to pay off the asking price of the car you want to buy.

Most large dealerships are reputable and will offer you a fair price for your current vehicle. This is often based on their knowledge of the local market, how desirable your car is, its condition, mileage and also how much discount they’re prepared to give you. Add the sales person’s subjectivity, and it becomes a complex mix of moveable factors. So how do you make sure you keep pace with all these factors during the negotiations?

To help, we’ve created a handy checklist of things to do and consider when you’re preparing to part-exchange your vehicle. We hope these help:

Do your research

This is often the easy bit. With so much information now available online, a quick search of any car selling website will give you some idea of what cars comparable to yours are worth. You can also get a free online estimate from a car valuation service, such as Glass’s Guide, or a Cars For Cash company.

For added convenience, you can use Stoneacre’s no-obligation part-exchange valuation service here. Just provide a few details, including your vehicle’s registration number and mileage, then receive an accurate price by return.

Make sure you’re honest about the details, such as its condition, mileage, service history, etc. This way, you’ll get a much more realistic price and a strong basis on which to begin your negotiations.

Get your paperwork in order

It should come as no surprise to learn that your car could be worth considerably more if it has a full service history. To ensure you get the best possible offer, make sure you can provide the car’s service book, showing official dealership stamps and dates of each service. Also include any invoices for work carried out.

Similarly, you should be able to provide a valid MOT certificate, plus records of all previous MOTs, including any advisories.

Naturally, you should also provide the car’s current V5c document – also known as the Log Book. This will help the dealer confirm that you are the car’s registered owner and that the car is as it was originally manufactured.

Set a minimum value

Buying any car can be an emotional experience and it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of excitement. However, armed with your valuation, you can set a minimum value that you’d be prepared to accept. So, even when you’ve fallen head over heels for the new car and the price negotiations are under way, you can bring the situation back down to earth by insisting the dealership meets your minimum value.

Cost up any repairs

If your current car has been on the road for a number of years, there’s a chance that it will be showing a degree of wear and tear. Don’t worry about this. The sales person and even the online valuation services will take this into account when working out a price; they expect to see chips and dents, even the odd scratch.

However, if your car has more damage than this, it’s not all bad news. The dealer will most likely work out how much the damage would cost to repair and then knock this amount of the offer.

Again, do your research. Get a local garage or friendly mechanic to give you a realistic estimate for the price of the repair work before you go car shopping. Then use this yourself to set your own minimum selling price. This will also prevent the dealer from quoting a higher price for the repair work and offering you less to buy the car as a result. Forewarned is forearmed.

Keep your negotiations separate

Once you’ve identified the car you want and started talking to the sales person about buying it, it will be tempting to negotiate everything at the same time. It will certainly ‘appear’ to be the easiest option. But it isn’t the wisest.

It’s easy to become bamboozled by a process that includes a new car price, part exchange price, deposit payment and monthly instalments. Much better, therefore, to keep your selling and buying negotiations completely separate.

This way, you can focus on one issue at a time; concentrating on agreeing the best possible part exchange price for your current car before moving on to talk about the car you want to buy.

Stick to your guns

If negotiation isn’t one of your core skills, going head-to-head with an experienced car sales person could feel intimidating. Don’t be nervous.

If you’ve done your research, know your car’s valuation, and set yourself a minimum price, you should feel confident. Sure, the sales person does this every day and will know how to get the best deal for the dealership. Yet that doesn’t mean you should accept the first offer.

Stick to your guns. Tell the sales person the price you want (not your minimum) and wait for a counter offer. The first offer is rarely the final offer, so don’t fold too quickly. Ask for more, but be prepared to give and take. If the sales person sees that you’re prepared to be realistic and a little flexible, they’ll usually match you. And research shows that the final agreed part exchange price is almost always nearer to your price than the dealership’s first offer; so stay strong.

Have a Plan B

Remember, it doesn’t matter how much you might love a car, if the numbers don’t stack up or make sense it’s not worth buying it. With this in mind, always find another car that you can go look at.

Indeed, knowing that you have a plan B often gives you the confidence to say no to low offers and the strength to negotiate a deal that suits you.

However, if you can’t agree a part exchange price that makes you happy, or the sales person isn’t prepared to give you the kind of deal you’re looking for, be prepared to walk away. Selling and buying a car is a significant commitment, so never agree to a deal that doesn’t match your budget.

Also, being prepared to walk away from a deal is a powerful message to the sales person. If they do have a little more discount up their sleeve, seeing you walking away from the car could persuade them to sweeten the deal.