Add up the problems on a negotiating worksheet, and subtract the cost of fixing them from your asking price. Simply subtract from the value you have already identified on the car buying sites. Now you know what that vehicle is worth (relatively so, this is not a perfect science). Next, and this is very important, have the owner of the vehicle start the process of negotiation. Have them start the process, and then you negotiate from there as you both try to get the best deal you can.
As you negotiate, keep your bottom line number a secret from the other person. If you end up buying the vehicle from a dealer, keep saying NO when they want to add on the extra “stuff.” Here, I am talking about extended warranties, scotch guard protection, etc. Most of these add ons are a waste of your money (the salesperson gets some nice commissions from these low value items). Be firm! The salesperson will most likely try to scare you into buying these unneeded extras.
Be willing to walk at any point in the process. Provide the party with a fair price, negotiate as needed, but do not fall in love with that vehicle. If necessary, have a spouse or a friend there to pull you aside and remind you that sleeping on matters can always clear the mind and avoid an impulse purchase. Don’t try to screw someone. Do your homework and be honest and fair with the other party. Look for a win-win situation. Both parties can come away feeling good about the transaction.
P.S. You are at a big disadvantage with the dealer and it is important to acknowledge this key point. They do this stuff everyday and that means they are experts with not only selling vehicles, but human behavior in many cases. You and I are amateurs who go through this process every once in a while. They do it everyday and they work with others who have been doing this for years and sometimes decades. Don’t think for a minute you are going to pull one over on a car dealer. You will not!