Car Buying

Buying a Car: Find Out How Long a Dealership Has Had a Car

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author photo by Doug DeMuro January 2016

If you're interested in buying a car, you've probably considered several important tips and tricks for negotiating a good price. But what you may not have considered yet is how long a dealership has had a particular car for sale. This can be a good negotiating tool, and we're explaining how to figure it out, and how it can help you get a better price on your next car.

How Can It Help?

In general, car dealerships become more willing to drop prices when they've had a car for a while. The main reason for this is obvious: When a dealership first gets a car, there's no reason to lower prices if customers are immediately interested. But the longer a dealership has a car without selling it, the less likely the dealership is to find an interested buyer. That's when dealers start to drop prices in order to help the car sell and that's when you should swoop in and negotiate the best deal you can.

How Do You Figure Out How Long a Dealer Has Had a Car?

There are a few different ways to figure out how long a dealership has had a car. Paperwork is one: Check to see when the car's paperwork was completed, which will indicate when it arrived at the dealer. If the title and other documents show the car has been sitting at the dealership for 60 days or more, you can likely negotiate a good deal.

Another tool: Use the Carfax report. By now, most dealers are willing to provide a Carfax report to show a vehicle's history and whether it's been involved in any accidents or incidents. But the Carfax report also shows another important piece of information, it displays when the vehicle in question was listed for sale. Once again, you can use this information to your advantage when negotiating the price.

And then there's the tried-and-true method of figuring out how long a dealer has had a car: Watch the inventory. If you see a car listed in a dealer's Autotrader inventory for more than a month or two, it's likely the dealer is slowly becoming more and more willing to lower the price.

Our Take

In the car business, the term "aged inventory" refers to cars that have been sitting on the lot for so long the dealer is ready to drop the price significantly in order to make a sale. If you can figure out exactly which models are aged inventory when buying a car, then you can typically negotiate an better-than-average deal on your next vehicle.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buying a Car: Find Out How Long a Dealership Has Had a Car - Autotrader