Leveraging Aged Inventory in Used Car Price Negotiations

December 3rd, 2016 by
aged used cars

Every dealership has some used cars that are slow sellers and that have been for sale longer than others. These used cars are called aged units. Each dealership defines “aged” differently, but 60 days is a very common industry benchmark to use. Often you can get a truly great deal if you buy an aged unit.


When you’re shopping for a used car, everyone wants to get a great deal, right? But you can’t just sit around hoping that great deal is just going to fall into your lap. There are things you can do to seek out and find great deals, and one the secrets to doing this is understand the concept of aged inventory and how it can be your ticket to a great deal. What we mean by aged inventory is how long a car has been on the lot without being sold.

As we’ve written about before, one way to separate used car dealerships into two broad categories is by how they approach assigning prices to their cars. Some dealerships operate on a firm pricing model, which means no one has to waste time negotiating and haggling about the price. It’s posted up-front and is what it is. Then there are dealerships that don’t have firm pricing, which we can call flexible pricing, and those are the ones where you have to go back and forth with the dealership making offers and counteroffers until you reach a mutually agreeable price.

This article focuses on flexible price dealerships. They tend to set their prices relatively high so they have some wiggle room to come down on the price during the negotiation process and still make a decent profit. If a flexible price dealership also pays its salespeople based largely on commission (a percentage of the sales they make), then it’s in their interest to keep the price as high as possible, which can make for a stressful negotiation process for both parties.

Sometimes these dealerships aren’t so concerned about moving their inventory quickly, because it’s in their interest to hold out for that higher price they really want. But there are certain times that are especially good for used car shopping. Many dealerships and their salespeople have goals they need to meet for number of cards sold in a given period. If they have monthly goals, then you know that a good time to shop is towards the end of the month when people are trying to make sure they make their goals for that month. Even better is at the end of a quarter (March, June, September, December on a calendar year schedule) since many dealers will have quarterly goals that are especially important to be met. Dealers may be willing to come down more on their prices in order to get cars sold during those key times.

This is when you should also pay particular attention to how long the car has been on the lot. If a vehicle has been sitting on the lot for four months, you can use that as additional leverage in negotiating the price. That’s how aged inventory can be leveraged into getting a great deal on a used car at dealership that doesn’t use firm pricing.

Auto City has a no-haggle approach to pricing used cars. However, this does not mean that you cannot benefit form a concept of aged inventory when shopping for a used car at Auto City. We operate on a strict turn policy, so if a car does not sell within a certain period we lower its price and move it to the specials section. You may have a logical question: if the car does not sell, there should be something wrong with the car, right? Wrong! All our vehicles meet the same standards and there are many reasons why some cars may be slow sellers. For example, there may be a sudden oversupply of this model on the market, so we are forced to react to this by lowering the price. The color may be wrong, or the car may be a seasonal model, like convertibles. Whatever the reasons may be, Auto City specials are some of the best deals on the market as we are very motivated to sell them. The best part is that you do not have to haggle to get a great deal, because you are getting a great deal!