As you approach the purchase of a car, you’ve likely explored various essential tips and strategies for negotiating the best price. However, one often overlooked negotiation tool is the length of time a dealership has had a specific vehicle for sale. Even seasoned car buyers may not consider this tactic. Continue reading to learn how to identify how long a car has been sitting on a lot and how leveraging this information can assist you in securing a better price for your next vehicle.

As a general rule, car dealerships become increasingly inclined to reduce prices when a car has been in their inventory for an extended period. The rationale behind this is straightforward: initially, there’s no incentive for dealerships to lower prices if there’s immediate customer interest in a newly acquired car. However, as time passes without a sale, dealerships become less optimistic about finding a buyer. Consequently, they begin to lower prices to facilitate a sale, presenting an opportunity for savvy negotiators to secure the best deal possible.

In April 2024, used car dealerships across the nation had an average stock of 46 days, marking a 6% increase compared to the previous year. Notably, there was a 36-day supply of older, higher-mileage vehicles priced below $15,000. These figures are based on data provided by Cox Automotive, the parent company of Autotrader.

Although used car prices have gradually declined from the peak levels observed during the pandemic, there has been a recent slight uptick in prices.

There are several methods to determine how long a dealership has had a car in its inventory. One approach is to examine the paperwork associated with the vehicle. By checking the completion date of the car’s paperwork, which signifies its arrival at the dealership, you can gauge its tenure. If the title and other documents indicate that the car has been at the dealership for 60 days or more, there’s a good chance you can negotiate a favorable deal.

Another effective tool is to obtain a vehicle history report from reputable services like AutoCheck or Carfax. Most dealerships are willing to provide these reports, which detail the vehicle’s history, including any accidents or incidents. Importantly, the report also indicates when the car was listed for sale. Armed with this information, you can strategically negotiate the price.

Finally, a reliable method is to monitor the dealership’s inventory. If you notice a particular vehicle listed in the dealer’s Autotrader inventory for an extended period—say, more than a month or two—it’s likely that the dealer is gradually becoming more inclined to reduce the price.

In the automotive industry, “aged inventory” pertains to cars that have remained unsold on the lot for an extended period, prompting the dealer to substantially reduce the price in order to facilitate a sale. Identifying these aged inventory models when purchasing a car can often lead to negotiating a deal that surpasses the average, resulting in better savings on your next vehicle.