How find used cars or "you want HOW much?"

I am attempting to help my step son locate a car to purchase. I have a reliable mechanic lined up for inspections and have the budget set (he has about $5000-$6000 as a target). I think I’m a decent negotiator and have done research on what car prices should be.

Now, we go out, armed with knowledge, and I’m completely blown away at the prices being asked. I’m not talking slightly overpriced here but, as a norm, 50%, 60%, 100% and even sometimes approaching 200% overpriced! Now, I thought my information might be flawed (and it might) but using common sense seems to indicate that these things are overpriced.

I was getting so frustrated that, as an experiment, I picked a car out on a dealers lot. It was priced at $5995. My research indicated that a fairer price was about $2400. Over time, I managed to talk him down to 2900 at which I stopped since my step son didn't really want that particular car anyway. It, however, confirmed my suspicion about how overpriced these things are. I experimented on two private parties in this way and, since they weren't professionals used to dealing, seemed to take things so personally/whine so much that I gave up. My negotiating tactic is probably not what they are used to because I refuse to 'meet in the middle' -- I put forth what I think is a fair offer and stick to it while they want to try to move down from the inflated price (which is why it is probably inflated anyway - so they have room to 'move'). For private parties, it is very irritating because why take the time driving/finding the house when the guy could just say 'Nope', I want (inflated) and they don’t seem too keen on negotiating over the phone before I’ve even seen the car but this is what I do anyway to save time.

My question is that am I condemmed to have to deal with this price haggling, wailing, and gnashing of teeth? Is there ANYWHERE out there where the used cars are priced fairly or close to fairly? I would any appreciate observations from people experienced in doing this that would help save on the time and wear and tear this seems to be going to take! I really don’t mind the negotiation process, just have other things I would rather do with my time.


Mods, could you delete one (but not both) of these dup threads? Thanks.