Walking into a car dealership can be a daunting prospect. All those options, acronyms and offers can put off even the most determined customer, while juggling spec sheets, warranty data and finance quotes is enough to send you running for the hills.
By getting money off wherever you can you’ll really boost your bank balance. So follow our tips for negotiating the best deal possible on the forecourt.
Get ready to travel
Shop around and you might get a better deal in a showroom further away. If it has a bigger forecourt and higher stock turnover than your local dealer, there may be a better potential discount available.
Looking at rival brands in the same vicinity? Play the dealers off each other – one might give you a better offer in a local ‘grudge match’! Don’t forget to play the comparison game with online brokers as well.
Doing your homework is essential. Research your model shortlist, list prices and potential PCP deals, and what your part-exchange might be worth.
Comparison websites give a good idea of realistic discounts to target.
Show off your knowledge
If you know your stuff, you’re less likely to be fobbed off with tech talk. Doing your homework on things such as CO2 emissions and their impact on road tax will protect you from a barrage of dealer speak. Mention that you’ve visited rivals as well; that should keep the salesperson on their toes.
Trading in your old car?
Get the best possible part-exchange deal by presenting your old car in tip-top condition, cleaned and valeted and with a full service history. Ditto if you’re selling it privately – and while this method is more effort and you might run the gauntlet of having to deal with time-wasters, it’ll also net you a higher price.
Look at all different specifications available
Many models are available with a variety of engine sizes and trim levels, and you may find it’s significantly cheaper to buy a slightly smaller-engined car in a lesser spec than go for the full-fat version. It’ll be less expensive to run and insure, too.
By the same token, remember that equipment such as air conditioning and automatic gearboxes can impact on running costs such as fuel economy and efficiency. Spec your new purchase sensibly and you’ll save money in the long run.
Time it right
You’re more likely to get a better deal just before the six-monthly registration plate changes (1st March and 1st September), or at the end of the financial quarter and fiscal years. A salesperson who is struggling to hit their numbers could very well offer a more attractive deal.
Put your ‘haggle head’ on
Remember that options are haggle-able as well. Make sure you enquire about discounts on safety, comfort and convenience accessories as well as the price of the car itself. This is especially effective on big-ticket items such as premium infotainment or a hi-tech safety system. You may even get a freebie like a fancier paint job, additional accessories or a year’s free insurance. All of these can add value and save you money.
Don’t be a pushover
Make the dealer work for your custom. It’s never a good idea for the customer to seem desperate to close the deal. Don’t go car shopping in a hurry; leave yourself plenty of time to buy.
Keep asking for a deal
Never take ‘no’ for an answer – or at least, not before you’ve exhausted all possibilities. Continue chasing a discount even after initial refusal, and you may find the price eventually ‘miraculously’ drops. Look out for sales tactics such as consulting a manager or contacting head office. You will probably find the ‘best price’ becomes even better.
Play hard to get
Walking away – or at least, starting to walk away – can pay dividends. Collect your things, put on your coat and, if you’re lucky, the dealer may just have a miraculous change of heart and come up with a new, improved deal.
Consider finance carefully
Finance packages can be more lucrative for dealers than the margins on selling the actual car, and if you find a good Personal Contract Plan with low or zero percent interest, it’ll definitely be in your favour. Even better if the salesman gives you a superior car or boosts the included kit in order to sway you – even if you have the cash to cover the purchase, keeping the bulk of the money in your own bank account earning interest for the next two or three years is similar to a cashback deal.
Your dealer may try to sell you an extended warranty, but do shop around before signing on the dotted line, as third-party specialists may offer cheaper, more wide-reaching cover.
Careful inspection is key
Come collection time, give the car a proper inspection before taking ownership. Look for scratches, scrapes or other imperfections, and use any minor damage you find as leverage for a further discount. Check that any extra kit your ordered is present and correct as well.