Cars & Garages > Guides

How to get a great deal on a new car

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Mar 6, 2017

Last year was a record one for sales or new cars.

According to Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ figures, we collectively bought 2.69 million, up 2% on 2015.

But that overall picture is a little misleading – fleet buyers made up the bulk of the rise.

In fact, private car sales actually fell for the best part of the year.

December's 5.5% drop, year-on-year was the ninth consecutive monthly fall in sales.

Higher prices are forecast as the weaker post-Brexit-vote pound really kicks in. Plus economic uncertainty will inevitably increase as Brexit negotiations begin.

Those in the industry say sales are expected to fall by 5% or more. That could be optimistic.

So, if you are in the running for a new car, you still have a strong hand.

With the 17 plate registrations arriving in March, and costly tax changes kicking in next month, dealers expect this a brief surge in car buying. It's also the perfect time to compare insurance deals and cut your bills down by switching. 

We asked one car dealer for some tricks of the trade.

Here’s what he advised:


Never expect to pay the asking price

Simple one this, but many people see a price on any new car and imagine that it’s fixed.

It’s best to treat it as an opening gambit on the part of the dealer. 


Don’t ask if a discount is possible

Rather than ask, demand to know what the best price will be and never seem especially impressed.


Work out your budget

Decide how much you've got to spend, but play it coy.

Don’t reveal it or come in lower than you are actually prepared or able to pay.

You can always go up gradually later on.


Take an interest in the dealer’s finance

They love it if you take out their finance.

Remember, you can always pull out later if you don’t want to use it to buy. Similarly, if you are a cash buyer, do NOT let the sales person know.


Check out the market first

Check out what rival dealers are offering, on the same model and other brands in the same category.

The dealer you’re dealing with will certainly know, so it’s best if you do too.


Ask about pre-reg vehicles

If you have cash, ask what pre-reg cars are available. These offer great deals – motors with a handful of miles on the clock, but usually offered at a substantial discount on list price.

The dealer registers the car to its dealership often to make it appear it’s selling more vehicles than it actually is and to meet quarterly targets. But they then have to sell them on.

Effectively you’re getting a new car that’s technically a pre-owned one. 

You can get huge discounts from some dealers, but should expect at least 25% off the new price.


Avoid being distracted

Really know what you want and don’t let yourself be swayed towards a car you haven’t considered.

If you’re persuaded to look at a different model, always go away and think about it.


Buy at the right time

Sales people have to meet targets to get their commission – and keep their job. So, the nearer you go in to a sales deadline, the more likely they are to be a little bit desperate (unless they’ve had a good month, in which case you’ll soon be able to tell.)

Deadlines are usually based on quarters, so, the end of March, June, September and December are good times to look for an excellent deal.


End-of-the-line models

Consider end-of-the-line models that are just about to be replaced by a newer version. What applies to iPhones also applies to cars – a newer version lowers the price tag of the old model.

Use this to negotiate down the price you pay.


Be professional

Remember, it’s business. However charming the sales person is, you’re entering into a game in which you are both trying to get the best deal.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for what you want.

Be polite and calm and smile a lot. And, at the end of the day, if you don’t get what you consider to be a cracking deal, walk away and try another day – or another dealer!

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We hope you found this guide useful. 


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