Can you afford to give away £5,000? The answer to that question is always no. That’s the potential price difference between car prices when you don’t do your research when looking for a new car and I want to ensure that you get the best new car deals.
Those who paid too much made the mistake that many of us can make. We make an impulse purchase on a car, without taking the time to do that all important shopping around. I am guessing you won’t fall into the same trap because you are here now reading this blog post. and i’ve got your back.
A sales person loves it when a potential buyer walks into the dealership blind, with no research, and buys the car after a brief test-drive. (This is a fatal mistake that can cost the buyer thousands of pounds, even more in unnecessary warranties, service plans or accessories.)
Those who get the best deals, saving nearly a quarter of the price, tend to be armed with knowledge about the car they want, it’s real market value, and are also prepared to engage in price negotiation (better done over email than face to face in a car showroom).
With the power of the internet it is so much easier to get the best car deals. Like so many other industries, the business of selling cars is changing fast. There is so much information at our finger tips now with car-buying websites and real-time market data available at the click of a button. For the first time, car buyers have an equal footing in the most stressful of transactions.
How to buy a car: Nine keys to success
With the right information, methods and tools, the informed buyer can be sure of getting a good deal in a fraction of the time many buyers spend in dealerships — and without the unpleasantness of face-to-face haggling. You can strike a rock-bottom deal without ever visiting the a showroom! (Thank God!).
We’re here to tell you how in this step-by-step guide.
But first, keep in mind two overarching truths.
The most important of which is that new cars are commodities. It doesn’t matter where you buy one, only how much you pay. There will be loads of identical vehicles for sale in any given city at any given time. There are also a ton of options to getting a brand new car outside of purchasing one outright. In some leasing and finance arrangements you don’t even need a deposit these days.
Another major point to consider is the servicing of the vehicle. Do you need to get this from the dealership? The answer is no. It is more than likely they will tell you that they are the best people to service the car. In reality however, any car dealership or reputable garage can do this. Car dealerships make a massive amount of money from servicing and many buyers buy a service plan, when they are making a purchasing decision. If you don’t feel comfortable about purchasing the servicing from another garage, then at least haggle over the price you are being offered.
Some dealers will use a scaremongering approach to push you into the taking the service through them; and charge you for the privilege. This erodes the discount you have just earnt yourself with all this hardwork. Our advice is to apply the same money saving approach to servicing as you do to purchasing. People tend to get their car serviced by a garage based on reputation and yet they purchase a car based on price. Time to make sure that the same money saving approach is applied to the servicing as well as the purchasing I think! Be smart people.
Some dealers are starting to get to grips with the fact we have greater access to a wider availability of pricing and so many more options now too. With this availability and and other intelligence empowering consumers, they know they can’t just win us over with the hard sell anymore.
Many dealers are experimenting in different ways with no-haggle pricing. One example of this is dealers cutting deals with car-buying sites – consumers get discounted offers for individual models. Dealers pay the websites a fee; consumers pay nothing.
It is much more of a buyers market out there now and some dealers have changed their business model to reflect this; offering competitive pricing and volume sales rather than hassle and haggle.
Either way, it pays to be prepared. You know the old saying, fail to prepare = prepare to fail. In this case failing is not getting the best deal available.
So.. it’s shopping o’clock!
Rule numero uno.. know what you want.
Are three doors enough? Do you want child locks or a roof rack? Basic transportation, or speed and sex appeal? Think about the practicalities of what you will need a car for; with kids it is so much easier to have 5 doors- and do you need room for the buggy in the boot? If you’re a keen cyclist, you might need a roof rack.
Some manufacturers websites will have applications to play around with the style of trim you want.
Before deciding on your car here are some suggestions you want want to consider first.
- Fuel economy of varying models of car. Get personalised estimates and play around with entering your split between road and motorway driving, local fuel costs and annual miles travelled.
- Look into safety ratings and crash test results
- To make sure you don’t get robbed, look at the average others paid for the vehicle you want.
- Get detailed reliability ratings for new models and 3-year-old cars, a good indicator of long-term dependability.
Once you have considered all the above points, create a list of around 5 or 6 that take your fancy.
Now its drive time!
Take your list to a car showroom where you can test drive cars from multiple brands. Leave your credit card at home.
You’re about to drop a bomb on a product you might use almost every day for a decade so make sure you give it a good spin. A ten minute drive is not something you should base such an important decision on.
Drive on back streets and a busy main road, even a motorway if possible. Be sure to bob and weave, changing lanes etc.
Reverse park and try parking in a busy supermarket carpark. Those are some of the best ways to discover how the vehicle manoeuvres and to check for blind spots.
To get a sense of the suspension and comfort levels, drive the car over potholes. Plan on driving for around 10 miles. It will take that long to asses if the driver’s seat is really comfortable or leaves you with a numb bum! If the salesman complains, be a diva! You can’t buy a car based on a drive round the block.
Testing the features inside is the next job, especially in today’s gadget-happy cars. Work all the contros. Some car manufacturers don’t do a great job on the layout of switches, dials and buttons. Try the controls out when the car is parked and when you’re mid-drive. The best cars will have technology that doesn’t take your concentration away from the road.
It’s also worth trying out the Bluetooth and attempting to sync your phone yourself. Don’t forget to weigh up the call quality- try making a call on a busy road and see whether the recipient can hear you clearly.
Weigh up which features on your phone can be synced. Can the sat nav link up to the speakers and is it straight forward to get your Spotify playlist linked up? A USB port for charging your phone is key and yet they are still not fitted as standard.. crazy world I know!!
Don’t forget to assess whether the back seats fold down and if you could fit what you need in the boot.. worth checking whether it comes with a spare tyre too- something you will want to know before being stranded at the road side.
Once you have done your homework, it’s time to make the ultimate decision- which car is it going to be? If you are still toying between a few don’t rush into the decision! It’s okay to do more research and go back for a second test drive. It is a big decision.
Our next job?… Price Research
Okay so the difficult decision on finalizing the car has been made – we now need to make sure we get the best deal out there.
Start at Parkers.co.uk/cars/reviews/compare-cars which provides loads of useful information including each car’s pros and cons, equipment, performance, running costs, star ratings and even company car tax costs. This free tool also highlights new prices, has direct links to all valuations, and quick links to cars for sale.
It will give you an idea of the price range the car is in but it is more than likely you will get the best car deals through your own negotiations, (we’ll talk you through how to do this later on.)
The site also gives data on the range of prices others are paying in the region. And it’s a big range — from £18,865 – £30,195 for an Audi A3 hatchback, for example. You don’t want to be one of the £30k buyers do you? Daylight robbery is what that’s called. You should target a price that’s in the lowest 20% of these purchases.
Next step? Start a bidding war.
This is the fun part. Now we have an idea of the price we are targeting we can go fish. My suggestion would be to do your negotiations via email so as to avoid the car showroom pressure and sales tactics they will almost without a doubt deploy.
Seek out four or five of the largest dealerships in the area. Be polite and give the dealership where you drove the car a shot at your business, since they spent time test driving with you and all.
The best approach is to find the email address for the Internet sales manager for each dealership— (call and ask if it’s not readily available)— and send out a batch email that goes a little something like this.
“Hi, I am looking to purchase/ lease/ finance (delete as appropriate) an Audi A3, with the following options. Online data on recent sales show these cars selling near me for about £22,000. Can you beat that price? I am in a position to move this week.”
If you need specific options — maybe a USB port or a built in sat nav — make that clear but lets not state colour preference at this stage- they will just use this to charge us more if they think we must have a certain colour.
Wait a day or two for the responses, then we beat them at their own game. Email the same people again telling them the lowest offer you received asking them to beat that deal by a “meaningful amount.” Reiterate that you are ready to buy.
You can keep playing them off against each other until nobody can give you a lower offer. In reality you are likely to get the best ptice in the first 2-3 batches.
Say no to add-ons. Let’s not bump their commission up any more!
Once we have a final price, call the manager at the garage with the winning bid and make sure that they have the car in stock and that there will be no changes in options, price or fees.
At this point, you could enquire about special low-rate financing that might be offered by the car manufacturer’s finance company. Sometimes they can beat a credit union or bank. Regardless, be ready with another source of financing. Arranging high-interest-rate loans is another way dealers make money.
Make sure they are aware that you are don’t need any extended maintenance, tyre warranties, gap insurance, special paint protections or alarm systems. Now you have finalized a great deal don’t get taken for a ride on these additional extras. The price is the price. The deal is the deal.
An example of this is the ‘paint protection’ offer that they will more than likely try and upsell. Car manufacturers do a great job painting their cars. They all have rust protection. You don’t need a paint sealant; just keep the car clean and wax it.
I’ll tell you what else has no added value- extended warranty. On the one hand the dealer assures you what a great car you’re buying- solid, reliable etc etc, and on the other hand try and sell you protection for all the faults and issues you ‘could’ have. Make your mind up!
Finally. Take delivery. Eeeeek!!
Now everything is firmed up, give the dealer your info and ask them to call you at the point they require your signature. When they do call it’s worth triple checking the price- slippery fish these car salesmen.
Book an appointment to sign on the dotted line and collect your vehicle. You could even request home delivery- you don’t ask you don’t get.
Surevys report, time and time again, people hate buying cars! We love getting a new shiny vehicle on the drive but hate the hassle! Its rated higher on the dread scale than going to the dentist. That says it all.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Follow our fool proof guide and you could be driving around in the car of your dreams for the best price and next to no drama. Boom! With the internet at our finger tips we leverage this to navigate our way around the sleazy salesmen and bumped up prices.
It’s important to remember before you embark on your car buying journey, these crucial failsafe four words ‘Stick to the plan’. Deviations will get you into trouble. Don’t waste time in hand-to-hand combat with car salespeople.
Negotiate the deal — on your terms — and get to driving that dream car. Job done.