Buying A Car - How to negotiate a car sale

13 August 2012

Haggling over the price of a car could save you thousands of pounds.

British people are typically characterised as poor hagglers, so here are a few simple pointers to help you become an effective negotiator and clinch a great deal.

Know the market

Whether you're buying new or used, it's vital you do your research. You need to decide on the car you want and how much you are willing to pay for it.

With used cars, find out what price similar cars are selling for. What Car?'s valuation tool is a good place to start. Once you've got a valuation, set your maximum price before heading off to do the deal.

If you're buying a new car, make sure you're aware of the What Car? Target Price before heading into the dealership. The Target Price is the maximum you should pay for your new car. It's a 'real' price that's being offered somewhere in the UK by a real dealer.

If the dealer refuses to match the Target Price, call the Target Price team on 0845 527 6394 to find out where that deal is available. It doesn't matter where your new car comes from, the servicing and warranty is not 'attached' to the supplying dealer and you'll be paying a delivery charge for the car anyway - even if you live next door to the dealership.

Start at a low opening price

When buying a used car, go in with an offer at the lower end of the range that you've found from other cars on the market. Then let the seller negotiate you up to a price you're both happy with.

If you're buying a new car from a dealer, it's worth remembering that many car industry sales targets are set on a monthly basis. The car you buy or don't buy could make or break that target. If you make your visit towards the end of the month, you will almost certainly find it easier to squeeze a bigger discount out of the dealer, in the form of either a reduced price or some optional extras added to the car for free.

Take the emotion out of the situation

You're at the dealer to buy a car, not make friends. Adopt a professional and detached approach, stay poker-faced and keep calm; you'll get a better deal if you make the salesperson earn their commission.

Don't be charmed by special offers in the showroom. You have all the time you need in the showroom to check offers slowly and calmly to see if they're as good as they look.

Never pay more for a car than you have to, and don't be afraid to leave if you can't reach a deal that makes you happy, either. There's always another car, always another deal.

Next step: Car finance explained >>

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