Times are hard, so make your money work for you by using old-fashioned thrift. Follow our 50 top tips and youll get the right car at the right price and run it as cost-effectively as possible. Hold on tight and get ready to save.
Buying - Part 1
1Ensuring youre buying the right car for you in the first place is vital dont waste an awful lot of money on something that doesnt fit your needs. We often hear from readers who have bought something and regretted it, so really think about what it needs to do for you. For example, if youve got children, pets or work equipment that you need to carry, test drive the car with them in situ to make sure its up to the job.
2Its true that diesel engines do more miles to the gallon than petrols, but they might not be the most cost-effective option for you. Theyre more expensive than petrol cars to buy, so you have to do a certain number of miles before youve paid off this premium and can start to save. The smaller the car, the more miles youll have to do, so youll have to do your sums carefully to work out if petrol might be the way to go. Diesel is also more expensive to buy at the pumps and diesel engines cost more to service than petrols.
3Never pay the full list price for a new car. The What Car? Target Price shows the discounts that you should easily be able to negotiate with a dealer, so haggle a little harder and see how much you can beat it by. If you cant even get your dealer to match the Target Price, call us on 0845 272 6000 and well hook you up with one that will.
4Dont erode the savings youve made with our Target Price by getting fleeced on options. If you do want extra bits and bobs, remember that you can haggle money off these, too. Aim to get at least as much off any options as you did from the basic list price.
5Get competitive quotes from other showrooms and online brokers this will really help
to grease the wheels of a deal. The more rival prices you have, the easier it is to talk your dealer down to a decent deal.
6Dont get stung with a poor trade-in valuation. Use the What Car? Used Car Price
Guide to ensure you know how much your car is worth. By maximising the value of your old car, as well as minimising the amount youre spending on the new one, youll get the best possible cost to change figure (see our Insider Tips feature in the April issue of What Car? for more information on the cost to change).
7A big discount isnt really worth it if the car you buy depreciates twice as fast as rivals you could have bought. Weve produced a Real Cost figure for every car on sale that factors in discounts, resale values and other running costs into one amount (see www.whatcar.com/realcost). This shows you how expensive it is to run a car over three years and 36,000 miles.
8Dont be seduced by a limited-edition model and assume its better value for money. Although some offer extra kit for the same price (or less) than normal trims, others have little more than mild styling changes with a few extras thrown in. Its up to you to look carefully at whats on offer and remember to haggle just as hard for a discount as you would on a standard model.
9Discounts on new cars will generally get bigger the longer they have been on sale, so if you are not fussed about being seen in the latest model, you can save plenty of cash on a car thats soon to be replaced.