Stick to a few simple rules and using a broker really is as safe as buying from a main dealer.
Making it happen
Your first step is to sniff out a great deal. Spend half an hour surfing the websites listed in the table below and make a note of the three with the cheapest deals.
Next its time to pick up the phone. Call all three brokers on your shortlist and check that the online price is correct, includes 12 months road tax and isnt subject to any additional fees or complicated terms and conditions. Some prices may be available only to customers taking out finance, for instance, so you may not always be eligible for the advertised price. Make sure the spec is what you want, too.
Also check that the car will be new and unregistered. Some brokers sell pre-registered cars to get an extra discount from the manufacturer, but if you buy one of these you wont be the first registered keeper. That will affect the cars resale value, and probably means you wont get the V5C registration document for up to six months, which could cause problems when you try to insure the car.
Finally, check how long itll be before you get the car, and ask if home delivery is included in the price. If it isnt, youll have to collect your new car from the supplying dealer, which could be anywhere in the UK.
Once youve checked all this and are happy with the price, youll need to hand over some money. The golden rule is to never pay any cash directly to a broker or into any sort of holding account. If you do and the broker goes bust you could lose every penny. Instead, pay all the money direct to the main dealer thats supplying the car.
At this point the brokers job is done, and the dealer will be your point of contact from then on, just as they would be if you were buying from them direct.
What Car? says
Stick to a mainstream broker and follow our rules and you should be able to secure a bargain with no risk and a minimum of hassle.
However, if youre still more comfortable buying direct from a main dealer, then use the brokers price to help you haggle. Make the dealer aware you understand how brokers work and what their prices are. The most you should ever pay is the What Car? Target Price.