How to negotiate when buying a car

Buying a new car can be daunting. It’s not a cheap buy so it’s understandable why people walk into the showroom a little wary, unsure of what they are looking for and worried they will be ripped off. Luckily, with a little preparation and a few simple tips on buying a used car, you can approach your next car purchase with confidence, especially when it comes to securing a great deal. Check out our list of tips and tricks, and watch our video below to help you secure a great deal on your next car.


30 second car valuation


Where to start when buying a car

For most of us, buying a new car is a sizeable purchase and often a commitment to keep the same vehicle for at least the next few years, so it makes sense that we should properly prepare for the purchase, and ask ourselves a few serious questions beforehand.

  • What’s your budget?

    It’s important to know what your budget is before you even start thinking about what you want to buy. Knowing your limit on what you can spend will help in the haggling process because you will know when to walk away. You may not know your budget until you've sold your old car, but our car valuation tool can tell you how much your car is worth in less than 30 seconds to help give your an indication.

  • Who are you buying from?

    When it comes to haggling for a car it is easier to do so with used cars over 2 years old. It’s even easier if you’re buying privately as it is often that the seller wants a quick sale so they can buy a new car themselves. However, you have more rights when buying from a dealer, including a warranty, and the chance of including breakdown cover. So, weigh up your options from a new to second-hand car, and private seller and car dealership before you choose where you are going to purchase your new car from.

  • Pick your top 5 cars

    To begin with you don’t need to know exactly which car you want but minimising it down to your favourite few, or at least to the style, for example, do you want a supermini or an SUV. Having an idea of what you are looking to buy will help you have more of an idea of what you are looking for with regards to value. This also helps with the next tip on research – nobody’s got time to research hundreds of cars!

  • Do your research

    Don’t buy a car without any information to being with. Do plenty of research around the car you want, how you’re going to pay for it, the manufacturer, the dealership and its rivals. Once you are equipped with all the information you can head into the showroom with your eyes wide open and know exactly what you’re talking about.

  • Know your car

    Once you’ve picked your car, continue the research into all the different specifications you can be offered and which ones you want. Knowing exactly what you want makes it much easier to haggle, and knowing what you can get makes it much harder for the dealer to short change you.

  • How long has the car been on sale

    Finding out how long the dealer has had the car on the market can be a good bargaining tool. If they have had it a while it is more likely they will want to get rid of it and be more willing to offer you a better deal.


What to do at the showroom

Once you’ve done all the behind the scenes work and you know exactly what you’re after and how much you’re willing to spend, it’s time to head to the showroom. This is where the haggling starts:

  • Be nice

    It may seem like a silly tip, but politeness will really go a long way when trying to get the best deal on a car. Remember, the more the dealer gets from the deal, the bigger their bonus will be, so if you’re abrupt they may be less inclined to want to offer you a good deal. But if you offer a friendly encounter they may be more willing to knock off more money.

  • Don’t rush

    There’s no rush when it comes to buying a car. Well, that’s the impression you want to give the dealer at least anyway. If they think you’re desperate for a car they could become more stubborn with their offer, but if they think you have time to walk away and shop around, they will want to keep your custom. Also, you will be parting with a lot of money so you want the decision to be right for you, so take your time.

  • Start small

    Don’t go straight in with your highest offer, you will have no room to haggle. Start with a lower price with every intention to increase, so it looks like you’re willing to meet them half way.

  • Look out for faults

    Thoroughly check the car. Don’t be afraid to walk around the car checking for any scrapes and dents, check the wheels and the interior for any damage. Make a note of any small defects and use these to haggle more money off the offer.

  • Test drive the car

    It is crucial to test drive the car. Not only does this give you a feel of the car to see if it is right for you. But it allows you to check how well the car drives and the technical system to see if there are any other faults with the car.

  • Ask for extras

    If you’re not happy with the price they offer, see if they can throw in a few extras to sweeten the deal. For example, breakdown cover, floor mats and a full tank of petrol which won’t cost the dealer much, but could save you enough money to make the deal work for you.

  • Don’t be afraid to walk away

    If the deal isn’t right for you, walk away. You don’t have to decide there and then. Head to a rival company and see what they can offer you. If the dealer knows you’re willing to walk away with no deal, they will do all they can do keep you.


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