A car is a big purchase so it’s sensible to negotiate down to the best price.

If you’re planning a trip to a showroom and are uncertain about your haggling skills, a little planning and homework can boost your confidence. Helpfully, there are plenty of online resources to help you get ready to go along to a showroom armed with a lot of useful information. 

According to research from Money Advice Service, nearly two-thirds (64%) of those who tried to negotiate when buying a car were successful, so it’s worth having a go.

Here are some simple tips for getting the best price when buying a car.

For tips on buying a new car, and to learn about selling your car then read our guides.

1. Make all the big decisions before stepping foot in a dealership

Know what car you’re after – or at least your top couple of choices – and with what specifications.

Crucially, know how much you’re willing to pay. You need never share this top limit with the salesperson, and if asked it’s worth stating a lower but reasonable figure. 

2. Find out the official recommended price of the car

If you know exactly which car you want, knowing its retail price, including any extras, is a good place to start in calculating what you’re willing to pay for it. You can find it on the manufacturer’s website or on sites like Auto Express. 

3. Be bold but realistic

This tip is from car shopping site CarGurus, which reminds buyers that the seller will need to get a certain price for the car, including a profit, so if you start ridiculously low, they may not take you seriously.

4. Be friendly and polite

Doing your homework and preparing for a negotiation doesn’t mean storming into the showroom fired up, stony faced and primed for battle. According to an anonymous car salesman writing in the press, being nice can go a long way. You may find that if you’re pleasant, then the sales exec will volunteer discounts or benefits just because it feels good.

5. Don’t let on if you’re a cash buyer

A useful tip from the Money Advice Service. It says that dealers make bigger profits on finance deals, so negotiate the car’s price on this basis. You can then decline the finance deal later in the process and pay in cash.

6. Ask for extras

Even if you’ve agreed a price, before signing on the dotted line, it’s worth asking the dealer to throw in an extra or two. You are after all likely to be spending thousands of pounds, so there’s no harm in asking for a full tank of fuel or some plush floor mats. 

If you think it sounds cheeky, bear in mind the dealer will have heard it all before.

7. Leave

If you aren’t getting the deal you need, then walk away. Auto Express tested this theory out at dealerships and found that by making a show of putting on your coat, or checking you’ve got your phone and wallet, the dealer may suddenly find a new bargaining chip.

You should visit several dealers as part of your homework anyway – and be honest in letting them all know that you’ve spoken different garages. This way you’re much more likely to understand the real market price for your new car and to get the best possible deal. 

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