Buying a car Money-saving car buying tips
A bigger discount can save you thousands in car depreciation
A few cars command full price, but any discount helps to offset depreciation losses.
Look for manufacturer-backed discounts (for example, £1,500 cashback) on adverts and websites before you visit the showroom and then insist on a further discount (as dealers will still have their own margin to play with).
Don’t be fobbed off with excuses
One dealer tried to stop us haggling by saying he had to get written permission from head office to offer a discount. Nonsense! Dealers can set their own prices, and almost all offer discounts to serious buyers.
Don’t be made to feel like a cheapskate
Many dealers try to intimidate buyers in this way, but you’re entitled to bargain as hard as you can. If you’re not happy with the deal, walk away – you’ll find a better price elsewhere.
Know what you want
Decide on the exact model before you start shopping around: it will help you compare deals. However, if you stay flexible you may be able to pick up a bargain from stock – as long as the car meets all your needs.
Check brokers’ prices
Even if you don’t want to buy from a broker, we found that just mentioning their prices often changed the attitudes of showroom staff. And a printed quote is good ammunition when hunting for discounts.
Time your purchase well
Most carmakers offer dealers a bonus based on quarterly sales. Shop around for deals towards the end of the quarter (late December or late March, for example), when dealers are scrambling to meet targets, and you could be rewarded with a bargain.
Look out for pre-registered cars
Dealers and brokers can both offer excellent deals on , but check the odometer – delivery mileage should be only 25 to 50 miles.
Demand a much bigger discount for an ‘ex-demo’ car or one that’s been hired out.
Avoid options that won’t help resale value
Paying £1,000 or more for built-in sat nav rarely makes sense when a portable unit costs a few hundred quid – few buyers will pay extra for this on a used car.
See the Which? guide to car options for more on the options that add real value.
Watch out for expensive finance
Some dealers offer a big discount on a car because they make more money on the finance that goes with it. Check the ‘total amount repayable’ before signing any tempting deals, as there is no cooling-off period.
Cash buyers should feign interest in taking the dealer's finance – then insist on the same discount for cash.
Keep your car for longer
It’s a simple way to cut losses – car depreciation is less severe when considered over a car’s lifetime.