How to get the best price on a car
Cars are expensive, but have plenty of room for discounts as long as you know how to ask. Our expert guide explains how to get the best price.
New car prices are not fixed, so think of them as the starting point for a negotiation. There’s huge potential for savings.
What level of discount you get is up to you and your haggling skills. Follow our suggested script for negotiating and you’ll stand the best possible chance of landing a great deal on your new car.
Find out which cars should be on your shopping shortlist on our Best Buy page.
Haggling on a new car: what you need to prepare
It helps if you’re clear beforehand on exactly which model, engine and trim level you’re interested in, so do your research first.
There’s some other homework to do before you even set foot in the showroom.
Look for manufacturer discounts online and in adverts, and be prepared to bargain – dealers still have their own margin to play with.
It’s vital to check out car broker prices – they’re easy to obtain online. Even if you don’t want to buy from a broker, just mentioning broker prices will often change attitudes in the showroom. Take printed quotes with you to show the salesman.
Haggling on a new car: the Which? haggling script
Remain cool, calm and polite and make an effort to be friendly. It’s good to smile, use the salesperson’s name and chat about subjects other than the deal. When it comes to figures, though, it pays to be firm.
Above all, let the dealer know you’re a serious buyer and they’ll do everything they can to secure a sale.
You say: ‘I’m ready to do a deal today at the right price’ or ‘I’m a cash buyer’, as applicable. This will let them know you’re a serious buyer.
Show a printout of a deal you’ve previously researched and ask: ‘Can you match this deal I found online? If not, how close can you get to it?’
They say: ‘I really can’t match that quote or get close to it.’
You say: ‘I appreciate you have a profit to make, but I want a good deal and I know I can get one elsewhere. What sort of deal can you do to persuade me to buy today?’
They say: ‘I’ll have to go and check this deal with my manager.’ This is often a ploy to make you think you’re getting the best deal possible, whereas there’s almost certainly more of a discount to be had.
You say: ‘If your manager is the one deciding the deal, I’d like to speak to him.’
They say: ‘We don’t make any profit on this car,’ or ‘I don’t get any commission on sales,’ or ‘There’s so much demand for this car that we can’t offer discounts.’ These are fictions designed to put you at a disadvantage. Don’t accept them.
What about finance?
Many new car buyers need some form of finance, and dealers are keen to offer their own finance packages. By all means consider them, but also be aware that they may not be the most suitable or cheapest way to buy a new car. It may be better to take an unsecured loan, for example. For more on ways to pay for your car visit our guide to car finance.
Whether or not you actually want to take out dealer finance, it can pay to express an interest in it. Some dealers are prepared to offer a bigger discount off the new price because they make more money on the finance that goes with it.
You say: ‘I’m interested in your finance offers. What discount can you offer me on the price of the car if I take finance through you?’ If they offer a good deal, say you’d actually prefer to pay cash and insist on the same discount.
They say: ‘What’s your maximum monthly budget?’
You say: Never answer this question with a figure. Instead say, ‘I’d like to know more about what finance deals you’re offering.'
Always ask for the interest as an annual percentage rate (APR), as some dealers misleadingly quote ‘flat-rate’ interest, which makes the rate seem much lower than it really is when converted to an APR. Interest rates are usually negotiable, just like new car prices.
So ask: ‘I’d like a lower interest rate than this. What’s the best you can do on the APR?’.
Haggling for a new car: the bottom line
If you’re not happy with the deal, walk away – you’ll probably find a better price elsewhere.
If the salesman doesn’t get close to your desired price, consider going back to the broker you got your original quote from – after all, they will only be putting you in contact with another official dealer to complete the deal.