Category Archives: Offers

Inside advice on getting the best deal on a new car

WhichCar sat down with wheeler-dealer Trev (not his real name) who told us the best way to get the a great deal on your next car is to be confident but realistic when it comes to negotiating a price.


“The biggest mistake people make is asking a salesperson ‘what’s your best price?’, Trev stresses. “When you ask for the best price he’ll just take a $1000 off. The best way to do it is offer them a price.

“Say something like ‘your car’s advertised for $38,000, we’ll pay $35,000 and give you a deposit right now’ and then they’ll come back with $36,000 or $35,500 or give you the nod. You’ll be very surprised how sometimes they just want the deal done.”

“Their objective is to keep as much margin in it, but when a deal’s on the table that’s when they make a decision, that’s how you get the best out of a deal.

“If you’re not confident in putting a price just tell them ‘we’re here to buy the car today, we’re prepared to give you a deposit on the car right now’, that gets the salesperson’s ears up.”

“They have people coming in every day wanting this and that, so know what you’re buying and go in there and negotiate a price.”


“People will try and bloody string the last absolute bargain-arsed deal and when the deal’s done they’ll want a tank of petrol and free car washes for the next 10 years,” says Trev.

“You can’t have a car advertised for $25,000 and you offer them 10 or 15 grand, that’s just ridiculous. Everything’s got a commercial value, and with cars you’ve just got to work out what it’s worth.”

“You have to think of the price over the period that you’ll own the car. If you want to pay $22,000 but end up paying $23,200, that’s 1200 bucks over four years, which is a dollar a day or something. It’s not even worth sweating about. People put so much effort into haggling then they’ll go spend 400 bucks on a dinner. You can just absolutely get yourself into a spin.”


“You’ll do a better deal at the end of the month,” admits Trev. “And definitely at the end of the financial year. It’s sell, sell, sell then, particularly on new cars.

“You can go to a car dealer, a lot of whom get rebates from manufacturers when they sell X amount. When I was working for a prestige dealer there was a factory bonus on certain model and they had to sell two more for the month, so it was in their interest to almost give them away. They might have lost $1000-2000 on the whole deal but the rebate would be worth thousands.

“Getting a good deal is not so much based on the car on the day, it’s how the dealer is situated. They might be having a really lean month so they’ll settle for anything or if they’re having a really good month they might not be as obliging.”

Trev adds that you should haggle over the full on-road price so there are no surprises after you sign, but don’t expect things like taxes and registration to be waived.

“They’re pretty fixed those prices, but if they want to sell a car they’ll waive things like the delivery fee, believe me. Everything is negotiable.” 


“There’s a process to it, if you tell the dealer you’re just there to look at the car they’ll put the pressure on you. You have to be quite clear that you’re not buying today you’re just looking at the car. Otherwise they’ll start putting the pills on you to buy the car and that’s when the problems happen. That’s what they’re there for but it’s all about the way you handle it.”


Trev says it’s no use playing hard to get once you’ve made an offer, such as pretending to want to shop around more while they consider your price.

“When you offer the salesperson a price they’ll usually speak with their manager. Don’t pretend to go elsewhere and ask them to get back to you. You might as well get a price out of them while you’re there. That makes you look serious.

“When you say you’re leaving they’ll just wait for you, they won’t call or text you a price. They’re not too keen on that because you could show that price to someone else. Just say ‘we’re here in store and want to buy’.”


“They’re just bloody people,” says Trev. “I know it’s a big purchase and you’ve got to be a bit careful but in general terms you can’t really make a mistake buying a new car.

“It’s not like you can go and pay 28 grand and someone’s going to go and buy the same thing for $22,000. You’re gonna pay $25,000 or you’re gonna pay $24,200 and if you get an absolute bargain you might get a grand or $1500 extra off it. The expensive cars might have a little bit more in them.”


“Buying the car is one thing but getting the money to pay for it, particularly on finance, that’s where the dealer makes all the money these days. That’s what they literally do, they shut the guts out of the sale and then they walk you into the aftermarket person who’ll want to sell you paint protection and window tints and all this sort of stuff.

“To be truthful you don’t need one bit of it and that’s where they make all their money. They sell you an extended warranty and get a bit of money out of finance and suddenly they’ve got a couple of grand out of you.”

How to negotiate a car price: top tips

It’s commonly stated that a car is the among the biggest purchases we’ll make in a lifetime – often second only to buying our home. It’s a big decision, and not one to be taken lightly. And, although everybody wants to get a good deal, many find haggling to be a very unpleasant experience.

It needn’t be an ordeal, though. Our guide will help you to confidently negotiate with your dealer.

Doing your homework to choose a car

When you’re in the company of a car salesman, it’s of enormous benefit to have made a clear decision on exactly what car you’re after. This should be in your mind at the very beginning of your car-buying process.

When test-driving a car, or even looking at them online, pay specific attention to which aspects you like, and which you dislike. Build a shortlist of cars up and then eliminate them one by one. Once you’ve settled on a final choice, you’re in a position to decide on specifics, like your ideal specification, colour and whether you want a manual or an automatic gearbox. The more specific you are with what you want, the stronger your position in the showroom.

Of course, there’s a huge number of cars on the market, and we’ve created a guide to choosing a car that’s right for you. We can also guide you through the many desirable features you can choose, with our feature about optional extras.

If you’ve decided on your perfect car there are useful steps you can perform before visiting the dealership. The website of its manufacturer may have specific deals that’ll help you – it’s commonplace to find financial incentives such as discounts or reduced rate finance – on certain models in a drive to increase sales. Our tips and advice section includes a feature that explains car finance to further increase your confidence in the showroom.

You may also find special editions available – these cars are often only on sale for a limited period, but can add desirable features for very little additional money.

Batch & Ginny drive: Ford Fiesta – Carbuyer Car of the Year 2019

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Know the price

Before you can negotiate, you need to know what the official recommended price of the car is. It’ll usually be listed on the manufacturer’s website, and most carmakers publish brochures and price lists that outline the purchase price of a car and any optional extras available. If in doubt, our sister magazine Auto Express includes the latest figures in every issue.

Having a specification in mind, and knowing the manufacturer’s recommended price for it, puts you in a strong position to negotiate. You can also immediately pick up on any attempts the dealer might make to sell you a different model.

If you’ve set your heart on a specific model, be wary of offers of special deals on a lower-specification car. It’s rare that a dealer will go out of their way to save you money – suggesting an alternative model is often more beneficial to the dealer than it is to you. Unless the deal is demonstrably worthwhile, stick to your guns, as you could end up sorely missing features you were looking forward to in your new car.

Keep calm for a better deal

Car salesmen are often genuinely very pleasant people, but bear in mind that enjoying a relaxed, convivial atmosphere can lead to you dropping your guard. These days, sales executives are increasingly well trained and the most effective ones can exploit a relaxed, cheerful customer to their advantage.

Never lose sight of your objective. You haven’t visited the car dealership today to make a new friend, although this can often happen as a happy fringe benefit. Your sole reason for sitting at the salesman’s desk is to get the best deal possible while his job is to make as much profit for his company as he can.

If the first deal a salesman offers you actually exceeds your expectations, try not to make this immediately obvious. Remember, you’re about to spend thousands of pounds, so keeping a cool head is vital. Persistent negotiators can secure further discounts, so don’t accept the first figure you’re given.

Play your cards close to your chest

A dealer will usually offer a better deal on a car that already sits in their stock than one that has to be ordered for you specially. It may be that a dealership has a car in stock that exactly matches your requirements – but it can help if you don’t immediately admit this to the salesman.

With so many options available on most cars, it’s rare for any two to be exactly the same. With proper research, you’ll know which optional extras are available for the car you’re considering, so you can manufacture a requirement that means the car you’re offered isn’t a 100% match for the car you’re looking to buy. If the car that you’re offered is right for you in every way, only you can know that. Better still, if there’s a specific feature available that you know the offered car doesn’t have, you can exploit this to your advantage.

For example, on a car where power-folding mirrors are available as an option, you might add these as a requirement once you’ve been offered a car from the dealer’s stock. You’ll then have the upper hand – the sales executive will have to make the deal attractive to make up for it not being exactly the car you want. However, since this wasn’t actually a feature you initially had your heart set on, you won’t miss it.

Don’t be afraid of finance

If you’re planning to buy your new car outright, it may be wise to initially conceal this from your car dealer. It’s usually in a dealer’s interest to sell cars on finance, as there are often manufacturer-subsidised incentives that can make these packages quite attractive.

While being receptive to the idea of finance can pave the way to an improved offers, don’t be completely dismissive of the dealer’s financial packages. In some cases it really is cheaper to use finance provided by the dealer than to borrow money from your bank. Our guide to car financing explains the options open to you.

Remember that until you sign for anything, you can walk away from the deal at any point. An equivocal ‘I’m not sure yet’ can often help negotiations; until the contracts come out, how you’re going to be paying for the car is your business, not the dealer’s.

Be nice

While car dealers are likely to be friendly and you need to be aware of this, playing hardball and coming across as aloof and standoffish can dent your chances of getting a good deal. Entering into negotiations when buying a car can be compared to an elaborate dance, as you and the dealer work out where the other stands. Be sure to maintain friendly relations throughout this process, as the better the deal you get, the less money the dealer will make when it comes to bonus time. If they like you, they’re likely to give more ground.

Don’t rush

It’s all too easy to buy a car in a rush: the alluring nature of a new car can be strong, as can buying motivations like a growing family or a new job. Whatever you do, keep it to yourself if you need a car quickly. If a dealer is given the impression that you’re desperate for a car, they may feel that they needn’t offer their sharpest deal to get your custom.

Do a background check

If you’re buying a used car, be sure to run a background check on it. Companies like HPI, the AA and the RAC will make sure there’s no outstanding finance on a car and it hasn’t been stolen or written off. All they need to do this is a number plate. While many dealers will provide background checks on the cars they sell for you, a quick phone call to the checking company to confirm the details provided is always a good idea. If any problems do show up, walk away from the deal politely, but immediately.

Get a detailed quote before haggling

Make sure you know exactly what you’re negotiating for when buying a new car. Some salespeople may use what’s known as a ‘stacked deal’. This is where they include loads of options (which you may or may not want) such as paint protection, floor mats or an extended warranty, before removing these items to drop the price when you start haggling. This allows you to think you’re getting a great deal and are an expert negotiator, when in fact it’s the dealer who’s deploying their (slightly underhand) skills. Our insider tips on the tricks used by car dealers should give further help in this area.

Ask for extra

If the dealer is adamant that there’s no room for negotiation on price, you can still ask for some freebies to be thrown in. The least you should expect with a purchase of this magnitude is a full tank of fuel and a set of car mats; a free sat-nav system or breakdown cover can also cost dealers little, but may sweeten the deal significantly for you.

Shop around

It can be of great benefit to buy a from a dealer close to where you live, as it makes life easy if you need to report an issues with your new car. Warrantable items can be attended to with greater convenience, and servicing is made simple, too. Nonetheless, getting quotes in writing from a number of dealers from the same manufacturer or franchise before showing these to your local dealer can help significantly when it comes to negotiations – even if they can’t better the deal offered by other dealers, they may be able to match it.

Whatever car you’re after, or deal you’re offered, there’s one thing it’s always worth bearing in mind when buying a new car: with nearly 2.5 million new cars sold each year in the UK, the power and the choice is firmly in your hands.

How to Get the Best Deal on a New Car

Walking into a dealership not knowing which car you want is like going into the grocery store without a list. You’ll easily get overwhelmed and you may end up buying a car you don’t even want.

Start by educating yourself BEFORE you visit the dealership:

  • Learn about the cars you like on the manufacturer’s website. 
  • Research the standard and upgraded features. 
  • Create a list of features you need and those you want. (There’s a difference.)

Then consult with third-party websites. Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds are reputable choices.

On these websites, you’ll get expert reviews, lists of the pros and cons, and an estimated value for your area.

Tip: Don’t focus on the price until you’ve found the car you want. Instead, create a list of the cars you think might be a good fit for you.

When you have that list in hand, it’s time to head to the dealer.


At this point, you are still in research mode. There’s no way to know for sure if a car suits you until you drive it.

Head to your local dealership(s) and drive each car on your list. Focus strictly on the car, how it feels, and what you like and don’t like. Third-party reviews are great. But until you are in the driver’s seat, you won’t know what you like.

Tip: Let the salesperson know you are just in the test-drive/research mode. They may lay off slightly on their sales tactics if they know you are not a serious buyer just yet.

After you are done test driving cars, it’s time to narrow down your choices. Weigh the pros and cons of each car and how it affects your lifestyle.

Once you choose the car you want, you’ll focus on it for the next part of the process.


Now the real work begins. You know what car you want – it’s time to figure out the best price. You’ll be back at your computer for this step.

Again, you’ll want to use Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. This time, you should be as specific as possible, right down to the color of the car. Each choice has an impact on the value for the area.

Tip: When looking at Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds, use zip codes of any town you’d drive to if you could get a better deal. You never know when a few towns over might save you money on your car purchase.

Once you have an average cost for your area, head to the manufacturer’s website again. Look for any incentives they offer. You may see cash back offers or special financing options.

Each manufacturer sets their own criteria. Make sure you read the fine print to see how you would qualify.

Your final step is to figure out the supply and demand of the vehicle. How fast are they flying off the dealer’s lot? Cars in hot demand mean less room for negotiation. A dealer won’t be desperate to get it off their lot.

Cars in less demand mean more room for negotiation. The dealer will be eager to make a deal with you. Create a list of the dealers that have your vehicle along with their contact information – you’ll need it in the next step.

Did You Know?: Car manufacturers tend to offer the best incentives at the early and late parts of the year. During the first few months, you’ll see incentives on last year’s model. So in the first few months of 2019, you’ll likely see large incentives on 2018 models.

During the last few months of the year, you’ll tend to see more incentives on that year’s model.

Manufacturers offer the incentives in order to clear the lots of the older models to make way for new models.

Keep reading for the next step in the car-buying process.


Now you are ready to negotiate. Luckily, you aren’t sitting face-to-face with a dealer just yet. You still get the comfort of sitting behind your computer. It’s time to draft a very specific email to the dealers on your list.

In this email, you’ll ask for a quote on the exact car you want. You should include all the specifics you have gathered during your research. This includes:

  • Incentives you have found
  • Options and color you prefer
  • Bonus features you can live without

No matter what you write, make sure you are as specific as possible.

TIP: Give the dealer a deadline by which you want to purchase the car. Once they know that you are a motivated buyer, they know you can go elsewhere if they don’t respond in time. 


Once you have several quotes, read each one closely. Look for any differences. If one dealer provides a quote on a car with all of the features, yet another provides one with fewer features, you cannot compare them.

Once you have your quotes, you have one last piece of information to share with the chosen dealer – your trade-in.


Your trade-in should be a last resort topic with any dealer. Don’t let them know you have one until you have a solid quote in hand. After you choose the dealer you’ll buy the car from, you can let them in on your trade-in secret.

TIP: Know what your trade-in is worth using Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. Make sure you are honest about your car’s condition.

The trade-in value isn’t based on the make, model, and year of the car alone. The condition of the car can increase or decrease its value.

Letting the dealer know ahead of time can ruin your negotiation plans. If they offer you a higher price for your trade-in than you thought, you’ll feel like you are getting a “great deal.”

This means, you may pay less attention to the price of the car you purchase. The dealer comes out the winner in the end.

The good thing about a trade-in is that the value will come right off the amount you borrow. This means less interest that you pay in the end.


Once you have the deal you want, you still have more work ahead of you. The best-case scenario is to walk in with a pre-approval.

It’s as good as cash to the dealer. You don’t have to worry about dealer financing or haggling after you have your car’s price.

You Should Know If you have great credit, the dealer may approve you for 0% financing. This is like paying cash for the car over an extended period.

It doesn’t cost you any more money for the loan. However, you should be ready for large monthly payments and a shorter term. 

Having a bank’s preapproval can also give you an advantage. The dealer may try to beat the rate the bank offered or will work with you on the price. They know you can go to any dealer and get the car you want. They can’t lure you in with their new car financing.

Consider what you can afford and compare the sales prices. What you want to know is what the car will cost you in the end. This takes into consideration all interest charges you’ll pay on the loan.

For comparison purposes, let’s look at a 60-month, $25,000 loan:

  • 0% loan = $417/month payment
  • 4% loan = $460/month payment

$43 per month doesn’t sound like a big deal. But when you think of paying an extra $43 per month for 60 months, the 4% rate costs you $2,580 more. That’s $2,580 you can add to the price of your car.


Once you do all of the legwork, it’s time for the final negotiation. This is when the deal goes down or you walk out the door.

It’s important to remove your emotions from this process. You must be willing to walk out the door if the dealer won’t give you the deal you want.

With your knowledge in hand, you can tell the dealer you know exactly what is available. You know the going price for the car in your area, demand, your available financing options, and what you want.

If you don’t want to do this in person, you can go through the internet department, asking for a final quote on the exact car you want from the dealer’s lot. This gives you the chance to bargain with several dealers at once without leaving your home.

Tip: Don’t focus on monthly payment. Dealers can stretch out your term or lower your interest rate to make the payment lower. But they could also charge you more for the car. Rather than focusing on the monthly payment, look at the bottom line.

We recommend emailing the dealers that are the furthest away from your home first. Get a few quotes in hand, then walk into your local dealer with these quotes.

Chances are they will match or beat it. Now you have the lowest price possible and you purchase your car from your local dealer, making future visits convenient for you.


Just when you think the hard part is done, you have one more person to face – the finance manager. If you came with your own financing, you won’t spend a lot of time in there.

You’ll already have the rate and term of your loan negotiated. There are other fees, though. The following fees are non-negotiable:

  • Sales tax
  • Licensing and title
  • Registration
  • Destination fee (manufacturer charged)

Many dealers tack on other fees that you can negotiate, though:

  • Documentation fees
  • Delivery fees (dealer charged)
  • Dealer fees
  • Acquisition fees
  • Advertising fees

If you see any fees outside of the tax, title, registration, or manufacturer’s destination fee, then feel free to negotiate.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to walk out of the deal even once you are in the finance office. Including extra fees into your loan only increases the cost of the car in the end.

If you have your own financing, you may have to pay the fees in cash up front. 

Find out the average costs for your area and call the dealer out on it. The dealer may try to sell you add-ons as well.

Again, do your research. Most add-ons can be done after market and on your own when you can pay cash. Even the extended warranty can be added after you already own the car.


It is possible to get the lowest deal on a new car. But you have to put in the work. The more research and shopping you do, the better your chances of finding the best deal.