10 tips for getting the best deal on your car

If you’re reading this then chances are you’ve either bought or sold a car before. So you’ll probably know all too well how stressful it can be. A recent survey by Autotrader said that as many as 60% of people changing their car were more worried about getting a fair deal than anything else. This includes whether the new car is an upgrade on their old one and even whether their new car will fit in well with their current lifestyle!

Getting a fair deal is a valid concern as well as a popular one. That’s why we’ve come up with some very handy tips for anyone who is buying or selling a car.

Compare prices

Before you do anything else you need to educate yourself. Spend some time looking at listings for cars that have similar specifications to the one in which you want to buy. This will give you a rough idea of what the price should be. It will also give you a little bit of room for negotiations with the seller. This step is important and in many cases you might even find a better deal when you’re comparing prices.

If you’re selling your car then the same research will help you clearly understand how much you should be looking to get for your car. Remember though that private sales will generally lead to higher prices, but these come with the added hassle and risks when compared to selling to a trader.

Timing is important

When you go to buy your next car, choose your time wisely. The whole world and his wife will be out buying cars at the weekends. So if possible go during the week when things are quieter. This will mean that you get more chance to talk with the salesman without any other distractions. You’ll also have more time to negotiate a better deal – a great idea if you’re looking to trade something in.

Know the model specifications

Spend time online on the ‘configure your car’ pages to get a feel of what the basic specifications of models are, as well as the prices of the optional extras are. This will give you an in-depth knowledge of what you’re buying. It will also mean that you won’t be offered a lesser model during your negotiations. It’s your money, get as much as you can with it.

Get your car looking its best

Before you consider selling or chopping in your current car, make it look its best. That may mean getting an appointment with the dent doctor, giving it an MOT and service or maybe just a really good clean and polish. Any major damage, fault or warning light on the dash is going to cost you when it comes to negotiations. You’ll get more if these are all addressed. A car is also worth more if it has a recent service history as well. If you can’t be bothered to clean it yourself, consider getting a professional valeter to do it. Many of these will come to your door nowadays.

Sort out the paperwork

Although it’s perfectly legal to sell a car without the logbook, it’s generally consided much easier if the V5C is present. So if you can’t find yours, sort out a replacement. Get the service history paperwork together. If you’ve been going to the same garage for years or you get your car serviced at the main dealer then they will likely be able to provide you with a copy of the service history if you’ve lost yours. Getting all this organised in the early stages will save you stress and headaches later on.

Be kind

Your mum was right – be nice to people. When it comes to negotiating the price of a new car, intimidating tactics probably won’t get you a better deal. Plus the salesman has probably seen it all before. Things will go farmore smoothly if you’re polite and generally a nice person to be around.

Be stubborn

As above, be polite but also be firm. It’s always nice to be nice, but don’t let that good deal slip away for fear of upsetting someone. Be polite but stay firm with that you are comfortable with. A good salesman will be able to talk you into or out of anything so make sure you stand your ground.

Take your time

Buying a car is quite a big financial commitment, so try not to rush things. You may be excited to get behind the wheel of your new car. But being hasty can often lead to regrets. If you feel rushed by a salesperson then take a step back remain polite but firm as above. The general advice in this situation is to sleep on it if at all possible.

Start low

When it comes to negotiating the price, always start lower than you are willing to pay. This will give you more room for negotiations. A good opening offer should sound ridiculous and bordering on insulting. Don’t worry the salesman has heard it all before and knows how to play the game. But they will also know that you know how to play the game, which will put you in a better position for negotiations.

If you’re selling, make sure you know your ideal price, a fair price and the absolute bottom price that you’d be willing to accept.

You can always walk away

If you only remember one of these points, then remember this one: You can always walk away. Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right then don’t hesitate to walk (or run) away. There are millions of other cars out there for buyers, and millions of potential buyers out there for sellers.

And there you have it. Some easy-to-remember tips that will hopefully  help you to get the best possible deal when it comes to buying or selling your car.

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Can you sell a car without a logbook?

Yes, you can sell a car without a V5C (logbook). However this often complicates things and it's often far easier to get a duplicate logbook from the DVLA.

I've lost my car's service history. Is there anything I can do?

If you get your car serviced at the main dealership or a reputable garage, then chances are they will a have a copy of your car's service history. In many cases they will be happy to email it to you.

How we reviewed this article:

Our experts continually monitor motor industry news & research, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

  • 26th October 2023
    Current Article - By Gary McKrill
  • 26th October 2023
    Copy Edited - By Gary McKrill
  • 22nd February 2024
    Reviewed - By Gary McKrill

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