Tips for buying a new car from a dealership

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Know how to set your price range, negotiate with salespeople, and get the motor of your dreams, with our tips on buying a new car from a dealership

Going to a dealership can be a great way to buy a new car.

As well as being handily based down the road, your local dealership can offer you a wide choice of cars and the opportunity to test drive any that take your fancy.

But before you can think about taking your new car for its first spin, you need to decide on the right car for you. Check out these tips for buying a new car from a dealership, and think about getting a car that will really benefit you in the long run.

Buying a new car from a dealership: step by step

When buying a new car from a dealership, make sure you do the following:

  • Define a budget and know your cars
  • Compare the market and negotiate
  • Test drive
  • Read the small print

Define your budget and know what’s best for you

Before buying a new car from a dealership – and even before heading into the showroom – work out how much you can spend. You might be digging into your savings, or signing up for a finance deal – either way, be realistic.

On top of the outright purchase price of the car, you should also factor in the running costs and plan your regular payments as far as you possibly can.

If you’re set on buying a new car from a dealership, it can be tempting to head straight there. But going in blind is a bad idea. While your dealership will stock a wide selection, you don’t want to limit yourself to what’s on the forecourt on the day.

So if you want a car that’s perfect for you, you need to have a strong idea of the type of car you need – rather than want – before visiting the dealership. Think about how you’ll use the car.

Buy a car magazine and have a flick through – is a people-carrier a no-brainer, or does a smaller hatchback make more sense? Make a note of any suitable models within your price range.

Compare the market and negotiate between dealers

Once you have a good idea of the car you’re interested in, you’re ready to visit a dealership. If you’ve done your research thoroughly, you might even know the exact make and model you want – but it’s still wise to keep your options open.

Try not to buy a new car from a dealership on your first visit. Take a few models for a test drive, gather further information, and then leave. Even if you think you’ve reached a decision while you’re there, wait until you get home before making a final call.

Then it’s time to get quotes from different dealerships. This will give you the upper hand in price negotiations, and if dealers know they’re being pitted against each other, it’ll be easy to get their best offers right off the bat. Doing this could save you a lot of money, but even if it’s just a couple of hundred – you’re still making a hefty saving.

How to negotiate with salespeople and fend off the upsell

Here’s some top tips for how to get the best possible price at a car dealership:

    • Be friendly and polite, and never let the salesperson know your upper limit
    • Don’t let them know if you’re a cash buyer. Dealers often make bigger profits on finance deals, so let them bargain on this basis
    • Start off by stating an amount lower than what you’re prepared to pay and then haggle up from there
    • When you make an offer, don’t say anything until the salesperson responds
    • If you’re struggling to get a discount, offer to close the deal there and then if you can reach an agreement on price
    • Resist upsells. Even if you need a product or service, remember you can often find them elsewhere at a lower price
    • Don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal.

Don’t forget to test drive

It’s important to give your car a thorough test drive before buying it to check if you’re comfortable driving it.

When you’re on the road you should:

  • Drive on a variety of roads where possible, including dual carriageways and country roads
  • Check the car accelerates smoothly and brakes effectively
  • Try manoeuvring in the car – reversing, parking, etc – to check your view from all angle
  • Test the car’s gadgets and features, such as heated seats and Bluetooth.

Choose the right finance

Once you've found your dream car, think too about how you're going to pay for it - can you afford a lump sum, or would you rather negotiate a finance deal?

If you do opt for finance, make sure you shop around and don't just accept the dealer's offer straight away. While they can sometimes be competitive, some dealers rely on you not realising you can shop around for car finance and don't have to go through them. 

Admiral offers several Car Finance options, and you could get a quote in just a few minutes.

Read the small print

Reading the small print is one of the most important steps in the buying process. It’s easy to be taken in by signs for 0% APR deals, low monthly payments or even free fuel and insurance.

However, there may be limitations and exceptions that are important to be aware of before you sign on the dotted line.

Even if the sale terms and conditions are long and boring to go over, you could spot extra fees and charges, or regulations you didn’t know about.

You don’t want any nasty surprises in your terms and conditions upsetting all the budgeting you’ve done so far, so take the time to read over the small print before you commit yourself to the purchase.

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