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Top tips to getting a good deal on your car

Tahmina Mannan
Written By:
Tahmina Mannan

From wearing the right clothes to picking the winning colour, we reveal how to cut the cost of buying a new car.

Buying a car, whether new or pre-owned is a big financial burden. There are a dozen things you have to consider – the initial cost, the aesthetics including size, colour and style.

Then there’s the car’s age, size, weight, fuel and transmission type which will all have an effect on your tax, insurance, and day-to-day running costs.

So whether you’re looking for a shiny new 13-plate, or a trusty second-hand set of wheels, doing your research will go a long way.

We have gathered a few helpful tips to get you on your way.

Diesel or petrol?

Think carefully about which fuel type you go for. According to the AA, diesel cars are a good option if you cover long distances. They usually cost more to buy but generally have better re-sale values. Petrol might be a better option if you’re looking for a nippy run-around to drive on local roads.

Choosing between manual and automatic transmission will also affect your fuel consumption.

Red, white or blue?

Choosing the right colour of car could help when you come to selling it.

Silvers and blues tend to have a better re-sale value, so if you have a penchant for bold statements, you might be better off experimenting with your clothing.

Check the history

Once you have found a car you like make sure you do all necessary vehicle checks. Even decent looking cars with a flashy price tag can have a shady past.

The AA suggests that when you leave a deposit on a car you want to buy, make it clear that you will only buy the vehicle if it satisfactorily passes all buyer checks.

Arrange a vehicle inspection or if you know a friendly mechanic ask him to check the vehicle over and ALWAYS get a vehicle data check.

This is crucial for second-hand cars in particular and should pick up whether there is any outstanding finance. If there is money owed to a finance company it will take the car back. Similarly, if it has been stolen the car will be taken from you and returned to the owner – and there’s no compensation, so make sure you don’t skimp on the checks.

Don’t forget insurance

Keep in mind that insurance will be a huge dent in your yearly outgoings, so a good deal on a car could prove costly if the premiums are really high. Since the introduction of the EU’s gender directive, which means insurers cannot price plans by gender, young women especially have seen their premiums rise dramatically. One thing to consider, if you feel you are a good driver, is a telematics box or black box in your car.

Depending on the insurer, the telematics box may monitor different types of driving behaviour which can be used to either reward or penalise you for your driving by reducing or raising your premiums accordingly.

Be prepared to haggle

Driving a hard bargain isn’t just about knocking down the initial price of your desired car – it’s about making your money go further, whether it’s getting valuable optional extras thrown in for free, or getting a better deal on finance itself.

Haggling does not come easy for most Brits, but remember, coming out of your comfort zone during the purchase could make a real difference.


Most dealers will be ready for you to negotiate – and will even start the discussion on price, if they think you are a serious buyer.

The more information you have at your disposal the better, so it’s worth writing down everything you need to know before talking to a sales manager.

Check out the manufacturer’s website

• Before you head to the dealership, take a look at the manufacturer’s official online ‘offers’ section. This is a good way of checking if there are any deals for the car you are interested in.

• If you’re planning on trading in your current banger, then check its market value beforehand by comparing the prices of similar models for sale. Haggle with the dealer sticking as close to that price as possible. Ask if you can make up the difference with optional extras.

• Have a read through online forums and see what people who drive your desired car is saying about it. Reviews from real people go a long way, but note that sometimes people will complain for the sake of it, so take it with a pinch of salt too.

• Don’t dress too smartly. Looking like you just stepped off the plane from your latest ‘break’ might just have the exact opposite affect that you want. Dressing too smartly might make you look like a walking pound sign.

Paying in cash, or need a loan?

• Finance deals are a great way to spread the cost of buying a car, but make sure you double check the interest rates against loans from a high street bank to ensure you are being offered a competitive rate.

• Hire purchase (HP) loan – if you get a HP loan that includes an agreed buyback value then you should check that there aren’t any restrictions tied in to your contract – like a set annual mileage which you cannot go over or it will affect the terms of your loan. Make sure these are restrictions are ones you can live with, as the penalties for going over can be quite high and will undo any other financial savings you might have made.

• Even if you have your heart on one car, be brave and talk up cheaper rivals while looking over the price. If the salesman thinks the higher cost might make you look elsewhere, he’s more likely to try and sweeten the deal – throwing in anything from metallic paint to even a full tank of fuel.

Timing counts

• Most dealerships run on commission and the salespeople have targets to meet, so timing is a key factor in getting a good deal. Going in at the end of the month – when they’re close to their targets – can be a great way to get a bigger discount than normal.

• The same logic applies in March and September as this is when the registration plates change and dealers will be keen to shift existing stock.

• Don’t be dazzled by special offers in the showroom. Supermarkets are full of two-for-one or three-for-two ‘special offers’ which don’t stand up to closer examination. Take your time, and remember, most ‘great’ deals are tied to cars dealers can’t shift, like makes with a new model coming out soon. This will instantly lower the value of your car as soon as the new model gets wheeled out.

Don’t be afraid to leave if you can’t reach a deal that makes you happy, take your time. Sometimes taking a step back can do more good than harm.