Buying a car is a big deal. Behind buying a house, it is most probably the most money you are going to spend in one go in your lifetime.
It is no wonder that a large portion of the population try to steer clear of the car buying process for as long as they possibly can. But it need not be such a stressful situation if you know to ask the right questions – more importantly, the questions that are going to save you money.
Can I afford it?
It may sound a little too obvious, but the first thing you should ask yourself is whether you definitely need a car. There are certain situations where having a vehicle is vital to maintain an active and interesting lifestyle – such as living out in the sticks.
But if you live in the heart of the city, within close reach of work and buses or trains, owning a car is not essential. Although the idea of having one might seem attractive, think about your options to avoid buying a car before you can afford it. Once you’ve bought it, it will hang around your neck, draining your wallet.
This is especially true if you are planning to buy on finance. Is it worth holding on until you are in a more financially stable position?
Look for the discount?
Keep an eye out for manufacturer-backed cashback deals. In a lot of cases, this can be around £1,500, or sometimes even higher – make sure you check out what’s available before you head to the dealership. Once you are there, do not settle with this – the dealer will have a margin he can play around with. Do not let them tell you they have to get a certain price signed off by their manager or from head office – dealers are allowed to set their own prices and the discounts are almost always available to the serous buyer.
The dealer might try to make you feel and look like a cheapskate, don’t worry about it, they’re not your friend and it is unlikely you will ever see them again. You have a right to get the car as cheaply as you possibly can – if you don’t like the deal you can always walk away.
Decide on a model before you go to the showroom
If you have not yet decided on an exact model, at least decide on precisely what you are looking to get from a vehicle – then scour the market to see how much you can get for your money. This information will give you a better foothold when trying to barter with a dealer. It will also give you an eye for a good deal when you see it.
Time your purchase
Most car manufacturers will offer dealers a bonus based on quarterly sales figures. Dealers have targets to meet so the best time to go to the dealership is when they are desperate to make sales – the end of the quarter. For example, late March or late December are the times when businesses are trying to meet sales targets.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Johan Kemp is a successful motoring blogger currently writing in conjunction with ACF Car Finance