With such an array of online and offline vendors for new and used cars, it can be a daunting prospect to know where to look for your next car. Wherever you choose to search for your perfect car, it’s always worth bearing in mind some of the essential tips and preparatory advice offered by the people who are best placed to offer it: the dealers themselves.
The following advice has been gathered and consolidated from numerous experts from prominent car dealerships to provide you with the best chances of finding the car that’s right for you.
Know what you’re looking for
It sounds like the most redundant advice in the world but always make sure you have a clear idea of what you want from a car before you look around. Far too often, people buying a car from a dealer will arrive with only the vaguest outline of what they’re looking for and they are much more likely to end up paying more than they should or getting less than they need.
Before you actively approach car dealers, do a little research of your own and get a clear idea of what it is you’re after. That doesn’t mean you can’t be open-minded, as there may be a range of similar brands and models that suit your needs. It’s important to know your budget, however, and your preferences regarding size, economy, features and generally what the vehicle’s purpose will be. The requirements for a town runaround will be markedly different to a long-distance commuter car, for example.
Take your time – so many cars in used car dealerships are only one or two years old, simply because their owners hurried their decision and bought something that wasn’t right for them.
Time your purchase well
There are some times that are better than others to buy a car. The last week of the year is ideal as dealerships are looking to make sales quotas so there will be plenty of good deals and special prices on offer.
Accept good dealer advice
If you have a certain make and model in mind, it can be difficult to accept a dealer’s advice if they’re telling you to consider another model. Any good salesperson should advise you in your best interests, however, so if you’ve told them what you need, they should be able to direct you to the most appropriate vehicle.
Don’t be too quick to dismiss the salesperson’s suggestions as sales rhetoric or cynical upselling. Hear them out and if their advice seems sound then they will most likely be able to fix you a better deal than you originally anticipated.
The art of negotiation
The clue is in the name: they’re a dealership, so there’s often a deal to be made. When you buy a car from a dealer, however, it’s important to give them a reason to want to make a deal.
When negotiating a price for a car you want, be sure to mention anything that will demonstrate that you will continue to be a valuable customer to the dealership. Tell them if you plan to use their service department, if you’re going to recommend your friends and, most importantly, if you’re likely to buy another car from them in the future. All of these negotiation advantages can quickly add up to a significant discount if you present them correctly.
Carefully assess the financing options
Before buying any car, always check its insurance rates. This can be done quickly and easily online on a comparison website and it could save you committing to a car with prohibitively expensive insurance.
Be equally careful to read and ensure that you fully understand the terms of any financing options you’re considering. Whether it’s hire-purchase, a car loan or any other type of financing deal, it’s vital to know whether you can reasonably afford to commit to it.
One specific point to bear in mind here is co-signing loans and finance deals. Be certain that your co-signer is reliable, as you’ll still be liable for the payment if they don’t keep up their end of the commitment.
Check the car history
It may sounds obvious but there have been cases where a fault has been found after the car has been bought or the car has been sold illegally. So make sure you review a full car history check. You can do a full car history check for all the cars on AA Cars for peace of mind before you buy.
Through the DVLA, you will be able to check the identity of the vehicle, its date of first registration, tax rate and current tax disc expiry, as well as wider information about the car. If the details on the database do not reflect the car or its registration certificate, the car is likely to have been given the identification of another car. If this is the case, it’s time to move on. Doing a simple check online could save you a lot of money and time. Empowering yourself with knowledge from the DVLA and narrowing down your search on AA Cars can be crucial to striking a deal.
If you have even the slightest doubt about the legitimacy of the car or any part of the sale, then walk away. There will always be another car waiting for you.
Always, always test drive
No ifs, no buts – always make sure you test drive your chosen car before buying it. Even if you’ve done your research, read great reviews and know that it’s exactly what you’re looking for, it’s still always worth actually driving it before you commit. A thorough test drive allows you to get a feel for the vehicle, to see if it’s comfortable, responsive and suits your tastes.
A test drive can sometimes serve an even more practical purpose. If you happen to live close to the dealership, you can even ask to drive the car home to check that it fits comfortably in your garage or parking space. Provided you’re not located too far away, most dealerships will be happy to oblige if it will help with the sale.
Keep these dealers’ tips in mind when you buy your next car and you’ll find yourself driving away with the car that suits your lifestyle, as well as your bank balance.