Buying a Car 28/01/2020

How to get the best deal when buying a car from a dealer

Here are our tips to keep in mind when buying a car from a dealer.

Here are our tips to keep in mind

Buying from a dealership is still a mainstay option when purchasing a car — but it can feel a little daunting.

There’s really no reason to feel anxious about stepping into a dealership – there’s no need to feel intimidated or pressured; in fact, follow these tips and you’ll be able to walk away happy that you’ve got the very best deal possible.

Research the car

Research is key; the first step in your buying process is to choose a car and research everything you can about it; knowledge is power and making sure you know everything about a certain model can make the difference when it comes to actually buying one.

Be choosy too; pick a colour, spec and engine and stick with it; stay focused, it’ll put you in a far stronger position if you know exactly which car you want, and all the information about that car. Remember that dealerships, which are often part of a larger group, will often have a huge stock of used vehicles, and access to a nationwide selection of cars.

Lots of cars in a row view of wheels

Choose the right dealer

This is an important decision to make. Franchised dealerships get first access to the latest cars and technology, and are therefore potentially better equipped at answering any questions you may have. In terms of aftersales and repairs, they have the very best manufacturer support too. They’ll also have a good selection of used vehicles which will have been well maintained in the main dealer servicing department.

There is, of course, the option to buy from an independent dealership. Able to offer a more diverse range of vehicles, the likelihood with an independent dealer is that if they don’t quite have the car you want, then there will be a multitude of other options available there on-site, and possibly for a slightly lower price than a main dealer.

Check them out online

Once you’ve picked the dealership you fancy, then thoroughly look through their reviews online. You’ll be able to easily see how well they treat their customers, and also how good they are at dealing with aftersales issues.

You also can’t beat old fashioned word-of-mouth; asking neighbours, friends and relatives about a potential dealership can be a great way to find out what they’re like, both to buy from and deal with after the initial purchase.

KIA Motors garage with cars outside

Pick your purchase time

Believe it or not, you can get a better deal depending on what time of the year you go to a dealership. Dealers are often pressed to reach quarterly targets, which is why if you head onto the forecourt at the end of March, June, September and December, there’s a good chance you’ll get a better deal. It’s may seem a small little tip, but it’s one which could see you saving thousands of pounds off a vehicle.

Dealing with salespeople

Stepping into the dealership, it’s likely that you’ll be approached by a Sales Executive. Be pleasant, stay relaxed, but don’t forget why you’re there – to buy a car; it’s easy to make a bad decision or become excited and feel that you’re happy to over-stretch your budget for a better car. Remember what you came in for and stick to your budget; buying a car is meant to be fun after all!

Citroen cars parked together.

Test drive

Once you’ve seen a car you like, then it’s time to get behind the wheel. The likelihood is that the salesperson will accompany you in the car, but don’t let that stop you from pressing all of the buttons and getting a feel for the vehicle in general. Ensure that your test route features a range of different corners, roundabouts and road surfaces – the Sales Exec may want to take you on a tried-and-tested-route which showcases the best attributes of the car, you choose your own route.

Remember, this is your only real opportunity to drive the car – so make it count. Don’t be afraid to quiz the Sales Exec sat alongside you on the ins and outs of the vehicle.

Check the stock

After you’ve driven the car, it’s worth checking to see if there are any nearly-new vehicles available at the dealership. Often featuring delivery miles, these can often be cheaper than a conventional used car, securing you a nearly-new car for less than the new price. It’s an easy way to get a great deal on a used car – though you may have to make a slight compromise in terms of colour and specification in order to get your hands on one.

cars in a workshop

Run a background check

Yes, it may sound like a tactic used by James Bond, but running a background check on a used car can be the difference between care-free motoring and a proper headache. Franchised main dealers and some independents will have done this for you; always check that they have and where the information has come from. Should it flag up any issues, walk away – it could mean a whole heap of trouble is on the horizon.


You’ve picked the car, taken it out for a test drive and now you’re prepared to sign on the dotted line.

Dealerships will offer you plenty of additional options, for example GAP insurance and paint protection, both of which are popular and you may indeed want them; but, whilst these may well be attractive to you, make sure that you’re paying the right price for them and not paying more at the point when you’re excited with your new purchase.

Car outside a dealership

Cash or finance

There are still a variety of ways to pay for a used car, which is one of the big benefits over buying privately. There’s Hire Purchase, which sees you paying a deposit and repaying the remaining balance of the car over monthly instalments. At the end of the payment term, you’ll own the car outright.

Then there’s Personal Contract Purchase, or PCP. Again, you’ll pay an initial deposit followed by monthly payments but at the end you’ll be offered a ‘balloon payment’ to pay off the remainder of the car’s value, or you return it to the dealer. This option usually features strict mileage caps, which you’ll be penalised for exceeding, so if you choose this method ensure that you have a good handle on how many miles you do each year.

Finally, there’s Personal Leasing. This is a good option if you’re planning on frequently changing your car, though you do have to usually stump up three months’ rental in advance, and there’s no option to buy the car at the end of the deal.

You can, of course, pay entirely by cash. Though be careful; whereas it used to be the case that cash buyers got the best deals, nowadays you’re sometimes better off getting finance in order to get the best deal – so do your homework here.


It’s an age-old process, but haggling remains just as crucial today as it always has, there’s always a certain amount of wiggle room. Unless you’re looking for a very specific car, or a rare model, you should be able to negotiate some level of discount, and don’t feel awkward, dealerships are prepared for this.

Remember, if you don’t ask you don’t get, so don’t be afraid to ask for free additions and discounts on servicing plans. The worst that can happen is a ‘no’!

Car with price tag


If you’re buying a used car, then a warranty is a particularly useful thing to have. Again, this is an area where haggling and getting the best deal is key – dealerships will have a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to warranties. However, remember that if you’re financing a car, any mechanical issues with it will involve the finance company rather than the dealership you bought it from.

Don’t be scared of walking away

Remember, there are thousands of used cars available on the market, and hundreds of dealerships too. There is always another car, if things don’t feel right, walk away and keep on looking. Don’t feel pressured into buying a car that’s not quite right for you; the final decision is entirely yours, and if you don’t like the way things are heading, you should vote with your feet!

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