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Beat the Car Dealers at Their Own Game

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 6 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Car Dealers Game Beat Sales Purchase

If you are looking to buy a car, whether new or used, then chances are that you will be making a spending commitment that will leave a large hole in your bank account. Whatever your financial circumstances it makes sense to take whatever steps you can to make your purchase as cost-effective as possible and beat the car dealer at their own game.

Car dealers are very good at what they do, which is encouraging people to part with their money. In many respects, car dealers take their customers on a journey, with the dealer in charge of where they take you. They have sales targets to beat and most sales people are not particularly fussy about who they are selling to and whether they can afford to pay the asking price.

To beat the dealers at their own game you need to make sure that you stay in control of the purchase, not the dealer.

Is your Car Purchase Essential?

You would be surprised at how many people wander into a car showroom ‘for a browse’ and end up having signed a new car purchase agreement.

So, to avoid being an impulse car-buyer, start by asking yourself whether your car purchase is essential, and if so, should you be buying new or used? If you already have the answers to these questions then you won’t be caught in two minds when in the showroom, and you won’t find yourself pressurised into a purchase that you do not need, or cannot really afford.

Do your Homework

Again, it makes practical sense to do some research before you get to a showroom. Once you have decided what car or cars that you are interested in, then by all means use the internet to do some homework.

You can read up on the latest car reviews, compare prices and it doesn’t hurt to take the details of a few local dealerships to visit, so that you can possibly try to play one local rival against another.

When you’re in the Showroom

Once you are in the showroom and having a look around at the best deals, remember that the current economic climate leaves customers like you in a position of strength.

So-called ‘big ticket’ items such as new car purchases are in shorter supply in times of economic difficulty, so a car dealer will be keep to lure in customers. This means you can afford to be choosy, and you shouldn’t have to stretch your budget beyond its limits to get a good deal. If you don’t feel you are being allowed to get exactly what you want, then walk away.

After the Test Drive

Once the test drive is over and you’ve decided that the car you have found is right for you, then the negotiations can get properly underway.

After the drive itself, it often makes sense to give the car another inspection. You want to make it seem to the dealer that you are still uncommitted, even if you have already made your mind up to buy the car.

At this point, some of the braver negotiators often walk away. You can try out other models, or the dealer may take this as a sign that you feel the price is too high. Either way, by placing the ball back in their court you may be able to negotiate a better deal for yourself.

Always remember however that car dealerships employ sales people who are born to negotiate. Try to avoid being too clever when negotiating, again it pays if you know some facts about the car in question and whether you can quote a cheaper price that you found elsewhere.

There’s really no point in lying however, as the dealer will know exactly what the car’s worth and what his competition will be selling a similar make and model for.

Avoid those Special ‘Add Ons’

Once you have agreed a price, and you may be pleased that you have gotten a bargain, car dealerships usually try to sell extras or add ons that can quickly elevate the price of the car to astronomical levels.

Additional warranties (or top up insurance) are the most popular, but another key money maker for dealerships is applying a special finish to the car’s paintwork. Ask yourself whether these will actually add any value to the car itself, and whether the car has its own warranty that renders the ‘top up’ virtually worthless.

When Things go WrongSometimes the car that is delivered doesn’t meet the expectations of the car that you drove in the showroom. If you’re not happy with the car after it is delivered, keep calm, but try to act fast. Cars bought through dealerships will be bound by the UK’s Sale of Goods Act, which means that you can formally reject the car within two weeks of delivery.

If you’re really not happy, don’t feel forced to accept a partial refund or additional discount from the dealer, you will still be entitled to your money back as long as you have all the correct paperwork.

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