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Is buying new for you?

Like everything else in life, buying a new car has its pros and cons. The pros? The latest safety and fuel efficiency features, no unknown history, and the chance to customise the spec to your own taste. Cons are that it’ll cost you — and that the car’s value will start dropping as soon as you drive it away.

But if you’ve weighed both sides and you’re confident that buying new is what you want to do, we’re with you all the way. Let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll need to think about before you start scouting those dealerships.

What to know before you go

How much you can afford to spend

Before you even start thinking about makes and models and custom colours, set yourself a budget — and stick to it. We know it’s tempting to stretch. It can seem like adding a little more to the amount you have in mind wouldn’t be a big deal. But that little bit more can add up to a whole lot of bother further down the line. So tell temptation to take a hike, and motor on with a clear financial conscience.

The kind of car that’s right for you

At the risk of sounding like everybody’s parent, this is all about common sense. We all have our dream cars. But if you’ve got three kids and a dog, a sporty little two-seater won’t be any use. If you live in a highly populated area with on-street parking, an SUV might not be the right choice. Think about how you’ll use the car, what kind of mileage you drive, insurance costs, vehicle excise duty. Then pick something you like and that works with your lifestyle. You’ll be happier in the long run!

All the options open to you

If there’s a car you really want but that’s just out of your reach, think about nearly new. Okay, you lose out on customising the spec, but you could end up driving the make and model you want at far less expense. You might have to look a bit harder, but the potential savings make the hunt worthwhile.

What to do with your current car

If you don’t actually have a car right now, you can skip this bit. But if you’re moving on from your current motor, you have the question of what to do with it. Selling it privately might increase the chances of getting the best price for it. But it could be easier to talk to your dealer about a part exchange. You’ll be offered a lower price for it, but the money comes straight off the price of the new car. So it’s safer, as well as easier, because you’re not tempted to spend it on anything else. Essentially, it’s a straight choice between fast and easy on the forecourt or a DIY deal that takes more time.

Knowledge is power

The more research you do into your new car, the better equipped you are to get a great deal. These next tips and tricks give a guide to taking out the guesswork.

Start with the price

It might seem like a basic step. But your ideal car might be selling at different prices in different dealerships. So check them all out. It’s also worth visiting professional valuation sites like, or They’ll not only help you compare prices, they’ll also show any current deals on extra spec.

There’s never any guarantee that you’ll be able to haggle to the price you want. But if nothing else, doing your homework means you can speak to your local dealership from an informed point of view.

Think about the cost

‘Cost’ is not the same as ‘price’. You need to consider any upfront costs of the purchase. Then think about how much you would spend on running your car, like the cost of fuel. You also need to think about things like insurance and tax. If you’re going to be keeping the car for a while, you need to think about servicing and MOTs. Some dealerships will tie you into their own service packages to ensure the car’s warranty, and that can be more expensive than sourcing your own. The biggest cost associated with new cars is depreciation, which can, effectively, ‘add’ thousands.

The What Car? website has a calculator that shows the depreciation cost of the car you’re thinking of buying. It’ll also give you some good tips on keeping the car in good shape to bring that cost down as far as you can.

Make sure you think of any extra spending you might need to do. New tyres or repairs can be expensive, it’s best to have some room in your budget, just in case!

Timing is everything

New number plates on the horizon. Individual and dealership sales targets. Quarterly sales figures. They all have a bearing on the amount of influence you have over the deal.

Look at new number plates, for example. Dealers might have pre-registered cars with an older plate. They’ll be anxious to sell the old to make room for the new, which gives you good grounds for a bargain. Wait just a few weeks after new plates come in.

If you visit at the end of the month, you’ll have influence on monthly targets. Again, that’s good leverage. So do a little research into securing the best deal on a new car. The more you know, the better the deal you could secure.

The sales speak

No spoilers!

The essential rule when you’re dealing with sales teams is ‘don’t give anything away’. So don’t tell them your budget. If you’re making a cash buy, keep that to yourself — salespeople make more money on finance. So if they know you’re a cash customer, they might be less likely to dish out the discounts.

Don’t ask yes or no questions, and don’t be afraid of sounding blunt. “What discount are you offering?” is a better question than “Can you offer a discount?” Or try “How are you going to sweeten this deal?” rather than “Can you sweeten the deal?” Keep it polite and positive and you’ll go a long way.

Understand your finance options

Check out all the deals available before you buy — and don’t be persuaded into paying more by a local dealer. If you know what else is on offer, you can ask them to match it. If you’re thinking of using a personal loan, rather than dealership finance, take a look at our online calculator to see how we could help.

Don’t be in a hurry

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But it’s harder than you might think. You need to be prepared to walk away if the salesperson isn’t giving you what you want. That gives you the advantage. If you show them how keen you are, the advantage is all theirs.

Take that test drive

Even if you’ve done the research, even if you’re buying a newer model of your current car, take the test drive. You never know how it’s going to handle until you’re sitting behind the wheel. A short trip around the block will either confirm you’ve made the right choice, or save you a whole lot of time, trouble and disappointment!

Just make sure you think about all the aspects of the drive. Check the brakes, your driving position, if the car drives well, and if the engine power suits you.

Disclaimer: This article contains links to third party websites. We don't control these websites and aren't responsible for their content.

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