Let’s face it; buying a car can be a real pain in the neck. It’s rarely ever straightforward, and it can often feel like the salesperson is speaking a different language with underlying motives that aren’t aligned to your needs.
But it isn’t about going in presuming that the salesperson is the fire-breathing dragon between you and your Princess (used car). It’s about learning their language, having a few tricks of your own up your sleeve, and being prepared. We’ve put together a simple guide that will increase your confidence when you walk into a dealership to buy a used car.
Know the competition
It’s very rare in this day and age that anyone would walk into a car dealership without having researched prices online from other sellers first. Basically, you need a Trump Card. No, we don’t mean a card with a wafty white toupee, we mean a dealership offering a better price for the make and model of car that you want. Pick a handful of dealerships in your area and call and ask them a) if they have your chosen car and b) what the sticker price is on it. Approach the cheapest first, and if they aren’t willing to lower the cost, approach the next dealership and quote what the other offered you. Dealerships are always in competition with one another so doing your research will give you an upper hand.
Pick your timing
This one’s a bit of a double-edged sword. If you get it right, you can strike a bargain, but if you get it wrong, the sale can be a real flop. Many salespeople make the bulk of their profits from the rewards they receive from the dealership when they hit sales targets at the close of every month. So if they’re falling short of their goal at the end of the month, they may be desperate to make a sale. Under these circumstances, they may strike a deal that’s much better than sticker price to get the car sold. CarsGuide.com recommends shopping for a car at a dealership ten to twelve days before the end of the month to attempt to use this information in your favour. You never know, you might get lucky and approach that dealer that just needs to sell one more car to make their target!
Skip out on the optional extras
Dealerships also make a fair amount of money off optional extras. And many of these are things that you don’t need or can get much cheaper elsewhere. Don’t get sucked in by the “I’ll throw in these extras for free” spiel. You want the money off the sticker price of the car, not a free set of car mats that you can pick up for next to nothing on Gumtree! Many people also believe that things like rust proofing, paint protection and fabric protection are generally a waste of money, too. If your car has been made in the last decade, it should have superior rust proofing. And if you regularly wash and wax your car, your paint should stay in good condition. As for fabric protection, you can DIY with a can of spray from a cheap auto store. The window tinting services offered by dealerships are also notoriously marked up, so if you want to get this done, look into prices from third-party providers after you have purchased the vehicle.
Take your time when deciding
Don’t let a pushy salesperson pressure you into making a decision on the spot. More often than not, those ‘today only’ deals are a load of hogwash and should always be taken with a grain of salt. Take the time to phone a friend or relative for a second opinion and think on it over a cup of coffee, away from the smothering showroom. You could even do a quick internet search to see if there are better offers around. Settling on the right car for the right price is a big decision, and you should make the purchase feeling comfortable and confident that it’s the best choice.
Don’t be afraid to walk away
Just like when your friends prepared you for haggling for a Bintang T-shirt at the markets in Bali, you may need to bust out the ultimate ‘take it or leave it’ by simply walking away. You can do this politely but firmly, without needing to be rude. Explain that you believe you can get a better price elsewhere, and thank the salesperson for their time. They may not chase you down the street, but they may reconsider their options and nip off to ‘consult’ with their superiors to ‘find’ a price closer to what you’re after. Sometimes this tactic will work, and other times it won’t. But on many occasions, it isn’t a tactic at all. If you have done your research and know that another dealer can give you a more suitable deal, then leaving will cause you no losses!