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Confessions of a car dealer: Five top tips for getting the best deal

By (redacted), 28 Jun 2019 Car Advice

Anonymous car dealer

WhichCar’s own anonymous car dealer gives you the straight skinny of how to buy a car this weekend

(Our secret dealer has been in the automotive game for more than 20 years, and he knows exactly where the bodies are buried. This is the unvarnished truth from a real salesperson, so pay attention!)


So, you are planning on buying a new car? Before you even get to the negotiation stage, there are just a few things you need to do to get you the best deal.


1 - Don’t get a great deal and the lowest price confused

It’s not an online auction, FFS. Don’t treat this as an exercise to brag about how you stitched up the deal of the century to your friends.

MORE 2019's best EOFY deals


2 – Fit for purpose

Long after the dollars you saved has been spent you want to be driving something that you like and works for your lifestyle.

 Everyone has different needs so the first thing is to work out what you need it to do. What features or accessories will you need? Do your research and narrow it down to 2-3 suitable vehicles that fit your criteria and most importantly you like how it looks (this is more important than you realise).

Talk with friends/family or someone who has bought one but don’t necessarily take all of it as gospel. Everyone’s a car expert, but like the anti-vax set they have no real understanding, just personal opinion - so treat it accordingly.

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3 - Be ready and able to make a decision.

You’ve narrowed it down to two cars, so it’s time to head to your local dealer and have a look in the flesh, have a test drive and discuss any options accessories.

Be genuine with where you are at in your purchase. It’s not Parramatta Road in the 1960s and 70s any more. The old school sharks are long gone. You’ll most likely meet someone who is focused on customer service not screwing every last dollar out of you.

Car dealership

Also, don’t think dealers have thousands of dollars of margin to play with (they don’t). Get them to give you a price. Now, go and shop like-for-like and get two or three other dealer quotes. This will give you a range of where you’ll end up somewhere in between.

MORE How to handle the hard sell at a car dealership


4 – Be realistic about your trade-in

Got a trade-in? Seen one similar advertised for $26K? Now forget it. Don’t expect to get retail price for your trade and wholesale on your new car. It just won’t happen. Sorry.

It will all come down to a changeover price. Don’t bother telling them about that new battery that cost you $200 three months ago. It adds no value. It’s like telling your real estate agent you’ve put new tap washers in.

1969 Mini

Valuers are experts who know the market and will normally shop your trade between numerous wholesalers to get the best price. They want the deal.

Alternatively, you have the option of selling your existing vehicle privately… but this is where you’ll meet sharks these days.

MORE Five things to know when buying your first car


5 – The deal

You’re set on the vehicle with all necessary options included. You’ve been given a changeover price and have the readies or you’ll agree to a sale subject to finance approval. Tell the dealer you’ll go ahead if have another crack at a further discount (see tip #4), or see if they’ll add extra accessories at no additional cost.

If you are genuinely ready to put pen to paper, they’ll do everything in their power to get there for you. You’ll know where you need to be from your shopping, but give your local dealer the final crack, because they’ll be the ones that look after you through your ownership.

In the end, you should be driving away in a vehicle that for years to come makes you feel good, does what you need and fits your budget. It’s win, win, win.

The Secret Dealer