WhichCar sat down with wheeler-dealer Trev (not his real name) who told us the best way to get the a great deal on your next car is to be confident but realistic when it comes to negotiating a price.
1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND DECLARE YOUR PRICE
“The biggest mistake people make is asking a salesperson ‘what’s your best price?’, Trev stresses. “When you ask for the best price he’ll just take a $1000 off. The best way to do it is offer them a price.
“Say something like ‘your car’s advertised for $38,000, we’ll pay $35,000 and give you a deposit right now’ and then they’ll come back with $36,000 or $35,500 or give you the nod. You’ll be very surprised how sometimes they just want the deal done.”
“Their objective is to keep as much margin in it, but when a deal’s on the table that’s when they make a decision, that’s how you get the best out of a deal.
“If you’re not confident in putting a price just tell them ‘we’re here to buy the car today, we’re prepared to give you a deposit on the car right now’, that gets the salesperson’s ears up.”
“They have people coming in every day wanting this and that, so know what you’re buying and go in there and negotiate a price.”
2. BE REALISTIC ABOUT THE PRICE AND AVOID STRESS
“People will try and bloody string the last absolute bargain-arsed deal and when the deal’s done they’ll want a tank of petrol and free car washes for the next 10 years,” says Trev.
“You can’t have a car advertised for $25,000 and you offer them 10 or 15 grand, that’s just ridiculous. Everything’s got a commercial value, and with cars you’ve just got to work out what it’s worth.”
“You have to think of the price over the period that you’ll own the car. If you want to pay $22,000 but end up paying $23,200, that’s 1200 bucks over four years, which is a dollar a day or something. It’s not even worth sweating about. People put so much effort into haggling then they’ll go spend 400 bucks on a dinner. You can just absolutely get yourself into a spin.”
3. END OF MONTH/FINANCIAL YEAR BARGAINS ARE A THING
“You’ll do a better deal at the end of the month,” admits Trev. “And definitely at the end of the financial year. It’s sell, sell, sell then, particularly on new cars.
“You can go to a car dealer, a lot of whom get rebates from manufacturers when they sell X amount. When I was working for a prestige dealer there was a factory bonus on certain model and they had to sell two more for the month, so it was in their interest to almost give them away. They might have lost $1000-2000 on the whole deal but the rebate would be worth thousands.
“Getting a good deal is not so much based on the car on the day, it’s how the dealer is situated. They might be having a really lean month so they’ll settle for anything or if they’re having a really good month they might not be as obliging.”
Trev adds that you should haggle over the full on-road price so there are no surprises after you sign, but don’t expect things like taxes and registration to be waived.
“They’re pretty fixed those prices, but if they want to sell a car they’ll waive things like the delivery fee, believe me. Everything is negotiable.”
4. ONLY ENTER INTO A NEGOTIATION IF YOU’RE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN THE CAR
“There’s a process to it, if you tell the dealer you’re just there to look at the car they’ll put the pressure on you. You have to be quite clear that you’re not buying today you’re just looking at the car. Otherwise they’ll start putting the pills on you to buy the car and that’s when the problems happen. That’s what they’re there for but it’s all about the way you handle it.”
5. DON’T FEIGN DISINTEREST DURING THE NEGOTIATION
Trev says it’s no use playing hard to get once you’ve made an offer, such as pretending to want to shop around more while they consider your price.
“When you offer the salesperson a price they’ll usually speak with their manager. Don’t pretend to go elsewhere and ask them to get back to you. You might as well get a price out of them while you’re there. That makes you look serious.
“When you say you’re leaving they’ll just wait for you, they won’t call or text you a price. They’re not too keen on that because you could show that price to someone else. Just say ‘we’re here in store and want to buy’.”
6. DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY CAR SALESPEOPLE
“They’re just bloody people,” says Trev. “I know it’s a big purchase and you’ve got to be a bit careful but in general terms you can’t really make a mistake buying a new car.
“It’s not like you can go and pay 28 grand and someone’s going to go and buy the same thing for $22,000. You’re gonna pay $25,000 or you’re gonna pay $24,200 and if you get an absolute bargain you might get a grand or $1500 extra off it. The expensive cars might have a little bit more in them.”
7. DON’T UNDERMINE YOUR BARGAIN BY GETTING SLUGGED WITH AFTERMARKET PRODUCTS
“Buying the car is one thing but getting the money to pay for it, particularly on finance, that’s where the dealer makes all the money these days. That’s what they literally do, they shut the guts out of the sale and then they walk you into the aftermarket person who’ll want to sell you paint protection and window tints and all this sort of stuff.
“To be truthful you don’t need one bit of it and that’s where they make all their money. They sell you an extended warranty and get a bit of money out of finance and suddenly they’ve got a couple of grand out of you.”
To help prepare before visiting a car dealership, read our new car buyer's glossary.