/ Money, Motoring

Haggling for a new car – terrifying or terrific?

Sealing a deal on a new car

Buying a brand new car is exciting, but haggling for a better deal is not everyone’s idea of fun. Do you enjoy the thrill of haggling in the showroom, or would you rather pay the asking price and avoid the stress?

Why does going to the car showroom have to feel like you’re entering a North African souk?

We all know that new car prices are a complete fiction – no-one actually pays list price for their car (or at least, they absolutely shouldn’t). That sticker price on the windscreen is actually just the jumping-off point for an old-fashioned haggle.

It’s entirely up to you to hammer out a more acceptable deal by beating the salesman down on price. Mercifully I don’t have to do it very often. I’m one of those people who approach the whole arena of haggling for a new car with severe trepidation. And I know there are lots of us out there who feel the same way.

I really don’t enjoy being pushy; it just feels awkward. But equally I don’t like the idea of coming out of the showroom feeling like I’ve paid over the odds, especially when we’re potentially talking about thousands of pounds.

Knowledge is power

Let’s face it, the cards are very much stacked in favour of the dealer – the average car salesman knows exactly how to squeeze the most profit out of you.

But you can almost always get a discount on a new car – and more often than not a pretty big discount. Going in pre-armed with the facts is the key.

For example, you definitely need to gather online broker quotes on the car you’re interested in before you enter the den. It’s so much easier to achieve a target price if you show the salesman the hard facts on a computer print-out. It’s also easier to remain cool and calm, which is vital. With a few well-rehearsed lines and a bit of hard info, you can come away happy with the deal you’ve struck.

What are your car showroom stories? Have you succeeded in getting a great deal on your new car? Or is haggling with a car salesperson your idea of a nightmare?

Have you ever haggled for a new car?

Yes (70%, 262 Votes)

No, I've never bought a brand new car (25%, 94 Votes)

No, I'd rather pay full price (4%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 372

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Maneg says:
28 May 2013

I don’t like haggling so my starting point is to read What Car magazine to find their Target Price for the model I’m interested in. This is usually for the model without optional extras, but gives a useful guide to what sort of discounts are possible. Then I get quotes from brokers (don’t bother with any that want to charge you). On the brokers sites you can usually add your options and get a price for the complete car. With their quotes you can go to your local dealer and ask them to match them.

If they will not match them don’t bother haggling, go back to a broker. The broker should put you in contact with a dealer at their quoted price. From then on you deal with them. You pay the dealer not the broker.

I detest haggling so I give myself plenty of time and search for good deals. Anything to avoid having to sit in front of a salesman. I did not mind phoning up dealers and telling them what other dealers had quoted, but most refuse to give a price over the phone these days.

I doubt that I have managed to achieve the best price for new cars I have bought, but my way of saving money has been to keep them for 8-10 years.

I am not impressed by the poll for this Conversation. Who is going to choose the option that they would rather pay full price? Perhaps ‘Shop around for the best deal’ would be a better option. That is much less traumatic than haggling.

If you buy your car through a broker, who is your contract with?

My current car was bought from a car supermarket when it was two months old and had 120 miles on the clock. I waited a few months for the specific model and colour I wanted and in that time the price of that model went up by £400. Because I had my unofficial order placed at the time of the lower price I did not have to pay the increased price. The supermarket would not haggle on price. They did not have to as the cars were a couple of thousand cheaper than the main dealers, for just a basic model. I looked up the same supermarket a few weeks ago and it no longer sells almost new, very low mileage cars.

I am now checking out Ford Retail Online for a suitable car. I have been told by their staff that the price advertised is the price to be paid – no haggling.

If you just use the broker to find the car and then buy direct from the dealer, then of course your contract is with the dealer.

Figgerty –

Quote: I looked up the same supermarket a few weeks ago and it no longer sells almost new, very low mileage cars.

Yes, that happened to a supermarket near me. I suspect that it is fairly easy for a supermarket to get hold of unsold, new cars from main dealerships struggling to meet their manufacturer-set targets. But only in small numbers. If the supermarket tries to grow, it will fail to get enough stock. And possibly fail as a business.

I thoroughly research exactly what car I want and find out the maximum I should pay. I often go through the motions of buying a new car on line to see the best deal before going to the local agent. I keep a poker face when offered all those price blown extras (special body wax finishes, new replacement insurance, etc.), nodding thoughtfully, then rejecting them. When it comes to the bottom line, I’ll pay a little over the odds than the on line offers because I like to keep the local dealer in business, but not as much as three figures extra.

I agree with terfar: we have had extremely good service from our local main dealer (a small Ford outlet in our village) over the years and like to at least offer him the chance of a sale. Appreciate he may not be able to meet the deal offered by brokers via big ‘mainstream’ outlets, but always show him in print the deal on offer, ask him if he can match it, if not how close he can get to it, and if I think it’s reasonable, shake on it. I always keep smiling and make the point that while I realise he has a profit to make, I want a good deal, know I can get one elsewhere, and if he’s prepared to get close to it…..

I always negotiate, whether buying new or secondhand. Generous discounts seem quite hard to achieve nowadays, but 7.5% to 10% is not impossible.

It’s interesting to consider why we haggle over car purchases but not, for example, purchases in a supermarket. I think there are two reasons:

Firstly, because the sums of money involved are relatively large; and
Secondly, because the value of your trade-in (and the car you are buying, if buying used) is arguable.

Most of us haggle over price when buying/selling a house. No doubt for the same reasons.

Do I enjoy haggling? No. Though I confess that many years ago I took an intense dislike to a horrid, pushy, young salesman. I pressed him so hard that I am certain the final price he offered involved NO profit whatsoever for the dealership, it had become a matter of pride to him to win the sale. I then bought the car from a rival dealer, happily paying £150 extra. I enjoyed that!

bob says:
9 June 2013

Buying a car new is an unpleasant experience. I’ve heard all sorts of lies from salesman:
* “We don’t make any profit on this car, it’s just sold to get the numbers up”
* “I don’t get any commission just a bottle of wine at the end of the year.”
* “I’m sorry I made a mistake with the price we agreed earlier, my manager has just told me I can’t sell at that price”

They also engage in theatrics. A standard tactic is to pretend they have to check a deal with the manager. It’s just ploy to make you think you’re getting a special discount when in reality they still have a lot further to go.

One salesman told me his ‘best offer’ and if he went any lower, he’d be selling at a loss and the huge dealership would go bust. It was bogus and patronising so I left and bought it cheaper in the next town. A month later the salesman phoned me up to see if I’d thought any more about his offer. He got angry with me when I told him I’d bought it elsewhere. He told me his ‘best offer’ wasn’t actually the best and he said he didn’t actually mean what he said about going bust. He told me I shouldn’t have believed him. I enjoyed hearing him moan about losing a deal because of his lies.

Amy says:
29 July 2013

I went into a showroom as a cash buyer of a new car, I started looking around, salesman came up, I told him I was interested in buying a particular model.
He said,
` Is your husband with you`?
I said, No why?
He said
`It might be better if he is, men understand cars.`

I said, `You have just lost a sale` and walked out.

Arrogance springs to mind.

Robert Hardwick says:
23 August 2013

5 months ago I was invited by Mercedes Oxford to a VIP weekend, where the showroom was closed to the public and special discounts would be offered to exclusive clients. I had purchased my last 3 cars from them and was looking to change model so I made an appointment and turned up as planned.
I knew exactly what I was looking for and which made the job easy for the salesman, we settled on a specific model which was new and sat waiting for delivery in Zebrugge. Strangely considering the showroom was packed out with mercedes models they didn’t have any C Class coupes on show at all so there was no car to sit in or test drive. When I picked up the car a few weeks later and sat in the drivers seat imagine my disappointment when trying to lower the drivers seat even at the very lowest level the rear view mirror sat straight in my line of sight looking forward through the windscreen. Even more disappointing was the poor engine performance, as I had just p/x a C180 saloon I assumed the C180 Coupe Sport Plus would have the same engine, no instead of the 1.8 supercharged engine it had a 1.6. The standard fit of red seat belts had been changed to black I complained to Mercedes Oxford and arranged to see the Business Manager, I drove to the garage some 20 odd miles away, the BM was too busy, the salesman had been moved, and later left the company, after waiting 30 mins spoke with the Workshop Manager who sat in the car (he had just purchased the saloon version) he agreed about the mirror stating the floor pan was different which affected the seat height adjustment. He explained about the engine size which the salesman had not, and explained that the car must have been pre ordered with the seat belts changed on a customer request and that order cancelled. 4 months later I am looking at changing the car but not at Oxford. Rule number 1 don’t buy a car that you have only seen in a brochure even if you have had 12 mercedes in the last 20 years.

Graham Follett says:
16 September 2013

A few years ago, I wanted to buy 2 new Citroen Saxos and went to the local main dealer. The salesman was good and calm and not pushy. I didn’t tell him I wanted two cars until we had agreed a deal – which is possible even on new cars if you hit upon the right time of the month for the company’s targets.
After a price was agreed, I asked for a discount for two cars and was immediately offered 7.5% off. I thought that if they can readily offer that, they may offer more, so I said I wanted 12.5% and we agreed on a 10 discount on both cars.
So, never go by the list price, even for brand new cars, and remember that bulk purchase should result in savings.

Graham Follett
Membership 412982405