If you’ve had a bad time buying a car, psychology suggests it could be because you’re falling for tricks of the trade designed to make you buy with your heart instead of your head.
According to psychologists, buying cars – like other ‘big ticket’ items – is a highly emotional decision.
In fact, some experts believe that people choose different types of cars depending on their emotional needs.
Safety-conscious motorists are more likely to choose Volvos, for example, while those out to impress may opt for a Mercedes or BMW badge.
How does car psychology work?
This may all sound like common knowledge, but the car sales game of cat and mouse starts well before you set foot in a showroom.
Canny carmakers and salespeople can hone in on this psychology to convince you that you really need one of their shiny new vehicles. Plus, car ads showing attractive people driving along empty roads could start your craving for a particular brand of model of car.
Then when you approach a salesperson they use a whole host of selling techniques to encourage you to buy. They may start by acting like your friend so you feel less able to say no to them, then move on to ‘closing’ questions designed to lead you towards making the purchase. They may ask if you’ll be ready to buy after the test drive, for example.
Don’t fall for the sales patter
So what can you do to ensure you get a good deal?
- Look beyond the dreamy advertising and shiny showroom cars, and start thinking with your head.
- Make a list of the attributes you need in a new set of wheels, and work out how much you’re prepared to pay for it.
- When you reach the showroom, do your best to either say no or give an open-ended answer to every closing question you’re asked.
- You could even tell them you’re just doing research for a company car, so they know they won’t be able to make a sale.
The key is to know how salesmen think so you can stay one step ahead. For example, they may use a technique called ‘four square’ – noting down the four most important figures in a sales transaction (maximum selling and trade-in prices, deposit and monthly payments) so they can quickly calculate the biggest possible profit.
How to get the best deal
You need to know the value of your trade-in and the price you should be paying for your new car before you go car shopping. That way you can quickly work out if you’re being offered a good deal.
Then you may even be able to play the salespeople at their own game. Tell them you’ve been offered a great price by the dealer down the road and tell them you may be prepared to buy if they’re able to match it.
Always remember, there are thousands of cars sitting in showrooms around the country, so walk away if you don’t think you’re getting the deal you deserve.