Buying a Car? 6 Ways to Make Sure You Get a Great Deal

Nissan altima

It’s fair to say that car dealers don’t enjoy the greatest of reputations, with most people considering them to be untrustworthy or worse. While this poor image is perhaps a little exaggerated, there’s no doubt that it pays to be on your guard when striking a bargain for a new auto. Here are six ways to avoid the most common pitfalls and stop yourself being taken for a ride.

Do Your Research First

It may be exciting to browse a car lot and see which vehicle jumps out at you, but approaching a purchase this way is a sure route toward a bad deal. If you don’t have at least a general idea about the model of car you’re hoping to buy, you won’t be able to research its market value first. Before you visit a dealer, draw up a list of the car types you’re interested in, and search online to find an average price you can use as a starting point for bargaining.

Stand Firm on Extras

Once you’ve decided on a vehicle you want, don’t feel pressured into accepting extras and upgrades you don’t really need. Is an extended service warranty really essential? Will issues such as paintwork protection already be covered by your auto insurance? These add-ons are usually very profitable for the dealer, while being less cost-effective for the buyer. Only take those extras which offer you real value, and even then be prepared to bargain the price down.

Arrange Your Own Finance

Paying for the car using a finance package from the dealer is often a major mistake. Although it may seem convenient to sign a deal and drive away there and then, you can almost always get better credit terms through your own bank or a dedicated auto finance provider. Of course, it’s possible you may be offered a good finance deal as part of your purchase, but make sure you explore all your options beforehand. Arranging finance from a different source also means you could pay in cash, and therefore negotiate a significant discount on the windshield price.

Receive Full Trade-In Value

If you have an old vehicle to trade in, research its true market value and make sure you receive a discount of at least this amount. Even if your old car isn’t worth much, trade-ins are an area where dealers have a lot of leeway for bargaining, so don’t let them tell you your vehicle is only good for the breaker’s yard.

Take a Friend

Even if you’re knowledgeable about cars and are confident in striking a bargain, you’re probably still at a disadvantage compared to a dealer who does this every day. Take a friend with you for a little moral support, and to help you withstand any pressure that may be applied by the salesperson.

Take Your Time

Lastly, never feel pressured into signing a deal immediately. A car purchase is a significant financial commitment, and it should never be rushed. If the dealer tries to hurry you along, or warns that other buyers will snap up “your” bargain, then don’t be afraid to walk away. The deal will likely still be there tomorrow, and you may even be able to drive a better bargain by waiting a while.


Buying a car is always something of a gamble, but there’s no reason to let yourself be taken for a ride. A little preparation and forethought can stack the odds of getting a good deal in your favor.


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