You can’t fight it any longer, your car is on its last legs and you really need to find something that’s going to make the daily commute a whole lot more comfortable.
That flashing red light is looking more urgent with every blink and you’re fairly certain you’ve got a leak somewhere. If all this sounds familiar then it’s high time you traded up.
Easier said than done of course, you’ll need to fit it in around work time and time it just right so you’re able to afford the best you can get, without leaving yourself short.
Luckily, we’ve prepared this insiders’ guide to buying a new car to help save you time and money and ensure that you’re driving off with a bargain. Have a look at our top tips today before you start your search.
Put in the hours
Doing the research is really going to help. Sure you could just turn up on a sales forecourt but if you haven’t got a clue about what you need and the kind of price you’re willing to pay, then you’re almost guaranteed to pay over the odds and may even end up with a car that doesn’t tick all your boxes.
Preparation is key so start by looking at some of the models you’ve seen that you like the look of and working out what the basic functions are that you’re going to need. Do you need extra legroom, a big boot, heated seats? All these things will need to be taken into account. Keep in your mind some of the features that you’d like but would be willing to let go of for the right price, such as a sunroof for example. You’ll also need to consider what you’re using your car for, whether it’s the daily commute, family trips or the school run.
Next think about your budget. If you’re thinking of trading in your own car or selling it privately you’ll be able to factor that in. If you’re using cash or a credit card work out your top limit. You might want to go down the outside financing route by borrowing from a friend or bank or taking out a guarantor loan. Whichever method you choose, you’ll need to make sure you’ve worked out how a new car might impact your monthly budget. Check out insurance deals online and research average fuel costs for the potential car you want to buy.
You might also be considering taking on a finance scheme from a car dealership; again you’ll need to factor in the repayments. Generally speaking you end up with three options at the end of the repayment period: walk away from the car, upgrade or buy the car from the dealership with a lump sum.
Private sale versus dealership
Next you’ll need to decide where you plan on buying you new auto from. Will you go for a private sale or dealership?
There are pros and cons of both and your decision will largely depend on your car expertise and confidence about spotting any potential problems. If you are someone that knows their way around an engine, there’s no reason at all why you shouldn’t go through a private seller or even hit the car auctions.
The downside of buying privately of course is that you don’t really have any idea of the history of that car, how many owners it’s had or if it’s been in any collisions. You only have the seller’s word that it runs well and doesn’t need expensive parts to be replaced.
Line up several cars to be viewed on the same day and consult a buyer’s guide to see how much similar models are going for. That way you’ll know if you’re getting a bargain or if you’re going to need to negotiate hard to get the price down.
Once you check over the car ask the seller if you can take it for a test drive. You’ll be unlikely to go alone so expect the seller to hop in with you. If you’re happy with it, then the fun of negotiating down the price starts right there.
Stick to your top limits and if you feel like you’re being pushed towards a price you think is unfair, feel free to stop the conversation and walk away at any time. The advantage lies with you, as you’re likely to see many similar cars so start lower and give a little, gradually until you reach a fair price.
Whereas you might not know what you’re getting when buying privately the opposite is true when buying from a dealership, in fact you’re likely to be faced with far too much choice and optional extras.
Some of the principles remain the same. Set your budget in your mind and decide on which, if any, extras you’ll be happy to take and which you’ll be happy to drop. The key is sticking to your guns and not getting persuaded into buying something you don’t really need.
One of the pros of buying from a dealership is the fact that you’re likely to get a warranty and will be able to return with your car if you experience any problems. You might also get some free servicing options thrown in and insurance if you strike the right deal.
Walk in to the showroom when the sales quarter is almost up and you’re likely to snap up a better bargain then if you call in just after the deadline, so make your timing count.
Whether you choose to go down the private or dealership route there are several tips worth bearing in mind that all car experts will tell you: don’t rush into anything. While you might need a car fairly urgently, don’t feel pressured into making a deal that doesn’t feel right. As the buyer, the ball is in your court.
Shop around for deals and choose something that fits your needs and your lifestyle without too many comprises. Make sure you get a great deal and get the keys to a real bargain.