You've seen a car, test-driven it and now it's time to talk money. Don't start mumbling and shuffling your feet, because the aces are all in your hands.
Don't pay the list price for a new car. With the exception of a few prestige models and fashionable sports cars, the list price is a starting point for negotiations.
The thought of haggling brings some car buyers out in a cold sweat, but don't be intimidated. Dealers expect you to ask for a discount, and most will be ready to give a reasonable saving long before you resort to the thumbscrews. Remember, the salesman wants your business at least as much as you want that shiny new car. It's your money, so you're in charge.
1. Do your homework
Even if you have decided that a franchised dealer will get your cash, make sure you check out the prices available from other sources. Take the best quotes you can find with you. If the dealer knows you can buy the same car for £2,000 less online, he or she will be more likely to cut you a deal. Import prices can be useful, but most salesmen will be ready with a long list of pitfalls, some real, some not so real, which they'll say outweigh the saving. Use the best UK-sourced price, however, and their script won't wash. Challenge the salesman to get as close to that price as possible.
2. Don't be intimidated
Sales staff cut deals for their living, and have a number of tactics to sell you a car at a price that best suits them. Know the games that are likely to be played before you even set foot in the showroom, and you'll be a step ahead. Ever heard the 'I can give you a special price but only if you buy today' line? Don't believe it. The deal that's on the table tomorrow will probably be just as good, or better. Remember, too, that you are legally committed to buy once you've signed the order form. Be wary of sales staff who tell you they need to ask their manager before giving you a discount. It might look as if they're working terribly hard on your behalf, but this can just be a ruse to stall your haggling. Ask politely to speak to a decision-maker. Dealers may be keen to shift their stock - don't accept a car that isn't the colour and specification you want. On the other hand, if the stock car suits your needs, use the situation to your advantage and press for a further saving.