For most Britons, the word "haggle" normally only comes into play when visiting exotic markets in North Africa or Southeast Asia - not in a shiny car dealership here in the UK. But if you want to get the car you need for the best possible price, haggle you must!

 

Know the desired model's list price

It's easy to find out a model's list price by visiting the manufacturer's website, or checking big dealership chain websites. Car magazines such as Auto Express also detail this information. Once you know this figure, you can aim to get a lower price.

 

Decide what specification you need and stick to it

Make your mind up about what spec you need, and don't allow yourself to be talked down to a cheaper spec. The idea is to get the model you want for a discounted price.

 

Use mileage as a leverage

Use high mileage as a way to get the price down. This could work especially well if you see two examples of the same model with different dealers, at roughly the same price. If one car has higher mileage, you can use this as leverage to get the price down.

 

Email dealerships for new prices

You can skip visiting the showroom in person altogether - and instead email the dealership. Simply tell them the make and model you want, then ask for the best possible price. Be aware this could elicit a barrage of emails and phone calls later on, but it is sometimes a good way to cut to the chase and get the best possible price - since a customer might easily get away if they're only communicating via email.

 

Understand your old car's value if part-exchanging

Make sure you know the trade-in value of your old car. The more you can get, the less hard you'll have to try to haggle down the price on the new car.

 

Note down what other local dealerships are offering

Find out how much other dealers are selling your desired model for, and use it as negotiating leverage in particular dealerships.

 

Be polite, but keep your maximum price secret

Don't let them know your top limit!

 

Offer a price lower than your limit

Then you can negotiate upwards as necessary.

 

Do ask for a discount!

Sounds simple, but it just might work - even if the dealer knocks off a couple of hundred pounds to make the sale. Be positive and phrase it "What discount will you give me?", rather than "Will you give me a discount?" If they seem reluctant to bring the price down, say you’ll complete the deal immediately if you get a good price.

 

Don't tell them you're a cash buyer straight off

Paying cash? Don't let the salesperson know this immediately. They may well bargain the car's price down with a view to selling a finance deal, since this turns a bigger profit. Let them do this, then, later in the process, say you don't need finance.

 
Make an offer, then wait

Tell the salesperson your offer, then wait until they reply - don’t add anything extra or suggest a different price if there is a stony silence.

 

Used car bargaining: use condition/faults to negotiate

With used cars you have more room for negotiation since used cars vary so much in terms of condition. Look for technical faults, dents and chips, moderately worn tyres and incomplete service history or MOT - to haggle the price down. You have a good amount of consumer protection when buying a used car from a dealer, but fewer rights if purchasing privately or through an auction.

 

Walking away might be ineffective

Leaving the showroom in a huff - real or manufactured - is not as effective as it once was for getting the price down. Since so much vehicle information is available online, both would-be customers and dealers know roughly what the right price is. However, if the salesperson won’t budge on the price, you know where the door is.