New Car Buying Advice

Please read this if you worry about being ripped off, patronised or sold a second-rate car by an unscrupulous car salesman.

If you’re buying a new car there are some simple guidelines to stop you being ripped off.

Let’s start with THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE! If it’s to be YOUR car, it makes sense that YOU make the car buying choice AND do the deal. We’re expert household shoppers so why should buying a car be any different? Of course you can negotiate as well as any man – just make sure you know what the going rate is and haggle to thereabouts. Just remember that if you’re unhappy or in doubt, at any stage, just walk away, take time out and have a second look. There’s likely a better deal, and better customer services, just around the corner.

How To Take Control When Buying A New Car

1) Always buy one of the best/most reliable cars in your category. Check the Which? website for starters. Then see the Reliability Index.

Isn’t this just common-sense I hear you say?

Yet why do so many people buy cars that are known to be less reliable or often appear at the bottom of most satisfaction tables?

2) Don’t just buy a car based on looks, familiarity, colour or a showroom shine. It needs to be fit for purpose, first and foremost. Make sure you write down (and read it to remind you) what your car needs to fit for in your life.

3) Check your choices online. Read sensible reviews that don’t wax on about the time it takes from 0 to 60mph or its top speed. Unless you are a racing driver of course.

4) Work out how much you can really afford to pay, remember about insurance and stick to a budget.

5) Your car must be fit for purpose. For example, does it have space/fittings for the child car seats you need? And is it safe, reliable, economic to run or green enough?

Take your time making your mind up. Buy in haste, repent at leisure.

6) Where it’s feasible, finalise a brand new car purchase towards the end of a dealership sales quarter. That means before 31 March, 30 June, 30 September or 31 December to enjoy the dealership and salesman’s best deals based on manufacturer bonuses and commissions.

7) How much should you pay? Know the financial facts. We women are good at this – we’re expert home shoppers remember. Think of this as an expensive (albeit motorised) sofa. It’s just a more expensive transaction!

If you buy using PCP make sure you understand how this works and what the smallprint says. Low monthly rates are often based on low annual mileage which may or may not be appropriate in your case. Be sure to get the annual mileage pretty close, based on past records (or recent monthly records?). If you underestimate this it will have to be paid for and the individual mileage rate is usually where the costs can ramp up.

If it’s a supposed ‘one-off’ discount that’s ‘especially for you’ there may be a very good reason. One the sales staff will likely know and you don’t. Why didn’t they sell it at the previous price? What’s wrong with it? Don’t be fooled. Be alert – ask the right questions.

Even if you’re happy with a haggle-free price, still be alert to being sold services you don’t (mightn’t?) need. Whilst GAP insurance is a worthwhile addition for a brand new car it’s usually cheaper bought online. But when it comes to the likes of upholstery protection, we say buy a spray from Amazon if need be and the FOXY jury is out on sister paint and wheel protection plans where sales staff earn generous commissions.

8) Take a lengthy test drive before you buy any new car. You really should take a proper test drive to judge a car’s comfort, access and visibility. Get this wrong and you’ll have a miserable motoring future ahead or lose a lot of money due to depreciation if you change cars too soon.

9) Buy locally where possible. If there are any problems after delivery you’ll likely be expected to return it to the supplying dealer. Which might be annoying (and costly) if you live in the Midlands but bought it online (or on holiday) from a dealer based in Scotland or Cornwall. Believe us, this happens more often than you’d think…

Once more it’s common-sense that if you buy locally that business’ll likely look after you better than if you didn’t. They’ll want you to buy from them again, to use them for servicing work and to tell your friends. It’s also reassuring to know someone by name when you might need advice or have a problem in future.

10) When doing the showroom deal, keep discussions simple. Decide how you are going to finance the car. For example, decide whether you’re part exchanging or selling your car yourself. Don’t let the salesman confuse you with a smoke and mirror deal involving part exchange and finance.

If buying a secondhand/used car, make sure it has the equivalent of Experian’s AutoCheck (so you know it is authentic), check MOT details (and any advisories) online and look at/ask for precise details of the mechanical checks the dealer has carried out before putting the car on sale.

11) Check your new car thoroughly when it arrives.

Come D-Day (new car Delivery Day that is) take as long as it takes to check everything carefully.

Check that everything works as should do. Ask the dealer to tell you if it has a spare wheel, how to open the bonnet/boot and fuel cap and the workings of technology such as remote controls, parking sensors and audio/SatNav equipment.

If it’s too dark, too late or too wet to do the job properly, just make a note on the paperwork to this effect; in case you find a fault the next day.

12) Know your rights if anything goes wrong. For example, if you are unhappy with your brand new car in the first few days, ask to discuss any problems with the Dealer Principal (the MD of the business) at the car dealership.

If you need advice afterwards you can contact The Motor Ombudsman Codes at their website or by phoning 0800 692 0825. They operate the New Car Code of Practice that nearly all car manufacturers subscribe to. They also operate a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) Approved Warranty Scheme.

Both they and the RAC operate a CTSI used car sales Code of Practice which might help – but only where an offending dealer is one of their members.

For More Car Buying Information and Support

If you are a member of the Club, and anything goes wrong with your car buying experiences, please keep us informed so we can help and, if need be, share your experiences within the Club.

Non members [can join here].

Here’s some information about [Your Consumer Rights].

Check out the [Car Reliability Index].

Visit [Euro NCAP] to see which cars are the safest. Look for separate children protection/adult protection/pedestrian protection ratings.

NB: Look for Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as a car safety feature- this will stop you from driving into/getting too close to another car in front. Did you know that 75% of city accidents happen at speeds of under 25mph but can still cause serious injuries and big bills?

Affinity car buying deals – [Club members get fab Suzuki and Volvo car deals] after a qualifying membership period.

GAP Insurance – see [Club partner ALA Insurance for discounted GAP insurance deals].

[Autocheck, a part of Experian].


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