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How To Guides - Unofficial Guide to the DVLA How to Negotiate the Price

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How to Negotiate the Price of the Car You Buy in the UK

Always expect to receive a discount. If you go into a buying situation not expecting to receive a discount, you will not get one. Be positive and you'll be amazed how easy it is when you ask the right questions.

Tip 1

Build rapport but do not make a friend. Blunt or aggressive negotiation will not work. Rarely does a car seller need your purchase so badly that they will tolerate rudeness. Chat to them and be warm whilst looking at the car. But do not get too friendly or feel sorry for the seller because you want to get a good deal.

Tip 2

Ask for a discount without being embarrassed. Tell the sales person: “I would love to buy this car, but my wife/husband will go nuts if I pay this price. What can you do to help me?” It does not necessarily matter if your partner does not mind what you pay - or even that you do not have a partner. This is called using higher authority. It means that you can remain on good terms with the seller, but still push for a better deal. It makes the seller more inclined to move on price.

Tip 3

Never accept the first offer. It makes the salesman think he has offered too much but he still has more discount to give. Whatever they offer say, “that helps, but I'm still not sure I could face my partner.”

Or: “Surely you can do better than that?”

Tip 4

Use the power of silence. If the salesman makes you an offer, or you have asked him to improve his offer, resist the temptation to speak. Just wait. For several minutes if necessary. The silence will be painful for you, but more painful for the salesman. Eventually he will crack and start to offer you ‘sweeteners’ to close the deal.

Tip 5

Know your prices. When dealing with garages, make sure you know what's on offer at other garages in the area. Many will match the offers of their competitors, so you just have to ask, “Will you match your competitor's prices?”

Tip 6

Ask garages for added value. If you have exhausted the potential discount options, ask the garage for bonus items. For example say, “the stereo's not very good and all the mats need replacing.”

Tip 7

Let go of the emotion. It is hard not to be excited when buying a car. But you need to let go or you will not be able to negotiate the best deal. Always tell yourself: ‘There will be another car that is just as good or maybe even better’.

Tip 8

Ask questions in garages:

“How's business?”

If it is good, say: “Oh well, I was hoping to get a deal, but I'll leave it.” If it is bad, say: “Well, if I can get the right price, you might get a sale today.”

“How can you help me get the price down?”

“When will there be a special offer on? I can come back.”

“Who has the authority to make decisions on discounts?”

Questions for Private Sellers:

“Why do you want to sell?”

“How quickly do you want to sell?”

“What can you do on the price please?”

Tip 9

Start low and concede reluctantly. If you can afford £5,000, offer less so that you have room to move. If they baulk at your offer, stay calm and ask: What would you accept? Then, pretend to baulk yourself, perhaps even wince. And make another offer.

Tip 10

Avoid splitting the difference, or meeting in the middle. If you offer to split the difference the sales person will split it again, which means you have moved 75 per cent of the way towards their price and they have only moved 25 per cent towards you.

If the sales person offers to split the difference, say: “I cannot do that, but I'll meet you half way between my offer and the offer you just made.”

Closing the Deal

After the negotiation:

Pay a deposit of £50 - £100 and get a written receipt, stating the price, car details and seller's information.

When you return to collect the car:

Pay the balance by bank cheque (just ask your bank for a bank cheque to buy a car). Ensure you have the V5 log book (filled out by the seller to confirm the sale) and a bill of sale before you drive away.