How to get the best deal on a car

Written by

Stephanie Reid

Stephanie Reid is a financial services expert with over eight years of experience writing money-saving articles at Novuna Personal Finance. She has written hundreds of articles on a variety of topics including interior design, home improvements and weddings - with a keen eye for spotting money-saving opportunities and passing these tips onto readers. As a mum of two, Stephanie knows how important budgeting effectively is for parents and often incorporates family budgeting tips into her guides.

Friday 27th January 2023

Planning to buy a car but no idea where to start when it comes to getting the best possible deal? Whether you’re searching for a great used car or an offer on a brand new model, it’s important to do your research and find a price to suit your budget.

Remember, our low-interest car loans could be a good option if you need a little help getting access to the funds you need too.

Top 10 tips to help you get a good deal on a car

The price of a car is rarely fixed, so you should be able to use these top tips to negotiate a great deal and make sure you drive away happy.

1. Know your budget

Figure out your monthly budget before you begin your car search. Unless you’ve saved the money to buy your car outright, chances are you’ll be using a personal loan or taking out car finance. So consider how much you’ll be able to realistically afford to pay each month and stick to it.

If you can afford £300 a month, don’t allow yourself to be persuaded to take a car that’ll cost £400. This will only end up squeezing your finances and causing stress later down the line.

Another top tip – never reveal your true budget when buying a car. If you do, the dealer will likely view that as the starting point for negotiations which will put you on the back foot. It’s far better to start negotiations with a smaller figure, as this could give you more room to play with.

2. Think about timing

If you’re buying from a dealership, bear in mind that sales staff often have monthly, quarterly, and annual targets to hit. Timing your shopping trip around the end of those periods may work in your favour. Salespeople may be more willing to give you a cheaper deal if they’re trying to hit their target in the last few weeks of the quarter compared to it if they have a whole three months to go at.

3. Look further afield

Whether you’re planning to shop for cars in person or browse online, if you set your search radius too small you could miss out on some great deals. It might be a pain to drive 50 or 100 miles to collect a car, but if it’s a great catch with low mileage it could be worth it in the long run.

4. Shop around

Don’t just buy the first car you see. Even if it ticks all your boxes, make sure you check alternative dealerships to make sure there’s nothing better suited or a lower mileage version of the same car going elsewhere.

It’s also important to do your own research on the non-negotiable features you need your car to have. This’ll make sure you won’t be tempted by sales patter that could potentially point you towards a car that’s not right for you.

5. Look at pre-reg cars

If you like the idea of driving a new car but don’t want to lose value as soon as you drive it away, consider a pre-registered car. These are technically ‘owned’ by the dealer, so they’re not classed as brand new. The good news is they still mostly feel like they are, with bare minimum in the way of wear and tear and extremely low mileage, only with a smaller price tag.

6. Do your research

Go armed with evidence of deals you’ve found elsewhere and see if your seller can match or better what you’ve found. Simply going along and saying you’ve seen a great deal elsewhere isn’t always enough, so make sure you can show your dealership where you’ve found the other offer.

7. Focus on value, not just price

When we’re looking for a great deal, it can be tempting to focus on the cheapest price, but that doesn’t always directly translate into the best deal. A slightly more expensive car with a lower mileage, better fuel efficiency and lower insurance band might be the more sensible financial option, so make sure you’ve checked out the whole package.

8. Perform your own checks

Most people will know to go for a test drive, but the checks shouldn’t stop there.

If you’re interested in a car, make sure you check the state of the tyres and any other parts that are expensive to replace. A bargain price on a car that needs four new tyres within a month of purchase may not seem like such a bargain after all.

Not sure what to look out for? Read our guide on the most important car checks to make.

9. Sell privately

If you have an old car to sell, you can almost definitely get a better price by selling it privately. Of course, this does come with other complications to be aware of and isn’t as hassle-free as a part-exchange. Make sure you weigh all that up before you decide on how to sell your existing vehicle.

10. 'Consider' finance, but have the cash ready to go

Many dealerships offer their own finance options, which may come with inflated interest rates compared to using a personal loan to get a car. However, to make sure you get the best deal, always keep your cards close to your chest and let the salesperson think you’re considering finance.

Once you have their rock bottom price (based on the fact they could make money from you taking finance), simply tell them you want to pay cash instead. Chances are they’ll have to honour the great price.

To make sure you have that cash in your pocket and ready to spend, why not take out a personal car loan? You could borrow between £1,000 and £35,000 from us with rates from as low as 7.4% APR (£7,500-£25,000).

Ready to drive away in your dream car? Get your finances up to speed with a low APR car loan. Head to our loan calculator to get an idea of monthly repayments that’ll suit your budget.

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Novuna Personal Finance is a brand of Mitsubishi HC Capital UK PLC. Other brands under which we trade include Novuna Consumer Finance, Novuna Vehicle Solutions, Novuna Business Finance and Novuna Business Cash Flow.