Ask LH: What Bonuses Should I Ask For When Buying A New Car?

Hey Lifehacker, I’m planning on buying a car soon and am wondering what sort of extras I should try and squeeze out of my dealer? Should I aim for accessories such as a GPS and car-backing camera, or just try for a discount? Thanks, Buying A Car

Car dealership picture from Shutterstock

Dear BAC,

Just be careful that those “extras” don’t morph into premiums you end up paying for. In the hallowed words of George Costanza from Seinfeld: “First they stick you with the undercoating, rust-proofing, dealer prep… Suddenly you’re on your back like a turtle!” (I’ve always wanted to quote that line. But anyway.)

Personally, I’d push for a cash discount over free add-on features. This stuff is harder to quantify and could actually work out cheaper as aftermarket accessories. Plus, you can put the savings towards an inbuilt GPS or car-backing camera of your choice instead of being stuck with whatever the dealer offers you. In other words, forget about the bells-and-whistles and concentrate on getting the best price you possibly can.

Landing a great deal on a new car is dependent on a range of factors that have very little to do with your haggling skills. For example, you tend to get bigger discounts on cars that are either slow sellers or have very high profit-margins. So it definitely pays to do some research in this area. Naturally, you should also take time to compare the promotions at multiple dealerships to get an idea of what’s feasible.

Timing can improve your bargaining power by a significant margin too. As a general rule of thumb, the end-of-financial-year period (June) is the best time to purchase a new car. This is when dealerships are pushing to reach their sales targets, resulting in bigger discounts and incentives.

You can also find good deals at the end of the calendar year when dealerships are trying to get rid of old stock to make way for new models. (Whenever a car receives an update, its predecessor experiences a sharp drop in value.) Anecdotally, February tends to be a slow month for all spending which could result in some excellent deals.

If you need a new car straight away and don’t want to wait for the above months to roll by, try haggling at the end of the month rather than at the beginning. Prices tend to be more negotiable at this time, because dealers need to meet their monthly targets and are subsequently more eager to make a sale.

If you’re interested in a specific car, it might be worth registering your interest on AutoGenie. This is an online car buying service that essentially sees dealers bidding for your business. You list the car you want and then choose the best offer. Once an offer has been selected, you move straight to the purchasing process with the price already agreed upon.

You can pick up some additional car buying tips here. If any readers have bargaining advice or haggling hacks or their own, let BAC know in the comments section below.


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