10 Ways To Get A Better Deal At The Car Lot

Entering a car lot is a bit like that scene in Behind Enemy Lines when Jude Law blunders into a booby-trapped minefield - in short, you're going to get badly burned. (Germans might also shoot at you, although that's pretty rare.)

Fortunately, it's possible to drive out of the dealership in a new car without blowing up your wallet in the process. Here are ten expert tips to ensure you get the best deal.

We asked David Lye, founder of the money-saving app Price My Car, to share his expertise on the mistakes people make in the car lot. Here are his top ten tips.

While some are tried-and-tested (you should bring a friend in tow to help with decision making, for example) others you probably haven't considered. No matter how dodgy the dealer is, following these steps should put you in a good negotiating position.

#1 Knowledge is power: "Research, Research, Research. Read reviews, view the manufacturer's online brochures, engage in forums, and examine the current deals and discounts people are getting on sites like Price My Car."

#2 If it's possible today, it's possible tomorrow: "Don't be afraid to say no. There is no reason any particular price should disappear if you don't say yes straight away."

#3 Don't compromise on colour: "Even if it means waiting longer or paying more for expensive metallic paint, you'll see it every day and you'll regret it if you chose a 2nd or 3rd choice to save a week's wait or a few hundred dollars."

#4 Be nice to the dealers (no, really): "Contrary to what others may have you believe, they are human beings and respond better to firm negotiation with professional courtesy rather than aggressive demands and ultimatums."

#5 Consider resale value: "Some car models depreciate at twice the rate of others so getting a 'great deal' up front may not count for much in 5 years’ time. (Note Price My Car has a resale value calculator for over 300 new car models)."

#6 Say no to extra accessories: "Not only are dealer accessories expensive, you'll also be charged stamp duty on them if you buy them with the car. Buy them a week later and you avoid that tax!"

#7 There’s no such thing as fast-forward: "With new cars on forward order, be sceptical of any dealer offering a delivery date faster than the others. They all come from the same factory, arrive in Australia on the same boat and get distributed to dealers at the same time. As much as you want to believe it, you'll likely have to wait as long as the longest estimates."

#8 Don’t fear the Lion’s Den: "While many people refer to car dealership as 'The Lion's Den', you're much less likely to be ripped off at a car dealer than buying privately. Often it's well worth paying a reasonable premium to make your purchase through a licensed & regulated motor dealer."

#9 Take a friend: "For a second opinion, moral support and a handbrake if you get carried away."

#10 Buy towards the end of the month/year/financial year: "Yes it's true, dealers do have targets and they do get hungrier as the cut-off approaches!"


    I don't think you should be too fussy about colour. You are likely to be able to get a better deal on an acceptable colour that's in stock rather than the perfect colour that had to be ordered in.
    Also, have a price in mind (maybe $2k less than the asking, maybe $3k?) and stick to it. Be prepared to walk away if they don't come down to your price because most dealers are unlikely to want to let you leave.
    Actually, that's your main bargaining chip, be prepared to leave!

    I’m no expert in this field, but I’d also have to question the comment about accessories. Whilst it’s true about stamp duty, dealers also make much higher margins on accessories than the car itself - so you can usually negotiate a pretty good deal on accessories being ‘thrown in’ or discounted as part of the total deal value.

    Coming back a week/month later, they have much less reason to bargain on the price.

    Entering a car lot is a bit like that scene in Behind Enemy Lines when Jude Law blunders into a booby-trapped minefield - in short, you're going to get badly burned. (Germans might also shoot at you, although that's pretty rare.)

    So the YouTube link was to Behind Enemy Lines with Owen Wilson, who was being shot at by Bosnians.

    Were you getting confused with Jude Law in Enemy At The Gates? I don't recall a minefield scene in that though.

    Timing is everything. Get there at the end of the day (not so close to closing time that they'll you'll be keeping them back late much or at all, but enough that they're keen to close the deal quickly), and always near the end of the month.

    I've also found it helps to bypass the haggling and go straight to your budget, cutting out the back and forth. Let them know you've only budgeted $X, if they can match it or get close enough for you to consider it, walk away. There's a good chance they'll call you with a better offer in the next few days.

    Last edited 19/02/20 5:26 pm

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