Heading into a car dealership can be an intimidating experience. You may be thinking that you’ll be facing pushy sales staff trying to talk you into a deal you didn’t really want.

However, the first thing you need to know is that most dealerships aren’t anything like they used to be. The age of the internet has made consumers more informed than ever and has given them access to more ways to buy cars, so sales staff have to offer a great customer experience to get repeat business.

That said, their job is still to make as much money as possible, so we’ve put together a list of things you should know before heading into a dealership.

1. Knowing your stuff puts you in the position of power

Knowing everything you can about the car you want to buy before you head into the dealership puts the sales person at a massive disadvantage.

Do your research on the available trim levels and engine options so you have the best idea of what it is that you want. If you head in without an idea the sales team might be able to talk you up to something you don’t really need or want. Here at Motors we regularly update our guides to popular cars to help you make a decision. Check out this article about the Honda Civic as an example.

If you’re buying a used car, knowing about common issues could help you avoid a costly mistake. For example, if you know a car needs a particular part replaced after a certain number of miles, find out if the car you’re looking at has had the work done. If not, you can then walk away or drive a harder bargain if you don’t mind sorting it yourself.

You should also take into account the car’s condition when negotiating the price of a used car – its mileage won’t tell you how well it has been cared for.

2. Shopping around saves you money

As with many things in life, taking the time to shop around can lead to big savings. Dealerships always leave themselves a margin for profit on each sale and would rather make less profit than lose your sale to another dealer.

Get quotes from a number of different dealerships, then call around to see if anyone is willing to beat the best offer. Continue to do this until no-one will undercut their rival and you have your buying price, no doubt considerably cheaper than what you would have paid.

3. Trading in a car is not the best option

Dealers know how much your car is worth and how much they can sell it for. They want to make some money on it so they’ll offer you well below that amount.

Yes, it’s easier to just hand them over the keys, but you could be losing out on a hefty chunk of cash. If you have the patience, try to sell your car first – you can drive a harder bargain still if you turn up at the dealer with a wad of cash in hand.

4. Walking away is your best tool

The only thing a dealer hates more than eating into profit margins is totally missing out on a sale. If the sales person is driving a hard bargain, tell them you’re going to leave and you might be surprised just how much lower they can actually go…

5. Revealing too much can give away all your bargaining chips

When it comes to bargaining over price, particularly monthly payments, the more information you give away about your budget the less power you have.

If you tell them exactly how much you can afford as a deposit, they have an idea of how low they can go. If you’re careful to push lower without revealing too much, you might have spare cash left over to treat yourself later.

Another sales trick is to leave you and your partner alone in a room to talk about whether you can afford the car. They then listen in to find out your true bottom line to help them get the best possible terms on the deal. Sneaky…

6. Finance deals can cost you in the long run

Getting a car on one of the various finance deals now offered is a great way of being able to drive a car that would ordinarily be out of your price range.

Careful, though. Dealers can tweak with loan length and APR to make the monthly costs attractive, but you should keep an eye on the final cost. Make sure that by bringing the monthly price down you’re not paying well over the odds in the long run.

7. Your best deals are found online

If you’re buying online, you have access to a lot more cars and a lot more information. Using sites such as to search for the perfect vehicle lets dealers know that you’ve probably done your research and will be harder to dupe.

If you deal directly with the dealership online, when you visit them ask to speak to the person you’ve already talked with. It’ll help you bypass a lot of the games and you’ll get down to business more quickly.

If you know someone who’s looking for a new car, share this post on social media to help them get the best price possible.

Jack Evans


After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.

September 9, 2016