We’ve gone all out to equip you with everything you need to know about how to haggle for a car in the UK. We want to help you find the right car for your needs and save you money. So, here’s a definitive guide to negotiating car price, complete with 18 expert haggling tips.

Can you negotiate used car prices?

Whether you’re looking to buy a Volkswagen Golf, a Porsche 911, or any other new or used vehicle, you may wonder, Can I negotiate the price of a car? You absolutely can. And you totally should! It’s part of the fun of buying a car in our opinion.

More importantly, it’s the only way to get the best possible price, or at the very least some very useful extras that will save you money. Remember, car sale prices are rarely fixed, meaning there’s usually wriggle room to make some savings.

What to do in advance?

Before you rush out to haggle with a car dealer or a private seller, you’ve got to do some groundwork first. Expert negotiations are built on solid homework and knowledge. To get the best car deal, you’ll want to:

  • Sort your finances out and set your budget in advance
  • Have all the info you need prepared ahead of time
  • Know the market and research the type of car that’s right for you
  • Have a shortlist of three or four makes and models that you’ve settled on
  • Find where those cars are for sale and how much they cost
  • Get ready to strike a deal and get in the mind frame to haggle, adopting a professional attitude

Top haggling tips to get the best car price

How to negotiate car price is a process that’ll take a little bit of patience, with some back and forth between you and the seller. Keep cool though, because we’ll equip you with all the information you need to secure the best deal possible. Here are our 18 expert top tips to haggle car price like a pro.

1. Do your homework and research

Before you reach the stage of working your car negotiation magic, you have to do your homework and research. Start by creating a shortlist of the cars you like – whether an Audi, Hyundai, or Volkswagen – and through a process of elimination settle on one. But remember, you want to keep your shortlist in your pocket and keep an open mind. That way you can check a variety of dealers and private sellers across your shortlist to find the best going deal. You can also Browse Makes, whether new or used, all from the comfort of your home. It makes researching quick, enjoyable, and easy.

When you’re ready, now is the time to go and test drive your ideal car and the shortlist models that piqued your interest. Be upfront here and say you’re not looking to buy right away to avoid sales pitches. You also want to look into the market to get a handle on average prices, but we’ll talk more on that in a moment.

2. Choose your specification and stick to it

When you’ve settled on your chosen car, look into the different trim levels available and specifications. Likewise, settle on the spec that suits your budget and needs. And when you go into the car negotiation be sure to stick to that model. Don’t let a salesperson talk you into buying the next trim up or the one below if that isn’t what you want. You want to negotiate the best car deal for the model you want. Which leads us to the next point…

3. Know the list price of the desired model

To haggle with a car dealer or private seller you have to know the list price of your desired car. You must research in advance the average sale price of your make and model, as well as its mileage, age, and condition. Only then will you know if you’re truly getting a good deal. And only then will you be ready to negotiate car price. To make things super easy for you, use our Car Price Guide and see your make and model’s average price over a number of years and according to trim and mileage.

4. Do a car background check

When buying a used car, it’s best practice to do an inexpensive vehicle history check before you go and meet the seller to negotiate car price. Companies like HPI, when supplied the car’s registration, will look into the vehicle’s past, giving you vital information. It’ll tell you if the vehicle’s stolen, if it’s previously been in an accident or written off, and if there’s overdue finance on it.

5. Visit at the right time of year on a week day

This tip applies solely to car dealerships. If you are able to hold out, aim to purchase at the end of March, June, September, or December. Why? Well, the majority of dealerships have their quarterly targets to meet for these dates. This means they’ll be more likely to do a deal in order to hit their sales targets. Another tip is to visit the dealership midweek, as you’ll have the salesperson’s undivided attention, unlike on a busy weekend.

Take a look at our guide on the best time to buy a car to find out more. It’ll give you even more info on the subject should you need it.

6. Be calm and polite

Stay calm and polite when you negotiate car price and keep a level head. You have to be realistic about the kind of deal you’re likely to get too. At the end of the day, both you and the seller are looking for the best possible price, so you’ll want to meet each other somewhere in the middle.

7. Don’t rush or be pressured into buying

You’re the one spending thousands on a used or new car. If you’re not happy with the deal that’s offered or if you’re not sure about the vehicle, don’t buy it.

8. Keep your budget close to your chest

Know what you can afford and what your budget is and stick to it. If the seller asks what your maximum budget is, do not give it to them as it will likely be used against you. Instead, return the question and ask: What’s the best car deal you can do for me? And when you make your first offer, make it a good amount lower than your actual limit. That way, you’ve created room to negotiate up to a figure that is reasonable for the seller and still a great discount for you.

9. Ask for a discount and ask for extras

If you don’t ask for a discount you won’t get one. It’s that simple. Don’t play a game of smoke and mirrors, just be honest and upfront. State as a matter of fact – What discount can you do for me? – and then work with the seller to meet a middle ground that is satisfactory for you both. It doesn’t have to be just a price discount either. You can even ask for extras, such as:

  • A full tank of fuel
  • A sat-nav system
  • Breakdown cover
  • Set of floor mats
  • Set of new tyres
  • Upholstery care

Can I negotiate upgrades on a new car, I hear you ask? Absolutely. If a dealer completely refuses to drop the sale price or even if you haggle the sale price down, you can always try to negotiate some free upgrades too, as long as the price is still within your budget. Whether that’s an optional safety pack, a leather upholstery upgrade, or even a more expensive colour, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.

10. Shop around

This should form part of your initial research, where you look around for the best deals, selecting the dealerships and/or private sellers that meet your requirements. You should also know the pricing of similar makes and models used by a competitor and totally use that to try to negotiate a better car price. Get printed quotes from different dealerships and show them to a salesperson to see if they can do better or match it. If they can only match it, see if they can go above with some free extras.

11. Use car condition as leverage

Take time to check the condition of the car both inside and out, looking for general wear and tear and for any signs of damage. After all, you can (and should) use the vehicle’s condition as a bargaining tool to get a better deal. If you spot:

  • The general condition is worn or poorly kept
  • Any dents, scratches, or signs of damage
  • An incomplete service history or MOT
  • Damage to the upholstery
  • Any technical faults
  • Worn tyres

Then you should use that information to do a deal. This is an effective method on how to negotiate used car price.

12. Keep on top of the market

Another key part of negotiating is knowing what’s for sale on the used car market. By keeping track of what’s available, you’ll be able to compare like for like vehicles and if there’s one cheaper, you can ask other sellers to match the price. If you register with us at Motors.co.uk, you can shortlist vehicles and get email alerts for any newly listed cars that meet your criteria – keeping you in the know.

13. Know your old car’s value if part-exchanging it

Get a Free Car Valuation of your old vehicle to find out what it’s worth before you go to part-exchange it. Knowing your car’s value is the first step in making sure you get a good deal for it. And when you come to negotiate used car price for your old auto, just be aware if you get a great deal here, the dealer will be less likely to haggle the price on the new car. The opposite is also true – if you negotiate the price of the new vehicle first, it’ll be harder to cut a deal on your part-exchange car.

Whilst a part-exchange can be very convenient, if you want to get the most money for your old vehicle you should consider selling your car privately. It might take a little more legwork, but you can set the price.

14. Don’t say you’re a cash buyer even if you are

How to haggle with a car dealer involves knowing what a car salesperson prioritises. And when it comes to car sales, finance deals turn a bigger profit for the dealership. So, if you’re paying cash for your new vehicle, don’t let them know until you’ve negotiated a deal. That way, the dealer may work a better price for you with a view to selling finance.

15. Don’t be afraid of finance

Being open to a car finance deal can help you negotiate a better car price. At the same time, it’s worthwhile listening to what the finance option actually entails. In certain cases, it can work out cheaper than a bank loan. You can use our Car Finance Calculator to see if this a route you want to take, before visiting a dealership.

16. Make your offer, then wait for a reply

Make your offer to the car seller and then give them the chance to reply. Don’t say anything, even if there’s silence. Don’t change your deal or add to it. Just let them reply.

17. Get a detailed quote to avoid a ‘stacked deal’

How much will a dealer negotiate on used cars? And what about new cars? Well, unfortunately there’s not a set figure we can give you as this will differ from dealership to dealer, and make and model.

However, one thing you have to be aware of is a ‘stacked deal.’ A few dealers may include several optional extras in the initial sale price. These will typically be things like an extended warranty, paint protection, and floor mats. So, when you think you’re haggling with a car dealer be sure they’re not just removing these optional extras to drop the price. To avoid this potential issue, get a detailed quote of the car and see what’s included before you start negotiating.

18. Be prepared to walk away

At the end of the day, if you don’t get the kind of deal or discount you’re after, just walk away. You have no obligation to buy, even if you’ve spent hours and hours with one salesperson. Still be polite and calm and be sure to thank the seller for their time. And then turn happily and stroll away.

Whilst this used to be an effective technique for buyers to get a discount, it’s not particularly effective anymore. Though it’s still a good option if you don’t get the deal you want. You can add to it by giving the seller your phone number and saying: Call me if you change your mind or if a deal comes along. That way you leave the door ajar for a possible deal.

What not to do when you’re negotiating a car price

Now you know how to negotiate a car deal, we’re going to tell you what not to do. Why? Because that way you can avoid these car negotiation mistakes. Below are some common errors buyers make when trying to haggle with a car dealer or private seller:

  • Being rude, pushy, defensive, or aggressive – don’t do it, it won’t secure you a deal
  • Going unprepared – you must research in advance of viewing the car to get a good deal
  • Not viewing the car – always check the vehicle over to see its true condition and haggle from there
  • Revealing your actual budget – instead, start lower than you can afford to create more wriggle room
  • Switching salespersons – building a rapport with 1 person can lead to better discounts
  • Accepting verbal agreements – don’t take their word for it, get whatever’s offered down in writing

How to haggle a car price involves a little bit of research, a dash of knowledge, and a touch of confidence. And armed with our 18 expert haggling tips, you’ll be ready to negotiate a deal on a new or used car today.