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Money & Rights

Choice guide to... Buying and selling a car: Where to buy

In part 2 of our Money and Rights special on buying and selling a car we're looking at 'Where to buy your new car'

Car dealers (especially sellers of second-hand vehicles) used to have an unenviable reputation for being ‘dodgy’, if not positively dishonest. One thing I have noticed over the years is the improvement, in main dealerships at least, in their attitude – you are much less likely these days to encounter patronising behaviour or hard sell tactics, and if you do, it’s a sign to take your business elsewhere.

There is something to be said for buying from a franchised dealer , both for new and used cars. You can book a test drive, the dealer will advise and order the exact specification you want, may part-exchange your old car especially if it is in good condition and relatively new (though you may not get the best price for it) and, if things go wrong, it’s easy to go back and complain. Dealerships have to compete with the likes of car supermarkets and brokers, so they have upped their game and you may be able to negotiate a good discount, or ‘extras’ such as paint protection or free servicing for a period.

You might get a better deal at the end the month or quarter as the salesperson may have targets they haven’t met, meaning they’ll be keen to make a sale. On second-hand cars, a franchised dealer will likely give you a warranty that you rely on. The car will have been serviced, have an up-to-date MOT if needed, and have been HPI checked (to verify its history and make sure it has no outstanding finance, hasn’t been previously written off, stolen or ‘clocked’).

If you work in (or are retired from) a public sector job, you might consider joining the motoring organisation CSMA ’s Boundless (www.boundless.co.uk) which offers a new car purchase scheme from franchised dealers with pre-negotiated special discounts for members.

Car supermarkets

Wherever you live, chances are there is a car supermarket within reasonable distance. If you have yet to decide on a new car , supermarkets allow you to look at different makes and models at one location, and prices tend to be very competitive.

There should be staff on hand to assist you and used cars should come with a full service, MOT and HPI report. Also, you can negotiate warranties and small additions as part of the deal.

You can browse the websites of supermarkets to see what used cars are for sale, although be aware that by the time you visit, the cars featured may have been sold. You can filter your search, specifying make, model and price range and book a test drive.

If you know exactly what you want and are ordering a brand-new car , you can order online. However , if you are buying new from a car supermarket, consumer group Which? warns you to be aware of exactly what you are getting.

Some supermarkets offer pre-registered new cars (those already registered but with only delivery mileage on the clock). With these cars, registration documents which you have to obtain from the DVLA will show you as the car’s second owner . Also, check how long ago the pre-registration was done as the ‘clock’ will already be ticking on the manufacturer’s warranty. Which? cautions, too, to make sure the car has full UK specification as some supermarkets' new cars may be imported.

Some bigger car supermarkets – for example, CarGiant (www.cargiant.co.uk) – offer part-exchange on your old car , but you may not get such a good price as a franchised dealer might offer .

Car brokers

Car brokers are either firms or individuals who source new cars for buyers at discounted prices. If you are nervous about negotiating price yourself, the beauty of brokers is that they do this for you. Reputable brokers earn commission from the car dealerships so there should be no cost to you, the buyer . The broker is just a ‘go-between’; you buy direct from the franchised dealer with all the associated benefits.

The dealer may be many miles from your home; while some will deliver , you may be required to collect the car in person. However , a local dealership will still be obliged to offer servicing and warranty repairs, as these guarantees come from the manufacturer .

A potential disadvantage of a broker is that most do not offer part-exchange, but they are worth investigating, particularly longestablished, reputable companies such as Carfile (www.carfile.net) or UK New Cars (www.uknewcars.com)

Keep you eyes peeled for part 3 tomorrow. In the meantime let us know what you thought to part 2...

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