Driving is a necessity for millions of us, but it’s not exactly cheap. There are so many ongoing charges that come with getting behind the wheel, from car insurance to vehicle excise duty, let alone the actual cost of filling up at the pump.
However, the biggest single expense is actually purchasing the vehicle in the first place. But getting your hands on those car keys doesn’t have to put you into the red.
Find the right model
The first thing you need to do is think carefully about just what you need from your new motor.
It can be worthwhile to put together a wishlist of vital features, which will help you focus, and avoid getting distracted by additional features which might seem exciting but which add to the cost.
For example, how important is the size of the boot? Do you need a car that’s great for short or long journeys?
Go for an ‘older’ model
Car manufacturers are always bringing out shiny new versions of existing models. And as the dealerships need to make room for these ‘new and improved’ cars, they need to shift the stock they still have of the old motor.
As a result, you may be able to make a serious saving by targeting the models that are about to be replaced. This is a question of timing more than anything, so do your research not only on what sort of car best meets your requirements, but also whether the manufacturer is set to bring out a shiny new version of it.
What’s happening to your old car?
For many of us, alongside buying a new car, we will also be selling our existing vehicle.
Many dealerships will allow you to part exchange your old vehicle - essentially this means they will take the car off your hands, and reduce the cost of your new car. So if they value your old car at £1,000 and are selling the new car for £4,000, by part-exchanging you only need to pay £3,000.
However, it’s well worth seeing if you could get more by selling your car privately and then devoting that money towards covering the cost of the new car. This is going to be a bit more time-consuming than going down the simple route of part exchange, but there’s a good chance that you will receive more from a private seller than the dealership.
Don’t be scared to negotiate
Perhaps the simplest way to save a few pounds on your new car is simply through negotiating on the price.
A good trick here is to do your research in advance. Find out what other dealerships are selling your chosen model for, and use that as a starting point in negotiations. You can even try to play dealerships off against each other if you have visited them both.
Have a look around the motor to see if there are any flaws - any scratches will be worth money off the list price.
Finally, if you can’t get them to reduce the price, see if they can throw in something extra for the list price, whether that’s breakdown cover or free satnav.
Think about depreciation
It’s no secret that cars lose a decent chunk of their value the moment you drive them off the dealer’s forecourt. But precisely how much your vehicle is likely to depreciate over the years of your ownership will vary - while some makes and models retain a significant portion of their value, others see their worth plummet within a year or two.
So it pays to think carefully about depreciation when buying a new motor - it may be worthwhile paying a little more now for a car that you’re confident will retain some value, compared to a cheaper deal on a car whose value is likely to fall more sharply.
When we want to save money on something, whether it’s a DVD or a fridge, most of us head online. After all, online retailers don’t have the same overheads as high street stores, so you can usually find a better deal.
The same is true of online car brokers. They have partnerships with dealerships and can hook you up with a much better deal than you may find on your own.