Car buying car dealer

The tactics used by car dealers to get a deal

If you're looking to buy a new car or just have a look around a showroom, it's useful to know what you can expect when you're there.

For some, the thought of going to a car showroom can be quite daunting, particularly if you are new to the car buying process, or are unsure what you would like.

With the ability to purchase online at an all-time high, it can be easy to give in to those overwhelmed feelings and just stick to what you know from the comfort of your own home.

Britain as a nation is car-obsessed, with approximately 80% of all households owning at least one vehicle.

Of the options available to buy a car, financing is the most popular, with over 90% of new car deals being purchased this way. This allows people to pay little upfront and have regular monthly payments, as well as the ability to change their cars every few years if they wish, which makes it such a great option.

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Of course, almost all car dealers are reputable, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wouldn't allow them to operate if this was not to be the case, but they are part of a business that need to make their money through sales, so like any salesperson, they will have some top tactics to help them meet their targets.

We've put this article together, not to slander car dealers - we are very much grateful for the job and service they provide - but to give you, the consumer, a little bit of guidance on how to approach a dealership and what to expect when you walk through those doors.

The best friend approach

Like any salesperson in all walks of life, the best of the best are personable and make you feel welcome and at ease with your surroundings. You may be offered a hot drink and a snack while you talk through your requirements, they may ask about your previous car history or the needs of your family.

The hard-hitting salesperson is a dying breed, and a friendly approach goes a long way to building a relationship with a potential client. It's much more difficult for you to say no to someone that seems so nice and reassuring, but the key for you is to remember that you will always have the final say and if you do say no, that is absolutely fine, they will not be offended.

Deals, deals, deals

You can almost be certain that at any time you go into a car dealership they will have at least one deal on, often for a limited time only.

It's a common car sales tactic used to try and entice consumers to agree to the sale sooner than later, so you don't feel like you are missing out on big savings.

Some of the more common limited-time deals you may find include free vehicle services for three years, 0% interest on car finance, and additional gadgets to the car interior. 

Of course, if the deal sounds like it would be suitable for your needs and budgets then absolutely go for it. But if you aren't 100% sure, then you probably need a little bit of time to go away and think about it. Always talk to friends or family members for advice if you find yourself in this situation.

If you decide you don't want to pursue one of the deals offered, again, the car dealer will not be offended, but they may try and offer you additional discounts or features to persuade you. If that doesn't work, then don't worry about missing out on a good deal, you will find one the next time you're ready to look again.

Loss leaders

There may be a particular make of car you're interested in that you see advertised for an excellent price but there could be a chance that it's because it's one of the least popular models or colours in that range.

That shouldn't change your feelings if you have your heart set on it, but it's worth thinking about the future and how easy it may be to live with if it has certain features, or you wish to sell on or trade-in at a later date.

Sometimes it's worth looking at other models or colours first, just to compare the difference in asking price between the two.

Finance is the way forward

Car finance is a much more lucrative market for car dealers these days and they are often incentivised to try to sell via this method.

Finance is definitely the way forward and can be customised to suit your needs and budgets, so certainly don't be put off if you are trying to buy a car outright with cash but are offered the finance alternative.

It's worth keeping an eye on interest rates and the APR before agreeing to a finance deal, as you could end up spending a lot more down the line than you expected.

If you want an idea of how much a car could cost you on finance, visit our affordability calculator to price up what suits your needs and budgets.


Knowing that you will be expected to pay a fixed monthly rate for your car is great as you can budget and plan your costs in advance. But one key thing you need to be aware of is that additional extras can add up and end up costing you a lot more than they should.

You will always be offered additional extras when buying a car which can be great, and £750 spread over four years might work out quite nicely and not increase your monthly payments by a lot, but they will all add up if you take on more optional extras than you'd originally budgeted for.

Take extra time before deciding on these extras as it may prove costly further down the line.

The car sale

As already mentioned above, we know that car dealers are trying to sell you the perfect car, like any other salesperson wants to make a deal, it's only natural.

The personable, welcoming approach is great and definitely preferred to the tough, take-it-or-leave-it tactics that have been used in the past. 

But much like in the 'deals, deals, deals' section above, car dealers will try to sell you the car by trying to make you feel like you could be missing out if you do not make the sale there and then.

You may be told that the car is super popular, or that particular model is hard to come by, which may actually be the case. But ultimately, they want to make the sale quickly as they look to hit their personal and business targets.

Again, it's worth taking time to consider your options and not feel under pressure to agree to the deal. Speak to family and friends, or simply walk away if you're unsure.

Test drive

Test drives are always one of the most exciting things about buying a new car because it's the opportunity to drive a fresh new car that's more than likely an upgrade on your current motor.

It may be difficult, but it's important to go into a test drive with an open mind. It's likely that the car you take out for a spin will be the very best version of the model available with additional extras that don't come as standard.

Even just a 15-minute drive around the block is enough to make you fall in love with it, so don't let this be the single factor that decides whether you buy the car or not.

Trading in

If you're planning on trading your car in at some point in the future, it's highly recommended that you sign up to Car Credible.

Simply enter your personal, car, and financial details into our system and we will provide you with a personalised dashboard that regularly updates the cost of your car based on deprecation, as well as your equity position, and a general appraisal of your deal.

We can show you way in advance how much your car will be worth at each month of your finance deal which can allow you to budget and prepare for when you want to trade-in or sell.

It also means that when you try and trade-in at a dealership, you will know exactly what your car is worth and therefore know if the dealer is trying to undersell the value of the vehicle.


As mentioned on several occasions, the vast majority of car dealers are reputable salespeople who want to make you feel welcome and help find the car of your dreams on the best deal possible.

However, we know it can be a little overwhelming and confusing trying to negotiate a car deal or get what you need to suit your budget, so we hope these tactics give you an idea of what to expect and look out for when you do go to buy a car in the future.

We respect car dealers and the jobs they do, especially in this current climate, and hope this article gives them a little bit of insight into how a potential consumer may be feeling when they come to your showroom.

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