How to Buy a Cheap New Car (Tip 5 of 10)

TIP 5: Compromise on the details that don’t matter

It would be a solid-gold miracle if you could find exactly the right make, model and variant of the new car you want, right down to the colour, the trim and the options. Bottom line: you should be prepared to compromise a bit on the details – especially the ones that really don’t matter.

Let’s put it this way: you might want the silver car; the dealer might have one in stock now, at the end of the month … only it’s blue. The difference being, the dealer needs to unload the blues one because it’s costing him interest and because it’s just shy of his target. Ergo, you’re in the gun for a significant discount if you pitch a substantially low price. If you dig in your heels for the silver the dealer will have to order it in – so you won’t get it for weeks (probably) and getting it in won’t solve the dealer’s two-headed dilemma (the need to get rig of the blue one to make the sales target and also to cut the monthly interest bill).

Alternatively, the dealer might have a lower- or higher-spec variant of the new car you want in stock, and you might be able to get that at a really sharp price, compared with ordering in the specific new car you thought you wanted. (For the reasons mentioned above.) You might save $5000 … but the car might have 17-inch alloy wheels instead of 18s, and you might have to live without a proximity key or rain-sensing wipers. (Have you ever not been able to tell it’s raining???)

You might end up buying a higher-spec variant than the one you want – but you might get it at much more of a discount – so you’ll get a nicer car at a sharper price, which will help you at resale time.

New car options: Some are fitted at the factory while some can be installed by a dealer. (A power-adjustable driver’s seat is an example of a factory-fitted option, often sold in conjunction with other options in a ‘luxury pack’ or somesuch. The new car in stock now might have (or lack) options that you want – you’ll need to weigh up the price against just how important those options are to you.

Don’t confuse new-car options with new-car accessories. (Accessories are things like towbars or floor mats, or even DVD players for the kids.) Accessories can almost always be fitted at the dealership – to the car that’s in stock now. Often you can get a towbar or mats fitted for free, depending on how desperate the dealer is for the sale.

The point here is, if you’re buying a new car, divide your requirements into two lists: ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. If your over-arching strategy is to achieve a significant discount on your next new car, then be prepared to drop some of the ‘nice-to-haves’ for the sake of pragmatism.