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Negotiating a deal

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You know what car you want and you're ready to negotiate.

Don't take this step too lightly - you can usually negotiate a lower price than the dealer is asking. It often depends on how keen you are to buy and how keen the vendor is to sell.

  • Keep the seller uncertain whether you're interested in buying their car or another one. Until the deal is done, the price can always go a little lower.
  • Shop around. Ask other dealers if they can do better for similar cars.
  • Ask for the 'on the road' price, or 'changeover price' if you're trading in your present car. This will include all options you've selected, and the statutory and dealer charges. It removes the risk of getting caught by a 'hidden cost' that you hadn't considered.
  • Make the seller nominate the first figure, then mention any lower offers by other sellers to force the price down.
  • Dealers usually offer more attractive prices for cars in stock. If you fall in love with a particular model or colour with specific options, you may have to wait while the dealer orders it risking a price rise in the interim.
  • One way to blow your budget with a new car is to buy all the optional extras the dealer offers. Avoid taking unnecessary extras such as rust-proofing, paint protection or special tyres.

Don't get carried away in all the excitement once you've agreed on a deal. The dealer will ask you to sign a legally binding order form. If you sign then change your mind, you may lose your deposit. So:

  • Read and understand it fully before you sign.
  • Insist all costs, including stamp duty, registration fees and any insurance and optional extras are clearly itemised.
  • Never sign a blank order form or one with any blank spaces.
  • Never sign orders with more than one dealer.
  • Don't sign if a delivery date or deadline is not specified (ASAP is rarely as soon as possible).
  • The order usually states the price is 'on delivery'. If your car has to be ordered from the factory, any price increase before delivery will be passed on to you.

If you have to borrow money, and don't want the dealer to arrange finance for you, make sure the following clause is in the sales contract:

'This agreement is subject to the purchaser obtaining finance on terms satisfactory to the purchaser to complete the sale. If the purchaser is unable to arrange finance which is satisfactory to complete the sale, the purchaser may rescind the contract, and the deposit paid shall be refunded in full to the purchaser.'

If you sign a contract without this clause, you may have to accept the dealer's finance at a much higher interest rate.

If you get into a dispute with a dealer and can't solve it, contact the NSW Department of Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

Taking delivery
Before you sign for delivery, inspect your new car thoroughly.

  • Make sure the vehicle's 'built date' shows the year and month of manufacture you expected and is stated in the paperwork.
  • Check for paint, trim or glass defects.
  • Check all lights, doorlocks, window winders, seat adjustment mechanisms and accessories are working properly.
  • Check the spare wheel, jack and tool kit are in place.
  • Take the car on a test drive with the sales representative to check if there are any mechanical faults. Make a note of any faults to be fixed at no charge during the first service. Ask the sales representative to acknowledge them by signing the note.
  • Try to take delivery and make all checks during daylight hours and in fine weather.

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