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Majority of Brits lack confidence to negotiate when buying a car – and miss out on nearly £900 in savings

Less than a third of car buyers (29%) always try to negotiate when purchasing a car, according to a newly released driver survey.

A survey of 2,000 motorists commissioned by CarGurus — a leading online automotive marketplace to shop, buy, and sell used vehicles — found that those who had successfully negotiated a car’s price managed to save, on average, £896.

With combined transactions of new and used cars in the U.K. totalling over 8.5 millioni in 2022, Brits are collectively forgoing billions of pounds in potential savings by not negotiating.

While motorists that bartered saved on average nearly £900 per purchase — equating to an average of 11% off the total asking price by those who negotiated successfully — there was disparity between age groups and locations.

Buyers aged 18-24 were the most successful in knocking down the price, saving an average of £1,730. This was followed by those over 65, who secured £1,023 off the car’s asking price. Drivers aged 45-54 were the least effective in their negotiations, saving £753 on average.

Regionally, car buyers in the North East of England were able to save the most through their negotiating skills, saving on average £1,395. In contrast, Welsh buyers managed to get £723 off.

The survey also looked at reasons why motorists weren’t negotiating, and found more than half (53%) found it too uncomfortable to negotiate, 16% didn’t want to offend the dealer, 15% didn’t know how to, and 9% thought it was rude. Younger buyers (18-to-24-year-olds) were seemingly the most polite, with 55% not wanting to offend the dealer.

To equip car buyers with the information needed to negotiate confidently, CarGurus offers a powerful free tool: CarGurus Instant Market Value (IMV). The tool provides the user with an estimated fair retail price for a vehicle, empowering the buyer with the data and knowledge needed to determine whether they’re getting a good deal on their next car purchase.

Using proprietary technology, search algorithms, and innovative data analytics, CarGurus provides unbiased insights into car pricing, dealer reputation, and vehicle history, along with proprietary deal ratings for listings ranked from ‘Fair’ to ‘Overpriced’. Updated daily, CarGurus IMV takes into account millions of data points including make, model, variant, year, mileage, options, location, and vehicle history.

For buyers that were successful in negotiating, 40% said they compared pricing for similar car models online ahead of time, and 25% refused to budge on how much they were willing to pay. In addition, 18% brought someone with them to help negotiate, while 16% rehearsed the conversation in their head in advance.

Buyers paying for their car on finance were also able to secure significant savings thanks to successful negotiations. On average, effective negotiators saved £184 per month on their finance deals.

Even when buyers were not successful in lowering the price of a car, dealers often came forward with additional incentives to complete a purchase. Nearly a quarter of the time these buyers were offered at least one additional incentive, such as: an extended warranty (26%), a free servicing period (21%), or were given money off optional extras such as leather seats (20%).

Chris Knapman, CarGurus U.K. Editorial Director, said: “Our research has clearly found there are savings to be made for car buyers – even in today’s challenging market – if they’re armed with the right information, and are willing to push through the discomfort to negotiate if required.

“We know for many buyers that negotiating doesn’t come easy, which is why we encourage people to use the power of data to help guide productive conversations with sellers. With tools like CarGurus Instant Market Value, shoppers can determine whether they’re getting a good deal or not, while also having access to comparable listings as a point of reference.

“Preparation is critical to the negotiation process. This includes extensively researching the vehicles at the top of one’s list, considering if a buyer can part exchange their existing car, and being realistic on what makes a fair deal to help negotiations move along as effectively as possible.”

Top tips to negotiate more effectively, according to CarGurus, can be found here.

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Automotive Industry Digest

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