I know, I know, it’s a cheesy title for a blog, but a now long-gone Motor Trader I knew in the Midlands used it for years and, thanks to his reputation for fair dealing, he deserved to use it.
Today, I spent the thick end of three hours washing the cars, taking full advantage to our recent thaw out. I’d almost forgot our Golf was metallic black and that my 25 was silver but, hey-ho, I like surprises. I also spent a while on the ‘phone to a friend of mine in snow-bound Northamptonshire who is in the market for a new car and needs it double-quick owing to an opt-out of the Company Car Scheme he was in.
My friend’s pondering seemed to be revolving around the number plate – having done all the ‘test drive Tommy’ routines, he knows what car he wants to smoke around in (Astra CDTi) but was unsure about waiting until March for the beloved new ‘plate.
I have never been over-excited about the number plate and would personally rather be snug in the knowledge of buying and running a damn good deal of a car. Anyway, after further probing (ooh-er missus) of said friend, it transpires he wants the best deal he can get for his money and he’s ticking all the boxes – all finance in place with no part exchange. My friend may not know his Allen keys from his armature windings when it comes to the nuts and bolts of a car, but he does know what he likes and loves to lock antlers as t’wer, with a salesman.
This winter period smack bang after Christmas is a good time to read the obituaries as, one by one, car salesmen are found swinging from the rafters owing to the total lack of customers. Indeed, it’s a lonely time of the year for the men in suits as the slowing of the motor trade almost grinds to a complete standstill. Around this time of year, salesmen ‘hit the phones’ to ring any form of previously interested parties – even stray animals or anything with a pulse for that matter – in a desperate attempt to drum up some form of re-kindled interest. Hence, if you visited your local Renault showroom last June and pooh-poohed the notion of a new Laguna but left a contact number, your phone will ring any day now!
However, it’s not all bad news because, like my mate Barry, if you are in the market for a car – regardless of it being new or used, now is the time to act. Those halcyon days at your local Talbot Dealer’s cheese and wine extravaganza in the fading hours of 31 July; and the sight of those new Solaras driving into the dusk at one minute past twelve are sadly long gone thanks to the Government’s meddling of registration dates.
Don’t be taken in by the plate hype If you are in the market for a car – it just doesn’t matter that much any more. The way to do it is simple: decide what you want to buy, drive the car and do the deal. Most volume dealers (Citroen, Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen and so on) have oodles of cars in stock. Where you may come unstuck so to speak, is if you have a long list of optional extras. However, if you want a standard car in a sensible colour that’s in stock, you will get the deal of the century right now if you visit your local showroom.
Suppose, for example, that you want a Ford Fiesta: play one or two Dealers off each other and let them do the graft. Keep your head and remember, at all costs, you are in no way obliged to buy the car. This is where people fall down so many times by feeling sorry for or under an obligation to the salesperson. Keep your business head on and be aware of the sob story or the classic line: ‘if I can do a deal for you today, will you buy today’. The pitfalls or do’s and don’ts of buying a car would cover several pages but, in a nutshell, keeping your head is the only way to keeping a little bit more your money.
Be aware of the salesman going back and forth to visit his seemingly invisible Sales Manager as you stall or hesitate and the classic trick of the Business Manager trying to get you to feel sorry for your friendly Sales Executive as he tells him off in front of you for even suggesting a discount – cobblers! It’s all part if the show.
Forget the plate and feel the deal – if you are in a position to afford a car right now, you could save thousands – the same deal will almost certainly not be on the table if you leave it for two or three months!