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Buying a Car? Follow These Tips to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

It’s happened before. You needed a new car so you went looking for your best deal. But somehow, you ended up leaving the dealership in a car that wasn’t your top choice. And you paid way too much for it. “What just happened?”, you wondered as you drove away.

Wouldn’t you love to pay what you want for the vehicle you choose, rather than the high-priced new car the dealer wants to get rid of?

You and Your Money is here to help you with some used car buying tips that will make sure you get a quality car for a great price.

Following these tips will help ensure a better deal the next time you buy a car:

  1. Do your homework. Think about new cars you’re interested in before you go shopping.  Jot down specific car makes and models you like. Note specific features you want.
  • Look at new car manufacturers’ websites. Notice the features, specifically those that matter to you. Make notes.  Eliminate cars that don’t fit your criteria.  Make a note of why you’re rejecting those cars. Later, you can look back on your notes, if necessary.

2.  Familiarise yourself with the top 2-3 cars you want. Watch for them on the roads. Do you like how they look? Ask friends and neighbours who have a car you’re interested in if you can look at the dashboard and interior space.

3.  Check the Redbook.com.au website for used car prices.  

This website tells you what the new or used car should reasonably cost you. You can select the interior and exterior colours and any extra options or add ons you want for pricing.

  • Find out what the car manufacturers are offering for cash incentives or buyer’s rebates on the cars you like. This info can also be found on the Redbook website. Completing this step will arm you with expert knowledge about what the car should cost.
  • If a car dealer tells you the Redbook figure isn’t accurate, move on. He’s most likely trying to rip you off.

4.  Never pay the sticker price.  Car salesmen will try very hard to get you to pay that price. However, you can negotiate to pay less. If you have already done your research, you’ll know what to offer for the car you want. Don’t pay a cent more.

5.  Consider shopping from home. If you’ve been held captive at a local dealer for 3+ hours being pressured, cajoled, and manipulated, you’ll appreciate this suggestion. Check websites like Carsales.com.au which allow you to easily compare prices.

  • If you prefer, go to the manufacturer’s website and request a price on a particular vehicle. A salesman will respond back by e-mail. Then, negotiate back and forth by e-mail or phone to obtain the car, features, and pricing you seek.
  • Determine if they have the exact car in your desired colour with your preferred add ons on the lot. This point is important because car dealers will try to get you in to test-drive any vehicle in hopes they can give you the hard-sell routine.
  • Save a lot of time and frustration by shopping from home.

6.  Never get financing through the dealership. Car dealers advertise low percentage rates then pump up “miscellaneous” fees in excess of a reasonable percentage amount. Therefore, get your car loan through your bank or credit union.

  • Seek a pre-approval loan before car shopping. That way, you’ll know how much you’ll pay monthly based on the figure you were pre-approved to borrow based on your monthly budget.

7.  Remember you can walk away or say, “No.” Avoid falling into the trap of doing everything the salesman says. After all, you’re the customer and he’s there to fulfil your needs, not the other way around.

8.  Find out your state’s policy on returning new cars. Car dealerships will tell you that once you sign the papers and drive the car off the lot, you can’t return it. However, many states have a “buyers’ remorse” clause, which allows you a period of time, like 3 days, to return a vehicle you don’t want. Take time to read the fine print on whatever documents you sign.

  • The best way to avoid buyers’ remorse is to shop within your budget and avoid saying “yes” to just any car or deal. Wait for the deal you want.


By following these strategies, you can avoid getting scammed the next time you shop for your next car.

Whilst the freedom and convenience of a having car is a real asset to almost everyone, it can also prove expensive to maintain the cost of running a car. Along with the money spent on the actual purchase of the car, you must plan for any monthly payments plus annual car registration costs, CTP green slip, car insurance, fuel, as well as ongoing service and maintenance costs.

Check out our post on how can I save money on my car insurance premium?



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