I’M PROBABLY the worst person to warn you about what to look out for when buying a car. Despite my day job of fooling the general public, I am putty in the hands of car salesmen. When I walk into a dealership, it’s as if someone has thrown a tuna onto the forecourt, inviting eager sharks to swarm.
Because of this, however, I have been on the receiving end of every trick in the book, so here are my top six to avoid.
Never accept a hot drink. Car dealers seem to have machines that serve drinks that are even hotter than boiling, so you are forced to listen to their full patter while you wait for the tea to cool.
Keep it simple
Forget about going for loads of options on a cheap car. You’re better off getting a fancier vehicle without so many extras — do you really need air-cooled seats and an off-road compass in your Renault Clio?
Just one more thing
Ignore anything you are offered “extra” after you have agreed a price. I once paid for an “invisible protection coating” of my seats. It was so invisible it was almost like they had done nothing …
It’s not a favour
If you are buying on credit, don’t freak out when the dealer looks at his computer, sighs and tells you there is a problem with your credit score. Weirdly, he can always “help you out”, thus making you feel indebted to him at the end of the transaction, rather than the other way round. After which, you’ll sign up for servicing, aftercare and so on.
He’s not your mate
Don’t get sucked into too much personal chat. The reason car dealers keep their job is that they are affable. They love to strike up a personal rapport and become your buddy, because it’s much trickier to say no to a buddy.
The phantom boss
Never fall for the “I’ll just go and check with my boss” routine about whether he can give you a special deal. If you follow him, you will find that he just goes into an empty room and howls with laughter.