Where to buy your new car

Don't assume you have to go to a franchised dealer to buy your new car, because you've got plenty of options when it comes to spending your cash.

There are more places than ever that can sell you a new car, but if you pay a rock-bottom price you’ll probably get a rock-bottom service. The most common new-car outlets are:

Franchised dealers

These are appointed by the manufacturer they represent. They generally charge the highest prices, but should offer expertise along with ease of servicing, because the chances are they'll focus on just the one marque - or no more than a tiny handful of them.

As well as keeping some cars in stock - and having access to nationwide stocks of new cars through the official network channels - you'll be able to order exactly the car you want. That means your colour, spec (with options) and exactly the right trim and engine for your needs.

Car supermarkets

These hold massive stocks and work on tiny margins – so you can make decent savings.  The idea is that they pile 'em high and sell'em cheap, so they make lots of small profits rather than a small number of big ones. There’s usually no haggling at all, although you might be able to chip something off the asking price if you're lucky. However, you won't be able to choose the car’s specification (as it’s already in stock), so there's no chance of adding any options.

Most importantly though, bargains abound by taking this route. You have to be careful though and make extensive checks before buying, because if problems crop up later, you may struggle to get them sorted; car supermarkets don't specialise in individual makes and they're more interested in selling cars than fixing them.

Brokers

You'll find quite a few of these if you use the internet, but they're not as common as they used to be thanks to shrinking margins on new cars. The idea is the a broker can order in bulk and secure savings accordingly, but if you take this route you must read any contract before you sign it, because there are often hidden costs in the small print.