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Six ways to score a bargain on your new car

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Car dealers are growing increasingly eager to sell their new car stock in the sprint to the silly season.

Why? Because on January 1, 2017, all those shiny new 2016 cars will suddenly become last year's models.

Clearly, buying your new car at the right time can give you the upper hand, and the end of each month can also work, when dealers are often seeking to fulfil monthly sales quotas to earn a volume bonus.

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However, short of waiting for precisely the right moment to purchase, here are our year-round top three car buying tips to avoid paying too much.

Keep your trade-in separate

Trading in is the easiest way to "dispose of" your old car (in car dealer speak) but it's also the way to get the least amount of money for it.

Selling your car privately comes as the flipside - it will usually net you closer to what your pre-loved car is actually worth but it's more time consuming and, for some people, doesn't justify the extra hassle.

If you've decided to trade in your car, start by shopping around for the best price on your new car without mentioning your old one.

Sure, dealers will want to know if you have a trade-in but including it in the initial negotiation might mean you never know whether you've got a good deal on your new car or a reasonable trade-in figure - the "changeover" figure can conceal the fact that you're not getting either!

Don't fall for 0% finance

Seemingly competitive finance deals are a sneaky way for car dealers to disguise how much you're really paying for your new car. So while such deals might sound enticing, you should look closely at the total cost over the term of the loan (including fees), rather than focusing on the interest rate or the monthly repayment amount.

Zero percent finance deals may also be tied to a non-negotiable (possibly inflated) price for the car. If you shop for your own car finance using a broker, then negotiate the car's price separately, you will usually pay significantly less.

Don't pay for unnecessary extras

You're almost there - you've negotiated a great price on your new car, got a trade-in that's close to what your old car is worth and secured competitive finance (or avoided it altogether). Well done, you're almost across the finish line!

The last hurdle is to avoid the costly addition of extras you don't need. Floor mats and metallic paint are nice to have and generally cost extra, though a generous dealer will throw them in.

But here are three up-sell items you can often do without.

Rust and paint protection

Once upon a time, this was an option box worth ticking but, given big advances in paint finish and body corrosion protection, new cars don't rust and their paint stays shiny just fine

A dealer extended warranty

On the surface, an extra-cost extension of a car's typically three-year warranty might sound like a plus. But such schemes often tie you to a service schedule that must be completely at the dealership you're buying your car from, which can add up to greater running costs in the long run.

Window tinting

Many new cars already have tinted windows or "privacy glass" (tints by another name), so unless you really need mafia-dark windows, we'd suggest you avoid paying twice for tinting.

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James Whitbourn is a car reviewer for Wheels magazine.
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