Tidbits I’ve learned while car shopping, in no particular order …
* Going in the evening, an hour or two before closing, often means getting the managers / assistant managers / senior salesman. This could be a pro or con for you, but it seems to be pretty prevalent.
* The idiotic “tire repair kit” (that is, can of fix a flat) that has replaced many spare tires in newer cars is set into a foam insert taking up the space that the spare tire should be set into. You can simply remove that and put in a spare tire, if that’s what you want to do. I was so worried that they’d actually removed the space for the wheel and that a spare tire would have to sit in the trunk, but thank heavens this isn’t so. (They’ve taken out the spare tire to make the car that teeny tiny bit lighter to improve gas mileage, you see. Thus, they say it’s “better for the environment”. I reckon having all those chemicals released from those cans of fix a flat into all those flat tires across Europe is probably worse for the environment than the teeny tiny bit of less gas that’s used, but they don’t actually care about that sort of thing.)
* Just like in the US, a dealer will have makes of used cars for sale in the lot other than the brand on the sign. There seemed to be such a perception amongst friends and acquaintances that a Honda dealership, for example, would only ever have Honda cars in the lot, that I became so confused. See, in the US, it’s quite regular for car buyers to trade in their cars at the dealership; I know it’s an option here, too, though I don’t know how frequently it’s done. The trade in could be any make, though, so the Honda dealer could be left with a Toyota or a Ferrari or whatever to sell – thus, a used car buyer can find pretty much any make in the lot, regardless of what’s on the sign. Having done some temporary work at a car auction house in the US, I wondered if all non-Honda cars being traded in at that UK Honda lot would immediately be sent to auction, so that even all the used cars on the Honda lot would be Hondas? Turns out nope – the car lot has all different makes on it, just like in the US. They just want any car that’s in decent condition, and they’ll try to sell it.
* There are, in the Greater Manchester area, quite a few local chains of dealerships. Hopefully this means I can tap the whole chain’s stock instead of just one location at a time, and this can work to my advantage. We shall see.
* Bizarrely, the salesmen don’t approach me when I’m looking at the cars in the lot. I don’t know if that’s just the ones I’ve been to so far, or if that’s the norm here. It feels like I’m being really neglected, though.
* Also bizarrely, you seem to have to make an appointment to take a test drive. I could be wrong about this one; will update as we do more research.
* I am amused that all the salesmen so far have assumed I’ve only just arrived in this country.