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How to get the best out of "drive-away" pricing, "free on-roads" and special finance deals

2016 Holden Colorado LTZ

As we approach June, the biggest month for new car sales, there are a couple of things to look for if you're in the market to buy — to make sure you don't end up paying too much.

Most drive-away deals on manufacturers' websites under "special offers" are fairly sharp.

In the case of the Hyundai i30 at $19,990 drive-away with auto (about $7500 off full RRP) and the $22,990 drive-away Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport auto (about $4000 off), the dealer margin is as little as — or less than — $400, because the factory funds the discount.

In those cases you won't be getting premium plates, free floor mats or tinted windows.

Other current drive-away deals, such as the top end Holden Colorado LTZ at $49,233, have more wriggle room as they have been cheaper before: the exact same vehicle was $42,990 drive-away in February, boosted by a massive factory bonus.

So not all deals are created equally and, it's also worth noting, "free on-roads" does not always mean "drive-away".

For example, the Mazda3 has "free on-roads" but this does not mean it's a drive-away price. Dealers are still charging a "delivery fee" which varies from $1500 to $2500 depending on which showroom you walk into. Best to wait until Mazda joins the rest of the market with a published drive-away price which is more transparent.

Meanwhile Nissan is offering driveaway deals on some passenger cars but only 1 per cent finance on its more popular SUVs. Be sure to compare with outside finance deals and check the price of the car itself, as many companies advertising low interest rates offset the cost by charging full price for the car, dealer delivery and anything else they can add.

It may be better to get a sharp price and arrange your own finance. If you get dealer finance, the dealer gets a sizeable commission from the finance provider so they will recoup some profit in the deal.

Have you been trapped before by hidden costs? Tell us in the comments below.