6. Take a test drive
Taking a test-drive is one of the most important elements of the car-buying process. Contact the dealer that has your ideal car—the right price, color, and features—or one as close to it as possible. Tell them you want to take a test-drive, and make an appointment so you know the car will be available.
As much as possible, drive the car in conditions that approximate the kind of driving you do most of the time—on the freeway, around town, in stop-and-go traffic. Salespeople usually have preset routes to take customers on. But if the route isn’t long enough to give you a good sense of the car, or if it’s not the kind of driving you normally do, insist on a different route or more driving time. You don’t want to lock yourself into a car you don’t like to drive.
At the end of the test-drive, the salesperson will probably want to move toward closing the deal. Don’t let yourself be pushed into anything; take your time.
It might be smart to thank the salesperson for their time, but to say you need to think about it, and you’re considering other cars— all of which might be true. Employing this tactic signals that you’re not a pushover, and it might help you get a better deal.
Keep this in mind: Always be willing to walk away. There are plenty of great cars for sale. But if you want to move toward making a purchase, make sure it’s your decision.