6. Take a test-drive
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. Many, if not most, dealerships will deliver a car to you for a test-drive.
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. Find out whether you like the way the car drives or whether you have misgivings. You don’t want to lock yourself into a car that you don’t like to drive.
If you’re at the dealership, at the end of the test-drive, the salesperson will probably want to move toward closing a deal. Don’t let yourself be pushed into anything. Take your time.
It might be smart to thank the salesperson for their time, but also say that you need to think about it and that 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. If you want to move toward making a purchase, make sure it’s your decision.
If you’ve taken a test-drive somewhere other than at the dealership, call or email the salesperson to indicate whether you’re interested in buying the vehicle.