Perform an initial inspection

Perform an initial inspection

Learn about the cars before you buy

Last updated: February 2014

When you arrive at a dealership and greet the salesperson, make it clear up front that you are there only to inspect and test drive the car(s) in which you’re interested, and that you will not be making any buying decisions that day. This will help keep things simple and allow you to better concentrate on comparing cars.

Throughout the visit, resist any attempts by the salesperson to lure you into making a buying decision or talking about a deal. Despite a sense of urgency the salesperson may try to create (“We have a great deal that’s only good for today” or “I’ve got another customer coming to look at this exact vehicle later today”), simply repeat that you’ll make your decision only after test-driving all the cars that you’re considering. Being polite but firm with this message can help lessen the sales pressure. And don’t get sidetracked by an ambitious salesperson who is trying to move some other model. Stay focused on what you want to do.

First, spend some time carefully looking over the vehicle, inside and out. Does it look as good as you expected? As you do a 360-degree stroll around it, check the seams between body panels and doors; are they evenly spaced, without gaps or irregularities? Does the color look good in person? Is the paint smooth, with mirror-like reflections?

A car’s exterior styling is designed to grab your attention, evoke emotions, and project an image. But it’s inside the vehicle where you’ll spend your time. Your long-term satisfaction can be greatly influenced by how the vehicle’s interior is designed. This includes how comfortable and quiet the cabin is and how convenient controls are to operate. When comparing vehicles, think about how a vehicle fits your lifestyle. If a seat is uncomfortable or if the controls are awkward to use, you could become frustrated with the car long before the loan or lease is over.

New Car Buying Guide

Learn more about choosing a car, what to do at the dealership, pricing, trading in your car, financing, closing the deal and more in our new car buying guide.

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