Picking up the car

Picking up the car

Some tips before you drive off the lot

Last updated: February 2014

Give the vehicle a thorough inspection before you drive it off the dealer's lot. Any problems should be addressed right away.

Don't consider the car-buying process over until you've checked out the vehicle and are satisfied with its condition. Take your time and go over it thoroughly, both inside and out. If you find any problems, they should be fixed before you take delivery or, if they're minor enough for you to wait, set a firm date for the dealership to fix them.

Here are some tips:

1. Inspect the vehicle in bright daylight. It's easier to miss small defects at night.

2. Be sure the vehicle has all the options and accessories that you ordered and that they work.

3. Inspect the exterior for scratches, dents, mismatched body panels, or paint defects. Metal particles, for instance, can be embedded in the paint during shipping.

4. Inspect the interior for loose or misfitting trim and stains or other defects in the upholstery, carpeting, or headliner.

5. The odometer should show very low mileage, the result of a few test drives.

6. Have the salesperson show you how to work all controls and the location of common maintenance items (such as the engine-oil dipstick, oil-filler hole, brake-fluid reservoir, etc.).

If you notice anything unusual, insist on a full explanation.

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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