No Pressure Test Driving

Ideally, you could complete the entire car buying process online. However, there is no substitute for getting out on the road and doing a test drive. At some point, you'll want to get into a few cars and see how they feel. This can be a daunting task knowing that you will have to face a pushy salesman. You'll need to be prepared to get in and get out with only what you need: an evaluation of the car, not a strong-arm sales pitch. No one likes having to reject others, but you're not ready to start negotiating yet, so follow these steps to make this a quick and painless process.

  1. Plan out your trip. Set aside a day to visit several dealerships. Give yourself an hour or two at each dealership and plan on travel time, unless the dealerships are all located next to each other. Map out your day – it will save you some stress later.
  2. Prepare a few key statements for “Showroom” Salesmen. When you walk onto the lot you will undoubtedly be approached by a salesman right away. Be cordial, and let them know you are in the market for a [example= Honda CR-V] and would like to take a test drive. It's also a good idea to let them know in advance that you have a finite amount of time.

    Example: "I'm trying to decide between the [Honda CR-V] and the [Toyota RAV-4] and would like to test drive each one today. I have a lot to fit in and I'd like to try to get over to the [Toyota] dealership by [3pm]."

    They will also certainly ask if you are ready to buy today. Let them know you are serious, but remind them you have plans to test drive several vehicles from different dealers and you'd like to do a comparison first. Before you leave, you'll be happy to get their business card so they can get the sales commission should you decide to buy from their dealership.

    Example: "I'm planning to make a decision within one week, but I need to try out a few different vehicles first. After the test drive, you can give me your contact information so I can make sure you get the commission if I decide to buy a [Honda CR-V].."

    After the test drive they will try to get you to review some numbers in the showroom. There is no reason to negotiate at this point. Either gracefully tell them you need to get to the next dealership or just let them give you a quote and brochures. After you have received competitive quotes from other dealers, you'll have the chance to call back the “test drive” salesman and give them a chance to beat your best offer.

    Example: "I don't want to waste your time negotiating today since I'm still evaluating several models. If you want to give me a price quote that would be fine, but I am not ready to make my decision until I take a few more test drives."

  3. Write down the make, model, trim, and color you want (or don't want). Bring a pad and paper or get a brochure and circle the things that interest you. After a day of car shopping, it's easy for everything to blend together, so take good notes so that you can get a good price on the correct package later.

Lastly, if you already know what you want and prefer to start out by negotiating prices online and then test driving later, the Internet salesmen will be happy to let you come by for a test drive.

Once you decide what kind of car you want you can

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