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10 STEPS TO BUYING A NEW CAR

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Step 10: Get the Most Out of Your Test Drive

So you've done your online research and located a dealer. Now you are ready to experience the vehicle first-hand. If you're a serious shopper, the dealer will work closely with you and should give full access to the vehicle for inspection and test driving. If you are planning to test drive a few different vehicles, let the salesperson know that you are a serious shopper but are still gathering information to make your final decision. A good salesperson will be very knowledgeable about the vehicle's finer points and make you aware of additional features you didn't notice while doing your online research.

Kick the Tires
It really is important to get up-close and personal with your prospective new vehicle. How's the overall appearance? Are there any unsightly gaps? Do the exterior and interior colors look good together? Is the trunk and cargo area spacious enough for your needs? Is the driver's seat comfortable and easy to adjust? Are the controls easy to understand and use? Does the steering wheel feel good in your hands?

Check out the vehicle characteristics that are most important to you. If music is your thing, make sure the quality of the sound system is to your satisfaction. If you plan to have frequent passengers in the back seat, climb in the back and buckle the seat belt for the full effect. How about convenience features like cupholders or sunglass holders? If you use them a lot, this is a good time to examine them closely.

The Test Drive
Now that you've completed a thorough walk-around, you can concentrate on the driving experience. The test drive should help you make your final decision. When you drive the vehicle, take your time. Be sure to drive on both city streets and the highway and never feel you have to rush the process.

Whether you are an expert driver or not, there are key areas to keep in mind during the test drive that will ultimately matter in the long run:

Ride Comfort
Is the ride smooth or harsh? How does the driver's seat feel while driving? Are there any unusual vibrations or jolts when you go over rough roads?

Noise
Do you hear excessive engine noise coming through to the cockpit? Can you hear the wind coming through the windows? Or is there annoying road noise from the tires, or squeaks and rattles?

Power/Acceleration
How does the vehicle respond when you push the accelerator pedal? Does it hesitate or lurch forward? Does the engine feel strong and smooth?

Braking
When you apply the brakes, does the vehicle come to a smooth stop? Do you feel any vibrations through the brake pedal? Is the steering affected by the braking? Does the car stop in a straight line?

Handling
Is it easy to park? Does it seem easy to maneuver? When you turn the wheel, does the vehicle respond in a predictable manner? Is the turning radius tight enough to make a U-turn? Are there any blind spots that hinder visibility? Your driving experience should back up the homework you've already done. If not, you may want to revisit your selection. Now that you've driven the car, you may finally be ready to make a solid purchase decision. Remember, your final decision will always include a certain amount of emotion, but the more homework you've done, the less emotional your actual purchase will be.

Drive Off ...
The good deal means different things to different people. With the help of Fair Purchase Prices, you can be confident that you are paying the best possible price. But remember, price isn't everything. Knowing what you want to accomplish is the other half of the battle. Before you close the deal, ask yourself:

  • Did I purchase a well-built vehicle that meets my needs?
  • Is it at a price I can afford?
  • Is the price I paid a good value for the money?
  • Did I fully understand and feel comfortable with the entire transaction?

If you have accomplished all those points, you have made a good deal.

After a thorough check of your new vehicle and completion of the paperwork involved, you have become the owner of a shiny, brand-new car or truck or sport utility vehicle or minivan or whatever it was you wanted. Congratulations!