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6. I have found a car that interests me

After you have increased your level of knowledge on the vehicle that tickles your fancy and have found one that fits your criteria, the time has come to make an appointment with the seller.

One more quick look around
Just before you do, check out another site or 2 before you make that call. There are so many sources of ads out there that you simply can't afford to visit only one site.

Test drive
Once at the dealership (and having taken your first look at the car), the second (but cheapest) thing to do is to take the car for a test drive. Most people have a general idea of how a car should behave so look for odd noises, rattles and make note of them. The drive will also tell if this car satisfies your needs and wants for performance and handling.

VIN
If the vehicle seems fine, take down the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number) that you will find at the bottom of the windshield or in the door jam. It will serve important purposes when you get back home.

Tips:
- Contact your insurance company with the make, model and year to get a quote on the car you are about to go and see.
- Bring with you a golf bag, a stroller or any other item you may want, to make sure it will fit in the vehicle.
- Resist the temptation to sign ANYTHING. Regardless of how pushy the salesperson is, do not allow yourself to fall prey to pressure tactics. There are other cars out there and as a buyer, you still have much homework to do.

 

FOUND IT. WHAT DO I DO NEXT?

The second, not to mention cheapest and most important thing is to do is to take the car for a test drive. Here's what the potential buyer should keep in mind in the course of the test drive.

Car behavior

Most of us driver/owners have a very general idea of how a car should behave. If this happens to be your first car, odds are you'll be shopping with a close personal friend or a family member and that they will fill this requirement.

Mind you, modern cars from the last five or so years, have evolved at an incredible rate, much like technology in general. If you feel out of your comfort zone, proceed with the test drive but make sure you get the car inspected by professional that will have more experience with late-model cars.

The Test Drive

  • This is the opportunity for you to find out if this is the car, meaning make and model, for you.
  • Consider the driving position, the ergonomics, seat comfort, visibility, handling, acceleration, braking and room.
  • Typically the seller or salesperson will ride along with you.
  • Never feel intimidated or rushed. It is in the seller's interest that you complete a satisfactory drive as it may bring you that much closer to buying the vehicle.

Where to drive?

  • The test drive should take place on various types of roads, from bumpy suburban areas to busy main drags and then, on to the highway. 
  • If you do not know the neighborhood, do not hesitate to ask the salesperson for directions and suggestions. Often times, they have a pre-planned route they like to use. Once again, it is in the seller's interest that you get quality wheel time.

How long?

  • There are no rules that stipulate how long a road test should last but 15 to 20 minutes would normally be sufficient. 
  • It may be that 5 minutes into the drive, you find yourself completely turned off by the car. This is an excellent reason to call the whole thing off. The opposite can also be true but be patient; there is much work left to be done.

Once said and done

  • What if you like the car but there are issues? At any given moment, if something feels or sounds wrong to you, do not waffle and ask the seller about it. The answer and/or the way it is given can be very telling.
  • At any time, you may call the whole thing off. 
  • If there are rattles, the car pulls, stalls, or makes some ungodly noises; you may say thanks, but no thanks.

Scenario

The time has come for a test drive. It is carried through the industrial neighborhood where the dealer is located, then onto the highway and on the road back, the Johnsons and the salesperson cut through an urban area.

It is immediately clear to the Johnsons that this Audi Q7 could not be farther removed from their old Grand Caravan. Although Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have held their driver's licenses for 20+ years, they've never encountered a vehicle with this level of technology and sophistication.

All goes fairly well however once on the highway, the driver notices that the car pulls to the left. Throttle response, the brakes and steering all react "normally". Upon the mention of the "pulling" issue, the salesperson simply states that the car requires an alignment and even offers to have the work done before delivery. He goes on to ad that the vehicle has received a 300-point inspection, and passed, in order to be certified.

Otherwise, the car seems sound for the asking price. Once returned to the dealership, the salesperson asks if the Q7 interests them. Following the positive answer, the seller asks for a deposit to hold the car.

Before giving said deposit, the Johnsons visit two more dealerships before picking this first one as their favorite.