Buying a new car is a very important decision. You’ll have this car for years to come, and a car says a lot about who you are as a person. Does comfort matter to you? Speed? The latest bells and whistles? Energy efficiency? A combination of all of these? Make sure you know what you want before you buy. Here are some tips that will help you do just that and will make the car buying experience stress-free.

Do Your Homework First

Sure you have an idea of what model you want, but you might not be able to get absolutelyAuto-Buying_copy1everything on your checklist, as much as salesmen and dealerships are willing to accommodate you. So do this at home: figure out what special features you must have in your car, and ones you’d like, but would be okay with not having. That way you can zero in on the car that is ideal for you. After that, give dealerships a call. Find out if your model is available for purchase and request the most knowledgeable salesman. Make an appointment and come on in.

Trust Your Salesman

I talked to various car salesmen for this issue and they all agreed that it is important to trust theAuto-Buying_copy2 person you’re doing business with. They are here to serve you, so if you find that upon going out on the car lot, your salesman isn’t 100% focused on you and your purchase, it’s very easy to thank him or her for their time and find a new one. This is a large transaction not just for you, but for the business; let them know that they have to earn your trust and that you need proper time and consideration to pick a car. As I said, it’s going to be with you for a while, why jump into a decision in a split second?

Before You Drive, Learn How The Car Works

All of the dealerships we talked to are very happy to allow prospective car buyers to take the Auto-Buying_copy3wheels out for a test drive. But before you go, learn from the master and ask your car salesman to demonstrate all of the bells and whistles (or as one salesman called them, “creature features”) before you get behind the wheel, even if it is just for a test run. Many of the newer models boast voice recognition and the latest in navigation technology. Have him test all of these things out, in addition to things you’ll use all the time such as the air conditioning and the radio. You might find that there were more “creature features” in the car you had your eye on than you thought!

Does This Car Fit Me?

I don’t mean in terms of you sitting behind the wheel. What I mean is, is this car large enough toAuto-Buying_copy4 play an active role in your daily life? If you are buying just for yourself and you don’t have many things to store in your car, then by all means, consider compact models. But if you know you’ll need room for your groceries, boxes and briefcases for your job, and even sports equipment for your weekend leisure, you need to keep this in mind and open your eyes to cars with more cargo room.

How Does The Car Feel?

So you’ve gotten to the point where you want to test drive a car. Make mental notes of how it Auto-Buying_copy5feels while you’re driving it. Do the seats feel comfortable? You’ll be sitting in that seat for hours upon hours, so it does matter. Does the car accelerate well in traffic? Can you pass cars safely? Transmission is important too. In an automatic, shifting up and down should be smooth. As far manual models go, note the ease (or lack thereof) in shifting gears; in a new car this should be relatively easy to do. Make notes of the steering and the brakes and their response while in transit. Don’t settle for anything less than your comfort, because this also will ensure your safety.

Is It Fuel-Efficient?

Recently all automobile manufacturers have been adhering to new regulations which allow for Auto-Buying_copy6greater fuel efficiency. Gone are the days of the oil crisis when people bought Japanese cars specifically for their great mileage to the gallon; now nearly every brand can say they have at least one car that averages over 25 miles per gallon on the highway. The federal government even has a list of the best and worst cars for fuel economy. Take a look at the website before making any decisions:

Return Later to Buy

Now that you have a good idea of which car you will purchase, get your salesman’s card and Auto-Buying_copy7come back to the dealership on another day to start the transaction. Finish up whatever homework you have on the car and research answers to any more questions (of course, feel free to call the dealership and ask the salesmen your questions). Then, once you feel like you’ve made an informed decision, go get your new car! Happy driving!

 Be sure to read our Small Business Spotlights and consider visiting some of our local dealerships when you’re ready to buy a new car.