Skip to Content

What To Know Before Going To A Car Dealership? 5 Checklists

What To Know Before Going To A Car Dealership? 5 Checklists

One of life’s beautiful experiences might be driving a brand-new car. Walking inside a car dealership and purchasing a vehicle, on the other hand, is right up there with general speaking and visiting a dentist on most people’s list of nerve-wracking experiences.

But if you’re prepared and knowledgeable, it’s not so frightening. Then you’ll be able to walk into that dealership feeling informed, confident, and in command of the entire process. We’ll help you gain that confidence by avoiding the common mistakes individuals make while shopping for a new vehicle.

What to know before going to a car dealership?

1. Know What You’re After

Buying a car is not the same as buying a pair of shoes or even a smartphone. Rookie automobile purchasers arrive at the showroom with only a hazy idea of what they want and how much they can afford every month. They’re prime targets for a sales pitch, with many individuals leaving the first dealership they visit with a new automobile.

You shouldn’t begin your search for a new car on the showroom floor. Savvy shoppers begin their search with hours of online research at sites where they can learn about what’s available, compare prices and features, read expert evaluations and road testing, and calculate financing expenses. Most dealerships have internet sales departments that enable cross-shopping and even price negotiation before stepping foot in their parking lot.

2. Find the Vehicle that satisfies Your demands

“The most common problem buyers make is not appropriately assessing which vehicle will best meet their wants and wishes,” said Don Fuller, a former dealership sales trainer, and lemon law specialist. It isn’t to say that every vehicle you buy needs to be a low-end minivan with brown paint and a low-end audio system. A Ferrari, for instance, could be a sensible buy if it meets the customer’s needs and budget, according to Fuller.

“However, too many people do a terrible job of making that precise assessment in the first place,” he added. If you begin by focusing on the wrong vehicle, you will undoubtedly be disappointed.

It’s the wrong car if it won’t comfortably accommodate all of your family members, lacks essential features you want, and if purchased, it threatens to push your budget to the limit.

3. Come Up With a Monthly Payment Budget

Buyers should know how much money they can set aside each month but avoid the urge to use that number as a bargaining chip and don’t disclose it to the salespeople.

Negotiate the new car’s actual sales price first, regardless of the down payment, trade-in, or finance arrangements. Using online calculators and phone apps, you can convert the loan balance, length, and interest rate into a monthly payment.

A dealer knowing you will buy at a specific price may offer enticing lease or finance arrangements with more extended amounts, but you’ll spend more in the long run.

We’re presuming a purchase here; there are justifications for leasing, but that’s something you should research and decide on before shopping, not merely to hit a monthly number at the showroom.

4. Explore Alternatives to Dealer Financing

Sure, the commercials advertise rates as low as 0%, but the fine print states that this is only for individuals with excellent credit, for a limited time, and a particular amount down. It is preferable to shop for finance independently. First, go to your bank or credit union and, if possible, seek a car loan pre-approval.

Then you can compare your financing options to those offered by the dealer. If you don’t have a competitive finance offer, the dealer may be able to make you an enhanced offer. But there’s no way to know that—or use it as a negotiating point.

5. Factor in the Price of Insurance

Many buyers have found a terrific price that matches a well-planned monthly budget, only to discover that the new ride is far more expensive to insure than expected. Remember that the loan tenure will need full-collision coverage to protect the lender, especially if you haven’t been driving new for a while.

Before visiting a dealership, check the rates on the automobiles you’re interested in with your insurance and competitors. Perhaps a smaller engine, a lower trim level, or a competitive car with reduced insurance prices will save you money.

What you must not do at a car dealership?

Allowing a salesperson to steer you towards a vehicle you don’t want is wrong

According to a study, a dealership’s first goal is to sell the vehicles it has on hand. And this isn’t always in the customer’s best interests. If the salesperson knows their inventory, they will try to match the customer with something that can be sold right away.

If you’re unsure about what you wish to have, the dealership will try to fit you into a vehicle it intends to sell, even if it’s not ideal for you. Allow yourself not to be sold a car.

Don’t Talk About Your Trade-In Too Soon

It’s nearly always possible to sell an old automobile privately for more money than the dealer will provide in trade if you put in the time and effort. Despite this, many customers find the convenience of driving their old car in and their new car out appealing.

If that’s your goal, do some research on the value of your trade-in ahead of time, but don’t accept any offers or pressure to discuss it until you’ve agreed on a price for the new car.

You probably don’t belong in a new-car showroom yet. If you’re “upside-down” on the old car, you owe more money than getting in the trade. To pay off the loan, the vehicle should be sold privately at the very least. Yes, the dealer will offer to refinance your existing debt, and that, however, is not a good idea.

Don’t hang up your car keys or driver’s license at the dealership

According to Christopher Sutton, vice president of automotive retail at J.D. Power, some dealers- thankfully fewer than ever before—still use strategies to keep you in the showroom until a deal is struck, which is almost as antiquated as a pocket watch. Test-drive autos are one of the tried-and-true methods.

Before a test drive, the salesperson may request your car keys and driver’s license “as security”. The car keys or driver’s license will go missing when you return and wish to leave without buying. “We don’t see it as much as we used to,” Sutton said of abusive dealer techniques. He believed in the introduction of online ratings and reviews that had contributed to that.

Don’t let the dealer run your credit

If you want to finance your new car with a loan, the dealer will have to perform a credit check at some point, but don’t consent to it until you’re almost done with the deal.

A complete credit check, often known as a “hard pull,” can harm your credit score. If you’re not close to buying, there’s little purpose in agreeing to a credit check and risking a credit hit.

How do I prepare for a car dealership?

Buying a car involves a lot of decision-making, but you can spend less time on the lot by planning early. We’ve pointed out a few crucial things you should do before buying or leasing your next vehicle to expedite your shopping process. When you’re prepared for a fresh set of wheels, you’ll be prepared to go when you arrive at the showroom. Follow the below steps for a better experience.

  • Choose the Right Dealership.
  • Set a Budget.
  • Do Your Research.
  • Save Time, Ahead of Time.
  • Get Your Payment Ready.
  • Become a Valuable Customer.

What should you never ask a car dealer?

Questions like whether it is intended to pay cash, finance, or lease, whether they wish for monthly payment, how much credit you are to be offered, how much money you intend to put down, etc.


Purchasing a vehicle is a significant choice that requires extensive research and consideration. If done correctly, though, you will save money and effort and a fantastic automobile. It is critical to ensure that you have all of the necessary information.

When deciding whether or not to buy, a little bit of research could make all the difference. Determine the ideal purchasing approach for you based on your lifestyle.

Online shopping may be the best option if you’re short on time. Working with a private party or dealer will probably be your best bet if you prefer a more hands-on approach.