ea_sport
ea_sport Reader
7/23/21 4:00 p.m.

Hi all, this is kind of a derivative from my what car question. Righfully you guys recommended that I test drive the different cars I am thinking about to see if I actually like them in the metal not just on paper. My question is, if you're still in the early stage of choosing a car/car buying process and doing a test drive more to see if you like it or not how do you go about and do this especially if the car for sale is owned by a dealer? I don't want to waste the sales guy's time so should I be upfront that I am still early in my car buying process and may not buy that day? Should I rent from Truto so I have more time to try the car out? 

I've done test drive from individual sellers which seemed to be easier to say no to but I don't usually test drive a car from a dealer until I am ready to pull the trigger and negotiate on price. 

Appreciate everyone's input. Thanks. 

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom UltimaDork
7/23/21 4:05 p.m.

Part of the whole idea of a test drive is to find out whether you're interested in that car. There can be no obligation to buy when one of the not-unlikely outcomes is discovering that you don't like it that much.

I also do not cram all my car shopping into one day. Given how much fun going to a dealer is, my wife and I rarely visit more than two on a given day. The process may be spread out over weeks or months.

If you are genuinely planning on buying a car, and are considering the car you want to test drive as a candidate, you are golden as far as I'm concerned. Feel free to tell the salesperson that; they should have no problem, though they are likely to call you repeatedly to see whether you're ready to buy yet afterward. They also naturally will understand that there are other cars you wish to test drive, and will certainly be hoping that you disappoint those dealers instead.

84FSP
84FSP UltraDork
7/23/21 4:19 p.m.

I always use dealers to test a car that I may buy.  Even if it is going to be a private seller.  The sales person will be fine.  They let tons of folks that don't buy test drive.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/23/21 4:22 p.m.

This is the dealer's job. You're not wasting their time.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/23/21 4:26 p.m.

If the target cars are popular models, try visiting a Carmax for selection of many brands.  I think they are a lower presure type sales place too.  

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/23/21 4:30 p.m.

I'm way more likely to do really early test drives like this at a dealer than an individual. It's their job. 

Snrub
Snrub Dork
7/23/21 4:31 p.m.

I think you need to appear interested enough to potentially buy, so you can test drive, but don't lead them on after if you're not interested right now. I think there should be some chance of you buying when you test drive, even if it's not a lot.

Sales people are commissioned. Be willing to do right by someone who has given you their  time. Eg. Buy from them if it's reasonable to do so, if they were helpful through the process, etc. Even if you don't want to buy for a while, go back to that person later. Most new cars don't have a lot of margin, hence the salesperson doesn't make a lot. It doesn't really matter if you pay $100 more at one place than another, don't waste the time of 5 sales people to save $100. I'm not proposing you shouldn't get what you want, or you should over pay, etc, but be mindful of being a decent human to someone who has a tough job and deals with the general public at their worst.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/23/21 4:39 p.m.

In reply to Snrub :

I worked for a dealership for a while, prepping used cars. Based on what I overheard from the sales people, it's not the general public who are at their worst in those in encounters.

That said, I have given my business to a particular saleman who went out of his way to meet my specific needs. Humanity and helpfulness does pay.

Countingcrowbars
Countingcrowbars UltraDork
7/23/21 6:00 p.m.
ea_sport said:

I don't want to waste the sales guy's time so should I be upfront that I am still early in my car buying process  

They have no problem wasting your time though.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/23/21 6:42 p.m.

One of my hobbies in High School was to go to dealerships on the weekend and just test drive the cool stuff.  There was even one used car lot that knew I wasn't a buyer, but he was happy to ride along for any test drive because he knew one day I might bite.  (I never did).

If you are even the slightest bit interested in purchasing a car, a test drive is absolute first task after budget.  All the numbers on paper don't mean crap.

I remember shopping for a car when I went to college.  I always liked the looks and practicality of two cars at that time (late 80s/early 90s):  Mitsu Diamante, and Nissan Maxima.  I mean, come on... the Maxima was called a 4 door sports car and even had a 4DSC sticker on the window.  I went and test drove one of each and vowed to never put my butt in either one again.   They were both so far away from the expectation.  They were both hideous commuter sewing machines with good marketing.  Blech.  I ended up with a Chevy Beretta, which wasn't the quality choice, but light years ahead of either the Mitsu or the Nissan in the fun category.

Long story short... Even if you specifically go to a dealership with the intention of specifically wasting their time, you aren't wasting their time.  Think of it this way:  Imagine if a really hot person (car shopper) came up to you (salesperson) and asked you on a date (for a test drive).  Would you say "no way, this is too good to be true?"  They aren't going to decline a test drive based on whether or not they think you want to buy a car, they are going to dangle the goods in front of you.  A test drive might not lead to a sale, but denying a test drive will definitely mean NO SALE.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/23/21 6:55 p.m.

One more thing:

Number of vehicles I've test-driven from a dealer lot:  Eleventy billion
Number of vehicles I've bought from a dealer lot:  2

In fact, just before the pandemic I decided I wanted to look for a nice used Jaguar in a 250 mile radius.  I went to the jag dealer and test drove a couple in the era I was considering.  Then I went to a used lot and drove one of their Jags.  I wasn't going to shop for a vehicle if I didn't like how it drove.  Once you find the car you want (by narrowing it down and test driving some), THEN find a dealer with what you want and test drive it again.  THEN negotiate.

ea_sport
ea_sport Reader
7/23/21 7:56 p.m.
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter)
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
7/24/21 7:08 a.m.

I would even recommend renting an example of the car you are considering for a weekend, assuming you can find one in a rental fleet. Drive it for a few hours. You learn a lot about a vehicle over a weekend trip.

Barb_Dwyer
Barb_Dwyer New Reader
7/24/21 8:54 a.m.

In reply to ea_sport :

A CarMax has a variety of popular models, so try visiting it if your targets are popular vehicles.  It is also a place where there is less pressure to buy.  

gearheadmb
gearheadmb SuperDork
7/24/21 9:03 a.m.

If you're planning on buying from a dealership, it's not just the car you are trying out, it's the dealership themselves. Are they patient and helpful, or pushy and dont care about whether they make you happy. Our family dealt with the same salesman for decades until he retired. We could show up look around and not see what we wanted, tell him our specific wants and needs, and leave. We would usually get a call a few months from him saying he got a trade in that was just what we were looking for, and he was usually right. Sometimes he would just drop a car off at our house and say try it a few days. I miss that guy. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/24/21 9:42 a.m.
gearheadmb said:

If you're planning on buying from a dealership, it's not just the car you are trying out, it's the dealership themselves. Are they patient and helpful, or pushy and dont care about whether they make you happy. Our family dealt with the same salesman for decades until he retired. We could show up look around and not see what we wanted, tell him our specific wants and needs, and leave. We would usually get a call a few months from him saying he got a trade in that was just what we were looking for, and he was usually right. Sometimes he would just drop a car off at our house and say try it a few days. I miss that guy. 

So much truth in this.  The psychology of vehicle sales is to get you to move quickly and make a hasty decision.  They'll say "I have three other people waiting for this car," or "It won't be here tomorrow," and "what will it take to put you in this car today?"  We used to call it Meet, greet, and get em on the sheet.  The faster we could move to negotiations and put numbers in front of them, the sooner we can dash their hopes of a good deal and get them to open a wallet when we make an offer that lines our pockets.

There are some salespeople/buyers who have established a relationship and the salesperson knew that you would eventually buy from them, so they focus on trust and patience, but for a new customer... they want to move fast.

Pick a budget, stick to it, and be patient.  Nothing makes them negotiate a better deal like patience.  It's like hooking a big fish.  They'll reel in hard until they realize you're not coming without a fight.  They'll eventually start giving you extra line and using gentle tension so they don't break the line and let you swim away.  If you really want to help things along, open the calculator app on your phone and set it on the desk in front of you so they can see it.  They hate that.  They will bring you preposterous numbers to start with, like $900/mo for 72 months and you'd be surprised how many people just sign.  People with calculators realize that means you'll end up paying $65,000 over 6 years.  They tend to start with a lower number if you have a calculator.  Stronger position to start with.

You can also case the dealership.  Watch the employee parking early in the mornings.  When you see it full and the whole staff is there at 8am, chances are that is the weekly sales meeting.  This means two things:  1) whatever day it is... probably monday or tuesday... its likely that their sales week ended a couple days prior.  End of the sales week (usually Saturday) is when the results are tallied and we would meet on Monday or Tuesday to review the numbers and get a pep talk.  2) the day of the sales meeting is when the rookies are usually fired up to make deals happen.  

So, shopping at the end of the week can net better deals sometimes.  If they have sold 29 cars that week and have a healthy profit margin, they will sometimes sell one or more cars for less (or no) profit at the end of the week... more cars sold, more goals met, still a profitable average.  One of the two cars I bought was a rare-at-the-time brand new Impala SS.  I put a deposit on it when it came in on Tuesday (also the day of the sales meeting), then went in on Friday to negotiate.  I threatened to take my deposit back and gave them one more day.  Saturday I finished negotiating and got it for $200 over invoice.  I was also offered a sales job which I accepted.

GTwannaB
GTwannaB HalfDork
7/24/21 10:55 p.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Re psychology: I absolutely fell for the dealer line that they were sending the car back to auction the next Monday so I should act now. When I called back to ask if the car went to auction they were like 'what are you talking about?' But I bought it. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/24/21 11:11 p.m.

In reply to GTwannaB :

I once sold a used Escort to a college student.  She called the dealership and I happened to be the one who answered.  She had just come to town for college and needed a $3000 car (which we didn't have).  I told the auction folks to look for a $500 tank, which was a term we used for a car that would last long enough to keep us out of liability.  They bought this Escort for $400.  I called the buyer and told her about it.  She came in for her $3000 car and the sales manger ended up getting her to sign on $350/mo for 24 months.  She thought she hit the jackpot, but in reality she was paying us nearly $9000 for a car that cost us $470 after auction fees.

Turns out, PA has laws about how much profit dealers are allowed to make on a sale which we fortunately realized before stuff hit the fan.  I had to call her with the [complete BS] "good news that we found better financing and she now only has to pay $240/mo."  She was already a huge fan of our dealership, but to hear that we went the extra mile, she was a customer for life.  She had no idea that we set her up for complete credit destruction because she signed a contract that made her upside-down from day 1 on a car that was worthless.  I made a $540 commission on a sale of a car that cost us $470 and sold for a gross of $5390.  My berkeleying commission was more than we spent on the berkeleying car.

This is why I'm no longer in car sales.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
7/25/21 5:28 a.m.
ea_sport said:

My question is, if you're still in the early stage of choosing a car/car buying process and doing a test drive more to see if you like it or not how do you go about and do this especially if the car for sale is owned by a dealer?

Walk in the dealership and ask, "Can I take this car for a test drive?"

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
7/25/21 6:34 a.m.
gearheadmb said:

If you're planning on buying from a dealership, it's not just the car you are trying out, it's the dealership themselves. Are they patient and helpful, or pushy and dont care about whether they make you happy. Our family dealt with the same salesman for decades until he retired. We could show up look around and not see what we wanted, tell him our specific wants and needs, and leave. We would usually get a call a few months from him saying he got a trade in that was just what we were looking for, and he was usually right. Sometimes he would just drop a car off at our house and say try it a few days. I miss that guy. 

Having learned the sales trade at a couple of car dealers, here's the result.  Few people are really ready to buy.  If the price is good the color/options/ equipment/ something is wrong.  
     People buy used thinking they are saving money, when they need a car for the rest of their life and depreciation is just the price you pay for deciding wrong. 
    Only want something for a short period because you like variety? Lease or rent.  Learn to be honest with yourself up front.  The cool thing about a lease is how easy they can be converted to a purchase. In fact I've used that approach when I had a temporary cash flow problem. 
    Car sales isn't a hobby to the salesman.  It's a brutal way to make money and often the money isn't very much. The average salesman earns in waves. At the right dealership at the right time he might earn a very excellent income. Some time later he may be worried about making payments and feeding his family. 
     Turn over in sales is a fact of life.  Some don't even last a month. Few last more than 3 years without serious issues. Alcoholism, drugs, divorce, gambling. 
      Dealing with the public is awful. They are convinced you are cheating them, no matter how straight you are.  Their boss is on them constantly trying to get them to sell more, at greater profit, with more add ons.  If you achieve all of those you give away too much on trade ins. The client is never happy, the boss is never happy, and your wife isn't happy because you're working close to 70 hours a week and when you aren't at work you're constantly prospecting.  

Duke
Duke MegaDork
7/25/21 6:43 a.m.
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) said:

I would even recommend renting an example of the car you are considering for a weekend, assuming you can find one in a rental fleet. Drive it for a few hours. You learn a lot about a vehicle over a weekend trip.

I would recommend caution about that, however. Rental spec cars are often much less nice inside than their retail counterparts.

For example, my sister has an ex-rental base Pacifica and the seats are terrible compared to a regular dealer Pacifica.

 

yupididit
yupididit PowerDork
7/25/21 8:50 a.m.

Carmax will let you test drive most cars. But if it's a high performance car they'll make you apply for financing first. 

This is because an idiot test driving a c6z in Ontario CA crashed one and killed the salesman. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/25/21 11:14 a.m.
stuart in mn said:
ea_sport said:

My question is, if you're still in the early stage of choosing a car/car buying process and doing a test drive more to see if you like it or not how do you go about and do this especially if the car for sale is owned by a dealer?

Walk in the dealership and ask, "Can I take this car for a test drive?"

All of this ^^^

This is literally their job, to sell you on a car... and the absolute biggest part is putting your butt in the seat so you can drive it.

Me walking into a dealer:  Hey, I've been thinking about a Camaro, can we take this one out?
Salesperson with dollar signs in their eyes:  Sure, let me grab the keys.

P3PPY
P3PPY Dork
7/25/21 8:42 p.m.

It hasn’t come back up but yes Turo, because you get exactly the car you want, unlike regular rental, you get it long enough to get to know it, and yes, slow-mo video walk-around before taking possession 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
7/25/21 8:58 p.m.
Countingcrowbars said:
ea_sport said:

I don't want to waste the sales guy's time so should I be upfront that I am still early in my car buying process  

They have no problem wasting your time though.

Precovid the wife wanted to upgrade her Trailblazer to the new Traverse.  One Saturday we were upfront saying we're looking at the Traverse, Toyota thingie and the Honda Pilot and wanted to drive each one.  

The Toyota guy stretched it out forever and we felt he was wasting our time. We got annoyed and in the end after her owning four GM vehicles since 1981 she bought a Honda Pilot.  

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