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By Jim Kerr
In part one of “Buying another vehicle,” I looked at defining what you really need and can afford when shopping for another new or used vehicle. This is the hard part, often overlooked by many buyers until they are out shopping. By then, there are so many choices on the market it can be overwhelming. By defining what you are looking for and making a list of vehicles in that category, you are doing exactly the same thing you would do if you were doing some smart grocery shopping. Making a list and sticking to it (unless there is something really special that just happens along) will focus your efforts, making the shopping task quicker, cheaper and easier.
Next, it’s time to do a little research: check vehicle reviews for pros and cons about a particular vehicle. Vehicle reviewers drive hundreds of vehicles a year and become quite good at identifying how a vehicle stands up against the competition. Some problems only show up after many thousands of kilometres, so if you are looking at used vehicles, be sure to check out consumer magazines and reports about used car reliability. Fortunately, most vehicles are pretty good these days.
Finally, it is time to visit the car lots. The salesperson’s job it to help you select a car. After narrowing down the selection using the criteria you have previously identified (hopefully), they may suggest a test drive. They will typically want to see your driver’s license and may take a copy if you are going out by yourself on a test drive. Usually the salesperson will accompany you on the drive. What you don’t want to do is sign anything or put any deposits down against the vehicle. Any reputable lot will let you test drive a vehicle without providing a deposit. If not, walk away.
Drive the car over a variety of road surfaces and at different speeds to give it a fair test. Many salespeople have already identified a good test route near their place of business and can show you around. Many buyers feel intimidated or unsure during the test drive and “baby” the car. Drive it like you normally would.