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Questions to Ask When Buying a New Car

Buying a new car

We bought our current car back in 2006, brand new from the dealership. It was largely a purchase driven of necessity ... the old one had finally reached that tipping point where it was more expensive to repair than what it would be worth to trade it in. We also didn't do a lot of research because my partner is fiercely loyal to the Saturn brand.

But now that Saturn is no more (so much for brand loyalty), when we buy a new car again, we'll have a lot more research to do and questions to ask. Buying a new car (well, any car, really) seems so stressful. What are some good questions to ask when you hit the dealership shopping for your new ride?

  • Has the car been used as a demo or test drive? Not all test drives go smoothly; make sure you get the details on how the car has been treated. Did the salesperson practice doing donuts in the parking lot on Sunday morning? A small amount of mileage may be acceptable, but make sure you know what kind of mileage it is.
  • What is the total price of the car after fees and licensing? Dealerships will often try to focus you on the monthly payment rather than the total price of the car (after all, most of us budget on a monthly basis). But a few more dollars a month can really add up on a 5 year loan. Make sure the total price you're paying is in line with what you expect to pay. You may need to compare your options such as manufacturer's rebate vs 0% interest or the deal your bank offers vs the loan the dealership offers. Make sure you understand the dollars and cents of the deal.
  • Does this car make me happy? After you've taken it for a test drive, assess your mood ... does it make you happy when you drive it? Is everything comfortable and in reach? Will it fit your lifestyle (kids, large pets, surfboards)? Do you enjoy driving it? You don't want to buy such a big ticket item if it doesn't put a smile on your face.

  • Is that the best you can do? It's always worth asking this question at least once in your purchase process. Make sure you are taking advantage of manufacturers' rebates and incentives as well as incentives from the dealership. But car purchase negotiations can be incredibly stressful and aren't for everyone. There is help through services like Unhaggle and Car Cost Canada.  

These, of course, aren't the only questions you should ask., the well-known online source for automotive information, has an extensive guide for first time new car buyers.While the information is geared towards the American market, there is a lot of pertinent and detailed information in the guide.

Oh, and you won't be the only one asking questions at the dealership. The salesperson at the dealership will be asking YOU a lot of questions as well in an attempt to get you to do the deal. Anticipate what they will be asking with this helpful list.

And, finally, if you have an old car you want to trade-in or resell, check out our tips on preparing your car for resale.

Have you bought a new car recently? Any tips you want to share?

- Rose R.


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Jon Lim

Thanks for the mention Rose!

To add to your tips, I would say that doing your homework is a must. Unhaggle provides the dealer cost of the vehicle, as well as all of the options, but also the advertised and non-advertised manufacturer incentives, as well as mandatory fees.

Knowing all of this makes it much easier to set proper expectations about what prices to aim for, with clear and logical explanations about how you got that number. Armed with that number, a dealer will be more likely to work with you to get the best price on your new car.

Good luck with shopping for new cars!

Jon from Unhaggle

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