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The Key to Smart Car Shopping is Knowledge from "My Car, My Life"

Updated on July 7, 2014

MCLC has been helping a gal pal and reader recently in her quest for a new vehicle. When it comes to researching, she has been fearless! She starts on the manufacturer’s website to get all the preliminary information. She then visits TrueCar (www.truecar.com), Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com), and Edmunds (www.edmunds.com). And she hasn’t done this for one vehicle, but numerous models.


We went on a test drive weekend and the knowledge she had became a formidable tool. Sales people cowered when she went into details about interior volume, leg room and head room – all information salespeople have available for their review but surprisingly few were conversant in it. All they seemed interested in was getting us into a test driver and then asking for the sale.

The more she talked details – and compared key details vehicle-to-vehicle, the more they backed off. But when she was acting like she had seen enough, they would ask for the sale, start pushing to close the deal.

This brings us to an important bit of understanding about automobile salespeople: They want to do one thing – sell a car. They don’t want to be a fount of information. They don’t want to be your library resource. They want to sell you a car from their lot today.

So, you, as an independent woman, need to do your homework to keep these guys where you want them – fetching demo cars.

And if you really want to dazzle them with your thoroughness, do the tire “born-on date” examination. Get on your hands and knees and check the manufacturing date code on every tire. You’ll be shocked at what you find. When MCLC did its check on four vehicles, none of them had a complete, matched set of tires. And the 2010 executive car one dealership was selling as an unregistered used car had a completely mismatched set of shoes – all made during different months of, get this, 2007. That’s right! A 2010 car wearing 2007 shoes. And we’re talking a high-priced German performance brand, not some econo box. The salesman was speechless…especially since he had just remarked, “No need to worry about tires for awhile, these are practically new.”


Surviving the car shopping experience is all about knowing what you know – because you’ve done your homework. It’s also about gaining the respect of the salesperson so you call the shots instead of being led by him – or her – to make a deal that is all about them making a sale and not about you getting the car that best meets all your needs.

Applied knowledge is power…and never has that axiom been more true than in the car shopping experience. The right knowledge will give you the power to take charge and ensure you get what you want for the deal you want.

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