New CarBuying a new car can be a stressful experience, and people usually have plenty of questions about the process. How does negotiation work? Is the dealership trying to rip me off? Do I need rustproofing? What happens if I plow through a bustling outdoor marketplace on a test drive, killing dozens; isn’t the salesperson responsible?

 I’m sure you’re sitting there smugly mouthing the answers to these without even thinking about it, but you’d be surprised at how many of us can’t do that. Not everyone can be as great as you, you know. Jeez.

Q. One of my friends said that the most important thing to remember when buying a new car is to make a good first impression. Is this true?

A. Yes! Just visit any dealership and you’ll see why this is the case. If you’re an average-looking clean-shaven individual, twelve bloodthirsty salesmen will immediately whoosh in and start swarming all around you like gnats. If it’s an American car dealership, they may even start shoving you or tearing at your clothing too. The best thing to do in this scenario is to just curl up in a ball, continuously scream "I'm just looking!" and wait for them to lose interest.

Suit GuyQ. But what can I do to gain the upper hand in the face of such tyranny?

A. I would suggest attempting to trick the salespeople. Clothe yourself in an oily shawl or torn rags and shuffle into the dealership with your head down. Employees with either avoid you completely, approach you and ask you to leave, or call the cops on you. No matter what happens, you should eventually shout something like “Behold, I am revealed in all my glory!” and allow the tattered clothing to fall from your body, revealing a well-made three piece suit or beautiful dress. Now you’ve got them.

Q. I've arrived at the dealership, but nobody is around to help me, what the hell is this crap?

A. The first thing to make sure of is that the dealership is actually open. I can't count the number of times I've broken into a darkened business late at night only to discover that it's closed. Check the hours on the front door.

But if the dealership is open and I still can’t find someone, I usually just start climbing on the various structures in the lobby and punching the doors of cars until the alarms go off while shouting “Heeeeelp! Heeelp! Oh god! OH SWEET JESUS NO!!!; Someone usually shows up within moments, and if they don’t, at least I had some fun.  

Car RiverQ. Sometimes I feel out of place at dealerships. How does someone shy like me go about browsing the lot?

A. Just strut around like you own the place. Remember, the employees are there to serve YOU. Unfortunately though, you’re probably going to have to have a salesperson with you whether you like it or not. You can try waving them away disgustedly or kicking at them if you’d like, but in my experiments this has had little discernible effect on their earnestness. You might attempt to lose them though.

One way would be just to run everywhere, vaulting over parking barriers and sliding across the hoods of cars while screaming the foulest curses you can imagine. The other (and far easier) method is to request a test drive. After the salesman has buckled himself into the seat next to you, engage the child safety lock and exclaim “Buddy, you’re in for the ride of your life!” Then drive the car towards a body of water or into a busy intersection at high speed, leaping out at the last second.

Q. How do I root out a quality car from the hundreds which are available?

A. Here’s a handy sort of checklist you can print out and consult while you look at cars:

Test Dent Resistance

Dent ResistanceGive each portion of the body (doors, bumpers, windows, etc.) a good strong kick with a thick boot to make sure the materials can withstand regular wear and tear.

If any portion of the car dents, shatters, or breaks off, shake your head while clucking your tongue and move on.

Take a “Stationary Test Drive”

Fake Test DriveClimb into the driver’s seat of the car and buckle the belt. Put on a pair of sunglasses and start pressing all the buttons, fiddling with the knobs, and pulling every lever. Grip the steering wheel firmly with both hands and turn left and right it as if you were driving while making a vrooming sound.

If you’d like you can add in some airplane sounds and machine gun fire as well, even though it doesn’t make sense.

Perform an Engine Check

Engine CheckStart the car and open the hood. Look around for a fast-moving belt or spiny wheel of some kind (you may have to tear off a few plastic pieces to get to one).

When you’ve located it, put your face, hand, or other appendage inside in an attempt to stop it. If the engine seizes, it’s no good.It isn't stealing if nobody finds out.

Check Ash Trays for Change

Free Change!
If you find any, it’s yours to keep. It isn't stealing if nobody owns the car yet.

Continue to Part 2 (Financing) ->