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How to find and buy a new car

Consumer Reports offers advice to save you time and money

HARTFORD, Conn. – If you're in the market for a new car, once you have your choices narrowed down, how many times do you plan to visit the dealership before you get the keys?

Last month, Channel 4's Nikki Kimbleton took a trip to Consumer Reports' auto test track outside Hartford.  Engineers there offered their advice on what new car customers should do.

Engineers recommend going to a dealership three times before you buy:

  • You should go once in the morning, so you're good and fresh. 
  • You should go once in the evening, with the kids.  And, get them in the car to see how it is with the whole family in there.  Also, put the car seat in the back and see if you fit back there with them. 
  • The third time you go back, they say that's when you should buy.

"People have only so much time when they go to a dealer," Consumer Reports engineer Shawn Sinclair said. "And when they get in there, sometimes they just want to buy a car, but I think if they can at least do the two drives. It will help say yes, this is the car for me, or no, this is not the car for me."

There's another bonus to going back several times, you may be able to negotiate a better price or some extras. You may also realize features in the car that you need or don't need before you drive the off the lot.

Also keep in mind, even after you buy, you may have to make a trip back to the dealer. These days, some cars require a class to know how to properly work the controls.