For the first time in my life, I'm shopping for a new car. Previously, I've always driven used--ranging from a "gee I hope it doesn't stall on this next turn" 1982 Ford Fairmont to a "well, it sure picked the wrong place to die on I-84 outside of Sturbridge, MA" 1987 Grand Marquis to a "there is a lot of frozen water inside the car" 1987 Oldsmobile. My current car is actually a great, well-maintained Lexus that I enjoy quite a bit, but with starting a new job and new commute, I've decided I need fuel efficiency more than anything.
(I should note that prior to my current job, I've always been able to walk or take public transportation to work, which I consider far superior to dueling with dangerous insane morons on the highways. You know how we don't want dangerous, insane morons to go around carrying guns? Well they're also lethal as they steer thousand pound rolling blocks of steel and glass at over 60 mph)
I've heard the stories about how car dealers can sniff out a cornpone goober of a sucker a mile away, and immediately rip you off by selling undercoating and gonkulators that you don't need. So here's my guide for how not to look like some rube who just fell off the turnip truck:
1) Kick the tires of a car you're looking at. It demonstrates that you know what you're doing.
2) Next, open the hood, look at all the wires, and let out an audible whistle (if you can't whistle well, then sigh audibly). This gives the dealer a sense that you're not totally sold on the car.
3) If they offer free doughnuts at the dealership, take two. This way, you've gotten breakfast tossed in with your car, for the same price. It shows them that you understand value.
4) If they ask if you want an added feature, just repeat the added feature out loud while stroking your chin, like so: "extended warranty . . ." Then say no thanks, you just ate.
5) If you're a woman, say right off the bat that just because you're a woman you deserve respect and won't tolerate any attempts to rip you off. Dealers immediately realize that you're to be taken seriously and will cut through their normal spiel.
6) The best negotiating tactic is to seem uninterested. Tell them you just came by to use their bathroom, but hey, while you're at it you might as well see what they have in certified pre-owned stock.
7) If they try to offer you financing, ask if they can offer you a checking account along with it. When they act confused, backtrack and say that you realize they're not a bank, it was just a little joke you and your sophisticated car buying friends like to tell when you celebrate a great buy.