How to Buy a Car | Edmunds

7. Close the deal.

If the price, financing and fees look right, it’s time to say yes to the deal. From here, you can proceed in one of two ways: Buy at the dealership or have the car and paperwork delivered to your home.

Most people tend to wrap up the sale at the dealership. Once you’ve agreed on a price, the salesperson will take you to the finance and insurance office. That’s where you’ll sign the contract and purchase any of the additional products we discussed earlier, such as an extended warranty.

The alternative is to make the sale contingent on having your new car delivered to your home or office. Doing so is a great time-saver and allows you to close the deal in a relaxed environment. This has become far more common now as dealerships have adapted to doing business during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you do request home delivery, even if the sale is contingent on it, you’ll get more cooperation if you’ll agree to receive the car at home during a slow time at the dealership (think Mondays).

Wherever you finalize the deal, review the contract carefully and make sure the numbers match the out-the-door breakdown. Be sure there are no additional charges or fees. A good finance manager will explain each form and what it means. Don’t hurry. Buying a car is a serious commitment. And remember: There is no cooling-off period. Once you sign the contract, the car is yours.

8. Take delivery

Whether you take delivery of your car at the dealership or at your home, it should be clean and the gas tank should be full. Give the car a final walk-around, checking for any dents or scratches that might have occurred during transport.

Finally, let the salesperson give you a tour of your new car. The rundown should include showing you how to pair your smartphone via Bluetooth and demonstrating other important features and safety devices. All of this information is in the owner’s manual. But let’s face it, very few people ever read the manual, which can be hundreds of pages long.

If you don’t have time for a complete demonstration when you sign the contract, set up an appointment a week or so later. With the amount of technology that comes in most new cars, that walk-through is important and very useful. You’ll learn tricks and shortcuts you might not find on your own.

And now there is only one more thing to do: Enjoy your new car.


How do you go about buying a car?
Buying a car is a fairly detailed process. But at its core, it involves identifying and locating the vehicle you want, test-driving it, securing financing, negotiating a fair selling price, and closing the deal by signing the paperwork. Learn more.

How much do you need to put down on a car?
A 20% down payment has long been the recommendation. But given how expensive new cars are today, it is hard for most people to handle that amount comfortably. Edmunds recommends combining a down payment of around 10% on a new car with gap insurance or new-car replacement insurance coverage. That lets you keep more money in your pocket without the risk of being underwater on your car loan. On a used vehicle, try for a down payment of at least 10%. If you lease, the advice is much simpler: Put as little money down as possible. Ideally, you’d pay only the drive-off fees. Learn more.

What is the cheapest way to buy a car?
In the long run, buying a used car, paying it off, and keeping it for a number of years is the least expensive way to buy a car. Used cars aren’t for everyone, however. If you want the latest technology or like getting into a new car every three years, buying new or leasing is the route to take. If a cheap monthly payment is your primary goal, leasing might be the best approach. Learn more.

What is the best month to buy a car?
For new cars, December has the highest discounts off MSRP. But most of the deals will be on the outgoing model year. The selection may be limited at this time, so if you’re particular about color or the options you want, it may be worth shopping in October and November. Learn more.