Here are five of the best practices recommended by your Car Pal:
1. Contact (using the selected dealership's "contact us" page) five dealerships in, or close to, your preferred purchase locations. If the dealership requires a phone number and you aren't comfortable with that, put 555-1212 and write that you prefer to be contacted by email. If the dealership requires your location in order to hear back from them, I suggest you put that dealership on your "skip" list.
2. Immediately rule out those Internet departments that don't send an email back confirming your request for information or that insist that you come in in person, or request that you make a phone call to contact them. Make sure to check your "spam" or "bulk mail" folders, however as their emails are likely to wind up there.
3. Once you have received the first email, ask in your reply if they have the ability, interest and management permission to handle most of the initial and pre-final purchase work entirely via email. This will save you and them a lot of time and aggravation.
4. If you need to schedule some test drives, confirm in advance that you will be visiting solely for the test drive, and that you will want to handle the pricing and fine tuning the precise vehicle you want via email (or phone if you prefer) after you leave the dealership. This will save you a lot more time as you won't be delayed at the dealership waiting for pricing, which can often take an hour or more on premises depending on how busy the desk manager is, etc. This also allows you the freedom to make your purchase elsewhere if the terms are more favorable.
5. You're all set now - finish your pre-purchase work by email and/or phone and your final step is to ask that the vehicle be ready for an inspection and orientation test-drive prior to your arrival on pick-up day and that all paperwork be pre-printed. This will involve your scanning and emailing all applicable driver's licenses and insurance documentation in advance.
When you're all finished, feel free to contact Car Pal for our free "check your deal" analysis. Car Pal will be able to tell you if we can improve your deal in less than 8 business hours.