New Car Buying Checklists

sales person with new car in dealership

They have a process. Shouldn't you?

You’ve used the Automobl Comparison Tool to help you narrow down your search for a new vehicle. Now it’s time to start visiting dealerships. Don’t leave home without our New Car Buying Checklists.

With an expenditure into the multiple thousands of dollars, and one you’ll have to live with for a number of years, you have to do your homework. There’s a lot to think about when you’re at the dealership.

That’s why we’ve put together four checklists to make it easier for you to not miss things while you’re at the dealer. We’ve broken them down in the following way.

You should be looking at a dealer as a long term partner, long past the time you drive off in your new car or SUV. You’ll be going back for service, maybe to add an accessory or two to you new vehicle, and hopefully, return for your next new ride. We have a number of points that you should review as you go through the dealership, as well as some things you might not think of on the spot. These items include things like:

  • Are the bathrooms clean?
  • Is there adequate customer parking?
  • Is there a dedicated area for a new vehicle delivery, or will you have to huddle in the rain to pick up your new vehicle?
  • Does the service department offer loaner vehicles?
  • Is your vehicle washed and vacuumed after every service?

You can make notes about individual dealers, and quickly email yourself the checklist for future reference.

With luck, the vehicle you want is right on the showroom floor. It might not be the trim level you want, so you’ll have to keep this in mind as you look at it. We break your evaluation of the showroom vehicle down into five sections, with a few examples from each.


  • Can you get in and out of the vehicle easily?
  • Do you actually like it, now that you see it in the showroom?


  • How’s the headroom?
  • Can the back seat hold your sprouting teenager?
  • What about storage for pens, coins and parking passes?
  • Can you stash a laptop out of sight?

Driver’s Seat

  • Is it comfortable?
  • Are the controls accessible and easy to use?
  • How is the visibility from the driver’s point of view?

Back Seat

  • We ask you to adjust the driver’s seat to your liking, then go and sit in the back seat directly behind the driver. Do you fit?
  • Are there USB ports for charging phones?
  • What about bottle and cupholders? Nearby or a reach away?


  • Will an open hatch or trunk hit you in the head when you lean in or stand up?
  • Are there power points (12V or 110V) to use in the back?
  • Is there enough space to carry what you need to carry, when you need to carry it?

The test drive is sensory overload. There’s so much going on before, during and after the test drive, that it’s hard to collect your thoughts. We advise you to take a few minutes to try and pair your phone to the car, and see how that goes. Is the process intuitive or do you want to call Alan Turing? How is visibility once you’re on the road. Is the ride harsh or smooth? Does acceleration and braking give you confidence? Flip through the checklist questions before your drive and it’ll be easier to fill out when you’re done.

There’s lots to check over on a new vehicle. Sets of keys, warranty and owner’s manuals, a quick test drive, the handing off of the funds for the vehicle. A delivery specialist should be showing you how to use the audio system, connect to on-board WiFi, where to fill the windshield washer fluid and how to fuel the car. It’s a lot of information, and we think our checklist for Delivery breaks it down into easy sections so you can make sure your new vehicle is everything it should be.

Email It To Yourself

You can make notes for each car buying checklist, and notes for each section of the delivery process. We’ve also included an email field. You can email yourself each car buying checklist right from your phone as you complete them during your dealership visit. This will make it easy to compare dealerships, cars and test drives. We don’t collect your email address from the Checklists. You’ll only get email from us if you’ve subscribed to Automobl.

Use the checklists as you evaluate the vehicles that are on your shopping list. Consult our New Car Buying Course for more detail about the buying process. And of course, consult the Automobl Comparison Tool to ensure you’re getting the features on the vehicles you’re shopping that mean the most to you.

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