Answers To What I Assume Are The 10 Most Common New Car-Buying Questions

Illustration for article titled Answers To What I Assume Are The 10 Most Common New Car-Buying Questions

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m almost a century old and I’ve never bought a new car. New autogyros, hovercraft, locomotives, sure, but never a car. There’s just too many good used cars out there, and new cars depreciate far too quickly. Still, I know that many of you do wish to buy new cars, and, despite my entire and comprehensive lack of experience, I think I can help.


I’ve compiled a list of what I believe, according to statistics I found scrawled in what I really hope is Worcestershire sauce on some drywall scraps, are the ten most commonly asked questions about new car buying.

I do hope these answers help you out!

1. What is 0 percent ASMR?

You’ll hear about this a lot when car shopping, but you should be careful not to confuse it with 0% APR, which has to do with car loans and rates of percentage, annually, or some nonsense like that.

0 percent ASMR is much more important, and is when a dealer is contractually obligated, in writing, to not send you any videos or recordings of themselves chewing, eating, whispering, or making any other ASMR-triggering noises.

2. Why do car salespeople keep trying to force their fingers into my mouth?

This is a common and well-known tactic to make a potential buyer more pliant and amenable to the salesperson. If it happens to you, the best response is to pretend like you don’t notice, and keep talking and looking at the car as normal. Eventually, the salesperson is likely to extract their fingers.

Just be careful not to gag on their fingers, because in some states that could mean that the dealer “wins” and can legally sell you a car of their choosing.

3. How come when I tried to go back to the Mercury dealer to pick up my new Tracer, there was just an old man there telling me that the Mercury dealership closed ten years ago today?


4. Is it normal to “practice sign” loan documents several times?

Again, this is a devious dealer trick. While, yes, you may wish to “practice sign” loan docs, you should always sign the name “Abraham Lincoln” for practice runs until you are ready to do it for real, when you should sign “Abraham Lincoln’s trusted friend, [your name here].”


Also, it’s very uncommon for dealers to need to “prime” their credit card reader by running your card for a $100 charge more than once. Even for very old readers, once should be fine. 

5. Are six urine samples too many to be required to test drive a new car?

Yes. No reputable dealer requires more than two, at the most. A smart move is to fill three sample containers, but make a big show about dumping one out on the ground. That will let the dealer know you’re no one to be trifled with.


6. If the salesperson I’m driving with begged me not to end the test drive until he’s able to stop sobbing but I can tell that there’s no way we can make it back with the amount of gas we have left, am I required to pay for the gas to get back or can I interrupt him and ask him to pay for the gas?

This comes up an awful lot, and the unfortunate truth is that as of yet, there is no one accepted answer. Personally, I believe the technically correct thing to do is let the salesperson pay for the gas, but the kind thing to do is just take care of it yourself.


7. Is it true I can’t buy a BRZ if I’m “too ugly?” How does Subaru decide who’s too ugly? If the dealer’s machine says I’m too ugly, can I buy a Toyota 86 still?

Subaru’s policies on this are still very controversial, but, yes, most buyers can avoid the hassle and potential for self-esteem harm by just buying the Toyota 86, which is effectively the same car as the BRZ, but without Subaru’s severe aesthetic rules.


Subaru has not revealed their criteria, and as of yet, we are not sure how the dealership “Optical Evaluators” work, as Subaru has kept that information a closely-guarded secret.

Sure, you save a few grand on the BRZ, but I’m not sure it’s worth encouraging that sort of behaviour in Subaru.


8. Can a dealer really check your credit rating with a “mildly invasive” physical exam?


9. Is it true that driving your current car onto a dealer lot is an accepted statement of action that “forfeits your right” to ownership of your present car, because of the inherent betrayal?

No. There is no such law in any state. However, the betrayal to your car is real, and something you will need to address as you shop for a new car.


10. If the salesman can trick you into catching the keys to a car by yelling “think fast!” and lobbing them at you, are you legally required to buy the car at full MSRP?

Absolutely. That is why you should swat to the ground anything a car dealership employee attempts to hand or throw you: coffee, doughnuts, paperwork, kittens, anything. Swat it to the ground.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!:


Duke of Kent

McParland! You’re out! Torch is answering the car-buying questions from now on!