Additional Resources:

How To Read A New Car Window Sticker –

What is a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) –

Here’s the script for the “Car Walkaround” video above:

Now you’ve met your sales rep who has grabbed the keys. Now we’re getting to the fun stuff!  It’s time for the car walkaround!

At this point, you’ve likely spent hours researching this car, but you still haven’t seen it and smelled it.  Now I may think that I know everything about the car, but I’ll still ask the sales rep to tell me a little about it.

The proper way for them to go about the car walkaround is to start from the front of the car, open the hood and explain the basics, then work you around through the passenger side opening every door and pointing out a relevant feature, moving to the trunk where they’ll show you the spare or flat repair kit, the window sticker will be affixed to the rear driver-side window, finally working you around the driver’s seat where you are to sit for your test drive.

Now that’s the proper way to do it.  We’ll see what happens though when you see the car with your sales rep.

Some will just read from the window sticker…Some will actually open every door hood and trunk all at the same time!  It makes the car look like it was all blown out.  Why they would want to show a car in its ugliest possible light in a way that no buyer would ever see it is beyond me.

But anyway, moving on.  I have them show me the car walkaround to gauge their level of proficiency as a sales rep.  They will get very uncomfortable if they don’t know what they’re doing, and that will only help you.  If it’s obvious, I may even point out to them that they don’t really know very much about something they want me to spend $30,000 or whatever on.


Because you never want to give away the upper hand.  They can be on equal footing with you or below, but never let them think they can put one over on you.

car walkaround

It’s at this point that you’ll want to look carefully over the body and interior of the car.  On a new car walkaround, take note of even the tiniest ding, mark, stain, dent, or scrape.  Even if you think it’s insignificant!

Firstly, because now you’ll notice it every single time you see the car forever.

More importantly, though, every single new car sold per manufacturer spec is to be sold in perfect factory condition.  The Dealer will be required to repair even the tiniest defect for free and within a few days of your purchase.  Take note of these things as we close in on negotiations.

On a used car, you’ll have to expect those types of things.  Bring up any damage, and the used car sales manager will just say,

“Well yeah, it’s a used car.  You want it perfect then buy a new one!”

Now let’s move over to some technical details.  On a new car or certified pre-owned from every manufacturer, you will find a window sticker detailing everything about the car and broken into sections.  It is mandatory that they are visible on all new cars.  I’ll include a link above detailing exactly what is in every section if you want to know more, but here are the basics.

At the top, you’ll always find the Year, Make, and Model of the car.  From here on out, box positioning can vary by manufacturer, but it will include a box with all standard equipment, all optional accessories if added, a suggested retail price, an EPA fuel economy box, government crash test ratings, where all the parts come from and final assembly point, as well as the VIN or Vehicle Identification Number.

This is where you’ll want to pay particular attention.

A VIN is a 17 digit code that is unique to every car built after 1981.  There are no two cars in the United States that have the same last eight digits.  If you really want to dig into VINs, I’m adding a link above as well.  You can find the VIN stamped right under the driver side window, as well as in the driver side door jam.

Here’s why it’s important.

It’s the only way to make sure that the exact car you want matches the one you are being shown.

Be sure to check the last six digits of the VIN against what’s stamped on the dash under the driver window compared with the printout you brought from the car you want, and make sure it matches the window sticker.

I say six because it’s easier to remember six digits, and though it’s possible that two cars from different manufacturers may have the same last 6, you should be able to tell the difference between a Honda and a Dodge without needing the sticker!

Make a note of the last 6 for later as well.  You will want to make sure they match up with everything on all your paperwork.

Finally, you may find something called a “Supplemental Sticker” taped right next to the factory sticker.  We call them Dealer Adds or Add-ons.  These are designed to get you to think that the vehicle is worth more than it is because the Dealer supposedly added more products to the car, and so they will use it as leverage to negotiate starting from well above sticker price.

Sometimes it’s fabric or paint protection, nitrogen tires, window tint, a service plan, wheel locks, alarm systems, or some stolen car recovery thing, and there are more.

At this point, all you’re doing is making a note of what they are.  I’ve got a whole lesson about Dealer adds when we get into the numbers.

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