1. Have a Plan: The last thing you want to do is go to look at Sedans and end up test driving Mini Vans. Remember, you are the expert on what you you need. If you are leaning between two types of vehicles, that is fine, but don't waste time on what you don't want!
2. Do the Research: When you go to test drive cars, know what vehicles have high consumer report ratings, have the fuel effeciency you are looking for, and will stay out of the service department. Also, have a good idea of what the cars MSRP is and what you are expecting to pay. If you want the sales team to take you seriously, you need to show them you have spent the time and know what you are talking about.
3. Sales People: Think of them as your car therapist, if you don't like them, you aren't going to tell them what you need. If the first person that approaches you on the lot rubs you the wrong way, go to into the dealership and ask to talk to the manager. Let them know what sort of person you are looking to help you find the right vehicle. This goes a long long way. Remember you need to work out a ton of details, so don't settle for someone you are not happy to be working with.
4. Don't Sit Unless You Are Ready To Buy: When you sit down to work out the details on the price, make sure you are ready to write a check. Nobody is ever going to give you the best deal if you arent' ready to write the check.
Hope this helps you save some time on your next purchase!