Copyright 2004-2021 Sally Jennings at Speak-Read-Write.com

The Canadian Immigrant Magazine published a version of this article in June 2004.

I Want to Buy A Car - Talking Cars

Learn English for Buying a Car

by Sally Jennings

Everyday situations like buying a car require everyday language, special terms, and sometimes even slang.

"Would you like to look at this model?" the car salesperson asks. "Yes. But, does it have...?" I pause. What is that called in English again? That device that will maintain the car's speed when I take my foot off the gas pedal. Oh yes, it's "cruise control." And how about that window that opens on the roof? Yes, a "sunroof."

Before you even set foot on a car lot, take the time to learn the specialized words that are part of car buying.  That way, you will ensure you ask for, and get, everything you want.  Plus, you want to understand what the salesperson is telling you.

Where can you look for the words you will need to know when car shopping?  Newspaper classified advertisements are a good place to start.  The ads contain abbreviations for makes and models of cars like "SUV," for sport utility vehicle," or LX," for a model that has certain "features," or special extras. The term "loaded" means the vehicle has many extra features. "Mint" means the car is in excellent shape, nearly new.

Note that vehicle ads are often grouped according to type of vehicle. "Domestic" vehicles, those made in North America, are often separated from "import" vehicles, and trucks and vans" are separate from "cars." The car make (name of the car manufacturer), model (the name of the car) and the year the car was made are almost always listed in the ad.  Other abbreviations include "A/C" for air-conditioning, "auto" for automatic transmission and "manual" for manual transmission (otherwise known as a "stick-shift" or "standard").

Another excellent car vocabulary source is the manufacturer's web site. If you have a printed brochure, you can point to it to show the salesperson what you want. Perhaps you are interested in discussing the "manufacturer's warranty," the repairs or replacements the maker will pay for in a specific time period.

When you look at the vehicle in the showroom, it is acceptable to tell the salesperson you  want more time to discuss the offer with someone else who is with you. The polite way to say this is, "Could you please give us more time to discuss this?" or, " We are interested, but we need time to talk." The salesperson may reply "Sure, no problem, just tell me when you are ready."

When you sit down with the salesperson to talk about price, don't worry if you cannot pronounce the numbers.  Remember, this person wants to make a sale. You can always write down the amount of your offer and show it to him or her. A useful term to know is "final offer," the most money you want to pay, or the least amount of money the auto dealer will accept. Perhaps the dealer will throw in a "freebie," giving you something extra for nothing.

If everything works out, once you are through with the financing and insurance papers, you will be the proud owner of a new "set of wheels."

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