Car Pro Guide to Navigating Auto Shows

Car and Auto Shows


2019 LA Auto Show.
2019 LA Auto Show. Credit: LA Auto Show.

One of the many casualties of Covid-19 last year was auto shows. While we've just today learned the 2021 North Texas Auto Show in Dallas-Fort Worth scheduled for late June has been cancelled, other shows are currently on the calendar beginning in May, including ones in Houston, San Antonio, and Los Angeles.

Auto shows are great for car shoppers with so many makes and models in one place. At the same time, they can be a bit daunting, depending on their size. So here are some tips on how to tackle them so you can make the most of your time there.

Time Your Visit

Go early to avoid the biggest crowds. Youíll have more time with the vehicles and trained product specialists. Opening weekends are also generally the most crowded and sometimes thatís your only choice for smaller shows. If the show is going on longer, try a weekday instead. (The LA Auto Show says average attendees spend up to 5 hours at the show. Auto Shows of North America puts the overall average time spent at auto shows at 3.5 hours.)

Prioritize But Be Open-Minded

A fairly recent study found that 2 out of 3 attendees at auto shows were in the market to purchase a new vehicle in the next year, and that 12 month intenders added an average of 1 brand per household to their consideration list. With that in mind, start with your favorite brands or certain models on your must-see list, but be open-minded to other unexplored options that might pique your interest. Get a map of the layout and pinpoint where your favorites are and try to avoid zigzagging back and forth (your feet will thank you, too.) Note, not all brands attend all shows.

Upcoming 2021 Auto Shows In Car Pro Show listening areas:

Assess Your Specific Needs

If you have special needs of any kind, an auto show can be your friend. You generally have fantastic access to vehicles and most models are open for you to explore, except if it is a production or concept model. I hear from people all the time who are short, tall, large, and small, wanting to know what car will fit them best. Although I drive well over 100 cars a year, I cannot relate to someone who is drastically different in size to me. I hear from people who have back problems, hip problems, etc. and I would have to have the same problem to know what will best fit them. Getting into and out of every vehicle made, all under one roof, can be a savior. If you have specific needs for cargo area, take a tape measure with you to the auto show, that will help you get a vehicle perfect for your needs.

Take Notes, Photos and Compare

Take the opportunity at an auto show to compare multiple vehicles in one spot. Jot down notes about the vehicles you are comparing because after a couple of hours, they tend to run together. A list of pros and cons is also helpful. Take your own photos and use them to compare models later.

Talk to a Product Specialist

Donít rush things. Spend some time with the cars and ask product specialists questions about ones that catch your eye. They are walking encyclopedias of information about the vehicles they are representing. You canít actually buy cars at an auto show so the lack of pressure is refreshing. Their goal is to woo you with information, make a friend and a future customer.

Ask about Safety and Driver Assist Technology

Safety features and advanced driver assist technologies (ADAS) are important factors for many car buyers. Make sure you ask what features a specific make and model offers, and importantly what is standard and what is not. While some lineups are offering more standard safety features, others are still reserved for upper trim levels. At larger shows, some automakers have demonstration displays highlighting their systems like Subaru EyeSight.

Ask About Extra Manufacturer Rebates

While automakers canít sell vehicles at auto shows, oftentimes, they offer extra manufacturer rebates to attendees. I have seen incentives of $500 or more for people who visit an auto show, then buy in the next month or so, so be sure to ask about those. They are especially prevalent at the auto shows in major metro areas.

Take On-Site Test Drives

Many automakers are offering ďRide and DrivesĒ at these shows and itís a great opportunity to take one without any hassle, provided you meet the manufacturerís driving requirements and have a valid driverís license.

Covid Precautions

While plans are still being made, every auto show sponsor I have talked to so far will have safety protocols in place. There will be hand sanitizer everywhere, some may take your temperature upon arrival, and some may require masks. These plans are preliminary at this time and subject to change depending on the numbers still infected at the time of the show.

Good Luck!

At the end of your auto show visit, your feet may be tired, but hopefully you are leaving better prepared to make a car buying decision than when you arrived. The next step is to visit one of our CarProUSA Certified Dealers with your VIP Certificate for a longer test drive.

Photo Credit: LA Auto Show
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