Tips and Tricks to Land a Hybrid

If you have your heart set on a hybrid, be prepared to plunk down a deposit without even test driving one and then sit on a waiting list for two to six months.

Still, there are a few things you can do to get your hands on one of these fuel-efficient cars as gas prices rise.

Our friends at Consumer Reports buy 80 cars a year, and offered this advice: Call every dealership in your state and neighboring states. Depending on what you're looking for, you may get lucky and find one.

Ask each dealer how many people are on their waiting lists and how many hybrids they get each month. Do the math, and put your name on the shortest waiting lists.

If you don't care about color, you can get a hybrid in half the time, according to one salesman we spoke with. So if you're all about saving gas and saving the environment, you're in luck.

Consider a used hybrid. It opens up more options. Used car superstore Carmax offers an "alert" feature on its Web site. You type in the type of car you're looking for, and you receive an e-mail when there's one available.

Because hybrids are so hot right now, dealers can charge full price for them. So be conscious of which ones get the best gas mileage so you can recoup your costs sooner.

When you finally get one, keep it -- a long time. It takes a while to break even on a hybrid because, though they help you save on gas, they cost more than conventional cars. One way to make the most of your investment is to keep the car as long as possible.

For more on Elisabeth Leamy's hunt for a hybrid, click here.