Posts By: BarkM

By on June 23, 2016

bark green screen

For over four years now I’ve contributed to this site and others as “Bark M.” Initially, there was some confusion about who I was, why I had a pseudonym, and if I was possibly Jack Baruth in disguise. I’ve spent that time giving you my insights on the automotive industry, the inside scoop on what goes on at dealers, and everything I know about the car-buying business.

Yet, now and then, somebody who disagreed with me would pipe up: “You don’t know what car dealerships are like,” or “What are your credentials, buddy?” I could never really share anything other than, “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

Today, I’m here to tell you that my name is Mark Baruth, and for the last four years I worked on the inside of one of the biggest companies in the automotive world. This is my story.

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By on June 21, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.12.27 AM

Scott writes:

Dear Bark,

Can you explain the continued existence of dealer sales and service surveys? I recently had my stick-shift 2013 Accord Sport in for a required maintenance, which included an oil change. When I picked up the car, I noticed that the technician had not reset the oil life indicator. So I did it myself.

Two days later, I received a call from the service department asking about the quality of service I received. When I told them everything was fine except that they didn’t reset the oil life indicator, the service rep asked, “Would that prevent you from giving us a passing grade on a customer survey?” I said that given the almost-perfect service, I’d award them four stars out of five. (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2016

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How old do you think the average new car buyer in America is? Go on, take a guess. Based on all of the ridiculous advertising strategies you see lately, you might think that the average new car buyer was a hip, trendy, Generation Y hoopy frood, wearing his beanie to buy organic, fair-trade coffee at the Park Slope Starbucks. (Confession: I went to the Park Slope Starbucks daily during the New York Auto Show this year. Parking was surprisingly easy.)

But no! According to the NADA, the average new car buyer is 51.7 years old, and earns about $80,000 per year. In comparison, the average age of Americans is 36.8 years, and the median income is roughly $50,000. In other words, Baby Boomers are buying all of the new cars right now. There are all sorts of people on the Internet who will tell you why this is a horrible comment on today’s bleak economic landscape (oh, here’s one), but I’m here to tell you that the future of new car sales could be changed with just a bit of clever marketing.

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By on June 14, 2016

2008 Mazda5, Image: Mazda

Charles writes:

Good morning Bark,

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles hired me about a year ago, which coincided with the first anniversary of a five-year loan on my 2009 Mazda5 Sport. However, I’d really like to get into a company car as a show of support, and because I’m tired of paying five-year loans on cheap used cars.

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By on June 9, 2016

Used Car Dealership NYC

Not all used cars are created equal.

Used cars have become somewhat commoditized in the last five years, thanks to the rise of pricing tools and third-party advertisers, but there’s still some truth behind the old school notion that every used car is a unicorn.

While most car dealers mean that each car is unique in its mileage, color, trim level, and condition, there’s one hugely important factor that most dealers would prefer you ignore: how they obtained the car.

Each car on the lot has its own story, and knowing those stories might help you figure out if you want a particular car to become part of your life story.

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By on June 7, 2016

flexdriveway

John writes:

Bark,

We (me M52, F39, M15, F10) really need to step up our fleet (2006 Honda Pilot 240K mi, 2005 Honda Element 170K mi). We need to replace the Pilot as family car, and probably (for now) keep both Hondas rolling for my use and, soon, my son’s use too.

In the fullness of time I’d like to get us a plugin C-Max, especially given the uneventuality of the TTAC Long-Term Test C-Max. But, the rear legroom is less than our Pilot and our 15-yo boy is not getting any smaller. This would not be a good solution for weekend family expeditions of any length.

For now I’d like to start the fleet upgrade with a used Flex, post 2013 for the design refresh, has to be AWD because we have snow and a very steep, twisty drive home, really want the 6-pass version to keep the kids out of each others’ hair (2nd-row bench seat has proven contentious in the Pilot), really want Ecoboost and Limited/Titanium because why buy used if you can’t get it loaded?

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By on June 2, 2016

044

Two weeks ago, I told you the story of my friend “Jenny” and her purchase event at Orlando Kia West. I’m happy to report that the dealer has resolved the issue to her satisfaction.

She received a personal call from the general manager offering a set of floormats, and she’s seeking to refinance the vehicle through her stepfather’s credit union. According to Jenny, the general manager was quite apologetic, but he also said that “90 percent of the numbers in that article were wrong.”

Mr. GM, you still have my e-mail (it’s [email protected], if you lost it), and I’m happy to print a retraction on anything that I got wrong. (In the meantime, we’re still happy to show up on the first page of results when people search for your dealer on Google. –Ed.)

But, in the meantime, let’s talk about what Jenny could have done differently, and what you can do the next time that you’re looking to buy a car to avoid all the hassle and pain she experienced.

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By on May 31, 2016

Greatness isn’t always universal. Being a great sprinter doesn’t make one a great marathoner. In fact, exhibiting greatness in one sense will often make for a fatal flaw in another. If you need any proof of this, simply pick up the closest Greek tragedy and read it. The same can be be said of rental […]

By on May 27, 2016

gorilla dealer pic

The best thing about writing the Ask Bark series since the beginning of the year has been the feedback that you, the Best and Brightest, have given to our questioners. I might have a few good answers, but I’m only one man, and there are literally thousands of people who read each Ask Bark column. Collectively, you have wonderful ideas.

However, individually, you have some real clunkers. Today, we’re going to talk about the often given advice I’ve seen in the comments. Some of it isn’t just wrong, it’s flat-out harmful.

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By on May 25, 2016

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk, Image: FCA

Brent writes:

I’ve located a 2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk demo. The owner’s 16-year-old daughter was presented this car on her 16th birthday, and she piloted it for 3,000 miles (a fact that doesn’t altogether leave me with warm fuzzies).

The dealer’s first offer, which included a trade-in of my 2005 Ford Ranger XLT with 51,444 mi, was $17,497 difference — without seeing my truck. My Ranger a very clean, well maintained, two-owner example. Black Book values its trade-in value at $4,400, but I wouldn’t give it up for less than $5,000.

My needs are few, and the truck meets them. However, I’d be happy if I could get into the Renegade for my trade plus $15,000. I’ve always wanted to enjoy the local Jeep jamborees and trail runs, and I need a “Trail Rated” Jeep to participate.

Is this deal feasible or am I being unreasonable? And what things should I keep in mind buying a demo?

(Read More…)

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  • Bark M., United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic

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