Category: Bark’s Bites

By on August 25, 2016

Niedermeyer shares some truth with the PBS NewsHour

As we reported just the other day, analysts are somewhat confused by the continued rise of used car prices to near-record highs, despite a flood of lease returns hitting the market.

This just goes to show you the stupidity of most people who call themselves “analysts.” There’s absolutely no reason to think that used car pricing will go anywhere but up in the near future. If these analysts had ever spent a single day in a used car department at a franchise dealership, they’d understand why. Unfortunately, they haven’t.

But guess what? Your friend Bark has! And I’m here to tell you why this used car bubble isn’t going to pop any time soon.

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By on August 23, 2016

New York City (MsSaraKelly/Flickr)

Micah writes:

Hi –

My wife and I live in New York City. For most people, this would mean no car, but our neighborhood isn’t on subway lines, necessitating wheels for errands, and we often leave the city on day trips. Our car – a ’98 Jetta – has needed nearly $2,000 in repairs over the past 18 months (and repairs are necessary, at an increasing rate), so it might be time to move on. We both agree that the best car for us is a Mercedes-Benz GLK Bluetec (yes, we test drove the previous generation), but that’s more for when we plan on moving out of the city next summer. We sorta need something until then. What are our options?

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By on August 18, 2016

Bark and Danger Girl's Ford Fiesta STs, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

I own a Ford Flex. It’s true. Well, technically, Ford Credit owns it, but I’m only 12 months or so away from getting the real title in my hands. I’m constantly being told by people — hell, even by commenters on this website — that the Flex is a great car, but that people just don’t seem to like it. Of course, since I bought one, I completely disagree.

The Flex is just one example of a car that people who fill up comment sections of automotive websites seem to love but never buy for themselves. The list of such automobiles is quite long: The Pontiac G8. The Mazda RX-8. The Fiesta ST — wait a second, what the hell is going on here, I’ve owned all of these!

Just what is it that makes a car popular with enthusiasts but unpopular with the general public?

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By on August 16, 2016

2013 Lexus GS350

Mike writes:

If you were shopping for a reliable, full featured, cheap to own, and generally “good” car, why would you not get a Lexus? I’ve been struggling with this question for the better part of a year now.

The problem: I need a car I’ll drive every single day in God-awful urban traffic. There’s little to no fun had behind the wheel in congestion. No using the sporting personality of whatever machine I’m operating. The only reasons I want a Lexus are for the comfort and peace of mind that come with one, along with working AC and a great stereo that’ll truly brings out the subtleties in Jad Abumrad’s diphthongs. Since I can’t afford nor really want a brand new car, I’ve been looking at used.

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By on August 11, 2016

2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302

“How do you get a job like that?”

Since June 13th, 2012, I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count. That was the day that my first post appeared on TTAC. Between then and now, I’ve been fortunate enough to be published on several sites around the internet and in print. As a result, I can’t sit next to somebody on a plane or work a corner at an autocross with a group of Tilley-wearers without being asked some variation of that same question.

I typically respond in the same way. “Start writing.” You can’t be a writer without writing — seems simple enough, but that’s where most people get stuck. Never fear. Your Uncle Bark is here to help you get started. If you want to get free flights to Tenerife, I can’t help you. But if you want to share your love of cars with the world, keep reading.

 

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By on August 9, 2016

2014 Nissan Xterra

John writes:

I guess I have some dumb questions here, but first some context: I’m 22, a recently certified teacher who can’t find a teaching job (thanks Obama and/or Chris Christie?). I have a full-time job as a line cook in the interim that pays Not A Lot but will suffice for the time being.

I currently drive a 2011 Nissan Xterra. It’s OK. It does things in an OK manner. It drives OK. It gets OK gas mileage. It’s just so… OK. It’s boring and I miss driving something even remotely interesting. I bought it after I wrecked my bright douchebag yellow 2006 Mustang GT because I thought I wanted to get into camping and off-roading. Well, best-laid plans of mice and men and all that. I don’t do any of these things and therefore I have a truck that, while competent and thoroughly OK, doesn’t really excite the senses.

I’d like to get into something different and I’ve been test driving a few different things to that end like a Fiesta ST and a Mazdaspeed 3, which I fell particularly hard for.

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By on August 4, 2016

Used cars

There’s been a slow, yet steady change in the automotive marketplace over the last eight years, and you, the consumer, have been the lobster sitting in the pot as the change has occurred. The market has gotten significantly worse for car buyers. The number of franchise and independent dealers has been reduced by almost half. And yet, those surviving dealers have had an unprecedented run of year-over-year growth since 2008.

But as that growth has slowed in 2016, car buyers find themselves paying more money for used cars than ever before. We know that the typical American household can’t afford the typical new car sold in America, but we may soon be approaching a day when that same household can’t afford the typical used car, either. In fact, according to NADA Data, the average used car transaction price in 2016 will crest $20,000 for the first time in history, and will be 59.1 percent of the average new car transaction price of $33,903.

What does all of this mean to you? That buying used may not be the smartest financial choice you can make. In fact, it might not be very smart at all.

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By on August 2, 2016

2012 Mazda3 Hatchback, Image: Mazda

MrKiwi writes:

I’m currently driving a 2011 Ford Fusion with 80,000 miles. It’s good, reliable, and utterly boring. I’ll have it completely paid off in a couple of months. Here’s where I’m going to get myself into trouble.

The responsible thing to do would be to keep the Fusion and enjoy a paid-off car. But …

While driving a rental car recently, I remembered how much I enjoy a manual transmission. There are also a couple of times a year when I could use the extra capacity of a hatch. I’m starting to look at the listings for lightly used Ford Focuses and Mazda3s with manual transmissions, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun?”

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By on July 29, 2016

Data, Image: rh2ox/Flickr

I’m back like a rebel making trouble with another installment of Dealers Are The Worst Businessmen. Today, we’ll be talking about the information that most dealers use to make every decision in the dealership, and how it’s completely and utterly useless.

To those of you who’ve worked in the dealership world, you already know what I’m talking about, right? Yep. The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. Doesn’t matter whether it’s VinSolutions, DealerSocket, or any of the other popular software solutions on the market. Nowhere will you find a more prominent example of “garbage in, garbage out” than in the customer data mining that occurs at every dealer group. It’s a wonderful example of how most dealers spend thousands of dollars on tools they believe they need and then neglect to learn how to properly use.

But first, a story.

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By on July 26, 2016

2016 Honda CR-Z, Image: Honda

Lichtronamo writes:

Hi Bark,

I’m starting the process of finding a used car for my daughter who turns 16 in September and will (hopefully) get her license afterwards.

She’s 5’3″ and about 90 pounds, so a B- or C-segment car would be right in terms of size. She’s also listened to me go on about how great it is to drive a manual transmission since she was born, and believes this to be a fundamental need of any car purchase. Our budget is upwards of $10,000 with driver safety the other primary criteria. Fuel economy and reliability aren’t negatives. While I should probably zero in on finding a nice Corolla, I’m looking for an out-of-the-box choice with some car-guy (and girl) cred. Golf? Mini? Mazda3?

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