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 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 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

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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 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 19, 2016

2014 Kia Soul

On May 4th, my friend “Jenny” (whose name is changed for the sake of her privacy) could not contain her excitement. She posted the photo seen above to Facebook, sharing with her friends that she had just bought what she believed to be a brand-new 2014 Kia Soul from Orlando Kia West. She got what she also believed to be a rip-roaring deal, too, paying $4,000 under sticker.

Although the car was a 2014 model with 530 miles on the clock, Jenny said the dealer claimed it had never been sold to a private customer, but Orlando Kia West had to list it as a used car because it had purchased it from another dealer.

The minute I saw that, I immediately knew something was up. I contacted Jenny and asked her some questions about her experience. Fifteen minutes later, we were both furious.

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By on May 12, 2016

Ten Best/Worst Automobiles Today

When our esteemed Managing Editor, Mark Stevenson, gave you, the Best and Brightest, instructions for nominating the TTAC Ten Best and Worst Automobiles Today, he gave you several criteria: Looks that stop traffic, the “WTF” factor, misused technology, and misery factor. Essentially, you could nominate any car you wanted to (except the Compass), you just had to give a reason.

Mark instructed you to act like travel critics who’ve never left their hometown or restaurant critics that don’t go out to eat. In other words, TTAC allowed you to nominate cars you’ve never driven, have never sat in, or — heck — never even seen on the street.

That ain’t right.

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By on May 3, 2016

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If you’ve read it once on the Internet, you’ve read it a thousand times: Conventional wisdom says the longer a used car sits on a dealer lot, the more likely it is you’ll get a good deal when you go buy it. People who’ve never spent a day in a dealership like to armchair dealer manager behind their computers and write about things like “floorplan” and “holding cost” like they actually know something about how a dealer principal calculates them, and how they affect pricing.

If this conventional wisdom were actually wise, then I wouldn’t be writing this column. Unfortunately, it isn’t, and adhering to it can cause you to waste a good deal of your time and money. Luckily, your friend Bark is here to give you the real scoop on how, why, and when you should buy at a dealership.

Go ahead, click the jizzump.

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By on April 22, 2016

Bark Mid-Ohio AER

“You know, if it’s not fun anymore, you could just quit.”

I stared at my father as he spoke these words, confused beyond belief. He had just picked me up from a brutal three-a-day football practice in the heat of the Ohio summer. As I sat there in the passenger seat of his piano black Infiniti J30, baking in the leather interior, I couldn’t begin to comprehend why he would tell me it was okay to quit.

Sure, I’d been complaining I was in danger of being passed over for a starting wide receiver spot, for which I’d been fighting for nearly three years. And yes, the practices were hard. We didn’t know much about things like “hydration” or “concussions” in the mid-’90s. We got water breaks about once an hour. If you got your bell rung, you just sat out a play and jumped back in. Sitting out too long meant that somebody else got your reps. But I never, ever considered quitting the team. Those guys were my teammates. My brothers. I could never quit on them. Quitting was for losers.

So as I stared at him, I decided right then and there that I wasn’t a quitter. Not only that, I decided that I would never become one. And that, my friends, is why I’m racing at Watkins Glen this weekend.

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  • Contributing Writers

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

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