By on September 22, 2016

2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Image: i-MiEV

Right up there with I wish they’d make a manual diesel wagon in brown, it’s among the most played-out tropes on the Internet.

There just aren’t any bad cars anymore.

This is generally followed by some recollection of a Saturn of the early ’90s that had a faulty engine, or perhaps some Brezhnev-era Soviet masterpiece. Blah blah blah nostalgia blah blah A Christmas Story blah blah. Enough.

There are plenty of bad cars out there, but the majority of people haven’t driven enough of them to know it. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have. And I’m here to break the bad news to you: some cars suck. Maybe even the one in your very driveway.

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By on September 8, 2016

Couple buying cat Courtesy chronicleherald.ca

Let’s be real with each other for a minute, okay? Car reviews are just plain awful. They serve no real purpose for today’s in-market automotive consumer — they only serve to boost the SEO rankings for anybody searching for “MID-SIZE SEDAN UNDER $30,000 NEAR ME,” which is approximately nobody.

Your friend Bark is here to tell you how this, um, industry of car reviewing needs to be improved in order to help customers find and buy the car they need instead of the car they’ve already decided that they want.

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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 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 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 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 14, 2016

Where's the transparency?

I always buy new. I know, I know.

There’s a financial wizard of the Internet around every corner, ready to pounce and scream “DEPRECIATING ASSET” at me. But the reality is that I — like most shoppers — like to get a good deal when I buy anything, and that includes five-figure investments. Also, like most car buyers, I feel that “good deal” really means “the dealer didn’t make a dime on me.” Yes, I know that car dealers need to make money on used car sales to stay in business (and to continue perpetuating the myth that they don’t make any money on new car sales), but that doesn’t mean I’m their mark. On a new car, I can know with 100-percent certainty if I got a good deal.

When one of my Twitter followers asked me why the dealer’s cost isn’t the starting point for negotiation on a car, I quickly replied (as I was walking to dinner) that “used cars have recon cost.” However, upon further reflection, I realized that’s just the tip of the iceberg and if a Twitter user didn’t know why used car costs are so nebulous, most of y’all probably don’t know either. Transparency on used cars simply doesn’t exist, and it never will. Here’s why.

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By on July 7, 2016

Taurus Ad on Facebook

One of my favorite pieces that my dear older brother has ever written is his recount of his experience with Matt Farah’s Million Mile Lexus. His epic takedown of the very notion inspired a good amount of heartburn amongst the Best & Brightest, generating nearly half a thousand comments on the way to becoming one of the most viewed articles ever posted here.

I was reminded of it today when I was browsing through the new Facebook Marketplace for my zip code. There are dozens of cheap cars posted daily, ranging from $300 for a Suzuki Reno without a motor to $3,500 for a Jeep Grand Cherokee with a rear window that’s sadly fallen off its track, destined to lazily lay halfway down its frame for eternity. However, in each of the corresponding comments sections for the listed cars, at least one person asks the following question: “What’s wrong with it?”

And that’s when you begin to understand how buying a cheap car can become an incredibly harrowing, terrifying experience.

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By on June 30, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-29 at 6.58.43 PM

Here at TTAC, it’s been a tradition of sorts to call out poor examples of car reviews. In fact, we’ve done it so often over the years that I wondered if doing it again would be overkill. There’s such a multitude of miserably bad car reviewers on the minor car blogs of the Internet that it hardly seemed worth pointing out yet another case.

Well, I did wonder that. Then I read some reviews by Tim Esterdahl of Car Revs Daily. I wondered no longer.

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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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