Tag: Car Buying

By on January 15, 2016

06 - 1988 Cadillac Coupe Deville Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

When I was a kid, there was a plentiful selection of automobile choices for old people. There were Buicks. There were Cadillacs. There were Lincolns. There were Oldsmobiles. There were even a few Japanese cars that clearly catered to the elderly. “Enlarged Speedometer Font” was an actual option on more than one vehicle when I was younger.

But what about today?

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By on January 8, 2016

auction1

I buy a lot of cars, which means I often find myself thinking about car sellers and buyers. These are two interesting groups of human beings. In many cases, they’re openly trying to screw you. In other cases, they have no idea they’re screwing you, and you don’t discover they have until four days later when you go to put your briefcase in the trunk and it’s full of rain water.

This got me thinking: What is the least trustworthy group of automotive sellers in existence?

I’ve bought cars from all of them. New car dealers. Used car dealers. Family members, friends, auctions, and strangers on the Internet, from Craigslist to Cars.com to Autotrader to web forums. Every transaction is a little different. And every time, I’m wonder to myself: Is this person going to screw me?

That’s why I’m soliciting your opinion on a topic that’s near and dear to my heart (and wallet). Which car seller can you count on to be the very worst?

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By on January 7, 2016

fakesvt

Last week, I told you the tale of my friend Rodney’s grandmother who got taken to the cleaners recently by a Cleveland-area Buick dealer. That story’s not quite finished — apparently there have been a few conversations and trips back and forth to dealer, and at one point the “lost paperwork” excuse came into play — so I’ll update all of you once everything shudders to a final halt.

As can be expected from the always-contrarian B&B, not all of you were on the side of the elderly lady in the case. One particularly interesting comment went something like this: “It’s ironic that Jack and Rodney are complaining about the dealer making money off Grandma while at the same time smirking to themselves knowing how often they did that back in the day.”

Well, I cannot say that I ever charged anyone over sticker price for any new car, ever. Not even during the week that the first Ford Expeditions started arriving at dealerships and customers were doing everything but using lethal force to get their hands on one.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t see some people get “grossed” in the most hardcore method imaginable. So, without further ado, here are a few tales of outrageous dealer-profit fortune, including one in which your humble author played the villain.

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By on January 7, 2016

92-95_Buick_LeSabre

TTAC Commentator Matador writes:

Dear Sajeev/Sanjeev,

I own two cars (and two older pickup trucks): a 1995 LeSabre with 223,000 miles and a 2001 Audi A6 Avant with 165,000 miles on the clock. I drive 80-100 miles per day for work. Between work and personal miles, I drive about 45,000 miles per year. The trucks aren’t daily driven too often and are only used when I need to move something that won’t fit in the wagon. Gas isn’t that cheap!

The Buick isn’t going anywhere. It was my first car and I am a firm believer that you don’t sell your first. I would like to drive it a little less, though, keeping it for special occasions. Since the Audi is my main car, the Buick only receives about 35 percent of my overall miles. I love the way that the Buick handles and I am a huge fan of the 3800’s reliability.

I would really like a Buick wagon, but the Century wagon doesn’t appeal to me at all and the Roadmaster is out of my price range (I could have two Rivieras for the price of a decent Roadmaster wagon). I’m not partial to any brand, or against any brand, though I do find Hondas kind of boring.

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By on December 29, 2015

Imagine the following scenario: You’re a Buick salesman. An elderly woman comes into your showroom to inquire about a replacement for her Regal. You decide that she’s a great candidate for an Encore, and since you have some previous-year Encore stock you decide that she’s a great candidate for a 2015 Encore instead of the new model. There’s a $149/month lease deal available from GM Financial. What kind of deal do you make for this woman?

If your answer is, “I’d charge her over sticker for the vehicle, switch the lease company to make some back-end money, and add nearly a thousand dollars of profit in fees above that,” then you might just be the salesman that Buick GMC of Beachwood, OH needs.

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By on December 28, 2015

Carmax

Earlier this week I wrote about how CarMax is heavily constrained by a market that has flip-flopped between six years worth of heavy car sales and about 18 months of resurgent truck and SUV demand. Long story short, CarMax’s acquisition costs for trucks, SUVs and crossovers has gone up considerably, and the supply of this inventory has cratered due to new car dealers keeping the bulk of this inventory for themselves.

Not everybody liked what I wrote. Case in point.

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By on December 20, 2015

7979444605_1e68ec954f_o

It’s never too late to snap up a last-minute gift for your teenager, such as a car. Consumer Reports has nifty practical advice for parents looking to make this Christmas one to remember for their teen — until next Christmas when you have top a friggin’ car. 

For your teen’s first ride, according to Consumer Reports, avoid anything with a big engine (“Generally speaking, the ideal car for a teenager is a four-cylinder mid-sized sedan”), lots of numbers on the speedometer (“If too much speed is to be avoided, then it should be a no-brainer to avoid high-performance sports cars.”) or minivans (” … a carload of teens is not a recipe for safety.”)

There are other considerations, according to the report:

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By on December 10, 2015

2009_Dodge_Journey

There comes a point in our lives when we all fly off the handle. It can happen when we’re still young and ready to believe anything or when we’re old and the voice of those young’uns make us instinctively say nasty, insensitive thoughts.

Temporary insanity comes and goes with the seasons. With that I am about to recommend a car truckster minivan lame duck vehicle that has a surprisingly good fit for one type of buyer in particular: Those with large families who want a new car but don’t really give a shit about cars.

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By on December 7, 2015

Toyota Configurator Front Pahe

We try to fact-check as much as possible during our article editing process. Such was the case this morning with Alex Dykes’ review of the newest Toyota Tacoma, and specifically the portion where he said that all manual Tacomas are paired with four-wheel drive.

There are two ways we normally check such a claim: an automaker’s media site, which provides detailed vehicle information (though not necessarily in a user-friendly format), and an automaker’s consumer-facing website, which contains all those fancy marketing words, pretty pictures and the typical “Build and Price” tool employed by virtually every full-line automaker as a way for us gearheads to waste time at our desk jobs on Friday afternoons.

However, while I was fact checking Mr. Dykes’ manual = four-wheel drive claim, the configurator said I couldn’t have a manual transmission on the Tacoma — at all.

Say what, Toyota?

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By on November 25, 2015

P90133146_highRes_rolls-royce-wraith

“Rolls-Royce sold 4,000 cars last year.”

Carlos, a handsome, Cuban gentleman sitting across from me wanted to make sure that I understood this fact. He said it so intensely that I never even thought to question his number (which was accurate). “Four thousand. That’s it. Do you know how many of them were sold to people on my street?”

I shook my head.

“Six.” He leaned back in his chair for dramatic effect, puffing on a cigar that had been handcrafted by one of Castro’s own private cigar maker’s proteges. “Six. That’s why I have to have the latest one. That’s why I have my friend, Manuel, looking for a very specific car for me.”

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