Tag: Car Buying

By on December 22, 2016

Jack Baruth, Miami Valley Region, 2006 VW Phaeton

A couple of weeks ago, I told the tale of an extremely profitable Soul sale. Some of you criticized me for implying that the “doc fee” was negotiable. I don’t know what kind of mindset you would have to possess in this world to think that a doc fee is not negotiable. Even if you can’t get the actual line item off your deal, you should be able to obtain a similar savings elsewhere. It’s such a scam that lately a few state courts have gotten involved in the discussion. The actual costs of “documenting” a sale don’t come close to what dealerships are trying to charge. It’s pure, raw profit.

Still, I wouldn’t expect my readers to do something I’m personally unwilling to do. So I will tell you the story of how I walked out of a dealership over a $300 doc fee. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal — but, in this case, the dealership was six hundred miles from my house, and I had no way to get home.

(Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

2016 Veloster Turbo, Image: Hyundai

In terms of unpleasantness, buying a new vehicle often ranks up there with visiting a passive-aggressive dentist, or perhaps meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss his or her “performance.”

Overzealous salespeople who stereotype customers, high-pressure them into buying the vehicle and package the seller wants, and generally lack knowledge about their own product likely sour more people on a brand than recalls and scandals. If only there was an easy way to avoid turning customers away while boosting sales.

It turns out, the solution could be very simple. (Read More…)

By on December 19, 2016

2017 Honda HR-V blue - Image: Honda

It’s time for a new car, I told Mae last night.

She was explaining to a group of friends how she tore the passenger side mirror off and drove across the MacKay Bridge, on a particularly windy evening, with the mirror swinging about like an unchoreographed contemporary dancer.

The dangling power mirror, which another friend disconnected at Mae’s request, was only the latest issue. First, it’s a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe. Issue number two: the air-conditioning died long ago, and Mae’s reluctant to spend a single penny redeeming this car. It’s bitterly cold in eastern Canada now, but A/C is needful for one-third of the year and helpful for the other nine months. Finally, it’s a Saturn Ion Quad Coupe with a manual transmission.

“Ooh, aah, save the manuals,” you say. And I’m with you. Mae’s with you, too. But I’ve spent enough time — way too much time — in manual shift Ions to know that in an extremely hilly city, the Ion’s shifter/clutch combo is worthy of dread. Not all manuals are worthy of saving.

Now the mirror’s off, and the conversations Mae and I have had over a period of many months culminated in her succinct statement last night: “I want a Honda HR-V.”

Insert awkward pause. (Read More…)

By on December 16, 2016

2016 Ford Focus RS Long-Term Test, Image: © 2016 Bark M./The Truth About Cars

In my nearly 25 years of car buying, I’ve walked into a dealership and walked out with a brand new car more times than most people would in several lifetimes. 14 times, to be exact. I’ve bought Volkswagens, Infinitis, Pontiacs, Mazdas, Fords, Chevrolets, Hyundais, and Toyotas, representing nearly every mainstream brand. And yet, only two of those 14 instances was anything resembling positive.

When I leased a Mazda CX-7 in 2008, I drove to the store in my 2005 Scion tC with two numbers in my head: $279 a month with zero down (the advertised CX-7 lease price) and $9,000 (the amount of money I believed my tC to be worth). The lease was already a strong offer, so I didn’t feel the need to negotiate further, and my trade valuation was based on one thing only — as with most shoppers, it was exactly the amount of money I needed to pay off my loan. The dealer quickly agreed to my terms, as he knew he would be able to sell the tC for $10,500 within 30 days.

The second time? We’ll get to that. But the other 12 times? As Dr. Dre once said, it was like muthaf–kin’ Vietnam. And in all honesty, I have nobody to blame for that but myself.

(Read More…)

By on December 16, 2016

2016 Ford F-150 Limited

All that leg-stretching, snot-nosed kid-hauling, hockey equipment-carrying, ATV-lugging space that new vehicle buyers so desperately crave comes at a premium.

Thanks to this insatiable thirst for crossovers, SUVs, and pickups, the average new vehicle transaction price jumped to a new record in 2016. Good news for manufacturers, but also for those selling their old ride. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2016

More Transparency

“I’ll tell you something,” the grizzled used car veteran said to me menacingly from across his massive, oaken desk. “The internet has ruined this business.”

Tell me something I don’t know, old man.

It’s a variation of the same thing I’ve heard for five years. The car business used to be a place where men of little to no education or intelligence could make veritable fortunes, simply by preying upon the ignorance of their customers. Pre-internet, it was completely realistic to make $4,000 of front-end gross profit on the sale of a used car — and sometimes even more! Pull up a chair across from the more tenured sales guy at any Cadillac store, and he’ll gladly spin you a yarn about that one time he made $10,000 in gross on a little old lady who was on a fixed income, and he’ll laugh as he’s telling it.

Of course, he’ll have plenty of time to tell you this tale because he’s the guy who doesn’t take ups and instead lives on his book of referrals — and those are dying faster than the baby boomers who made them an integral part of the car business in the first place.

But now? Why, that rotten internet and all of its information has made it impossible for dealers to screw customers. Or has it?

(Read More…)

By on December 2, 2016

2013 Toyota Avalon Limited, Exterior, Avalon badge, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

“Well, I bought that car last night.” Craig has this unnerving habit of simply appearing at my cubicle while I’m trying to do something productive, like texting people or reading random articles from the Last Psychiatrist archive on my phone. He’s a soft-spoken fellow, entering late middle age the same way that I am but not showing nearly as much evidence of blunt trauma, well-compensated in his engineering job but modest in appearance and disinclined to spend money.

Regarding my life and temperament, I like to follow the example of Robert Bly in quoting Cesar Vallejo: “Well, / On the day that I was born / God was sick / gravely.” I suspect that on the day that Craig was born, by contrast, God was in perfect health and settling down with the newest issue of Consumer Reports. About a month ago, Craig started seriously thinking about replacing his 150,000-mile Honda CR-V. It’s been a faithful companion for a freeway commute that takes about an hour in each direction, but even the most prosaic of Hondas eventually reaches a point where the cost of maintenance starts to become a factor. Not in money, necessarily, but in time.

Knowing that I dabble a bit in things automotive, Craig had asked what I thought about the new CR-V. This was a subject on which I was glad to speak, because I absolutely despise the “cute-utes” and will take every opportunity to rooster-block the purchase of one.

(Read More…)

By on November 18, 2016

2017 IONIQ HEV

Millennials, the constantly-stereotyped cohort of young adults who won’t watch a black and white movie but still like cars, are every automaker’s go-to crowd for future sales.

Hyundai has announced a plan to tap these would-be car buyers in a way that drills into the very core of what they desire in vehicle ownership (or so studies show). Think of it as the Netflix approach to sales. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2016

2015 Volvo S60 Sedan

Autumn is here, leaves are falling, and dealers are marking down remaining 2016 inventory to free up room for models that won’t sound old in three months.

It’s a good time to hunt for that smoking deal on the 2016 vehicle of your dreams, but if your dreams — and bank balance — fail to reach that goal, looking back another model year could save you a lot of money.

New car looks and a low entry price can be yours if you’re willing to live with a vehicle boasting limited appeal and awful resale value. These are your best bets. (Read More…)

By on October 6, 2016

By on September 21, 2016

2016 Honda Civic sedan

It’s long past time to put the bike (myth) away.

Outside of certain urban centers, Millennials are cuckoo for cars. Jobs and families and lifestyles, you see. As more members of the youngest car buying cohort show up at dealers looking to sign on the dotted line, their method of payment is evolving, too. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2016

dealership

The r/askcarsales subreddit is a great source of information about car buying and the inner workings of dealerships. Flaired users are verified to be actual salespeople, which makes for highly qualified car buying advice. They’ve helped a great number of people save money and help calm the adversarial nature of the buyer-seller relationship.

Buying a car is a big decision. We all like to think that we are unique in the choices we make and how we go about negotiating a sale, but buyer stereotypes do exist. When one subreddit user posted a question about typical buyers for each brand, many of the salespeople jumped in to offer their opinion on the type of buyer that shops each brand. Some of the opinions might cross into racial profiling territory, but many are just hard truths about the customer base each brand has built up.

(Read More…)

By on August 5, 2016

Alarm Valet, Image: Dr. Katherine Nell McNeil/PriusChat

Visiting a dealer’s Finance and Insurance office is usually the last excruciating step when buying a car. The F&I rep will go through an endless stack of documents to finalize the sale while attempting to sell as many pointless add-ons as possible.

Many of us know to avoid add-ons like pin striping, paint protection, and extended warranties since they are either overpriced or valueless — but we may be letting the worst offender of all slip by.

Car alarms seem like sensible choices, especially if they’re offered at a good price, but the alarm that many buy in the F&I office can barely be considered more than a dealer profit device. These alarms are often presented as add-ons to the factory alarm that are supposed to improve on the factory security system, but in reality are usually nothing more than a shock sensor and some hacked wires.

(Read More…)

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.

(Read More…)

By on July 26, 2016

dealerrater

If sales and service reviews were gold, Cars.com will soon the the richest third-party shopping website in all the land.

Cars.com plans to buy DealerRater, making it the largest soundboard of criticism and praise for dealers, salespeople and servicing in the industry, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

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