The Truth About Cars » Deals The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Deals Question Of The Day: Did You Ever Get Screwed On A Rebate? Fri, 09 May 2014 11:00:59 +0000 rebate

2007 was a nutty time for my car business when it came to buying parts and supplies.

All the auto parts stores around my dealership were busy blowing their financial brains out in the pursuit of commercial business. I was retailing all the good cars I could find at the auctions, and it wasn’t long before I started to see an armada of amazing deals come to my door.

12 free gallons of coolant (8 store brand concentrates, 4 Dex-Cool) at Autozone. 16 quarts of free synthetic motor oil plus 24 more quarts of conventional oil at O’Reillys. Advance Auto Parts would guarantee the lowest price. Then O’Reillys offered “cost plus” deals that I could barely even fathom. While the parts stores were busy slashing each other’s throats, I was steadfastly collecting all the cheap and free products that came from the marketshare bloodbath.

Armor All, Meguiars, Turtle Wax, auto care products that were trying to get a retail presence… all were practically free for the taking if you were willing to keep up with the offers. 2007 netted me enough auto care products to handle the next three years of my business.

This ended in early 2008, and by 2009, you could often get better deals by lurking at the Bob Is The Oil Guy web site. That’s when I started noticing a nasty trend. Things started to get a bit too cute with the rebates.

I would apply for a deal, scan a copy for my own records, mail it in, and wait.

Nothing. One month would pass. 45 days. Then two months.

It got to the point where I had a spreadsheet on Google Docs exclusively dedicated to all the rebates that I saw as bait. At least 20% of which were financially AWOL on any given time.

I would call, email, and even complain if their word and my mailbox weren’t aligning themselves the right way. Eventually I got what I needed, but boy, did I get ticked off at that constant tug-o-war of time.

These days I only stock up on certain products off-season (i.e. Freon in November) and pretty much stick to the Bob Is The Oil Guy site for whatever else is worth my time. I retail less, wholesale more, and it’s rare that I see something that is truly compelling these days.

One deal today did catch my eye. This one.  The only problem is I can’t endorse it wholeheartedly because maybe, perhaps, that rebate may find itself in that netherworld called, “lost in process”.

Every rebate that isn’t online is a roll of the dice these days. So with the odds in flux, let me ask you a painful question. “Did You Ever Get Screwed On A Rebate?”

This is your time to sound off on what I consider to be an industry practice that should be taken out back and burned to cinders. Mail-in rebates are an inexcusable screwing of the general public.

If you were ever one of those screwed, here’s your chance to vent.

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Fushou: Donfeng’s Dragon Won’t Eat PSA’s Lion Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:08:15 +0000 Peugeot Display in China Circa 2013

In light of fears regarding the three-way deal between Dongfeng, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government leading toward a time where Dongfeng would take the reins of the ailing automaker, CEO Zhu Fushou assured his company would not do so.

Automotive News Europe reports in an interview between Fushou and French newspaper L’Alsace, the 14 percent stake in PSA is a “win-win cooperation, not a purchase deal but a way to help PSA return to growth.”

In return for a capital increase of 3 billion euro — made up of 800 million euro contributions from both the Chinese automaker and the French government in exchange for 14 percent of PSA — the two automakers will begin work on conquering the Asia-Pacific automotive market with an aim of 1.5 million units annually, as well as helping Dongfeng better compete against local rivals.

As for Europe, the deal will help PSA reduce its share of vehicle sales in its local market from 62 percent to 50 percent as focus turns toward emerging markets, including Russia and South America. In turn, 10,000 jobs will be cut in the next three years as part of the recovery plan for the French automaker.

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Black Friday: Valvoline Motor Oil And Recyclable Low-Quality Tools Fri, 29 Nov 2013 16:02:08 +0000 dixieswanson

If there ever was a combination of good and bad offers for the DIY auto enthusiast, it’s the so-called Black Friday deals.

5 Quarts of Valvoline with a Purolator Classic for $9.99 plus a $5 Valvoline coupon is pretty much the best oil deal I have seen since the G-Oil giveaways.

Impact wrenches that are made of low quality materials and old-school heavy batteries, utter garbage. Some of the manufacturers of these models should be shot on principle alone.

You can also throw in cheap wrench sets into the mix. I know they work in a pinch. But I just hate em’. Too many bad memories.

So what’s worth buying?

The only items I tend to buy on Black Friday are commodity goods. The oil change deals are a perfect fit for my line of work, and are usually the best deals of the year for that automotive line item. I used to also get brake pads, coolant, free spark plugs (as many as 32 a visit), and power inverters which tend to be pretty difficult to screw up.

As for tools, I avoid the Black Friday program altogether. I follow what I consider to be the Germanic school of gradual parts gathering. The expert tells the apprentice what he should buy, and the one learning shuts their mouth and simply buys the stuff without complaint. If you still want to time this sort of thing, Father’s Day tends to be a pretty good time to buy power tools along with the springtime sales. But when it comes to investing in work, I just listen to those who know more than me and get what they value. This Autel OBDII scanner is a great example.

Today will be one of those quiet days for personal shopping. One store, and then I will go home and observe the quiet of autumn. So I guess I should offer a two-fold question.

A) Are there any great automotive deals in your lifetime that still stick in your mind?

B) Was there ever a time in your automotive life when you just kept quiet and followed the advice of an experienced soul?

One of the great rewards of auto auction work is getting to know folks who know far more about certain things than yours truly. They live it. They repair the under-engineered engines and transmission issues, and upgrade those pesky plasticized parts whenever the bean counters are all too happy to shovel low-quality crap to their current customers.

Cheap almost always has a price, but there are a few notable exceptions. So what were yours?


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My Rich Fantasy Life Laid Bare: Can You Do Better? Thu, 21 Mar 2013 11:00:18 +0000

Hard to believe someone like me would need a rich fantasy life, isn’t it?

If you haven’t guessed it by now, I love cars and like a lot of people I spend a lot of time thinking about the ones I might like to own. My daydreams live in an odd place, they don’t run towards the higher plane of pure fantasy where the Ferrari and Lamborghini live, and, despite the fact I expect to be buying a new minivan or SUV in the next couple of years, they don’t run to the purely practical, either. No, my fantasies live in that middle place. A place where the cars are interesting and, as unlikely as a purchase may be, still attainable.

I am forever perusing Craigslist and the other on-line classifieds for likely subjects and it has become something of a game with me. Naturally, I wondered if you might like to play along.

The rules of the game are simple. You have a total budget of $5000. You must purchase the car, get it to home and roadworthy for under that amount. Expenses include basic repairs and rebuilds, but just the essentials to get the car roadworthy no new paint jobs or total restorations necessary. If the car is further away than 250 miles (500 miles round trip) then the cost of an overnight motel stay and/or truck transport must be covered in your budget. Because they vary from state to state and would give some players an unfair advantage, don’t worry about fixed costs like tax, licensing or basic inspection fees unless the ad specifically states that the car will need special repairs in order to pass an inspection.

You can find your car from any public source, and links will be appreciated by everyone, I am sure. In the interest of fair play don’t tell us about cars that only you can buy. So if your grandma isn’t willing to make everyone a killer deal on her 1986 Grand National, then you can’t use it here. Also, just to keep things fresh and attainable, let’s not consider ads older than 30 days.

Finally, please also give us some insight into your thoughts. We would all like to understand your logic so we can better make fun of your odd predilections.

I’ll go first. Here are three that I have chosen to start the conversation. They appear in no special order.

1994 Subaru SVX Coupe – $2,850 OBO (Hamburg, NY)

AWD Coupe LSI model. Boxer 3.3 6 cyl 230 horsepower Approx 120,900miles

Automatic, Moon-roof, Dual exhaust, Power windows/locks/mirrors/power driver seat, Leather seats good condition. Also has new battery, breaks, power steering, timing belt, axel shafts, motor is phenomenal/very reliable vehicle all the way around! Some rust on doors as can be expected with its age. Starts right up.

This Subaru sits less than 30 miles from my house. It is well under my budget and it is a model I have been interested in since I saw one on the street in Japan back when they were new. They look cool and the performance numbers seem decent. The downside is that I don’t know much about them and I am not really all that excited about a sporty car with an automatic transmission.

I understand that Subarus have a tendency to be complex and fragile. This car is an odd ball and I am sure parts would be tough to get. Still, the price seems right and I have never been inside of one. I would, at least, go look at it.

1987 Dodge Daytona Shelby Z – $4500 (Pittsburgh, PA)

Clean Daytona Shelby Z. Turbo, 4 cyl, 5 speed, AC, 71k miles, perfect seats, good tires, fires right up, etc. NO rust! Just needs a battery and inspection.

It’s no secret that I am a sucker for Turbo Dodges, but the truth is that the Daytona rarely makes it onto my short list. To be honest, I have always thought they were a little overwrought and tried too hard to look like the Chevrolet Camaro of that era. This little car, however, jumped right out at me as a killer deal. If it is as clean as it looks in the pictures, I am confident that I could travel the 180 miles to Pittsburgh, drop in a battery and drive it right home.

Bonus points that this is a real live turbo Dodge with the manual transmission. There are more pics on the ad, including several interior shots, of which I have added just one, below. The inside looks just as pretty as the outside, don’t you think? I always wonder about cars like this, it’s 26 years old, why wasn’t it used? If it was here in town, I would be over there like a shot.

The only downside to this car that I can see is that it was right about 75K miles that the head gasket in my Turbo Shadow let loose. I would be worried that I could be stuck doing one on this car before too long as well. That said, I have a lot of experience working on these cars and I know that I could do the work by myself. Still, at $4500 this is close enough to my ceiling that I would be a little worried about my budget. Also, I would almost be ashamed to bring it up to Buffalo and expose it to the elements.

1981 DATSUN 280ZX 5 SPEED – $4300 (Ogden, NY)

1981 DATSUN 280ZX. 5 SPEED, 6 CYL, One Owner, 98,300 Original Miles, No Winters, Great Condition ~ $4300.00 ~ OFFERS WELCOME ~

Wow! No, seriously, Wow! This is a drop dead gorgeous little Datsun. It looks pretty nice in the photos and other than a cracked arm rest I don’t see a single problem here. Sure, it’s not a 240Z and it isn’t a turbo or a Special Anniversary Edition, but it is a head turner in a stunning color I haven’t seen in a long, long time. I love the fact it’s a stick.

This little girl sits less than 60 miles from me right now. If it was closer, I’d go over to take photos and maybe finagle a test drive. Man, my wife would be mad at me if that came home. It would be hard to tell the seller “no” though.

OK, you’ve seen my three choices. I could sit here a lot longer looking for obscure deals but if I did that I would never get to see what you come up with. Let’s have some fun!

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Hammer Time: Black Friday Deal? Or No Deal. Thu, 22 Nov 2012 18:28:50 +0000

Motor Oil! Must Buy Motor Oil!


Forgive me for offering the two millionth article about Black Friday shopping. But this personal screed will not be about, “Buy! Buy! Buy!”

It will be all about, “Don’t! Nein! Nyet!”.

The current Black Friday ads for all things automotive are getting less deal oriented with the passing of each year.

That’s no surprise given that consumer behavior has turned considerably during the last five years. Yesterdays overlooked giveaways and cheap deals have given way to the coupon clipping shows and budget watching books of the modern day.

Unfortunately for all of you, this stretches all the way to the corporate boardrooms. Deals simply aren’t what they used to be.

Case in point, back in 2007 I could get 5 quarts fo Castrol GTX with a generic oil filter for $5 at Pep Boys during Black Friday. This wasn’t the only time for the cheap in-store deal either. I fondly recall spark plugs, windshield washer fluid, and even the occassional oil deal could essentially be free throughout the year if you took the time to mail in the rebates and keep track of them.

That was the big issue back in the day. Making sure you got the rebate.

The iron curtain that represented contacting a live human being at the company offering the rebate seemed to be an impenetrable fortress of, “Stay on the line.” Eventually, about three months later, you would either get a check in the mail, or a haunting reminder of the fallibility of corporations that were simply too big or ethically bankrupt to care about you.

These days it’s different.

Why? Because auto parts stores finally realized that if you didn’t get the deal that was advertised, you wouldn’t be coming back.

You want a rebate these days? Most of the time you can simply go to the web site of the parts store and fill out their rebate online. You get a confirmation or tracking number. A stamp is saved, and your rebate is essentially in their system forever.

It’s a win/win. But not for every product or every customer.

Some companies are more web savvy than others. If you are looking at any Black Friday deal at all tomorrow that requires a rebate, pause and ask yourself a critical question.

“Do they process rebates online?”

If so you’re fine. If not, then you’re rolling the dice.

I always keep a folder that tracks all things rebate oriented in my work life. But I also buy an awful lot of stuff. We’re talking nearly $20,000 worth of automotive parts a year.

When you maintain and sell hundreds of cars, the economics change.

The question you have to ask yourself, is whether you are willing to create a folder that will give you easy access to all the mail-in rebates come January. I guarantee that at least a few of the deals you find  tomorrow will require follow up emails and/or phone calls. I average about two a week during the year.

As for the Pep Boys special I mentioned earlier? If you want to roll the dice instead this is how you do it.

You get 5 quarts of oil for free (before tax) by going to Wal-Mart and picking up 5 quarts of G-Oil, and mailing in the rebate found here. Then just wait until a good oil filter deal comes along, by visiting, and combine that with online and manufacturer rebates.

For example, Advance Auto Parts frequently offers 2 Purolator oil filters for $10 at varying times. What I do for my personal vehicles is order four of those oil filters online and two air filters using code ES123 which gives you a $20 discount off of $50. Then access the manufacturer rebates you have through Purolator’s web site or go to

At the best case scenario, you have about 30,000 miles of scheduled maintenance that will cost you about $20. Four oil changes and two air filter changes for the DIY consumers will usually cost about $100 in oil and filters for the average car.

So you save quite a bit. But you will have to work for it, time it right, and follow-up on everything.

It’s a new economy folks… with the same old hoops.  My advice is to figure out whether your time is worth jumping through all of them. If not, then just buy the equivalent of the Pep Boys special. Or just avoid the whole hassle altogether.

Specials aren’t really that special anymore.


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Nissan’s Answer To Chinese July Ice Age: Hot Deals! Tue, 10 Aug 2010 18:46:35 +0000

Chinese Automakers are worried that the formerly insane growth rates suddenly has reached levels of relative normalcy, what with total vehicle sales in July up only 14.4 percent.

What to do? Quick! Nissan came up with a novel idea:

Slash prices! Nissan China has all reason to be worried. Their July sales rose only 3.7 percent from the same month a year earlier. That’s losing valuable market share, gents.

“In response, Dongfeng Motor Co., a joint venture between Nissan and major Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Corp., has begun cutting prices, particularly for compact vehicles with an engine displacement of less than 1.6 liters,” reports The Nikkei [sub]

Some Nissan cars can be had for 10 percent less, MSRP.

Nissan’s Chinese subsidiary blames the base effect and that growth has slowed because sales were very strong the prior year. “However,” says the Nikkei by way of slow torture,  “General Motors Corp. experienced 22.2 percent growth in July sales in China and Germany’s Volkswagen AG saw sales rise 30 percent there last month.”  Also, wait times for an imported Q5 or Q7 are still half a year or more, unless you part with a lot of “gotta have it now” money.

PS: Nissan should also fire their agency. The first thing I learned in China was that in a car commercial, you MUST show a couple with two kids and a dog. Shows that you have made it. That dog can cost you $3000 a year in Beijing, and that second kid – let’s not go there.

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Hammer Time: Black Friday Thu, 03 Dec 2009 15:43:12 +0000 Let the rampage begin! (

I’m not the ‘new’ guy at TTAC. When someone starts talking to me about their 2010 C-Class or A8, my instinct is to find some darts, get a beer, and ignore the conversation. Most new cars really take the fun out of driving, and they cost way too much compared with almost everything else on the road. But there is one time during the year where ‘new’ makes me smile. That would be Black Friday. Here’s what I got.

Two well reviewed tires for Mom. Cost? $110. Tires Plus had a $100 deduct if you spent $200 or more and my purchase barely tipped over that threshold. They were ‘quiet’ tires and given that my mom now drives a novacaine inspired Camry 3000 miles a year in West Palm Beach, it was the right buy at the right price. Then there was a 10′ x 20′ car canopy that I got for $50. This is right along a Craigslist price level, which is what I really use to compare all my ‘nice to have’ purchases. That I got from Pep Boys along with a nice line of extra ‘supplies’.

Champion Platinum Spark Plugs were $1.49 for 16. I bought all 16. The trick for a car guy is to buy what you drive at the moment. If you end up buying something else during the year, then just exchange the parts for those that serve your new ride. 4 gallons of antifreeze were $2.98 each, which is absolutely perfect for the de-clunkered and rarely driven Jersey Lincoln that will need an extra couple of flushes between now and weekend driving. Then of course are the brakes.

Pep Boys screwed up on this one. The add mentioned the brand instead of the type. This enabled me to get the high end OEM equivalents instead of the ‘Value’ brand for $10.99. Bought two of those. A chintzy $10 tool set for any potential car issues, a jumper box for $13, and a $9 tire repair kit from Northern Tool pretty much eliminated the need for AAA or calling the shop for a tow. Oh, I also found out that Pep Boys will now tow within a 20 mile radius for $40 which is a pretty neat service for those who don’t have their own hauler.

Finally there was motor oil. 5 quarts of Castrol and a Puralator filter for $4.99. I got two of those. What surprises me this year is that the ‘cheap’ tires are no longer. The $12.99 deal I saw on the 40k mile tires is now $27. Tack that one up to a trade-war and the dollar’s devaluation. All told my purchases were less than $250. It’s not nearly as good as 2007 when I got $300 worth of auto stuff at O’Reilly’s for the cost of taxes and stamps. But for those car nuts that are also frugal zealots, a good Black Friday is always a festive occasion.

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