When Is a New Accord for $16,000 Not a Deal After All?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth

Hey! Did you know that I, your favorite writer on this or any other forum, with the possible exception of Penthouse Forum, am the proud owner of a Honda Accord EX-L V6 manual transmission coupe? Maybe you didn’t know! But now you know! So in the future there will be no excuse for you not knowing, with the exception of “utter apathy,” which would be a legitimate excuse, should you need one.

Let me give you the name of somebody who didn’t need to be reminded about my Accord ownership; my local Honda dealer. Not the guys who walljobbed me, but the good dealer. The one that actually puts new oil in the car when you pay for an oil change. I like this dealer. Were I to purchase another Honda, I would purchase it from them. Perhaps they know this, because they’ve just sent me an email with a GRRRREAT DEAL! on a new 2017 Accord Coupe. $16,000 and change — and this ain’t just any old Accord coupe, it’s an EX-L V6 manual, just like my current car.

There’s just one little catch.

The fine print on this deal is exceedingly fine. Let’s take a look:

Estimated quote based on 2017 Honda Accord Coupe V6 EX-L MT, w/ 2014 Honda Accord Coupe in trade-in excellent condition w/ avg. 12k mi. driven per year. $375 per month for 48 mos. w/ Tier 1 + credit score or buy for $16,611. Includes all applicable offers. Rates as low as 3.89% on select vehicles to qualified buyers with approved credit. 3.89% APR financing for 48 months at $22.58 per month, per $1,000 financed. Actual payment may vary. Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of these figures based on current available information; we assume no responsibility for any unintended errors or assumptions. May not be combined w/ any other offers and is subject to change w/o prior notice. See dealer for details. Photos for illustration purposes only. Offers based upon programs, incentives and trade values at time of e-mailing. Valid through close of business 10/03/2016.

That’s right — in order to get a new Accord for $16K, I have to trade in my 2014 Accord. There’s no mention about paying off a loan in there, because the deal assumes that I’ve paid the car off, which I most certainly have not. Unlike all the millionaires-next-door who populate TTAC, I actually borrowed some money to buy the Accord, and while I certainly didn’t get a 72-month loan or anything like that, neither did I get a 31-month loan. I think I owe thirteen grand on it or thereabouts.

Let’s assume for the moment, however, that I did in fact pay cash for the Accord and have a clear title ready to hand over to the dealer. How much would I be getting for my car in this deal? Retail on a 2017 EX-L V6 6MT is $32,010. Invoice is $29,630. You’d be dead above the neck to not secure at least one percent below invoice on one of these, which would be $29,300 or thereabouts. I paid about 2.5-percent below invoice on my 2014 without really trying, while suffering from nine fractures and a missing spleen.

If we subtract $16,611 from $29,300, we get … hmm … $12,689. When I sold cars, we called that the “waste pitch.” There was this rigmarole we were trained to do. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, but I saw it done five times a day. It worked like so:

Jack, your helpful salesman: Well, Mr and Mrs. Jones, (winks at Mrs. Jones) we’ve agreed that this 1995 Ford Explorer XLT is the right vehicle for you. And we’ve appraised the 1992 Taurus you brought in. So … (brings out paperwork) we’re looking at a price of $29,620 for the Explorer, and a trade-in allowance of $4,000 for the Taurus, so all I need from you is … $27,349.35. Just sign right here and we’ll get it washed and gassed up.

(Long silence, during which Jack says nothing.)

Mr. Jones: (sputtering) But … but … but … that’s the sticker price of the car! And we owe twelve grand on the Taurus!

(Long silence, during which Jack says nothing. Then, with an embarrassed grin …)

Jack: Oh, geez, I’m sorry, of course we’re going to negotiate a bit … I just got ahead of myself. I just love to sell cars … (looks at Mrs. Jones with an innocent grin) and I’m not very good at the numbers. (Waves paperwork magnanimously to the side) Why don’t you tell me how close you can come to those numbers and we’ll start from there?

I was always told that one out of every hundred, maybe even one out of every fifty, customers would just sign on the line for the waste pitch out of embarrassment, fear, or politeness. I refused to do it. But I’m thinking that some minor percentage of the people who get this kind of email will just go to the dealer and take the deal as offered. And when they’re told that of course the trade has to be paid off first, they’ll just write a check from their savings to cover it.

Consider how many Honda drivers are conservative old Boomers sitting on pensions and million-dollar retirement plans and paid-off houses. A few grand one way or the other doesn’t matter much to them. Old people are surprisingly receptive to just paying cash for shit so they can avoid some hassle. My father just did that with his latest Benz, to my immense annoyance. Just went over to the dealer and gave them his paid-off car and a check to get another one, with very little negotiation. I’d eat glass before I did that. I’d negotiate at the God-damned grocery store if I thought I could get away with it. But I’m not a Boomer and I don’t have a pension.

Just how sweet of a deal is this trade offer? Well, I see cars just like mine listed at dealers for between $19,500 and $22,000. I’m thinking that most transactions end up a couple grand south of that. Let’s say $18,000 final retail. And if I sold it privately? A stick-shift V6? I think I could get $19,000 for it in a week. But $18,000 seems like a reasonable number for a dealer sale after they bury some negative equity in the mark’s earlier used Honda or whatnot. So it’s a $5,000 profit for the used-car side of the house, plus it’s a new-car sale, plus it’s a service customer. In other words, the dealership is running the table on me. Maybe they’re even running a train on me, if you want to get all loco-erotic on the subject.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to decline my dealership’s very friendly e-mail offer. I don’t particularly want to swap out my Accord. The half of my heart that never truly loved any car is annoyed by this complacency; the former serial-VW owner in me is frankly aghast that I don’t already have a strategy to shuffle the Accord off before it reaches the 36-month mark. It’s already out of the bumper-to-bumper warranty. With something like my old lime-green Audi S5, the risk involved in running past the manufacturer guarantee would be classified by an actuary somewhere between “BASE-jumping off the Freedom Tower” and “not checking under [REDACTED NAME OF AUTO INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL]’s bed for a knife before drifting off to sleep next to her.” Somehow it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal with a Honda. I know they aren’t perfect, particularly not lately, but I do expect to turn the 100,000 mark on the odometer before I see a four-figure repair bill.

On the other hand, 2018 is likely to be the last year for a manual-transmission Accord powered by something besides a force-fed powder-puff four-banger. Maybe I should start thinking about the fact that trading in for what is essentially the same car does, in fact, confer the benefit of being able to shift my family car myself for an additional three or four years. It’s worth thinking about.

So feel free to keep e-mailing me, local Honda dealers. But you’re going to have to offer me something better than a five-grand blowoff. Make it a fair deal. The only way I’m gonna make a dealer five grand richer on any Accord-related transaction is if you paint the car that lovely lime green from the new Civic. What? You didn’t know that I like lime-green cars? Really, dear reader, what have you been doing with your time?

Jack Baruth
Jack Baruth

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  • Taxman100 Taxman100 on Sep 23, 2016

    Living in Central Ohio, one rumor on the street is 2017 is the last year for the 2 door Accord. I think the Genesis two door is dead as well.

    • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Sep 23, 2016

      Would not be a surprise. Hoping against hope that means that there will be a stickshift option with the big turbo engine for the next-gen 4-door.

  • Jeffzekas Jeffzekas on Sep 26, 2016

    Hi Jack, i am one of those Boomers with a pension. I hate getting scammed by dealers, so i bring my 30 year old son with me. He is a salesman, which probably pisses off the dealer. But he knows when to talk and when to walk. Personally, i hate dealers, go to independent mechanics and buy four year old cars from private parties whenever possible. But sometimes, you just want a new car. My personal pet peeve is that all the current new cars have electronic, keyless doors or use expensive-to-replace chip enhanced keys. I believe Hyundai is the only company that sells old school simple metal keys... or am i wrong?

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys dudes off the rails on drugs and full of hate and retribution. so is musky.
  • Big Al from Oz Musk and Trump are of the same ilk, except Musk's IQ is a damn site higher than Trumps. Musk like Trump is only into himself. Musk doesn't care about Trump only Musk. Musk sees more dollars if Trump wins.Hey, I'm Big Al again!3
  • Rover Sig We have a car with two fake exhausts in the bumper, but a large shiny muffler visible hanging down on one side, not aligned with the fake exhaust exits. Horrendous. I had to paint the shiny muffler with high-temp black paint to make it less visible. Exhaust pipes were meant to be round and hang below the bumper, and they can be made quiet or loud as the engineers like. But fake exhausts rank down there with fake intake vents on the side of that old Buick.
  • EBFlex Of course it does. What a silly question
  • Buickman Elon is a phony.