Tag: Car Buying

By on August 29, 2019

2019 Mazda Mazda3 interior

We’ve all eyeballed a pair of pants in the store, assumed they’d fit just fine, and took them home — only to discover that our waistlines aren’t as svelte as initially thought. Ignore the fitting room at your own peril.

Big-ticket purchases can also backfire, especially if they’re ordered online and come with “some assembly required.” But for the most part, large transactions — houses, cars, furniture — occur only after you’ve parked your ass in it for a little while, given it a once-over, and declared the pending purchase A-OK. For the most part, anyway.

Thanks to the internet, it’s not unusual for collectors or plain-old used car buyers to purchase a cheap, historical, or oddball vehicle without ever slipping behind the wheel, but would you do this with a new car? (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2019

Shopping cart full of cash money bills, Image: urfingus/Bigstock

When I was in high school, many moons ago, I had to recreate an historical debate in front of the class as part of a project for my American History class. I was assigned to take a “pro” position on the Three-Fifths Compromise (I don’t imagine that these sorts of things happen much in high school today). My opponent in the debate was a young lady who was, shall we say, a little different. She didn’t have many friends, she was socially awkward, and I’m not entirely sure that I’d ever actually heard her speak before.

We picked numbers out of a hat to see which one of us would go first, and she won. Right from the beginning, it was evident that things weren’t going to go well. She starting mumbling, inaudibly repeating the same thing over and over. Our teacher, a kind, and gentle man, asked her to speak just a little bit louder.

“Three fourths of a person, that’s all they were. Three fourths of a person!” And then she broke into hysterics and ran out of the room. The teacher sprinted out the door after her, returning after a few moments.

“Now, everybody,” he began, “Mary (not her real name) is our friend. When she comes back in the room, I ask each of you to treat her as our friend.” Let’s be honest. She wasn’t our friend. But in that moment, thanks to a kind word from our teacher, we did our best to treat her as one.

Here at Ask Bark, we get a lot of emails. As the curator of said emails, I do my best to answer all of them personally, even if I can’t dedicate precious ones and zeroes to them in this space. Some of them just aren’t interesting enough for me to dedicate an entire column to answering — it’s often as simple as “Don’t go to that dealer if they’re pulling that garbage on you,” or, “No, it’s never a good idea to spend all of your money on a used German car that’s out of warranty.” Stuff like that.

But every so often, I get an email that both excites and terrifies me, because I know that there is sufficient content within for a good column, but will also likely expose the writer of the correspondence to the combined vitriol of TTAC’s Best & Brightest. Today is such a day. So, everybody, Tom is our friend. After you’ve read his email, I ask each of you to treat him as our friend.

Here we go.

(Read More…)

By on March 27, 2019

2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk - Image: © Timothy Cain

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: unless otherwise stated, the “SUVs” mentioned in automotive studies refer to all utility vehicles, regardless of unibody or body-on-frame construction.

Utility sales surpassed passenger car sales in the U.S. in 2016 and never looked back. There’s an ever-growing number of them out there, and, with automakers now straddling segments (the Mazda CX-30, for example), expect the market swamping to continue apace. In a new Cox Automotive study that contrasts today’s market with 2008’s (while taking a peak at the future), the answer to the question “Has the SUV market peaked?” is most definitely “no.”

The market has legs, but the passage of time means it’s showing signs of saturation —  with a number of headwinds now buffeting automakers looking to clean up in this ultra competitive field. (Read More…)

By on February 4, 2019

2019 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty Limited Crew Cab Dually with RV trailer

Image, for a moment, that the trailer pictured above is filled with debt. It’s a good representation of the average new vehicle purchase.

Looking at last month’s stats, you’d have to go back to the safe and comfortable pre-Twitter era to find a January in which fewer people got their hands on a zero percent new vehicle loan. January 2006, to be exact.

Last month wasn’t just a departure from a decade past — the car buying landscape appeared quite different just a year ago, all thanks to rising interest rates and the perpetual upward creep of new car pricing. Data from Edmunds helps break down the differences.

Suffice it to say you’re likely paying a lot more, but you’re spreading it out over a longer term. (Read More…)

By on December 13, 2018

Sitting in a new, unfamiliar vehicle can breed a nearly limitless range of emotions and observations. Excitement, lust, desire … and annoyance.

Just as one design flourish or interior feature can turn interest into a buy, another can turn off prospective customers to such a degree that a sale becomes impossible. Sure, to the experienced observer, these minor complaints might appear frivolous, but the customer is always right. Or are they? (Read More…)

By on October 10, 2018

2017 Elantra Eco

Once a bracket where most desirable vehicles lived, the sub-$20,000 price range is not the hot neighborhood it once was. The ever-upward creep of new vehicle MSRPs increasingly places most vehicles above that marker, and shifting consumer trends haven’t helped expand its ranks.

According to data from J.D. Power, 2018 has seen a rapid exodus from the cheap seats, with retail volume from the $20k-and-under crowd sinking 20 percent since the start of the year. Big spenders, on the other hand, are gobbling up $80,000-plus vehicles at a rapid clip. (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2018

used cars used car lot

Ever since the end of the recession, new car prices have crept up steadily while used vehicle values remained comparably low. In fact, compact cars actually became less expensive between 2013 and 2017 as the crossover craze left a glut of small, economical vehicles that could be purchased for little more than a smile.

Unfortunately, the tide is turning. A sudden influx of end-of-lease vehicles was supposed to continue suppressing used vehicle prices for 2018. However, things have not played out that way. Despite there being so many gently used vehicles saturating dealer lots, average used-vehicle prices reached $20,153 in the second quarter of this year — making it the first time the market has ever broken the $20K threshold. According to research firm Edmunds, the 3.3-percent increase over 2017’s second quarter was also a record.  (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2018

Image: 2017 GAC Trumpchi GS8

Nah, that’s completely false. You know exactly which car buyers would turn up their noses at the prospect of bringing home a brand new Geely or GAC. (Aren’t these brand names inspiring?)

After becoming familiar names in Europe, new tariffs have made the imminent influx of Chinese-branded vehicles into the U.S. less than certain. Suddenly, the 2018 Detroit auto show, with its big display of shiny new GACs (including a luxurious minivan with La-Z-Boy-like rear seats), seems so long ago.

But pretend for a second that the new tariffs don’t exist, and that Chinese automakers are poised to open up American showrooms tomorrow. Who’s likely to consider one? Who isn’t? A recent study will almost certainly not surprise you. (Read More…)

By on May 29, 2018

Jaguar E-Type, Image: Steph Willems

Teen car culture is dying a swift death, The Atlantic claims, but Jaguar Land Rover’s head of product strategy feels the youngsters of today will eventually outgrow their desire for hassle-free autonomous commute pods.

As a great Jaguar print ad in the 1990s once stated, “Live Vicariously Through Yourself.”

In Hanno Kirner’s mind, this mantra will guide more than a few Millennials to take over the driving duties and indulge their innermost desires. It had better. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2018

For most people, not having a brand new car sort of budget can mean scrounging around on AutoTrader, Cars.com, eBay, or even the ever-professional Craigslist for used vehicles. The resulting experiences end up shaping the future of our car ownership, our finances, and perhaps our legal situations in some cases.

Today we want you to know about your sketchiest used car buying experience.

(Read More…)

By on April 2, 2018

Sales situation in a car dealership, the young couple is signing the sales contract to get the new car in the background, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock.com

It’ll be another 24 hours before the nation’s automakers release March sales figures, all thanks to the Easter long weekend. Shaking off the effects of a chocolate bunny induced sugar high takes a day or two, after all.

This means, at most dealers, last month’s subvented rates still apply — so, if you’re looking at snagging a 2017 model, it might not be a bad idea to lock the deal down today. Shoppers of MY2018 machines can relax, as the deals on those rides will likely be better tomorrow morning … especially if it’s a vehicle that was majorly reworked for 2019.

Until then, we have time to peruse a story from Bloomberg, one which pontificates on the sudden evaporation of subprime new car buyers from showrooms in the month of March.

Evaporation? I thought there was a glut of them! Let’s dig into the report.

(Read More…)

By on March 8, 2018

2018 Lexus RX 350

A week or two ago, a friend dropped me a line on GChat (oh sorry, it’s Hangouts now). She told me she and her husband were expecting their first child and they were going to trade one of their cars for a crossover/SUV. She wanted my recommendations.

I tossed out the usual suspects in the two-row and three-row categories (and in the $20K-$40K price range), based on what I’ve driven. I also mentioned a few models I have yet to drive that have been highly recommended throughout the automotive press.

I was intentionally a little vague because, as I told her, the final decision would come down to variables unique to her and her husband – what they feel is best for their finances, how they both like driving each individual car, their styling preferences, what features they want, et cetera. But a day later, something popped into my head. I realized I hadn’t considered a key factor: the brand, or more accurately, the brand/dealer experience.

(Read More…)

By on February 24, 2018

Bentley Continental GT Supersports

After hitting it big with the Fab Four, George Harrison wrote the scathing song Taxman in protest of the British government’s “Super Tax” on high-income earners. At the time, the boys faced a 95 percent tax on their earnings (“There’s one for you, nineteen for me”), and Harrison reportedly did everything he could to offshore his wealth.

Britain’s dismal weather wasn’t the only reason rock musicians fled the country during this period.

In beautiful British Columbia, a mountain- and wine-filled area north of Seattle, the provincial government’s recent budget has some auto dealers steaming mad and worried their customers will hit the road in search of deal. The province’s New Democratic Party government, elected last year, plans to levy a 25 percent tax on the purchase of very high-end vehicles, with lesser models facing a 20-percent markup. However, many dealers wonder where the law of diminishing returns comes into play. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2018

2017 Nissan Rogue SL - Image: Nissan

It’s not fair to say there’s no truth in advertising; commercials often show vehicles driving in a straight line down a dry road, and we all know they can do that. Only the most gullible among us thinks a new muscle car will improve their love life faster than Billy Dee Williams can crack open a can of Colt 45.

All too often, smokin’ deals do not await shoppers who leave the house without reading the fine print. And even that fine print can hide whether you’re actually getting a bargain. With President’s Day coming up on Monday, here’s a few examples of juicy car promotions that are sure to waste someone’s time. (Read More…)

By on February 15, 2018

A guest showed up at the apartment yesterday, ready and prepared for when things got hot. No, stop thinking that, you weirdos — it was my landlord. He was replacing my smoke detectors. God.

Nice guy, I should point out, certainly the best landlord I’ve ever had. Anyway, as tends to happen with this fellow, we got to talking about cars. Also per the norm, he found himself on the fence regarding a purchasing dilemma — one that’s no doubt familiar to many readers.  (Read More…)

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