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 Post subject: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:11 pm 
The Real Hamburger Helper
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I'm going car shopping tomorrow and would like any advice you all are willing to give me. I'm going by myself, and I know that's not ideal, but my friend said she'd accompany me and backed out. That's another story.

Any tactics for dealing with the salesman? I did the Costco auto program thingy so they're supposed to give me the bottom line price with a "no-hassle" policy. I won't be buying tomorrow, either, which I know is a good thing to do.

Any other tips?


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:20 pm 
Mispronounces Daiya
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Check out a site like carsdirect.com or kbb.com so you can get an idea of what you should be paying. When I bought my last car, I used carsdirect and played two dealerships against each other online until I got 2 or 3k under sticker price.


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:01 pm 
The Real Hamburger Helper
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Thanks, fatcat. That's what I'm planning on doing. Going to one dealership tomorrow and the other Monday and will see who can give me the best offer.


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:15 pm 
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i bought a new car last year. this is from the text of an email i sent to another friend a few months ago who was also looking to buy a new car (its long). luke is my husband. i bought a nissan sentra sl.

first i went shopping and drove a bunch of different cars. "just looking." i compared several different cars around the same price ranges and "classes" and i also drove a few "nicer" cars like a volvo c30 and a honda accord.

then i did a ton of research on edmunds.com. you can look at invoice pricing for any make, model, and any features or packages. invoice is the price the dealer pays the manufacturer for the car....technically. edmunds also has a thing where they evaluate the "fair market value" for your area, which is an average of what people are actually paying for the specific car with the features or upgrades or whatever. THEN on edmunds they also have information about manufacturer-to-dealer incentives and what they call in the industry "holdbacks" which are basically a built-in incentive from the manufacturer for the dealer to stock and sell the car. so say a car is 20k invoice and that particular manufacturer has a 2% holdback - that's $400 that the dealer gets back in a payment quarterly or monthly or whatever, just for selling the car. in this example, if invoice is 20k and they sell me the car for 20k even, they are still making $400 from that holdback. also a lot of manufacturers, particularly american, have major cashback incentives to the dealer. these are separate from dealer-to-buyer incentives, the holdbacks and manufacturer-to-dealer incentives are "hidden" profits but its really valuable information as a consumer. edmunds also has information on buyer's incentives for the current month for every make and model, if there are financing deals or cashback deals they have the information on there.

once i had this pricing information i arrived at a sale price i thought was fair. i figured i could walk into the dealership with my number and try to get that price. but another approach luke had used in the past was to negotiate an "on the road" price, which in iowa includes sales tax, title, and license, and would ideally include any "fees" or "documentation services" or anything else the dealer tries to throw in to jack the price up. i'll get specific here, even though its kind of personal but whatever, it might be helpful. invoice for my car was $18,225. the "fair market value" according to edmunds for my area was like $18,540. so i used that number to figure out the sales tax, which in iowa is 5%, so $927. then i figured out title and license, which in iowa would be around $212. so that brought my working total up to $19,679, i rounded up slightly to $19,700 and decided that would be my "on the road" goal. i like this idea because like i said, if the dealer tries to throw any BS fees or administrative costs in there, they have to either eat it or give you a better deal on the price of the car. i realized this wasn't an exact figure, any change in the sale price of the car would affect the other two numbers, so i left some wiggle-room in there. my ultimate goal, the make-it-or-break-it was that i wanted under $20,000 out the door, including everything. if you are buying a car i strongly suggest you either commit these numbers to memory, write them down, or do what i did and store them in your phone. i also downloaded an amortization calculator (car payment calculator) app for my phone, though if you have all these numbers figured out beforehand you shouldn't really need that.

a lot of internet "car buying tips" sites will tell you at this point to get in contact with the fleet & internet sales manager at the dealer, to not go through a salesperson. or at least to get several different dealer quotes for your vehicle (which you can do online). i didnt do this for a couple of reasons - one is that while yes, i obviously want to get the best deal for myself, i am somewhat (not a lot, but somewhat) sympathetic to the salespeople who did give me their time and service. i bought my car from a local dealership literally 1/4 mile from my house, the people who work there live in my community and i can respect that they are trying to do a job and earn a living. but secondly, once i decided on the particular car i was pretty sure i wanted, it was hard to locate. the inventory for the particular model with those features was scarce in the several states around me. of course any dealer will tell you they will get you whatever car you want. but think about it, they know you want that specific car, they are going to an extra trouble and expense of getting it either from the factory or in a trade or exchange with another dealer, and that gives you a lot less leverage for bargaining. so instead of doing this, i went back to the dealership in person (armed with my internet research) to nonchalantly drive the car i wanted.

so now i was at the dealership, they had the car i wanted, and i wanted to buy it but i didnt make that too obvious. after we drove the car my salesperson said "you like this car? you want to buy it?" i said "maybe. it depends on what kind of deal i can get and really depends on whether or not i qualify for 0% financing."
so she says well lets go see what we can do.

if i could give only one piece of advice it would be this: talk to the salesperson only about the total price of the car. figure out your monthly payment and what that equates to for the price of the car before you go. do the math yourself. the dealer is going to want to talk to you about monthly payment. "what kind of monthly payment are you looking at?" was one of the first questions i got asked at every single dealership i visited in the past month. they are just trying to trick you with math, and this is how: as soon as you say "well i want my monthly payment to be around $300" they're going to take that to mean you'll probably be comfortable with something like $325 or $350. and to most people, they would probably think yeah, $25/month isn't so bad. but $25/month over the course of a 5 year loan is $1500! they could add $1500 to the price of the car pretty easily right there. figure out this stuff on your own before you get there. talk to the dealer only about the total price of the car. every time she said "what do you want your monthly payment to be?" i replied "well that depends on the total price of the car" because it does. she also tried to lock me into a downpayment figure early on in the negotiations and i didnt let her do that either, its another place they can really trick you into adding $500, $1000, or even $2000 or more into the price of the car because again, its going to make your monthly payment go up or down and this is what they're trying to focus on rather than the hard number. if you keep saying "well gee, i really wanted my monthly payment to be closer to $300" they're going to say, "well if you put an extra $500 down that brings the monthly payment down" instead of giving you a better deal on the price of the car, they are getting you to give them more money to lower your own monthly payment. so when she said "what are you thinking for a downpayment?" i again said "it really depends on the total price of the car." even though i knew in my head i wanted to finance no more than $17,000 i didnt say that. as soon as you start throwing different figures out like that, it's just more room for confusion and their "soft numbers" strategy. talk only about the total price of the car. they will still give you the breakdown of the monthly payment and stuff like that, or know how to figure it out yourself. talking about monthly payment, downpayment, and/or trade-in are traps. avoid them.

there wasn't a lot of back-and-forth negotiating, but you can read a lot more information about what really goes on in these situations on edmunds. (you can also read more about trading in a car there). once my salesperson realized that i had done my research and that i knew what invoice was (some of the internet sites i read said a lot of salespeople get really annoyed when you have this information, but mine didn't seem to be and i think it really helped her realize i wasnt going to fall for any of the usual tricks). we arrived at a fair price (for both parties) pretty quickly and painlessly. i made sure to ask any questions i had, it's a lot of information and a lot of numbers and it can get confusing. in my particular case, on the license fees they used an "estimate" of $525 in their sales worksheet which i knew was way high (because i had figured it out beforehand). i made sure that once that number was lower, the total would be lower not just that they were going to absorb that in somewhere else. when i asked about this she literally said to me "the numbers go up or down, it's all math." this is exactly how they get you. when they run different sales worksheets, make sure the numbers that should be the same are the same and the numbers that should be different are changed. as she brought in different sales worksheets, i made sure to jot down the numbers or put them into my phone because they take them away and do Lard knows what with them. i never felt like i was being "tricked" or deceived, but i can definitely see the potential here for shadier dealers.

my second major piece of advice is to bring your own entertainment. the process takes a long time on purpose. they try to wear you down with boredom, hunger, tiredness, etc. during the negotiations, luke and i got up and walked around and looked at other cars, played games on our phones, i read a magazine. i read on some sites about the sales manager (the person who is counter-offering) listening in to your conversations on the speaker phones. i have no clue whether or not this was going on, but it's something to be aware of. even once you are done negotiating on price, you have to meet with the finance manager. especially if the finance manager is busy (like if they're selling multiple cars at the same time), you could be waiting around for a long time. we were there for 5 hours. they had "complimentary" beverages and i also brought two larabars, which was good because i was starving by the time we got out of there.

when you meet with the finance manager, theyre going to try to sell you more crepe - extended warranty, scotch guarding, undercoating, etc. these things are always a ripoff and dont buy any of them. thats all im going to say about it. just dont. you can read more about all of that stuff on edmunds as well (sorry if i sounds like a broken record). read all the forms they give you to sign. know what you are signing and why. common sense stuff. just dont get roped into any of the things he (or she) is trying to sell you. and that was it! once i signed everything and they had done the final clean-up and inspection of my car i could drive it away. we had already figured out insurance stuff and state farm was able to fax the dealership (they need this for the financing), so i didnt have to wait!


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:31 pm 
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When I bought my Harley, I got quotes on the exact model/color from every dealer within range, then I printed out the lowest one and took it to my preferred dealer and asked them to beat it. They tried to talk about how rare the color was, but since I already knew where the other two in the state were, they quickly figured I knew what I wanted and had done my research.

All in all, it took them 10 minutes to agree to my offer and it was a done deal. I had my dad with me, but he never needed to step in. I think the important thing is to know what you want, what you will pay, what services and extras you want them to include, and dont ask questions that you don't already know the answer to. In other words, you have to control the whole sale.

My inflexibility on bike color kept me from getting a stellar deal, but I did get a fair price, great service, and some good store credit added, plus first service. The final price I told them I would pay was 2,100 less than their original quote.

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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 9:47 pm 
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I second using edmunds.com. It has tons of info on buying a car, selling a car, reviews of the cars you are interested in. Once you find a car at a dealership you want to buy you can even take the info (car color, mileage, condition, year, make model etc) and plug it in their website and they will tell you the TMV (true market value) of the car which is basically what other people in your area are paying for the same car. Excellent website! Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:30 pm 
The Real Hamburger Helper
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Well, I had my first dealership experience and walked out the door empty-handed. I purposefully didn't take my checkbook with me, although the salesman said he'd be more than happy to drive me home to get it. Bargained a little bit, stated my bottom line price, they weren't willing to match, so I left. I've been car-free for almost 2 years now, one more day isn't going to kill me ;).


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:00 pm 
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Don't trust the salesman wearing all the gold rings.


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:01 pm 
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Don't believe them when they say "it will probably sell tomorrow" and be firm on your price range!

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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:48 pm 
The Real Hamburger Helper
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lindsayh, I just realized I never thanked you for that totally informative post - Thank You! Tons of useful information!

So I went to a second dealership today, and found out what a d-bag the salesman from the first dealership was. This guy today couldn't have been nicer. He's their top seller at the dealership, listened to exactly what I wanted, didn't pressure me at all, was completely honest when he said he'd love to sell me a car today but not if it wasn't one I wanted, and so I'm waiting until the 2012 models come out in a few months. It was lovely to deal with him. I'm so angry with the salesman from the dealership I went to yesterday. He keeps calling to ask if I've bought my car yet and I want to tell him to fork himself, he's not getting my business**

**He lied to me twice, once asking for a nonrefundable deposit (which is illegal in WA State if you haven't signed papers), and telling the dealership today that called about the vehicle I wanted (was only available at his dealership) that someone was already 100% committed to it and he couldn't release it to them. I asked him today if the vehicle I wanted was still available, and he said yes (after he told the dealership I visited today "No")


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 10:02 am 
Chip Strong
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Do what Lindsayh says! Incredibly thorough and excellent advice. Seconding do not talk in terms of payments and do not buy any of the add-ons they will try to sell you in the finance office - extended warranties are a rip off. I should know... I used to sell them... Briefly. I didn't push them on anyone though... That job conflicted with my ethics!


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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 4:40 pm 
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I'm in this boat at the minute. My car is going to cost more in repairments than it is actually worth so I'm stuck in a situation where I have to go looking because my car isn't really road worthy at present.

I have a low threshold for stress and even though it is only day 2 of shopping I'm feeling very overwhelmed. The first place I went to was ok and I've fallen for a car. The other 3 places I went to were trying to do a hard sell. One wasn't too bad because I know someone working there but the other two had my head fried. One to the extent where they had me considering a brand new car.

I'm waiting out on hearing back from the finance company about the car from the first place.

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 Post subject: Re: New Car Shopping Advice
PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:19 pm 
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My top car shopping advice is never get in a car to go to another lot with the dealer driving. They will keep you there as long as they can and make up all sorts of crepe to keep you on the lot.

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