Friday, September 03, 2010

Used Car Dealers: The Anti-Hero

I need a new car.

I'm not desperate yet. The one I have still runs, although it has its moments. Most recently it has a phantom fuel problem. Nothing that ever happens at the shop or in any consistent way that I can pinpoint. But it runs. Its paid for. Insurance and registration are way cheap. Hasn't stranded me on the side of the road... yet.

But I need a new car.

I bought my Ford Focus in December 2000. It's almost ten years old and will have hit the 150k mark on the odometer by the time its birthday rolls around. She's been a good little car. Any problems she had were more to do with the fact that she was the first model year than anything else. Once most the kinks were worked out, she's been quite the trooper. Even if I bought something new, I'd keep her. Let DB drive her to work instead of his gas hog of a truck. Have an extra car in case one needs work done on it (likely in our bunch.)

My list of requirements is short. I just want more power (V6), to be higher (SUV), to have power windows (my car was the last to roll off the lot without them), cruise control, and an auxillary input for my iPhone. I don't ask for much. A lot of cars fit the criteria. The problem is buying a new car. Or a used car. Nevermind that it makes me nauseated to think of the $500 a month payment (for a low end model) or the quadrupling of my insurance and registration costs. I'm slowly coming to terms that it isn't 1993 and cars don't come new for $13k anymore. I've just gone too long without a car payment.

The problem, really, is car lots and car salesmen. I hate them. I hate the haggling dance. The buddy buddy attitude that's slick as oil and turns on you the minute they think you're onto their game. I'd considered buying a used car. Thought it could save me some depreciation and get me more car for the money. Went to a local lot with a no-haggle policy. Found a car I liked. Was on the verge of buying it, until the test drive uncovered a noise that was either crappy tires or a wheel bearing problem. Expensive no matter how you pick it. But they wouldn't fix it. Not until after I bought it (if they could find a problem.) The car has such a fabulous warranty that they were sure they could clear up the issue (if there was one and it was covered by said warranty) after I'd ponied up over twenty grand.

Nope. Walked away. Broke my heart cause I really liked the car, but I wasn't going to set myself up for headaches with them. Now I'm thinking maybe just buying new would be better. Get model end clearance deals and rebates on a new, lower end model that might bring the cost in line with a used one with more features. I don't need leather and a panoramic sunroof anyway. There'd be warranties. Less bugs. Hopefully less lying and hassle. I'd still debating.

In the meantime, my little car will just have to do. I refuse to be rushed and cajoled into this. How did you buy your last car? Any suggestions or recommendations? New? Used? Leased? I'm in the market for a mid-size SUV/crossover (Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, etc.) if you have any tips or experience with one of these to share.

SP

16 comments:

Maven Linda said...

Wait until the 2011 models come out; that's when the prices drop on the 2010 models.

I refuse to pay "dealer Prep" charges of several hundred dollars, when all they do is wash the car and put paper floor mats in it. I don't pay $800 dollars for their "registration and paperwork charges," because it takes about 15 minutes on a computer and I doubt anyone there makes $3200 an hour. I'm perfectly happy with walking out and looking elsewhere. It's a buyer's market, and I don't get emotionally attached to cars.

Angel said...

I haven't bought a car in a while. My hubby bought one last year, a used Mercedes, but he bought from a guy he went to high school with, so there wasn't much haggling. :) When we finally get some money (like, maybe before our kids turn 18, hopefully) I plan to buy a Kia van that I can run into the ground toting kids and playfriends everywhere. :)

I put a lot of miles on a car, so my only requirement is that it be reliable enough not to leave me standing on the side of the road having to call a tow truck.

Angel

Cheryl said...

Amen Linda! I have a husband who insists on buying new (guess it comes from when we had to drive cars held together by baling string and duct tape). BUT, he lets me be the bad guy when it comes to negotiation - good cop bad cop. I am like Linda - I won't pay those extra charges, take them off. And I only start all this after I get their bottom line and have walked off. They usually call in a day or two and ask me what it will take to put me in the car - game on! I low-ball and they tell me no - eventually we get to a point where we're both happy. Well, I am more happy than they are. I just don't understand why the price has to be argued over, but it does. The biggest advantage you have is your old car - tell them " I'll just keep it and drive the wheels off, I don't need your car." Really kills them. Good Luck!

Playground Monitor said...

I bought my last car in the months following Hurricane Katrina when the used car market was limited and they cost almost as much as new ones, which is why I sold my old Maxima to my son (whose truck had been totaled in a wreck) and bought a new Honda Accord. That way we both got cars we knew hadn't been flooded.

I hate buying a car and dread the day when I have to buy another one. My mother used to put out bid sheets -- she'd decide which cars she liked and what features, print up a sheet and give it to all the dealers who carried those cars. Then she'd tell them "Have at it, boys!"

Or maybe you should take Linda and Cheryl with you on your next car shopping trip. ::grin::

Linda Winstead Jones said...

I just bought a new car. Oddly enough, I did a lot of negotiating by e-mail and phone. Three salesmen at three Toyota lots, and only ONE of them gave me what I wanted. A final, full, price. The price "plus" is worthless. I did a lot of research online so I knew how much I should pay for what I wanted, and eventually I got it. Did I get the best deal ever? Probably not. But I got what I wanted at a good price. I'd had my old car for 8-plus years, and it was couple years old when I got it, so it was time. Good luck! I hope you can find just what you want.

Jean Hovey said...

I bought new. Honda CRV, completely tricked out. I bought it in December and it was the last 2008 on the lot. I got many of the extras for free.

This is the first new vehicle we've ever bought but we figured it was worth it since a Honda holds it value so well. I had wrecked a Honda van and the the payoff was really good. Plus, we don't just trade cars for the heck of it. We buy one, pay for it, take care of it, and drive it until there's nothing left. (Or--turns out--wreck it.)

I have never had a vehicle I liked better.

PM's Mother said...

I traded in my 12 year old car on a new one two years ago. Since I am loyal to one make of automobile I only had one dealer in town to go to... so-o-o-o I did my shopping on line and presented all of my info in print to the salesman that I had purchased my previous car from. I had written the price that I was willing to pay on a piece of paper, stuck it in my pocket, told the salesman that he could meet it or beat it and I would buy his car. He came in $500 under. The only decision I had to make on the lot was which color I wanted. Easiest deal I ever made!

PS: The bid sheet deal was made when I sold advertising to all the dealers in the area and I had to give them a shot at selling me a car.

Problem Child said...

I hate shopping for cars. I want to be left alone while I decide what I like. I don't like salespeople following me around while I dither and debate. I actually walked off a lot one time because I couldn't get the salespeople to leave me alone and I wasn't going to shop with someone hanging over my shoulder. If I want a peanut gallery, I'll take my friends along...

Lynn Raye Harris said...

I hate buying a new car. Which is why I'm still driving a 2003 BMW. But it's paid for, runs great, and I love it (it also only has 44k original miles). Hubby wanted a hybrid a few years back. He wanted it right before gas prices sky rocketed, so we got a great deal, but I was not happy with all that haggling and crap.

I agree with Linda on dealer prep and all that other silly stuff. It's just a money maker for the dealer. I also hate the destination charge, but you really can't get around that one. I don't mind them getting a profit, but I do mind the antics.

When we bought the BMW, we were in Germany. Went into a dealer and ordered the car to our specs. No haggling, no silly charges. (They don't stock cars on the lot there; you order it and they build it.) I look at the prices at the dealer when I take my car for service and I simply can't believe the audacity. Which is why I'll be driving this car until it falls apart. :)

Playground Monitor said...

PC wrote: I want to be left alone while I decide what I like.

Me too! There's a particular furniture store where you can almost hear the theme from Jaws begin playing when you walk in the front door.

When I want help or have a question, I will ask for your help, and then you can disappear again while I continue looking.

Sherry Werth said...

After driving the same car for the past 14 years I finally broke down and bought a new car back in March. It had gotten to the point I was nervous when I had to go anywhere. And gosh forbid it had to go up a hill! Not good when you live on Sand Mountain.
So I bit the bullet (payment) and bought a new Ford Fusion. I think I got a good deal and the salesman was really nice. He was just a good ole country boy. Not one of those slicked up types. There is a car commercial that comes on constantly and I want to run from the room screaming. I swear the sales guy is a bobble head. His head bobs up, down and all around while he's doing the sales pitch telling me to 'come on down and see us'. Uhh, no.
Happy car hunting SP!

gigi said...

I bought a special edition CRV in 2005. I love it.
We checked with edmunds.com You can price the car there and compare models.
http://www.edmunds.com/advice/buying/articles/78386/article.html
When I used them before I bought the Honda there was a section on how to dicker on price woth the salesman and they were right. They had sent one of their reporters to work at a dealership and they learned the trick of the trad and passed them on in the article .
http://www.edmunds.com/advice/buying/articles/42962/article.html
With my Honda I got tires for life which I love.

I am for buying new but if the car is for a kid I would go to autotrader.com and search for a private party car through them. We found my daughter a 2001 CRV. It had been pulled behind a motor home by a retired couple and then given to a grand son. Low mileage and in great shape. They had all the service records and they lived in a really upascale part of town. The Honda dealership I had bought the new one from was trying to buy it from them and offered them $1000 more than we paid. They were trying to get rid of it because their younger son was turning 16 and he wanted a truck.

But you really should check out edmunds it is full of great information and kbb.com is a good place to go too.

robertsonreads said...

LOL, you ladies are funny and on the money. The last time I purchased a car was in 1999, a 1996 Toyota 4runner, which I am still driving today. I paid for it when I purchased it, used, with my divorce settlement. Car is old, but still running (GREAT mechanic), my driver's seat is starting to tear, it creaks going down the road (this has something to do with the bumper) and you can hear me blocks away (I fear one day that going over a rough road or RR tracks that I will need to get out & pick up bumper that has just fell off & put in car)and car has 222,000 plus miles BUT it is paid for, low insurance & low tag cost. So until I am forced to purchase a new automobile, I will continue to drive my 4runner.

Have a wonderful weekend and holiday.

word verification chilityp, are you ready for some chilityp with those chips?

Playground Monitor said...

Here ya go:

5 Things Your Car Dealer Won't Tell You

Smarty Pants said...

Thanks for the tips. I've been living on Edmonds, reading every review, checking every recall, read all the articles. Just a matter of biting the bullet and doing it. Thinking after Christmas might be a good time if my car makes it that long.

catslady said...

My son-in-law just totaled the car we gave my daughter. Lately we had bought used cars but they seem to be too expensive right now. They did better buying a new car since it was only a few thousand more and they have all the warantees and no surprises and no mileage lol.