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  1. #1
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Car Buying Advice?

    My wife and I are thinking about buying a new car, so I was wondering if the car buying experts at Redszone might have any tips, particularly when it comes to negotiating a good price. I've bought a few cars before, and while I've never been "taken," I usually leave feeling like I could have done better. So this time, if we decide to purchase, I'd like to see if I can't work to get the best deal possible.

    As far as makes/modes, we're probably going to be looking at GM vehicles, mainly because my wife has earned over $2k toward a GM using her credit card.

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Some personal tactics that I use whenever I make any major purchase...

    -Do your research. Check out every vehicle you're considering buying. Check pricing, check reliability, and check user satisfaction. Go to edmunds.com and consumerreports.org (spend the money on a membership -- you'll make that money back many times over). Talk to other people who own the same model.

    -Test drive all the cars you're interested in, preferably on the same day or weekend. It's a lot easier to see the differences in cars when you drive one immediately after driving another. Also, some dealerships may allow you to take the car home for an extended test drive (I'm not kidding -- they let you keep the car for 24 hours). Ask about it.

    -Take your time. Don't make a deal on your first trip to the lot. And don't go in with the mindset that you *have* to buy a car that very day. Be patient. Expect to make several trips to the dealer over the course of a couple of weeks. After you look at the car and take your test drive, ask a few questions, then give the dealer your name and number, tell him you're still looking at other dealerships, and leave. Rest assured, he'll call you back with a better deal than the one he offered before.

    -When negotiating, be prepared to wait alone in the salesman's office. This happens every time. Again, be patient. And remember -- salesmen have speaker phones/intercoms in their offices, so you're not as alone as you might think. Don't say anything you wouldn't want them to hear.

    -Most importantly, feel good about the price you end up paying. If you do your research and remain patient, you will be able to get a good price. Don't beat yourself up if you end up paying $200 over invoice and you think you could have paid $100 over invoice. The "best deal possible" is a great goal, but you can be satisfied with merely a "good deal" if you know that you're getting one.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  3. #3
    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    After you look at the car and take your test drive, ask a few questions, then give the dealer your name and number, tell him you're still looking at other dealerships, and leave. Rest assured, he'll call you back with a better deal than the one he offered before.
    This is the best advice I've read.

    The key to negotiating anything, from the price of a car to a muti-million dollar contract, is to get people to start bidding against themselves. By letting a dealer know that you are shopping around and not seriously committed to buying from one place, it forces him to start guessing as to what kinds of deals you are being offered at other places and then to start bidding his own price down.

    #1. Never tell the dealer what kind of a deal you are getting from another place. Let him guess. If he makes an offer that isn't better than other offers you've been seeing, then simply tell him "That's fine, but I'm confident I can do better someplace else."

    #2. Be firm and decisive with the salesman. If you don't immediately like what you are hearing from him, don't waffle or waver. Simply thank him for his time, leave a number, and tell him you'll be in touch. Have your conversations with your wife about "pros and cons" of the deal someplace where the salesman can't hear and doesn't know how much you've been talking about.

    #3. Never make a deal immediately after recieving a concession/price reduction from the salesman. Tell him you need time to think it over, even if you're dead certain that it is the deal you want to take. The time you take thinking it over may induce the salesman to continue bidding against himself and offer you an even better deal. If the salesman attempts to force your hand with a "Take it or leave it" offer, tell him that you don't think that's a professional way to conduct business and that you really do need time to think.
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  4. #4
    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    First, I'm HORRIBLE at it. Just hate the wheeling dealing part of it. Not in my nature.

    I do however go to blue book to estimate the worth of my trade in. If I feel they aren't giving me a fair trade-in, I stand up and say thank you, but "Car dealer X" offered me this for my trade-in. I literally stand up and head for the door.

    I also ask them if they give my company a rate. I work for a large company. Some dealerships go for it, some don't.

  5. #5
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    If you are looking to buy a used car, Johnny gave you some great advice. I'd also advise you to walk away from the car you want and come back the next day. That gives you a chance to reconsider your decision and makes the salesman sweat a little bit. Sales guys hate investing their time and then losing the sale. If you make him sweat for 24 hours, he's more likely to give a little. Also, if you aren't pressed for time, consider shopping at the tail end of the month. Nothing makes a sales guy happier than getting a big commision in under the wire. They often have bonuses based on monthly sales totals and are a little more flexible on the 29th of the month than they are on the 1st.

    If you are looking at 'newer' used model, I'd strongly advise looking at the classifieds. There are some fantastic deals out there from folks who bit off more than they could chew when buying new. As an added bonus, if you do get a 'newer' model, the manufacturer warranty will still apply. There's nothing quite so satisfying as finding a 'take over payments' deal after the previous owner has already paid over half the bank note.

    If you are looking for a new model, consider buying a Saturn. They have 'set' prices, so you don't have to worry about getting screwed by the dealer. The price is the price and that is that. It's no different than walking into Sears to buy a new fridge. Saturns also are one of the best american cars when it comes to retaining their resale value.

    If you are concerned with getting top dollar for your trade in ... don't trade it in. You can almost always get more money on the open market using the classifieds and Wheeler Dealer. However, the tradeoff is you have to deal with the hassles of selling the car yourself.
    Last edited by Steve4192; 05-20-2005 at 07:31 PM.

  6. #6
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    I'd also advise you to walk away from the car you want and come back the next day. That gives you a chance to reconsider your decision and makes the salesman sweat a little bit. Sales guys hate investing their time and then losing the sale. If you make him sweat for 24 hours, he's more likely to give a little. Also, if you aren't pressed for time, consider shopping at the tail end of the month. Nothing makes a sales guy happier than getting a big commision in under the wire. They often have bonuses based on monthly sales totals and are a little more flexible on the 29th of the month than they are on the 1st.
    More great advice!
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

  7. #7
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny Footstool
    More great advice!
    I third this recommendation. Fully. It's never not worked for me.

  8. #8
    First Time Caller SunDeck's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Personally, I LOVE buying cars. My rules:

    1) Never buy new. Okay, you're exempt from that since you want to spend your GM bucks.

    2) Know how much you are willing to spend before you go in.

    3) Do not tell anyone how much you are willing to spend.

    4) Get your financing somewhere other than the dealership.

    5) Remember, EVERYTHING is negotiable, from the price of the vehicle to the cost of an extended warranty. Everything. Don't get sucked into thinking you are finished purchasing a car just because you have settled on the price. This is why having your own financing lined up is advantageous; it allows you to negotiate a potentially better deal from the dealer.

    6) Don't worry if a deal doesn't work out. GM is producing way more cars than they can sell right now. If your understanding of the real value of the car is correct, you will be able to get that price.

    7) Do you have a trade in? Know how much it is really worth. Get the price from kb.com, or edmunds.com.

    8) Everything you need to know about every car can be found online.
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  9. #9
    Smells Like Teen Spirit jmcclain19's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by SunDeck
    4) Get your financing somewhere other than the dealership.
    Can't emphasize this point enough.

    I did mine online, I had a few offers I mulled over from eloan.com and capitalone.com that I solicited online, took the best offer and went shopping. You have no obligation to tell them how much you can afford. Don't do it. If you tell them "I am pre-approved for $25k" you can bet your tail they will do everything in their power to run you up to $24,999.99

    Also make sure to check the net for prices at the particular dealership that you are planning on looking at. I just bought a Nissan Maxima. When I went to the dealer, I test drove the Maxima I wanted, then while we were in negotiations, I stepped out for a momement, called my wife who got on the net, and she saw the exact car I was driving for $5k less that the point we were at currently as an "internet" special than what the advertised price on the car was. This was something they did not mention to me at any point during the talks, so I walked back in and insisted on that price, which I got.

    And make sure to negotiate the price of your trade in as a seperate entity. Know how much it is worth (kbb.com) and stick only to the talk of trading in your car, don't let the trade in and new car discussions bleed together, because things will get lost in the mix.

    Dealers will try to recoup what they aren't making on one portion of the sale somewhere else.

    I bought a Nissan, where the sales guy was telling me that a lightning bolt wouldn't ever let that engine break down, and yet just 2 hours later I'm in a finance office where the woman finalizing the details is giving me horror stories about how my bumper was going to fall off the moment the warranty ended and I just had to get that extended warranty and LoJack. Quite a humorous 180.

    Go prepared - have fun and report back.

  10. #10
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Thanks for the advice everyone. Very helpful! I've used the "I need some time to think it over" trick before, and that is usually good for some flexibility on the price. And I told my wife to make sure we say NOTHING about the money we have coming on the GM card before we have an agreed upon price. (The brochure from the bank/GM themselves says to get the price set before discussing the rewards points). I checked out Consumer Reports too. I never realized how much car dealers get in factory-to-dealer incentives and other deals. Has anyone purchased that "New car buyer's kit" they offer? It looks pretty interesting at $40.

    Here's a question...I've heard it suggested that one should gather some quotes from online car websites, print them out, stash them in a folder and take the folder with you to the dealership. Does it really help to be so brazen about that kind of thing, or does it really tick them off? Then again, do I really want to buy a car from someone who would be ticked off by that? I think I answered my own question.

    As far as GM goes, I've heard that Buick and Pontiac are possible facing the chopping block. I'm wondering if that's a possible sign for possible good deals, or a sign from the market that there is something wrong with Buicks and Pontiacs. I've never been a fan of Buicks, just because the ride is a bit too "soft" for me, but the Rendevous might be interesting. On the other hand, my first car was a 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix, which I loved, so I have kind of a soft spot for them. However, I've heard that their quality hasn't been great in the past.

    Thanks again for the advice. It's great!

  11. #11
    Pitching is the thing WVRedsFan's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee
    Thanks for the advice everyone. Very helpful! I've used the "I need some time to think it over" trick before, and that is usually good for some flexibility on the price. And I told my wife to make sure we say NOTHING about the money we have coming on the GM card before we have an agreed upon price. (The brochure from the bank/GM themselves says to get the price set before discussing the rewards points). I checked out Consumer Reports too. I never realized how much car dealers get in factory-to-dealer incentives and other deals. Has anyone purchased that "New car buyer's kit" they offer? It looks pretty interesting at $40.

    Here's a question...I've heard it suggested that one should gather some quotes from online car websites, print them out, stash them in a folder and take the folder with you to the dealership. Does it really help to be so brazen about that kind of thing, or does it really tick them off? Then again, do I really want to buy a car from someone who would be ticked off by that? I think I answered my own question.

    As far as GM goes, I've heard that Buick and Pontiac are possible facing the chopping block. I'm wondering if that's a possible sign for possible good deals, or a sign from the market that there is something wrong with Buicks and Pontiacs. I've never been a fan of Buicks, just because the ride is a bit too "soft" for me, but the Rendevous might be interesting. On the other hand, my first car was a 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix, which I loved, so I have kind of a soft spot for them. However, I've heard that their quality hasn't been great in the past.

    Thanks again for the advice. It's great!
    The "buzz" I get from reading on the auto industry is that either Buick or Pontiac will be gone soon. GM apparently is in big trouble because of pension and health care debts. They're trying to cut costs everywhere and this was one of the things they are considering. You might want to consider that when choosing what you buy. I bought an Oldsmobile Intrigue in 2000. When Olds folded, the resale value of my Intrigue dropped nearly $5,000. When it bit the dust in 2003, I was faced with that much reverse equity in it.
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  12. #12
    I hate the Cubs LoganBuck's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    I have a few more tips.

    -If you want to save a little cash and not take the big depreciation hit. Buy a just off lease vehicle or "program car". Dealers have the ability to bid on these cars and they typically have all records low milage and detailed inspections. Some of these are less than a year old. My current vehicles are off lease vehicles and I have been very happy. Also the dealer doesn't have as much "slime room" because he has kept you abreast of the price to be the top bidder in the auction, you will often only pay a predetermined fee for paperwork, some service to the vehicle, destination fees, and some profit (they don't work for free).

    -Do some checking around on the internet at places like autotrader.com. Use these as a baseline price, or maximum price that you should be able to beat. It is often difficult to know what is a good price, but you must beat advertised prices.

    -Look and ask for incentives or warranty extensions as deal breakers. They can and will throw these in. I once got a warranty extension, and 4 Reds tickets, and a car emergency kit. Total value $625.

    -Don't worry about fuel economy numbers so much. Those numbers are not actual. They are determined by using math and "standard" operating peramiters. Actual mileage is determined by vehicle weight including passengers, terrain, weather, tire inflation, etc. Obviously a Ford Excursion will get worse gas mileage than a Honda Civic, but don't sweat any difference under 4 mpg.
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  13. #13
    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    All of the above is great advice and I second/third/fourth it. A couple other things:

    - Never trade in a car. Sell it yourself. It's not that hard and I guarantee you'll get a *much* better return.
    - Don't tell them about the GM discount till you've negotiated a price you want.
    - Be prepared to walk away and not buy a car now. I've wanted a new car, did all my research, decided on a fair price, didn't get it from any of the dealers, and ended up just not buying the car and postponing it all.
    - I've bought the CR new buyers kit for the car I wanted (not for 2 or 3 cars I was looking at, just the one I wanted). I think it was worth it but I'd have to go back and look at the information.

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  14. #14
    Member 15fan's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    edmunds.com

    edmunds.com

    edmunds.com

    i've bought 3 cars in the last 5 years. edmunds is the gospel. read everything you can on that site.

    go to the dealers and test drive any car you are considering. do not go in to see what kind of deal they can make you. you are there to do research, do a test drive, and that is it. once you've done the test drive, thank the salesperson and be on your way.

    after you've done your research & test driving, it's time to use the power of technology in your favor.

    email as many dealers as possible indicating that you are interested in a new car, and that one of the cars that you are considering is their ____________. give them the details of what you're interested in (model, colors, options, etc), and ask them to give you their best price. in their pricing, they should itemize any cost or fee, including tax, tag & title, so that you get a true price of what it will cost you to drive off the lot.

    never ever ever tell the dealer what you would pay for the car. nor do you ever want to tell them what kind of monthly payment you want. you are just interested in their best price to drive the car off the lot. if they can make you the best deal, you'll be happy to go in and sign papers. until then, negotiating via email (and i'd set up a yahoo or hotmail account instead of using your regular account) is the best way for them to communicate with you.

    as dealers start to email you with prices, you can use one dealer against another. let the other dealers know what the best offer on the table is, and ask if they can beat it. this is the part of the process that i personally like the most. make the sons-of-guns squirm and work and scrach and claw to get your business. if you're feeling ballsy, play a little poker. if someone bites, fine. if not, no real harm. you can go back to the next best deal and let them know that what appeared to be the best deal really wasn't.

    once you have an offer that no one else can touch, then it's time to talk about financing. at this point, you've already talked to several financial institutions and have their best interest rates or lease terms. now that the dealer has committed to a price, put your best financing option on the table. if they can beat that, they can do the financing. if not, you're more than happy to go with your own financing.

    having agreed via email on a car, price, and financing terms, then it's time to set a time to sign the papers & pick up the car. when you set the appointment, let the dealer know that you don't want to be paraded around in front of all of the employees and potential customers as someone who is buying a new car. you're there to sign the papers, get your car, and then continue on with your daily life. no clapping or cheering is necessary.

    when you go, take copies of the emails with the agreed upon terms. review each document to make sure that the numbers & terms on the documents are what they should be. if they aren't, speak up before you sign anything. take a calculator with you. if you aren't comfortable with numbers, take someone who is. have that person (spouse/friend/relative/neighbor) stay with you while you sign the papers. if you're dropped off at the dealer, you're on your own & stuck there without a ride. if you have someone else there, it makes it more difficult for the dealer to try any last minute games.

    don't worry about hurting anyone's feeling at the dealership. they're out there to make as much money as they can, and they'll take every opportunity they can to stick you. there are also a lot of folks involved in the transaction from the dealer side, so there's also a lot of room for things to get inadvertantly messed up. you're not there to make friends. you're there to get the best deal on the car that you want. it's purely a business transaction.

    finally, remember that after you drive off the lot with your new car, the dealer still has obligations that they must fulfill. we got mrs. fan an '05 honda pilot back in mid-april. a series of gaffes at the dealer means that we still don't have the permanent tags for the car. lots of people at the dealer are getting lots of polite phone calls from yours truly.

    remember that you as the buyer have the ultimate leverage. no one is going to put a gun to your head. no deal is final until you sign that it is final.

  15. #15
    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: Car Buying Advice?

    I just wanted to update this and thank everyone for their great advice. It's really come in handy. We were able to stretch out the use of her Cavalier a bit longer, but now it has come to the point where it has started leaking fluids in our garage. So we'll probably close a deal on a car this weekend.

    We followed the great advice everyone posted here and it seems like we've got a couple of good deals on the table. We researched cars using edmunds.com, kbb.com, and consumerreports.org, then test drove a few different vehicles to see which one my wife liked the best. Then we requested quotes online. It seems like most of the GM dealers around here just automatically give you invoice as your starting price as an internet customer. We also talked to one of my wife's friends at work, who said her husband can hook us up with GM's "In the Driveway" program. We haven't yet heard back on that though, because her husband forgot his PIN. So then we went back to the dealer we talked to before. The salesperson said that "In the Driveway" is invoice pricing, so it looks like it's about the same either way. In any case, they're willing to match. On top of that, we can get the rebates and other incentives to lower the price a bit. The best part is that we haven't said anything about the points my wife has on her GM card, which should drop the price further another $1000-2000.

    It looks like my wife is going for a Pontiac G6 GT. Does anyone have one of these out there? I kind of interested to hear what you think of the automatic /"tap shift" manual transmission. After the discussions of manual v. automatic, I thought maybe the answer might be both.
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