Our Recent Car Buying Experience

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Johnny Angell, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    To bring our recent Prius Crash and Total full circle, here is our experience buying a new 2014. Before going to the dealer, I did some research determining which model and what options were the most important to us. There is a II, III, IV, and V and each one has more on it and costs more.

    The Toyota site indicated what options came standard on what model and we liked the price point/options combo of the III the best.

    Consumer reports has a "car buying service" which I went through. You don't really buy the car from CR, but you select the model you want and any options. I selected the III and no options, since the III had what we wanted. Part of the process is to submit your contact info and it took less than 5 minutes for North Point Toyota to call. We made an appointment to go in at 5pm this last Tuesday.

    I get their expecting to see the car I selected, or something very close, at the CR indicated "Target Price." The salesman starts showing me cars that have all been upscaled. If it's a II, it's got options that a III or IV would have, etc. I tell him I want a standard III and he keeps looking and not finding anything I want.

    I start getting mad. Not abusive, shouting mad, but I let the salesman know that I am angry that the dealer is taking away my right to choose. So I say to my wife it's time for us to leave. I'll find the car I want on the internet, I'm sure. The salesman talks me inside and gets his sales manager involved.

    I should emphasize that I wasn't feigning my anger, I was genuinely pissed. I wasn't abusive at all, but they knew I was an unhappy customer about to walk.

    This is where it gets surprising. I'm expecting the SM to come in with a hard sale and basically tell me to take it or leave it. He's friendly and says, maybe we don't exactly have a vanilla III but what it the car has what you want for the right price? So I write down my price for a II and a III. Blue, grey, and red being our color choices in order of preference.

    He comes back with a blue III, a red IV, grey 2013 III (not much diff between 2013 and 2014). All at prices about $500 more than my target price. Since they do have some dealer options that we like, the $500 is ok. The $500 is also OK because the prices are significant drops in their sticker prices. They all have their pluses, but the blue III is our top color choice and has the least added to it. We pick the blue III.

    We got their at 5pm and had a deal at 7pm but it was after 9 before we drove away with the Prius.

    I forgot to add that after we agreed on the price, we took a test drive, and while driving I thought of two more things I wanted. I wanted the dealer to turn off that damn interior reverse beep and to add door bumpers to all four doors. The SM agreed to do it for the already agreed upon price.

    So they dropped a little over $3K off the sticker price. I just compared what we paid for the 2010 Prius II and for the 2014 Prius III. Their was no bargaining for the 2010, we paid their price. For the 2014 III we paid $928 more than the 2010 II and the 2014 III has more features than the 2010 II. I left satisfied.

    Of course, I always remind myself that the dealer isn't making a deal he doesn't like.

    Still, I got insurance to increase the settlement by $3K and the dealer to drop it's price by $3K. We coulda done worse.
     
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  2. Dheiner

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    Nice work.
     
  3. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    So what was the benefit of using the Consumer Reports service? Sounds like you ended up pretty much having the traditional, frustrating negotiation anyway.
     
  4. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    The only online pricing I've ever had success with is Edmunds True Value(whatever it is actually called).That one dealers will tag specific cars to.I think you can still buy used cars using it(of course, dealers have to tag their used lot...).
     
  5. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Yes, I still had the negotiation, but I had a price to aim for. The dealer knew that, and it helped. I'm glad I used CR. Perhaps I would have done as well if I had determined the price using another online source? Don't know. Once I got to the sales manager, there was very little negotiation. I gave him my price, he came very close to it and I accepted it. With the salesman, we weren't negotiating at all. He was just showing us cars.
     
  6. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I want to clarify the "target price" that I refer to in previous posts. CR presented it as a price-point that was fair to the consumer and to the dealer. They also said it was not guaranteed, that the dealer was responsible for setting the price.

    I still feel that it was very important that I went to the dealership knowing what a fair price would be. They discounted the car by $3,076. $1000 of that was a Toyota rebate. I don't think I could have got that without letting them know I knew what a fair price was.
     
  7. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Well done!
     
  8. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    I helped my mom with her new car purchase a few weeks ago after her previous car was totaled as well. I also am a subscriber to Consumer Reports, so I used their car buying service. As part of the service, you select the vehicle you want and options (if any) and submit your name, e-mail and phone number to CR. They in turn, pass that info along to at least three local dealers. You also are presented with a certificate for each dealer that guarantees a minimum discount off the MSRP. In the case of my mom's Honda Civic, those certificates ranged from $1,240 to $1,290.

    So then the dance begins, The dealers start e-mailing and calling trying to get you in the door. One of the three dealers that contacted us didn't even have the right model listed. One of the dealers however had an Internet sales department and sent us what they called an "easy price quote." It broke down the MSRP and showed the "easy price" which was a whopping $2,700 off MSRP...substantially more than the $1,290 "guaranteed" discount that CR promised. The quote also showed that destination and dealer prep fees were already included in the "easy price." It also showed the doc fees, license plate fees and county tax. The only things missing were the sales tax (based on where you live) and the trade-in value of the existing car (my mom didn't have one...the insurance company had cut her a check.) With that quote in hand, we felt pretty good taking a copy to the dealer and seeing if the numbers were good.

    My mom already knew what car she wanted, so we took a test drive. We got back, told the salesman that we had an easy price quote, he shook our hand and said "adios." On to the sales manager. The sales manager told us not only was the quote good, but they were going to throw in an additional $500 in dealer incentives. I asked him the sales tax rate and the financing rate and he gave them to me. He then asked about a trade and we told him we didn't have one...we would be making a large down payment. So off he went to "run the numbers." Well, I ran the numbers as well while he was gone. When he returned, the monthly payment he quoted was about $30/month higher than what I had calculated. So he went back to supposedly check the discrepancy. When he returned, he agreed my number was correct and that a mistake had been made in the calculations that would have definitely been caught before the paperwork was drawn up. Yeah right.

    When they drew up the paperwork and we met with the finance manager, I noticed that they had tried to sneak in an extra $199 as a "county tax." The county tax rate here is a flat $15. I told my mom we could have them draw up new paperwork, but ultimately she decided it wasn't worth fighting over $184 because she felt she was getting a good deal and she just wanted to get out with her new car.

    I have to say, the whole process was so damned easy, I actually thought about getting myself a new car...until I realized how much I like not having a car payment. :D I suspect if we had an existing car available for trade, they probably would have tried low-balling us to get back some of the discounts we were getting, but in the end it wasn't necessary. When I have shopped for cars in the past, I always found the most contentious part of the negotiation to be haggling over fair value for a trade. I was grateful not to have to deal with that this time.
     
  9. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    When I bought my Austin-Healey, I accidentally let it slip that, according to the ppw with the car, it was imported into the US the month I was born.Ended up paying the asking price...but, it was a road trip ready car...with a hardtop included.
     
  10. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I'll use Edmunds.com to determine a fair value for the car model with the options I am seeking, and use that when going to the dealer. Fortunately, with the Detroit area being home to the Big Three, if you want to buy a model from one of them, chances are pretty good you will know someone who can get you an employee, retiree or supplier discount. I have leveraged this tactic of "knowing someone" on our last several purchases -- even getting a Saturn Vue as a "pep" vehicle (meaning it is considered used but is guaranteed to have less than 300 miles, but the program is usually only open to employees) for my wife for her last purchase. We saved about $5,000 off what people were paying for that model new, and when it arrived it had only 34 miles on the odometer! The downside was it took almost two months for the vehicle to arrive, but the Saturn dealer actually loaned us a car at no cost for a few weeks to bridge the gap from when we sold her old vehicle until the Vue arrived. It's unfortunate that GM shutdown Saturn soon after that purchase, as the dealer was very accomodating.
     
  11. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Your experience was better, easier, and different than mine. I think the biggest differences are these: 1) The "Target Price" that CR provided was just that, a target to aim for, it was not guaranteed. It was clearly stated that the dealer sets the price; and 2) I received only one phone call from one dealer. Apparently no other dealer in my area participates.

    There was also a browse inventory function on the CR website and it only showed cars from the one dealer.

    While I did not have an ideal experience, I'm glad I used the CR program. It saved me money.

    Scott, your car buying experience in Detroit makes we wish I lived there….Uh, no wait, I don't wish that. :)
     
  12. Keith Plucker

    Keith Plucker Screenwriter
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    Sounds like you are happy with your purchase and in the end that is all that matters. Congrats!

    However, if a dealer gave me the impression they had the car/model I was looking for and when I arrived I got the "run around" trying to sell me other models because they didn't actually have what I wanted, I would have walked. At that point buying a car from them would be rewarding unacceptable behavior and I just couldn't do it.
    Never understood why anyone would be concerned about what is "fair" to the dealer. The dealers take care of themselves. If they sell a car at a loss, which seems extremely unlikely, that is their problem. Dealers pull every misleading and underhanded scam they can get away with to extract as much money as possible from their customers. "Fair" shouldn't be on your mind when negotiating with them.

    -Keith
     
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  13. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Just a note of thanks for the info in this thread. My office just moved and my 20 min local commute just became a 50 min freeway commute. I'm thinking of getting a new fuel efficient car. I'm not a haggler but the information in this thread gives me several starting points.
     
  14. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    Paul, I think there are three keys to buying a car: 1) Know what car and what features you want; 2) Know what the fair price for the car is; and 3) Be willing to walk away and let them know that. The Prius would definitely qualify as fuel efficient, but there are other choices out there.
     
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  15. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    That pretty much sums it up. And if you are trading in a car and financing, don't get caught in the dealer's "what do you want to pay a month?" trick. They will play with the prices and loan terms to hit your target and you will never know what you are really paying for the vehicle. Just negotiate one item at a time. In our case, we avoid this trap completely by selling our old car ourselves, and rarely finance through the dealer (unless it is a no interest loan).
     
  16. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Unless we can get a 0% loan we'll just write a check off our equity credit. Our house is paid for and we only keep that around for things like this or disasters.
     
  17. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    If you're mostly going to be on the highway, a hybrid won't save you much gas these days. I think a Prius is rated around 48 mpg, while a car like a Civic or Mazda3 will still crack 40 mpg but will probably be a lot cheaper and more fun to drive. (Granted, I haven't driven a Prius in about a decade.)
     
  18. Chuck Anstey

    Chuck Anstey Screenwriter

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    Do cars come in colors any more? We just started looking at cars and all the cars are like 50 shades of gray. When it isn't a shade of gray it has extremely muted color except for the rare brighter red or blue color. No Metallic Pea or Antarctic Blue to be found.
     
  19. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    A Prius is a compact car, is it not? I like a bigger car with some room in it. My wife has a compact and I hate driving it.

    I'm leaning heavily towards the Fusion (mid size). 47mpg estimated but I realize that's in the best of conditions/driving style. I'm currently getting about 23mpg in this slightly warmer weather. 18 during the deep freeze.

    I'd be driving a mixture. I work from home two days a week. I'm currently using a little over 3/4 a tank between commuting three days and local driving.

    More color options would be nice, I agree.
     
  20. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    There are different sizes of Prius. Our friends have one that has more room than my GMC Terrain.
     

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