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Where to find a good used Toyota

March 2008

I have a series of questions, and would appreciate any and all help with the answers. After having my 1991 Toyota Corolla totaled, I find myself without a car and am struggling with buying a new one. I know we won't be able to afford a new model, and want to get a good used Toyota, maybe 5 years old or so, for under 12k. The path of least resistance would be to shop down the street at the dealer on Shattuck which always has some good looking models in their used lot. My questions are:

What are the advantages of going to a dealer as opposed to doing a private sale? If a car is certified, does that mean I don't have to take it to my own mechanic? And why do dealers have in general a reputation for being unscrupulous? And does anyone have any experience or information about the particular dealer I'm talking about?

Thank you so much in advance - I need to get myself a vehicle soon! Stuck without a car


Hi, I don't anything about the Berkeley Dealer, but I am looking for a used Toyota Highlander Hybrid and was referred to the Enterprise used Car Lot in Novato. I am told this is a good place to get a used Toyota and they come with a warrantly, but have not yet checked this out personally. Good luck. Also Looking
I've never purchased a used car, however, my understanding is Toyota now overlooks all of its dealerships. I take my Toyotas to the dealerships for routine maintenance religiously and fill out their surveys with both good and critical comments of their services. I have been told that these surveys have a lot of weight on whether or not the dealerships get the new car models they want. With negative reviews, Toyota will not give them certain models. So therefore they are serious about maintaining a satisfactory customer basis.

My only experience with the Shattuck dealership is their service department. I find it hard to get an appointment with them unless it's two weeks ahead of time whereas other dealerships are often 24 hour notice. A simple express lube service will take minimum of half a day whereas it's only 1 hour at other dealerships. They will not do complimentary car washes like other dealerships. crystal


i didn't see your original post but as soon as I saw a posting about the Toyotal dealer on Shattuck, I had to reply because I had an absolutely horrible experience with their service department. It actually occurred at their service center in Albany near Target, but I ended up dealing with the manager of the service department on Shattuck. We took our car (not a Toyota) in for a routine oil change. They stripped the oil cap, but never told us that anything had gone wrong. The following oil change, we took it somewhere else and as soon as the guy saw the oil cap he could tell it was stripped and had leaked oil all over the underside of the car. He recommended we take it back to the previous people who had done an oil change and he would not deal with our car.

When we took it back to Toyota, they acted like they had no clue what we were talking about. After husband persisted they said that if we bought the parts to fix the car they would fix it. When my husband returned with the parts, one of the service technicians said (right in front of my husband) ''Not this F***** car again!'' (an interesting side note...the fact that the technician made this comment proves he knew that something had gone wrong with the car the previous time because that was the last time he had seen it. He was not there when my husband went in the first time to complain) After our car had been there a week and we hadn't heard anything, my husband called to check on the status. The guy nonchalantly said ''I'm not doing the work, you didn't buy the name brand parts.'' He also said to my husband that he was doing the work free and so my husband shouldn't be cheap with the parts (which are way out of our budget) . My husband was treated like crap again when he went to pick up the car and additionally the controls for the side view mirrors now no longer worked. Of course, the technicians denied ever doing anything to the mirrors, but my husband and I are POSITIVE that they worked before we left the car because I adjusted the mirrors when I drove the car there (my husband normally drives that car). Additionally, there was glue all over the control where they had obviously tried to fix it.

AFter all this happened was when we went to speak with the manager at Shattuck. While he apologized for the treatment we received, he did not take blame for the damage (neither the mirror nor the stripped oil cap). He explained to us that the oil pan that we purchased did not fit our car, something that was not explained to us previously. He told us the same that we were told previously, that if we would buy all of the original parts that they would do it for free. We couldn't afford to spend over $500 on parts for a mistake that they made, so we ended up not continuing with them. We mentioned that we were frustrated and considering small claims court and he swiftly told us that all offers were off the table then and if he sees us in court it wouldn't be pleasant and we wouldn't get anything out of them. We were incredibly frustrated and felt helpless.

I recommend avoiding them like the plague and finding someone who you can trust and will treat you with respect.

P.S. in case you are curious, we ended up finding a guy who works out of his home from El Salvador who did tons of work on our car for really cheap, guaranteed his work, was in constant communication with my husband about the progress, worked quickly, and came up with a way to seal the oil leak and change the oil without us having to buy a new oil pan. The only catch is that we have to bring our car to him to have our oil changed in the future because he is the one that knows what is going on... I don't have a problem with this at all! Jaded


I thought I'd add my 2 bits to the recommendation about the Toyota Dealer on Shattuck. We didn't have as bad a time as the previous poster, and in fact at first I was really pleased in that they fixed my under-warranty Sienna's automatic door that kept closing when it was supposed to be open (whenever we were on a hill, it would open then close again, and it would have broken a small child's bones if they'd gotten caught in it, since it only stops with the button or enough strength). The Toyota dealer on Broadway in Oakland, who I had been going to for years for my Subaru, and from whom we purchased the car, refused to believe that the door wasn't working (and the Toyota national customer service center was absolutely unhelpful as well, telling us that the door was supposed to work that way--and I am not kidding that it could have crushed a kid). The broadway dealer not only refused to believe it and refused to let me show him what the problem was, he told me he didn't know why anybody would buy a van with electric doors (they sold it to us!), and he wasted hours of my time telling me the various things that weren't working were just fine--and yellling at me for it. So Oakland was out of the question. However, I should add that not only did the door stop working again after the Shattuck dealer ''fixed'' it, but the car came back with scratches that it didn't have before we brought it in, and like the other poster, the dealer refused to acknowledge it (I suppose I can't blame them, since they could get away with it). They tossed us a jar of touch-up paint instead, since of course we couldn't ''prove'' that the scratches weren't there before. So we stopped going to them too. It sounds like scratches and damage to cars may not be an isolated thing. janet

Which Toyota dealers are good to deal with?

April 2007

We are buying our first new car and we are wondering if there are any Toyota dealers that people have felt good about. They have all been so intense about trying to make a sale and they tell us contradictory things about the price and what is included. Which ones are good to deal with? Thanks! mirsun


We bought our Toyota Sienna at Fremont Toyota in 2005. We researched several dealerships from Walnut Creek to Berkeley to Oakland, etc. We went to all of them and had the same experience with all of them. They all sell very hard and aren't exactly very truthful. We were so frustrated from our experience. My husband did some online research and was able to come up with the actual cost of the car and what the actual commission would be and was able to get a good deal based on that information. They still do the ''oh, let me talk to my manager'' bit which is utter nonsense and seems so outdated. We ultimately bought at Fremont because they had the car we were looking for and it was close to my husbandms work. They were no better or worse than any dealership. I do know that Oakland has a smaller inventory than most and least amount of customer service. If we had to do it over again, we would buy online q that way you donmt have to deal with these sharks and donmt have to pay their commission and still get the car you want. Good luck and research before you go in there because they will try to rip you off no matter where you go. By the way, we LOVE our Sienna. Best car for having kids hands down. Sienna Owner
I hate to be negative, but we had such a poor experience with the Toyota people in downtown Oakland last summer that it made us change our minds and buy a Honda, no kidding. It was the stereotypical experience: we tell them exactly what we want (we had already done our research and made up our minds- it was going to be an easy sale) We tell them how much we are willing to pay --first when I call on the phone, then when we arrive at the dealership-- we reconfirm prices a zillion times with the floor guy and then the ''manager,'' and invest about 2 hours in the process, when the manager tells us that under no conditions he can he give us that price after all. Grrrrr.... honestly, it made me mad enough to buy an entirely different car (and we're very happy). When I told this story at our block party a week later TWO other people on the block had nearly the same experience there as well!!!!!

Funny enough,very nearly the same thing happened to us about a dozen years earlier when we were buying a Toyota in Berkeley ( we ended buying it in Walnut Creek instead).

The Honda people on Broadway were totally above board. They stayed with the promised price; their honesty probably made them their easiest sale they'd had in weeks.

I understand that everyone wants to make the best profit they can; I'm not trying to deny anyone a living, but it seems to me that car salespeople can often lose more money in the long run by making people sour on the process. Maybe I'm just too sensitive? I just don't understand how making people feeling used and cynical is good for business.

So... the upshot: I wish I could recommend Toyota on Broadway, but perhaps something like this will be the thing that will help them change their practices. - A little wiser


Find your dealer online. Here's what we did when we bought our Prius back in November: I did a preliminary search using carsdirect.com, but I also researched the car and packages on edmunds.com and consumer reports. During the different registrations, my contact info (email only) and desired package was forwarded to all the local bay area dealers, and they started to email me with what they had in their inventory. Some will quote you actual prices in their emails; others try to get you to call them. In any case, you cut through some of the initial b.s. with the salesmen who typically swarm you the minute you set foot onto a sales lot. In our case, we lucked out, because the internet salesperson at Hilltop/Richmond emailed us with a great price that we were able to hold against other comers... and, as it turned out, no one else was able to match that price. We then showed up, took a test drive, asked a few questions, etc., and finally closed the deal for the stated price (+ taxes, doc's, license). We still had to sit through that irritating session with their finance person and sales manager, where they try to guilt you into buying extra packages or insurance, but we blew them off and signed the papers. I really do hate dealers, but there are ways to minimize interacting with the real snakes. As everyone tells you, it pays to do your homework ahead of time, so you know what you want and what constitutes a good deal (amount over dealer's invoice, less any kickbacks). Since it's a Toyota, you can find a good deal, not necessarily a great deal-- I still think ours was a great deal, considering it was a Prius and there was a frenzy over gas prices and HOV stickers at the time. I will admit that the car we bought was not our first choice in color, but neither was it one that we originally excluded-- in terms of the deal we got, I felt it was a good exchange. jim
I bought my Prius from Jada at Toyota of Marin because she was so patient and pleasant to deal with and bent over backwards to get me the package I wanted. this was last Fall so don't know if she's still there. I also had a good experience at Toyota Walnut Creek although they didn't have the color I wanted. I'd go to either dealership again. happy Toyota owner
City Toyota in Daly City. I just bought my first new car, and it was a breeze. I looked up current purchase prices on Edmunds chat on Prius, visited my local Berkeley Toyota to test drive, got the price I wanted ONLINE at City Toyota through 3 brief email transactions, asked Berkeley if they wanted to match the price (not a chance), and went in to get my car. urthlove

Ron Goode Toyota in Alameda

Nov 2006

We are thinking of buying our first new car, and we are thinking of getting a Toyota Sienna. We live in Alameda and it would be very convenient to go to Ron Goode here in Alameda. What have been others experience with this establishment (good or bad)? Should we be looking elsewhere to get a better price or better service? anon


We have unfortunately had terrible luck with Ron Goode. We also live in Alameda, and wanted to support our local business. But, we took our car in to be serviced - to fix our CD player that broke less than a year after they fixed it the first time (for several hundred dollars). When I made the appointment, they said it was under warranty because it had been less than a year. However, after I brought it in, they claimed that the CD maker only offered a 90-day guarantee, therefore they would only offer a 90-day gaurantee. We spoke to the customer service person Lex Sinclair who did not offer any help, as well as the general manager, who has not returned my calls. Needless to say, we'll never take our Toyota there again. I'm just disappointed that they promised one thing and then did not deliver. Please let me know if you find a Toyota dealer you like. peders

Recent experience with Toyota dealers?

April 2003

Has anyone had a recent experience purchasing a new Honda or Toyota who could recommend dealers? I last bought a car 10 years ago and there were certain dealers I swore I would never visit again. I am not too particular about color or fancy extras, just a basic Accord or Camry at a good price. Cindy


We recently bought a Toyota from Hanlees Toyota at Hilltop. We got a great deal on a car that was on sale. The salemen were typical, as was the dealership, of my past experience with car purchases. But we were definitely happy with the price. Good Luck. Karen
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