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Buying a New Car
Please Note! BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has moved to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
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My husband and I have two boys under 5yo. We drive his cars, a 1993 Toyota 4-Runner truck and a 1998 Honda Civic VX. We sold my car which was having too many problems. Ever since I was pregnant with our first boy, I have been trying to convince my husband to buy a newer family car with better gas mileage (the Toyota gets 14mpg) and current safety features like air bags, etc. He has resisted all these years, saying that the Toyota is built like a tank and is just as safe as anything with air bags -- in fact, it's *more* safe than the cars I've been proposing -- like the Mazda5, the Prius V, or the Ford C-Max Energi, for example -- because it's bigger and stronger. He's an engineer and used to work for a company named Failure Analysis, so he pulls out all his engineering and professional terminology as evidence to support his theory that his Toyota is safer because it's bigger. He says that a van like the Honda Odyssey would be more comparable in safety to the Toyota and he's willing to buy one, but we don't need a big van like that and I want to get better gas mileage. I say that there are other safety features in vehicles now, not just the air bags - anti-lock brakes, stability control, for example - but I think that even the air bags in a Prius V, for example, are better than his 'tank' - front, side curtain, knee airbags, overhead air bags. Oh, one more piece here: while driving the truck with our baby 3 years ago, I was rear-ended at a stop light, and the insurance company said the truck was ''totaled.'' The bumper was badly bent down and the frame was bent. Rob took the truck up to his brother's farm in Sonoma, where they lifted the back end up with a crane. They put a huge steel block under the truck, then dropped the truck onto it, nudging the bumper up bit by bit for about 15 drops till it was drive-able again. He says that the bent frame and the slightly-hanging bumper is an aesthetic problem, not a safety problem.
Can anyone match my husband's ''expert'' arguments with evidence supporting my arguments that newer vehicles with current safety features are safer than his 1993 Toyota 4Runner? Or, is he right and I should just relax about these safety issues? Btw, I'm a graduate student and don't have enough income to buy one without his support! I found a 2012 Mazda5 for $15,500 and I want to get it! We can definitely afford it. Safety conscious
After an $800 repair, we're confronted with another $350 repair and realize it is time to buy a new car. However, we haven't bought one for 15 years, so don't know how to go about it nowadays. We really, really do not want to deal with car dealers. Are there better ways to buy a car? We're looking for a compact -- something like a Prius or Civic Hybrid, maybe a non-hybrid with good mileage. We could probably use 5 seats (parents, child, +2 friends) but maybe would manage with 4 seats if it is much cheaper. Also, we are a one-car family, so reliability is crucial. In a couple of years we will probably want to teach our teen how to drive using the car. So the two questions are: what models should we consider? What alternatives are there to going through the dealer? not quite ready to go carfree.
I could use some advice about the process of buying a new car - I'm procrastinating because it's so daunting, especially walking into a showroom and negotiating the price. I'm worried that I won't get a good deal because the dealers will take advantage of the fact that I'm a woman (that happened to a friend of mine). I want to empower myself with knowledge before I go in. My current car is breaking down a little more everyday, I may have to WALK to the dealers!! How have you gotten through this process with your eyes open and dignity in tact?! Can you recommend any good books or buying guides?
Again, I haven't dealt with them directly, but my colleagues who have (2 leases and 1 purchase) are very happy with the results. That said, consider buying used and/or taking transit. Graham
1. Browsing online first, get a feel for what you can afford and what's available. Edmunds.com, or AAA pre- negotiated cars at buyacar.go.aaa.com which shows you cars for sale in a 50 mile radius or less.
2. Go car hunting with the absolute promise to yourself that you WILL NOT buy a car that day. Keep hunting separate from buying, & keep repeating that to the salesperson no matter what they say. EVEN if you LOVE the car and it's PERFECT and they say 2 other people are looking at it and it may not be there when you return, WALK AWAY. (Maybe you'll come back by the end of the day but walk away anyway!)
3. If you do find the perfect car, get all the details you can about it--they should be able to hand you a print out with everything it has in it. Radio, airconditioning, anti lock brakes--even if you don't know what the parts do, get the info on it. Then go back to edmunds.com to enter the details and see what the value range is.
4. Decide what is the most you will pay, period. It's the emotional attachment to a specific car that allows hard-sell techniques to work. If you can't walk away, you make yourself vulnerable regardless of gender (my brother is more vulnerable than I am to hard-sell techniques). --The reason I know this works is when negotiating, I developed a terrible migraine. When the price dropped to within $700 of my researched price, I said, okay that's close enough--I'll come tomorrow when my headache is gone. They followed me across the lot as I was leaving, shouting, okay you win, but you have to take it now. (They thought I was bluffing!) So I said okay, sat through the paperwork and then they had to drive me home because I couldn't see. It was a big lesson in how important it is to walk away and really mean it.
Finally, stop car shopping after you've made your purchase -it'll just make you crazy. Congratulate yourself on the hard work you did and enjoy your car.
It's silly how proud I was for being able to handle this as a single woman, but what the heck. It's life-changing and I'm still proud of it. Now on my third solo purchased car!
We found the annual Consumer Reports issue on cars to be useful. Good luck. DC
You will need to have some idea of the type of car you want: How much will you be driving, how far (commuting?);what size car are you comfortable driving; are you interested in a hybrid, a wagon, an SUV? You can do side by side comparisons on Edmunds.com. I also think the Consumer Reports auto buying guide and magazine issue is very helpful. You can check these out at the library as well. Good Luck and happy driving Likes Cars
They all have a comparison sheet which allows you to select a few models to compare. The spec. sheets are extremely detailed, they tell you all the equipment that's included in the model and submodel.
Once you've figured out which models are of the most interest to you. Go take your test drives but make it clear that's all you are doing.
Call the fleet managers of various dealerships to ask them for the price of the model you are interested in. Now they often will take e-mail inquiries too. Fleet managers sell with a set price for each model. So be very specific about what you want, down to the color of the interior, exterior, floor mats, etc. Compare the prices from the various dealerships.
Select the one price you are happy with, check to see that they have the car on the lot. Go in see the fleet manager, pay and leave. Only buys from fleet managers.
Here's what we did right:
1) We did a ton of research on-line on makes/models/prices and blue book trade-in prices. When we went to the dealer, we already knew what we wanted and our down payment amount.
2) My husband went to the 2 dealers we'd chosen and pre- screened their selection in the models we wanted. So he and the dealers narrowed it down to 2 cars, 1 in each make/model. Could your partner or a friend/family member who is good at this sort of thing do this step for you?
3) We resisted the relentless hard-sell for add-ons that we didn't want. As soon as they found out we had kids, they started pressuring us to get this gross anti-stain upholstry treatment that cost $1000, and the Lo-Jack. I must have had 5 separate dealers tell me the same story about some family whose car got carjacked with the baby inside, and only Lo-Jack saved them! (We live in *Davis* - we're about as likely to get carjacked as we are to get hit by lightning...)
Here's what I'd do different next time:
1) We got the basic model, but we probably should have gone up a step - we paid just as much adding on all the features that don't come with basic, like the locking thing on the keychain.
2) I regret financing the car at all. We had money in our emergency fund to pay 100%, but we wanted to keep cash on hand. They totally got us on this big ''finance fee'' to initialize the loan. We should have read up on what to avoid, re: finance charges, fees, etc. I'm sure there's lots of guides for this online.
Anyway, hope that helps. I'm so interested to see what other people have to say - everyone wants to do better at this! Another car-buying rookie
You can go back-and-forth like this for awhile if you want (the goal being to beat the Cars Direct price) or you can just spit out the Cars Direct price and ask them if they can match it.
I think it is wrong to use the resources of a dealer (make them spend time with you, drive their cars, etc.) and then once you've decided just go with the absolute lowest price. But while I would pay a couple hundred more for them spending time with us, I wouldn't pay thousands more. Anon
Knowledge: If you really know how much a car should cost, you are not going to let someone tell you otherwise. This is easier on a new car, harder on a used one due to the obvious variables. Knowledge and confidence in your knowledge take a bit of research, this can be done online and at the dealer. When you go to the dealer you can say ''I am doing research, I am not buying today, or this week''
Detachment: You need to then determine what you will pay for a car. If the car costs $5 over that, you walk away. If the car is in your favorite color, has a license plate # that speaks to you, but is $5 over your price - you walk away. If you are not committed to your price, you will be susceptible to over-payment. Your commitment to your price is essential, it can be sensed, as can your possible affection for that color of blue. When naming a price, you should start lower than your walk-away price. That way the sales person can get a bit more $of you - but not more than you are willing to give.
Timing: If you are going to buy a new car you can take advantage of the sales commission system. Buy at the end of the quarter, call on the last Thursday of March, all dealers in the area, say ''I want this car, I will buy it Saturday, I have already test driven now I am going to buy, I am calling all x dealers within 100 miles, what is your best price?'' Then call all the dealers, get the best price, call back the one closest to you, say can you meet this price. You can use this tactic any time, sometimes there is additional motivation at the end of the quarter.
Pretend it's for your Mom: Research shows that women are better negotiators than men when they are negotiating for someone else's benefit. They perform less well than men in negotiating for themselves. So, pretend you're buying this for your mom. You wouldn't let that salesperson oversell your mother, would you? negotiator
If you'd rather do it all on your own, Sharon has just finished writing a car- buying guide for women. It's great and it costs less than $30!!!! If you're local, I recommend working with Sharon directly, but you can decide to either use her services or buy the guide. Either way, you'll get a much better deal and not have to get all stressed out about it. Sharon's web site is: www.carbuyingsos.com, and her phone number: (510)593-0289 Good luck! Naama
Here's how I do it: research the car you want on the web. Find out the blue book value, and the invoice value (what the car is worth right out of the factory). Go to vehix.com and a few other sites to compare prices. This is how you find out what people are willing to pay for the car you want. Next,no matter what, visit more than one sales lot in a day. Even if the car you love is sitting right in front of you, walk away. Tell them you need time, you're interested but want to check out other options first. This will make them anxious to serve you when you come back. Go half hour to one hour before closing time. People want to wrap it up and go home. Especially on Fridays. reject the first offer. Flat out. Repeat the price you want to pay, and then you'll probably end up waiting as the salesman goes to see his manager several times. Don't budge on the price.
Keep them guessing: Your behavior should be erratic (it totally throws them off). One minute you REALLY want the car, the next minute, you hear something that you don't like, you stand up abruptly and say: '' I don't like what I'm hearing, this is NOT working for me.'' Be ready to walk away. Be ready to stand firm on what it is you want. You don't have to pay for hidden costs. It helps if you have the money to pay for the car without having to finance it (nothing hurts a car salesman more than to see cash walk out of his door). Take a few days if you need to. If the car you want is gone, then it means the people you were dealing with were difficult. It wasn't meant to be.
Finally, after you are successful at being an actor (because you are one, make no mistake), and an educated customer who KNOWS the value of what they want..... go home and take a hot shower. I always feel gross after these experiences! Good luck Hard Bargainer
Buying a car can be a bit scary - but there are lots of great tools on
the internet now that can help you figure out which suits your needs,
desires and budget. I sell extended warranties thru used car dealers in
the Bay Area, so while I don't directly sell cars I DO know from our
claims history which cars are better than others. But without knowing
more about what you need, it's hard for me to give you any suggestions.
Take a look at websites like edmunds.com and use their research area.
Also, when you figure out which car you like the best, definitely get the
Kelly Blue Book info for the make, model and year. Never pay the retail
price listed for the vehicle. Also, it's always a good idea, unless you
know the history of the car 100%, to get a vehicle history report from
either CarFax or AutoCheck.
Good luck! and Happy shopping.
Buying a New Car - What to Expect?
I am helping my mother buy a Prius next month, and my memory of
car-buying involves pushy sales people and never knowing if the
price you're quoted is reasonable. Has anyone gone through the
process lately? Can you get a deal on a Prius, or are they too
hot to bargain for? Are there any dealers who take the Saturn
approach (no haggling, more humane)?
Bad at Barganing (and my mother is worse)
We found a few ''bargains'' in our search -- if you are flexible about color, interior, features, it's worth calling around dealers and seeing what they've got right now. People cancel orders, and less popular colors or perhaps 06 models might be available right away for a small discount. Definitely cast a wide net around the whole Bay Area. And check out what's on Craigslist in the dealer listings, although be prepared to act fast if you see what you want.
Many places did require a ~$500, refundable deposit for us to be placed on a Prius waiting list, and we ended up doing that and buying from with Putnam Toyota in Burlingame. We had a great experience with our seller/agent, Nazir Mojadeddi. Admittedly, we were an easy sell. We gave him our preferences for color, interior and features and then we all just sat back and waited -- about six weeks -- for us to move to the top of the list. But it was nice that he was mellow throughout and didn't try and push us to get a sunroof installed, custom leather, etc, like a couple of other places we approached.
BTW, sales tax is based on where you live, not the dealer's location, so buying in San Mateo Co., where sales tax is lower than Alameda Co. (if that's where you are) won't save you anything!
Service has been pretty good so far at Putnam too.
You could also look on priuschat.com and check out what others thought of particular dealers.
Hope this helps! Prius lover
What they do is approach three dozen dealerships and ask them to bid for your business. They call the fleet managers and make sure that if they bid they put their name on it. They also get all the fees up front so you know exactly what you're paying. Then you get a list of at least five bids. It takes seven to ten business days and you can have the report emailed, mailed, or FedExed to you. You can also call up the service and get help on the phone if you don't understand the report. It costs $190 but it's worth it. When we used the service, we got a list of twelve dealerships, and some actually lowered their price eight hundred dollars below invoice price just to get our business. Prior to getting the report, we had gone to some of the same dealerships and gotten the run around. We thought the Consumer Reports new car price report (not to be confused with the CarBargains service) would be enough, but the salespeople just laughed and gave us quotes that were three thousand dollars higher. Once we got the CarBargains report, they were more than happy to do business on our terms.
By the way, no haggle sales means you pay whatever the price is. In the case of buying a Saturn, you're basically agreeing to be ripped off by a friendly salesperson for thousands of dollars in exchange for a customer appreciation barbecue and a free loaner car when you come in for a service. Not worth it in my opinion.
By the way, if you're selling your mother's old car, make sure you know how much it's worth before trading it in. If you don't do this, you will be ripped off as my mother-in-law was when she traded in her car-by over a thousand dollars. You can get that information from http://www.nada.com and Kelly Blue Book http://www.kbb.com.
Also, make sure you have your financing before you go. We got ours from our bank and you can use it to your advantage to try to get the dealership to give you a lower rate. If you walk in without financing and ask them to do it, they will give you a high rate since the the higher the rate is the more profit they receive. And don't buy the extended warranty package they offer unless you shop around for quotes as they inflate that price on that as well.
It took us a month to get everything in order, but it was well worth it. Took a long time, but didn't get ripped off and got a fair price
Go to the Toyota website and check out the package option you want and it will tell you what the MSRP is. The MSRP is the manufacturer suggested retail price. There should be no reason to pay more than MSRP.
Then call various dealerships and ask if they have the car in the package of your choice in stock, and what the price is. They will quote it to you over the phone and you can compare prices. You are likely to get the best quotes if you ask to speak to the fleet manager. The fleet managers get their commission by the number of cars they sell, not the price of the cars, so they are interested in selling more cars than in charging more. And because they deal with fleet, they will work with you over the phone with no nonsense, since they rather not waste time.
Another option is to call AutoByTel or Autoland. Look them up on the web for contact information. They are a car broker service. They will quote you a price and tell you which dealership has the vehicle you want. I have had good experience with both. For full disclosure, my brother works for Autoland and he was the one who found us our second Prius for $200 below dealer invoice and in the green with gray interior (most green ones come with beige interior). With these services, you don't have to call all the dealerships yourself, you let the broker do the calling and the research. You don't have to pay more, because these brokers have agreements with the dealerships and their cut comes from the dealerships.
Hope this was helpful. cecilita
Another thing that I would definitely recommend is using the Internet to get a price quote. You can do this through Edmunds.com, Autoweb.com, Autobytel.com, car.com, and probably other sites as well. When you do this, your name, contact info, and information about the vehicle you would like to purchase are sent to multiple dealerships. These dealerships usually have dedicated Internet sales personnel who handle these requests. They will get back to you (by email, if you prefer) with a price quote. You can compare quotes, and even see if one dealership will match the quote of another. In our experience, this is a much less high pressure, much more pleasant way to buy a car, and we have gotten excellent price offers.
Last of all, remember that you always have the power to walk out. The dealer can't sell you a car until you agree to buy it. Decide in advance how much you are willing to pay, and don't buy until you get that price.
Good luck. An Internet car buyer
We are buying a car and we would like advice on how to get the best interest rate on a loan from the car dealership. We already were approved for a loan from an online lender but we would like a lower rate.
We have heard of people asking the car dealership to beat the rate they have. The only problem is that the dealership only offers a slightly lower interest rate.
We were wondering if it would be better not to say anything until after the dealership makes us an offer. Then we could mention the interest rate we have.
We plan to negotiate the price of the car before we mention financing. We just don't know the best way to go about doing this.
Any advice or personal experiences would be greatly appreciated. Anon
The best way to get the best deal/loan interest rate is take a loan from a credit union and bring your letter of credit to the dealership.
Other than that, you are at the mercy of the F&I person at the dealership, and (I'm giving proprietary info here, so heed it well), they get kickbacks for getting higher-interest loans approved.
I'm in the industry, so I know this to be true. -- Want you to get a good deal
Among the most useful things my father ever taught me was negotiating with the car salesman at a dealership. He is an utter genius at it, and if I've picked up any of his tips, I'm better off for it. Thanks, Dad!
His strategy was to let out one piece of information at a time. So you'd select the car, go into the office, and sit down to discuss the first offer.
1) Once you have the first offer, tell the salesman that another dealership will give you the same car for $xxxx less. (Note this will only work if you have called another dealership in advance to get their price. Just in case the salesperson you're dealing with face-to-face calls your bluff, you should be able to prove you can get the car cheaper elsewhere. If they ask why you're not at the other dealership, claim convenience.) When the dealership makes a counteroffer, call the other place and ask them if they can beat it. Lather, rinse, repeat.
2) Once you have a price you're satisfied with, you can discuss payment. If you are trading in a car, now is the time to bring it up, NOT before you have an agreed upon price.
3) Bring up financing and let them make an offer. Tell them what you're getting from another bank and let them make a counteroffer. Lather, rinse, repeat again.
It's just like job negotiations in that you want to let them state a price first. Better leverage for you. Good luck! -- a happy car owner
However, I'd like to recommend two surprisingly good web sites for car buyers. One is www.edmunds.com
In addition to price info, technical info, and reviews, this site hosts a number of very active forums of consumers (and occasional dealers) exchanging information about vehicles. As you can imagine, one topic that is heavily discussed is what kind of price people have been paying for various models, including the Honda Odyssey. (It turns out that I am also interested in the Odyssey, and the best you can do with it is roughly MSRP).
The other site, www.carorder.com
lets you buy new vehicles at heavy discount without negotiation. Most other car buying services (including CarPoint) only put you in touch with a dealer and are utterly useless, since you still have to talk to the dealer. I have checked a couple of carorder prices and they seem to be pretty much the bottom.
For instance: the CarPoint dealer quoted 2% over invoice for a Mazda MPV 2000 after three calls and a good workout to my spleen. Carorder.com gave me 0% over invoice in 2 minutes. The MPV discussion group also reports 0% over invoice in the best case.
The only limitation is that Carorder doesn't seem to deal with hard-to-get vehicles, including the Odyssey.
Good luck (and take a good look at the Mazda MPV 2000 before you buy the Odyssey). ---Luigi
We have recently found that you can actually order a car from the internet,
and the web site is carorder.com. (there may be others) It seems like the
ultimate way to buy a car: no pressure, no negotiation games and you get
exactly the color/options you want with a price typically lower or equal to
the invoice price. However it sounds a bit too good to be true. So I would
like to hear from you if you have any experience with such companies. How
was it, is there any hidden catch, etc. thank you!
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