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Thread: The Car Buying Thread

  1. #1
    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    The Car Buying Thread

    Given that I'll probably be forced to get myself a new car soon, I thought I'd gather a few resources I'm hoping to make use of. What are your favorite car-buying tipz and trickz?

    My general philosophy here is that I don't plan to pay all of my money for a car, so I certainly won't pay more than all of my money for a car. This is a means of getting myself to and from work, more or less, so why on Xenu's green Earth would I go into debt for it? Unless the terms of the loan are ridiculously in my favor (e.g. Toyota's current "0% APR for nnn months" deal) it's just bad business.

    So, whether new or used, judging on a case by case basis, here are the tools I'd like to use to avoid the unpleasantness of haggling.

    TrueCar: This site will, based on make/model and zip code, give you an average what-people-paid cost and something else called a "TrueCar Dealer Price." I gather you can print that second one off and take it in, then more or less play hardball.

    Costco has a similar service.

    Then of course, there's the classics like Edmunds and the Kelley Blue Book (though I gather that KBB is rapidly falling out of favor due to inaccuracy).

  2. #2
    Tiny Dancer Drewbie's Avatar
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    The best thing I've heard people doing when you know exactly what you want to get is to call 2 or 3 dealers who have what you want and tell them what you're willing to pay. Then tell them that "x" days from now you will buy that car for that price from the first dealer to respond. If you did your research and your price goal is within reason, at least one will bite.

    Regardless, the best position I've ever been in when buying a car was when I wasn't in a hurry and I had options and let the salesmen know I had options. Get them competing with their competition; not you.

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    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drewbie View Post
    The best thing I've heard people doing when you know exactly what you want to get is to call 2 or 3 dealers who have what you want and tell them what you're willing to pay. Then tell them that "x" days from now you will buy that car for that price from the first dealer to respond. If you did your research and your price goal is within reason, at least one will bite.
    This is exactly what I hate. Feels like I'm putting them in a Hunger Games scenario, when nothing like that should be necessary in a sane industry. Some of the foolproof methodologies I've heard ("get a quote from 40 dealerships, mail them all to each other, drive to Indiana for no particular reason, light a copy of Catcher in the Rye on fire, wait 3.5 days and contact dealers 17 through 25") sound like way more work than it should be worth -- I shouldn't have to do any of this kind of Evil Master Plan stuff just to buy a car, dammit. But it seems like it sometimes is worth it, because you stand to save thousands by jumping through these ridiculous hoops.

  4. #4
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    For value you want a "pre-owned" car. Pick a good brand so that it won't suck. Consumer Reports has a few car buying services. Subscribe to them online, it's super cheap.
    - Definitely

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    Darth Small Macheath's Avatar
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    This TrueCar site actually seems halfway decent for used cars too... oh god, a two year old Passat with 35k miles on it for $17k... that sounds halfway decent to me. Oooh, and a two year old Camry with 16k miles for $17k, that's even better (but less sexy). I guess I've gotta decide what kind of car I want first, huh. And this is all putting the cart before the horse: my ancient 2001 Hyundai Sonata might not fail its smog check this summer! (It will)

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    There was /r/bestof post where a guy explained how to get the best deal on a car. It was rather complicated IIRC, and involved finding a salesman who was under quota right before the cutoff date. This makes the salesman desparate, and he will be willing to take a loss out of pocket in exchange for the bonus.

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    You have to be one of those people who loves the process to go through all that. I do research to find out what the proper price for a given car might be. Then I insist on that price and let the salesman do all his lame tricks, but I don't change my price. It also helps to go back in time five years and buy a car when nobody was buying cars.
    - Definitely

  8. #8
    Tiny Dancer Drewbie's Avatar
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    My other strategy for buying a used car doesn't translate well to San Diego. I go in winter and do all my haggling outside and refuse to go inside until we have an agreement.

    Regardless of anything else, always know what you want and what you're willing to pay to get it. Then have a willingness to walk away if you're not getting that. That doesn't even mean you need to know what specific car you want. I knew I wanted an SUV with a 3rd row and I knew what I was willing to pay and what I wanted in trade on my current vehicle. I met with salesmen and told them what I wanted, they showed me what they had, we talked price and I'd say thanks and leave. I had all of them calling me and slashing prices and inflating my trade in value left and right. In the end I needed to go look at my options anyway and everything else just happened because car salesmen are the worst poker players in the entire world.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RainMan View Post
    For value you want a "pre-owned" car. Pick a good brand so that it won't suck. Consumer Reports has a few car buying services. Subscribe to them online, it's super cheap.
    ^^^^ This. By far the best way to get a "deal" on a car. (possible exception being that desperate dealer on quota day) Then like Drew said, know what you want, know what you will pay, and most importantly be ready (even eager) to walk away. The less you care and the less hurried you are, makes it better for you.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macheath View Post
    What are your favorite car-buying tipz and trickz?
    I have an auto-mechanic brother-in-law and a heavy-machinery-mechanic brother-in-law. I tell them what I'm looking for and wait. Eventually one of their customers or acquaintances is looking to do something stupid (buy a newer car when they have a perfectly serviceable one) or has an "extra car" (how the fuck does that happen?). My brother-in-law calls me up, and I get a great deal.

    I paid $2,000 each for my last two vehicles. The most I've ever paid was $6k, and that's because I had a $4,500 check from the insurance company from totaling my previous car. $17k for a car sounds ridiculous to me. I know your need for reliable transport is way higher than mine, but I have to imagine you could find something perfectly fine for less than $10k.

    I think the thing to realize about car shopping is that it's not like shopping at a retail store. It's different than what we're used to, and you just need to embrace that. You don't go to a dealership to see what cars cost today like you might with a TV at Best Buy (LOL, who does that anymore?). You have to do some homework. First, decide what you want features-wise. Then research vehicles with those features. After you find a make, model, and production-year range that has a good service record, then find out what those are worth. Once you know all of that, you can go to (or call) dealerships to see vehicles that match what you want, and meet your price range.

    If you say you want to see 2008-2012 Passats under $17,000 (made up price) and the salesman walks you over to a 2014 Dodge Challenger, just walk away. If their 2011 Passat is listed at $20,000 ask if he can get that down to $17k. If he says no, maybe, or anything other than yes, walk away. You probably won't get off the lot before he changes his mind. After he says yes is the time to test drive, take it to a mechanic for an inspection, etc.

    Keep in mind that they have little incentive to bring the price down because it is more profitable for them if you finance through them. Once they convince you to finance they can massage all kinds of numbers to keep the purchase price of the car high, while making the purchaser feel happy by relatively minimizing the monthly payment. Check out the four square system to see how many shady options a salesperson has once they convince you to overspend and finance. It becomes really easy to see why they're not huge fans of selling for cash or bringing prices down. So much better for the bottom line and therefore their commission and bonus to get you over that hump.

    The last time I bought a car from a dealership (back in 2001) I made it very clear that I was haggling "out-the-door" price. The amount I was going to write on my check. Guy agreed the whole way. Through the test drive, walking into the building, and filling out the paperwork. When he spun the purchase agreement around for me to sign I saw that he had, of course, used the agreed upon price as the "purchase price," adding licensing, titling, tax, etc. to that. I told him he had agreed to the "out the door" price. He replied that "we can't do that here." I told him to call me when they could and stood up. I didn't even get out of his little half-cube before policy miraculously changed.

    If you really want to have fun, write your check while they're filling out the paperwork. Then you get to make them take it or watch you tear it up in front of them. I've never done that, but it sounds like lots of fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by Drewbie View Post
    My other strategy for buying a used car doesn't translate well to San Diego. I go in winter and do all my haggling outside and refuse to go inside until we have an agreement.
    This could still work in San Diego. They get all whiny when it gets below 60.

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