We have two cars, I buy a new one every seven or eight years, and we drive our cars into the ground. A car is nothing but a conveyance for me, and I have little interest in anything but the safety, economy and reliability of any car I buy, so car shopping is just an unwelcome and expensive chore. I bought a new car yesterday morning, and I have to say that if there’s a consumer experience that’s been more improved by the Internet than car shopping, I don’t know what it is.
Three cars ago, around 1990, buying a car meant sitting in a cubicle with a sweaty salesman who “checked with is manager” and played bait-and-switch by adding on dealer prep and $200 floor mats after we agreed on a price. Two cars ago, around 1996, I bought a Saturn when their low pressure, high transparency sales approach was a unique selling point — every other car brand was still pressuring customers on the showroom floor. By 2004, Edmunds was online and I used it to price the car I wanted and called around to local dealerships to see if they would match that price. Out of four or so I called, only one would even talk price over the phone. They had a special “Internet sales” department that, unlike the rest of the dealership, wouldn’t try to hold you in a cubicle for hours selling you undercoat. Yesterday, the dealership I used posted a price calculator on their website that pretty closely matched the Edmunds price, and the pricing part of the in-person sales process was simply a tallying exercise using exactly the same pricing schedule.
From my admittedly limited perspective, in the space of a couple of decades, car selling has gone from a non-transparent, screw-the-customer game to a fairly transparent, logical sales process similar to most other consumer goods. I have to imagine that car dealerships went through a major transformation to figure out how to live with lower margins now that they can’t charge for dealer prep (or maybe they just screw us in some other way). But, unlike, say, newspapers, car dealers just quietly adapted to the new environment without demanding special legal protection or whining and crying about how the Internet is ruining everything.
But I still take comfort that many Republicans look like used car salesmen.
You should check out this article at Car and Driver http://www.caranddriver.com/features/06q2/showroom_turncoat_comes_clean-feature
This is at least how it used to be. But I bought my last car essentially over the internet, and it was a great experience.
I agree that the internet has made car shopping much easier for us too. We bought our last car in 2008 by doing research on line for the best possible price by going on Edmunds, then going to the dealers to look at the cars that we were interested in. The trick is to not be in a hurry to buy. We will take as long as we need to wait for the deal we think we should get. We have always gotten the deal we wanted, but with the internet, it just cemented in our mind what a legitimate price is and it gave us more confidence to bargain.
But I can’t emphasize enough to not be in a hurry to buy anything. You can wait them out if you’re patient.
Brian S (formerly Incertus)
I tried being a car salesman back in the early 1990’s. Still have nightmares about it on occasion.
I have a similar philosophy about buying cars, only I never buy them new. I specialize in buying them near to the end of their lives and finishing them off. I’ve never owned a car made this century, though that’s likely to change in the next couple of months. I do it that way personally because 1) I can’t usually afford a car payment and 2) because I figure that even if I only get a year or two out of a car that cost me two grand, I’ve still spent less on the car plus bare-bones insurance plus the inevitable repairs than I would have on a newer car even if I own it for twice as long.
I bought my Dodge pickup in ’98 over the internet, and not only was it hassle-free, the price came in abit lower than the Edmund’s price, IIRC.
I bought the 2003 VW at the dealership, or rather ordered one, since I wanted the pricey trimmings and the manual shift, which isn’t the way they build spec cars. Anyway, there were still vestiges of the old way, but since I obviously knew what I wanted and wasn’t going to be coerced/convinced/conned by all the usual dodges it was pretty much a straightforward process.
Still had to sit through the financing guy’s soliloquy on what a genius Phil Gramm was. I can’t believe I kept my mouth shut, but at that point I just wanted to be out of there.
Brian S (formerly Incertus)
The one major lesson I learned in my few weeks as a car salesman is that they need to sell you a car more than you need to buy one. Keep that mindset and you’ll be willing to walk out of any deal.
I’m still traumatized by my first car purchase in 1988…
The improvement in car buying is a leveling of the information. The customer now knows what the car should cost and can plan accordingly. My guess is dealerships have seen profits dip.
No wonder car dealers tend to be Republicans. They enjoy the “free market” that’s really an asymmetrical market where the average person is a chump.
I bought my 2000 Venture in Oregon using the pricing set by dealer on the web. Did the same in 2003 for my S10.
I do think this process is region based. Since then I have moved to east coast and I found that technologically its few years behind than what we experienced over on the west coast.
I wonder if any lowering of margins caused by internet sales might be offset by the fact that some people who would have been driven completely away, or at least driven to less annoying competitors, by sales smarm will now buy cars at all.
Left Coast Tom
How on earth does Phil Gramm come up in such a context? Did he see a box turtle outside the window and suddenly think of Gramm?
There oughta be a law against using the (word)(comma) combination 4 times in a row.
Best car buying experience I ever had was with Saturn.
My cousin works for a Ford dealer, and believe me, he makes TONS of money. It’s just built into the price of the cars now, instead of the floor mats and undercoating.
While I agree with the post because that’s the way I have bought the last six cars I’ve boughtd), you assume everybody has the internet. They don’t. There’s still a digital divide in this country and I really feel that there’s a good chunk of this country that’s being left behind because they some don’t even have a computer. Some don’t have an internet connection.People also manage to get screwed big time on the financing and the extended warranty.
Going back to the actual car sale, I was damn proud of myself a couple of times because I knew more about the vehicle than the salesmen did although I think the salespeople of big ticket items in this country is going down the tubes. The last few times I have bought big kitchen appliances the salespeople haven’t known crap about the product. At least make the effort to know the damn product you are trying to sell.
Tara the antisocial social worker
My main experience of car shopping has been seeing the “female tax” added on. There was a study awhile back where they sent men and women to the same dealership to make the same offer on the same car, and the women always wound up paying more. I walked out of one dealership when the smirking salesman wanted to start negotiating from above the sticker price.
Also, is it just with women that the dealers always want to start off talk about the car’s color? I got in the habit of claiming to be color blind just get them off the subject.
Funniest car-shopping experience: I was with my wife Packrat, and it was obvious we were a couple. The salesman made some excuse to go back to the office, and came returned to the lot with a woman, saying that she was the expert on this type of car. He left, and within 30 seconds she’d made some reference to her partner. I guess they thought we’d be more likely to buy from another lesbian.
We are the same way. We drive cars until they die. The last one literally died on the way home from work and would no longer move. It needed complete new manual transmission. I called the tow truck for the kidney foundation donation center to pick it up where it died.
We replaced it with a Scion xD (Toyota uses the same concept as Saturn with their Scion line). Was an amazing experience.
I also think the experience is enhanced / trauma reduced by the fact that cars (for the most part) are vastly improved over the cars of only 10-15 years ago.
The last new car we owned was bought through a buyers groups that let you select the car & & options and then wait for delivery but the price was within a couple of buck of what the wholesale cost is reported to be. Remember that dealers get a “charge-back” several hundred dollars from the factory when they sell the car so the whole sale price is not really the wholesale price. It contains profit for the dealer.
Wow. Timely post. I’m just starting to look for a new car. Thanks for this. It really helps.
Oh, yes. We recently had to buy a new washer/dryer set and we went all the way to Sears and found that the whole department had turned into a car dealership style focus on confusing the customer, conflicting information, and no takeaway information–so you couldn’t comparison shop. We ended up dealing with a nice guy who actually knew the machines, as opposed to the swarm of salespeople hired to make sure you were approached right away but who vanished as soon as you started asking technical questions. But in the end we had to walk out empty handed because Sears no longer really takes responsibility for installing the machines and they basically told us if there were any problem with fit their guys would just cut and run and mark it undeliverable. We ended up doing the entire purchase over the phone with a small middleman company who wanted to make the fucking sale and guaranteed that their guys would come over and install the damn thing no matter what the problems. I just think the whole thing was astonishing–if you own stock in Sears sell it now. They let a sale that was *at minimum* around 1500 dollars walk right out of their store because they no longer do in house installation just basic delivery.
I suppose a lot of the “car-buying experience” has to do with what brand/manufacturer one is buying. “My” last new-car purchase (technically, it’s my wife’s vehicle) was of a higher-end, low-volume European import, sold through a small, tight dealer network who keep virtually nothing in inventory if they can at all help it. But, OTOH, were pretty straightforward and BS-free (if kinda inflexible on price).
Positives: they called to say they had been allocated a suitable car/color for us (just one), and offered it to us at a price we were OK with. Deal done next day.
Negatives: It was a take-it-or-leave-it deal: waiting for a build-to-order would have meant a minimum six-month wait, and probably have cost more.
It’s obviously a different experience when one is “negotiating” with a dealership anxious to move their stock gathering dust out on the lot; and dealing with one who can (and will) sell (or pre-sell) everything everything they get at the price they want.
As they say on the Intertubes: YMMV….
That is all.
@Left Coast Tom: I can’t recall exactly, except that somewhere in the conversation he mentioned he’d taken a course or two from him, so maybe he went to Texas A&M. In any event, he ended up doling out loans at a Maryland car dealership, so karma was surely at work.
@sherifffruitfly: I completely agree, and it bothered me when I did it.
So thanks, comma cop.
ETA: Although in my case it was (phrase)(comma) and not single words, so maybe you, weren’t, meaning, me.
My dad had a friend that sold cars many years ago & he told me a lot about how they worked the process. When we were first married & had to buy a car it came in handy. No matter what the salesman said my wife and I would start arguing with each other about the amount – LOUDLY! When they got to the point of “I have to run this by the boss” we would agree that it was too much and wouldn’t agree to the price when he got back. We did have to walk out a couple of times but it worked pretty well in getting us a better price. NEVER let the salesman know you want the car or you are dead meat.
@Tara the antisocial social worker:
That study was done by Ian Ayres when he was at the Bar Foundation in Chicago. I think they found out, among other things, that car dealerships would also give you a pint of icecream as a “thank you” for coming in because they knew it meant you’d have to drive home to put it away before continuing to comparison shop. I had a female friend who used to make a living selling cemetery plots through cold calling–yes, really–and she had perfected bargaining for cars so ruthlessly that when she went to buy a car they ended up offering her a job selling them. But you had to be unbelievablely brutal and canny to even start to get past their defensive mechanisms against recognizing women (or minorities) as competent negotiating partners.
This and the fact that the fleet salesperson (a) knows you’re not fucking around or “just shopping” because your asking about a very specific car, and (b) their time investment consists of reading your email and crunching a few numbers.
In some cases, you might actually do a little better by going to the showroom, but not enough to endure the torture that is the Car Sales Guy (or Gal).
My last car in 2004 was bought through in an Internet division of a dealer. It was also build-to-order, and went very smoothly. But that is because it was a Jeep, and you can get build-to-order domestics easily.
@mr. whipple: Agreed. Same experience with my Saturn purchase in 1995. I would still be driving it had I not bought this mini-farm and found a need to haul things. I have no complaints with my local Ford dealership on the purchase of my Ford Ranger 2 years ago. Just say no to all the BS.
Here’s a story for Saturn lovers. My brother moved to Palmer, AK in 1995. One of his cars was a 1994 Saturn. He started working for the state in 1996 which entailed a 90 mile daily round trip to Anchorage. He had almost 300,000 miles on it before they moved back down. The only thing that might have stopped it was a collision with a moose. Average yearly moose/car interactions on that stretch of the highway is 160. The Anchorage dealership where he had it serviced wanted to buy it from him to put on their showroom floor. The dealership changed owners and the new guy wasn’t interested. They gave the car to the woman who cleaned their house, and it likely is still on the road.
@Tara the antisocial social worker: I go with Mrs. P when she shops for a car and they invariably address their comments to me. And invariably I have to stop them and say “DUDE! She’s the one buying the car. Not me.” Mostly the get it by then. And they don’t get any break from Mrs. P either. She’ll take ’em for all they’ve got, then walk away just when they think they’re sealing the deal.
Hell, if I were a salesman and a couple came to me I would address them at least equally if not MORE to the woman, at least until I see how they deal as a couple with purchasing.
“But, unlike, say, newspapers, car dealers just quietly adapted to the new environment without demanding special legal protection or whining and crying about how the Internet is ruining everything.”
If the Internet allowed you to make a copy of an automobile and use it without paying the car dealer anything, you might have a point. Until then, keep looking for a better analogy.
car dealers just quietly adapted to the new environment without demanding special legal protection
Oh, car dealerships are one of the worst rent-seeking bastages out there. But they’re mostly Republican and almost entirely engage in it at the state and local level, not federal.
I had a wonderful experience buying a 1 yo Sonata from Enterprise that is in fantastic condition, has a great warranty, and I saved a lot off the price of a new car (which is just 1 year newer). Looks new in the driveway.
It had 32,000 miles on it and my mechanic said that he’d have sworn that it had less than 10,000.
I think the internet has pretty much made the method I used unnecessary. I used the Motley Fool guidelines, which are basically decide what car you want (including options) and how far you’re willing to drive to get it, set up a temporary fax (rent-a-fax of some sort), and fax a request for bids to all dealers of that car within your driving range.
Sort the replies in three piles: made a bid, made a bid on your model with some modifications, went off the reservation. Toss the last. Take the “made a bid” pile and send them all a “the lowest bid is… can you beat it?” If that group is too small, send the almost group a “the lowest bid that MET SPECS is… Can you match the specs, and if so can you beat lowest bid?”
Select the winner, go get financing if you need it, go get your car.
I always buy slightly used to take advantage of the front loaded depreciation that occurs once you drive a brand new car off the lot. So I still have to put up with the bullshit. The internets at least make it easier to look up fair value.
Always!!! Work with the Internet sales department.
Great story. When I bought mine we were sitting down with the rep going over everything, and he advised me to wait a week to finalize the deal as a $1,000 off sale was coming up. Dood saved me a grand!
Been a great car so far.
@Dan: And it was “no hassle” so it cost exactly the price on the car.
Oh, and I found the car through their website, so … internet.
Villago Delenda Est
Interestingly, the only time I’ve bought a new car, it was in 1983.
From Germany, though a GM sales guy at the PX.
It was basically, what features do you want, here’s the price. Sort of like the internet experience you’ve described. There was no sales pitch. There was no dealer prep. I got all the features I wanted (and missed a couple I would have liked to have…my bad) and, when I returned to the States in the spring of ’83, my new car was waiting for me at a dealership in South Carolina. With like 10 miles on the odometer.
The way it should be.
BTW, if I had to endure some asshole finance guy telling me what a genius Phil Gramm is, well, I wouldn’t endure it. I’d be gone. Because otherwise, the asshole finance guy would be in a hospital somewhere.
Here is Clark Howard’s New Car Page, real switch for him.
We are a one car-two motor scooter family. I drive the car to work and on occasional errands of necessity. I loathe driving. My husbin loves, loves, loves his scooters so he will use any excuse to hop on. He has even learned to work on them, so repair bills are few. He has a big ole LLBean camp basket strapped on the back of the two-seater. so he can bring home a week or two load of groceries, a fifty pound bag of dog food and a twelve-pack in one trip. He looks cool as shit riding down the road, with thumbs up from all kinds of people passing by. Scooters seem to bring out the best in folks.
In the winter, in the rain, he has all the gear to keep him warm and dry, which we can afford to buy, as a tank of gas is 6.50 at 3.25 a gallon. Did I mention 70-80 MPG?
He wrote The Motor Scooter Song, which I sent to Car Talk on NPR and they actually played it (because, of course, it is excellent and I pimp my old man’s talent every chance I get).
Just bought my first new car last summer. I can’t imagine doing it the old fashioned way, of going in to a dealer, trying to negotiate there, then moving to another dealer, etc.
Prior to actually starting the buying process, I had test driven a few cars that I was interested in, but been non-comital at the time. Once I decided what I wanted, and Honda put out an awesome loan program, I started the buying process.
I emailed the 5 closest dealers with exactly what I wanted and asked for quotes. Then took the best quote to my nearest dealer and asked him to beat it. I probably could have done slightly better by doing several rounds of that, but at that point I was haggling over a few hundred bucks.
The best part of this is that if you have a moronic sales person, you just hang up the phone on them.
@stuckinred: He’s talking about new cars can be cheaper than used cars. When I bought my car in 2008 new, the same car sold used 1 to 2 years later for more than what I paid for new. I attribute that to people paying way more for the same car than I did, and when they want to sell it a couple years later, they need to sell it for more than what I paid for it new in order to not lose too much on the car. So for me, buying used did not make financial sense.
@Dan: We did the same thing for our daughter. In February be bought her a 2010 Jeep Commander that had been a rental car and still looked brand new. It had 27,000 miles on it, so it was still under warranty and we went ahead and sprung for an extended warranty too, since we aren’t going to be buying her another car and it will be years before she can afford to buy one on her own.
I found the original price sticker in the glove compartment. The sticker on the car was almost 35K and we paid just a hair under 20K. I’d say that was a pretty good deal and I’m thinking I’ll never buy a new car again. Instead, for the price difference, I’ll go with a slightly used model.
@Kirk Spencer: I used a variation of this 3 years ago for our subaru, and I think it works well, or at least saves a boatload of annoyance and time.
Basically, I called the dealers around, asked for the best price on the exact car I wanted. If they balked or said they couldn’t do that on the phone, I said that I certainly couldn’t go buy a car from them if they didn’t give me a good price right now. Then, I drove to the dealer and picked up the car and paid for it.
Very little of the aggravation and they just gave me the “wholesale” price right away after realizing how this was going to go. Next, I had to say no to every single thing they tried to tack on at the end. That was interesting considering how aggressive this person was. “I don’t need that. I don’t want that.” was my constant refrain.
There may be a cleaner, easier way, but what I did worked for me.
……and forgot to say that we found the car on the internet!
@becca: What kind of scooter?
One’s a little Honda Metro, kept as back up with the battery on a charger. His baby is a Stella. It’s Vespa-like in looks and performance, but costs a couple of grand less (which, in scooter terms, is substantial) Very retro and vintage pale green.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
i went in to buy a pick up back in the mid 90s, and the car dealer insisted on selling me a dirty, obviously more than test driven red camaro with bird shit on it.
i honestly expressed no interest at all in the car, my roommate at the time was driving me around to dealers(which probably signalled desperation, wrong!) and age probably had them thinking, of course i would want a red camaro, even one with bird shit on it….
now, again, i never so much as feigned interest, but the guy was treating me like such an idiot, it was amusing, so i kept smirking at my roommate, and let him go on, until he totalled my payment to being something like 500 bucks a month. again, never looked at the sticker, but i am guessing from looks it was the 6 banger….
anyway…he hands me the thing, i wait till the office manager gets close enough, nod to my roommate, that it was coming…
then i asked him, in a voice that boomed across the show room, when the fuck did he ever get the idea that i was even interested in the car….
the whole place stayed quiet until we left, i mean dead quiet. i took some satisfaction years later seeing the place close its doors after 50 years in business.
We used to buy used & drive them into the ground; we would get more car than we could normally afford, and we don’t care about bells and whistles.
But things changed. For instance, our last Subaru was GREAT… except it needed major repairs at 70,000 miles, which is ridiculous. So a change in plan occurred; we got a new, leftover Ford Focus, they gave us money, and we have a 3 year warranty. I love it!
This is a local dealership who has been in business for 100 years (our keychain has the anniversary on it) and a friend of a friend works in the service department. So it wasn’t pressure at all.
Dealers get monthly incentives — for instance, sell 200 cars, get some kind of incentive payment from the manufacturer, etc.
What you want is to find those dealers that, near the end of the month, are close to getting that incentive payment. But, of course, no dealer will tell you this.
So, a week before the end of the month, send out a request for pricing to, say, 10 dealers for the type of car you want (this works better if you’re near a major metro area). Tell them what model you want, what colors are acceptable, what options are acceptable. Tell them you are ready to buy. Ask for their best bid. Fax in the requests and wait for the replies.
I did this with a Honda Civic and a dozen dealers in the NYC region. All the prices came in around the same price — except for one that was a thousand dollars less. Bingo. That dealer wanted to move some number of cars to get to the incentive payment.
Also did this for an SUV for my then father-in-law on the west coast. Also worked well.
Was interesting getting my brother’s car… all the dealers were very no-haggle “it’s the internet price now, no room for it anymore”.
Pleases me greatly, I must say.
Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason
If you’re buying a car every 7 or 8 years, you’re not running them into the ground, you’re just getting them broken in.
The only problem I see with going over 200,000 miles is the occasional stranding by the side of the road and the call for a tow truck back home to your mechanic. That can be pretty inconvenient.
Otherwise, it looks like the maintenance cost has still been less than car payments.
Parallel 5ths (Jewish Steel)
@sherifffruitfly: Are you, sherifffruitfly, perhaps, in real life, Cormac McCarthy, the author?
We have extreme weather here; DEAD is more than a bit inconvenient, so Mr WereBear starts getting fussy when major systems make awful noises.
I agree with this post 100%. I still recall my first car in 1988 and I have never been more down on capitalism and the free market. Double talking, double dealing, lying, jumping jeebus. After getting raked over the coals by a lying salesman, you get a fancy tap dance from the loan guy, then your insurance company starts lying to you about what the your bank requires. I was 21 at the time and didn’t know squat.
My second car was a Saturn at the same time so many up thread say they bought them. NO haggle, no hassle, no bull shit. They may have made me pay too much for a plastic car, but I’m willing to pay a no asshole premium.
The last car I bought was through the internet and Carmax. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was a pleasure, but I got a good Honda at a good price.
Of course, I sold that car because I lost my job, went back to school, and rely on public transportation. That really is the best solution to dealing with this. I rue the day I have to move to an area with no public transportation and I may have to buy a car again.
Left Coast Tom
@Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason:
I commonly drive to remote trailheads in the mountains during the summer, occasional stranding is not a viable option for me. So, for me, 150K is a reasonable “driven into the ground” point.
Well, the car market in the US is truly a free market, with dozens of players in any given area to choose from. They HAVE to be responsive to customer demands, b/c their competitors will, and those that don’t will be left in the cold. Newspapers, on the other hand have either a monopoly, or a very limited number of players in any given market. Another big difference is that newspapers provide a service (information) that, once produced, is easily copied and spread around via the internet, whereas car companies provide a durable good. Once I buy my car, I can’t cut and paste it into an email or a blog post and send it to my friends. Newspapers and car dealerships aren’t really comparable. Maybe the music or movie industries are better examples?
I think the internet combined with current economic pressures makes for better sales. Dealers want to sell cars. People have more information and less available $$$$, so sales have had to become more equitable whether the dealers like it or not.
In a non-internet vein, I have just had a remarkable car-buying experience…..Last year, this time, I purchased a brand new convertible Mini S. For me, this was an impractical gift to myself. I was also on a medical leave of absence from my job and not driving very much. By this February, I had put about 1600 miles on the car and every 80 miles or so the engine light would turn on. The dealer replaced numerous sensors, removed the head and cleaned the valves and many other things. Each time they had my car, they gave me a courtesy car to drive. Finally, the supervisor of the dealer’s service department whispered in my ear that I should call the Mini Mecca’s customer service department and explain the situation because I was in lemon law territory and they still could not fix the car. But before I even made that call, the general manager called me and offered me a new car. Three weeks ago, I drove home from the dealer in a brand new 2011 version of my car. Better engine, no fees, no costs, no hassles…Great day…..
Salesmen are negotiating for something you have, that they want, with something they don’t give a shit about and that you need. It gives them the upper hand unless you take it away from them.
This can’t be. The only successful negotiating strategy anyone has ever pursued is to make an outrageously low bid to match the other guy’s outrageously high bid, then meet at precisely the midpoint, or else it’s a total loss and you deserve to go home miserable.
I went through a broker to by my new Explorer last year. Before anyone jumps all over me for buying a gas guzzler, let me defend it; we need an SUV for my wife’s business, the only question was what kind. I had an 98 Explorer, good car, decent mileage for an SUV, but it has 145K miles, and I was ready for something new. A friend had gone through this broker with good results, so I gave it a try.
The bottom line was that I got exactly the car I wanted, and for several thousand dollars less than I was quoted at dealerships when I simply walked in and expressed interest. I doubt I will ever deal directly with a dealership again.
Simpler solution: take the bus.
I actually enjoy buying a car, because I am good at negotiating, and I go in fully armed with information, including the KBB “invoice” price the dealer paid for the car. I also go in with pre-approved financing from a bank. That way I don’t have to play the “what do you want your payments to be” game. All I care about is the price of the car, and if the dealer can beat the interest rate on the loan I came in with, so be it. My last car purchase was a 2003 Ford Focus. I got it out the door for invoice price, plus a $2500 factory rebate. Sticker price was about $16,000, and I got for about $12,500. I was never ever upside down with that car, and I think I only put $500 down.
We subscribe to the online version of Consumer Reports and CR offers a pricing service for cars. You get a printable, itemized list of what the dealer cost is for the model of your choice.
This is magic at the dealership. Just flash the report and the snow job instantly stops. Well worth the money.
Best way to buy a car is on the hottest day of summer, with a spouse prepped to continually whine about the heat and how she wants to go home, to which you reply how imperative it is that you get a car TODAY!, yet signal with body language that you want to leave, too.
@alwhite: The “charge-back” is yet another cost that is negotiable. I did some shopping on the innernets this week and told the dealers that I wanted the absolute “dead price,” i.e., no dealer prep, no delivery charges, and I wanted a piece of the manufacturer’s dealer kick-back, “or don’t bother to contact me.” They haven’t LOL.
I cannot say enough good things about my experience buying a car over the web through hertzrent2buy.com
You search for cars within a radius of your zipcode. You can look at all available or certain models. You get a list with mileage, color, features. If you’re interested you can rent it for 3 days. If you buy it the rental is free. I took the train to the airport and picked up the car. They arranged financing. The price was what Edmunds said the dealer would pay me for a trade-in. I figure that Hertz has to do the maintenance and keep up the car because they don’t want a bad customer experience.
I looked at Carmax but decided they were awful. They offered a friend of mine less money on a used car that ran than he would make if he had it crushed for scrap metal.
While some pricing seemed ok for the cars they were selling, on the model I wanted to buy, they were charging a full 20% more than I paid going through another online dealer, and 10-12% higher than what I could find at normal dealerships around the area.