A Car Buying Story – Part Four – The Dealers

You know, while researching the cars, I read a lot about dealing with car dealers. People generally have a negative attitude towards them and the whole car buying experience, and you can find tons of information on how to avoid their scams, how to lower the price, how to negotiate with them, what to tell them, etc, etc. An excellent website to inform yourself on all aspects of car buying is Car Buying Tips: (http://www.carbuyingtips.com/). Now with all the great info and details I learned from various sources, I still thought that generally the prevailing attitude is not realistic. I mean, you almost get a feeling that if you pay anything more than a factory price, you made a bad deal. You can certainly succeed in lowering the price apparently to a large extent, but it is the fact that the dealers have to make money too. Ok, sometimes just selling the car, e.g. to meet their projected numbers, is beneficial to them, and they might give away even the whole of their profit for that sake. But come on, I can consider such situation just a crazy luck, not my goal! Anyway, I think that the current craze about “beating” those prices down to the floor is just as unrealistic and aggressive as the dealer’s craze to take as much money from you as possible.

However, after this buying experience, I lost pretty much any respect and sympathy for the dealers. And I will always advise anyone never to become one. Of course some of them were great examples of normal and pleasant behaviour, but unfortunately I must say that most of them have taken the activity of deceit and aggressiveness to such extent that for an honest and well meaning man the idea of going to a dealership must be repugnant. I very quickly got such a strong feeling of insecurity about everything I was told by them. I think everything was a lie, smaller or bigger. A lot of what I’ve heard I don’t believe, and none of it I trust.

Here are some of the examples, more or less funny, from my recent experience:

Systematic approach

I enter a dealership, with the intention of exploring a car that really caught my attention simply by offering all of the basic features I wanted. So I wanted to see it, test drive it, and ask a couple of questions. So I ask the dealer: “I’ve read that the crash test scores for this model are not that good, most are graded 3 out of 5. Now, I know that there are different tests, and you can’t judge simply by the grade. Do you know more details about those tests and the scores? What is tested exactly, and how did they score the cars?”

The answer was: “Yes, yes I know, the scores are not the best possible. I know. But you know — what do they mean really? (And I’m thinking — yes, that is exactly what I asked) You see, a grade of 3 is really not that bad. It’s almost like 4. What is the difference? Almost nothing let me tell you. And also, all of that means something only in most severe crashes!!”

Well, no kidding!! What a thorough explanation. Now I understand and my worries are gone. And what a relief. So, if a car is simply parked on a lot, I shouldn’t worry that it will suddenly open the hood and hit me right in the face!

Bonding

A question occurred to me about a car, and I decided to drop by a dealership to ask. My visit was about 10 minutes long — of course we exchanged numbers, I got the brochure and usual stuff. Tomorrow morning, my cell phone rings, I answer and I get this:

– “Hey Michael, Jord here from the dealership.” – “Hey Jord, how are you, what’s up?” (I thought he might have just gotten some good used car) – “Nothing, nothing…just wanted to see how are you.”

Huh… If this doesn’t sound as a start of a beautiful friendship I don’t know what does!

Then he goes on: – “So have you made a decision on which car you want?” – “No, not really, not yet. I told you I’ll need some time, and I’m not rushing really.” – “Ok, tell me, what’s blocking it? Can I help?”

Man, of course you can! Go do something else instead of asking me questions…

Landing on all four whatever happens

I wasn’t sure about a size of a trunk of one of the models, so on my visit to the dealerships I brought couple of boxes and a cart that I use often to see how they fit into the trunk. Now this was one of the smaller cars, so I wasn’t sure about the trunk size. And I tell the dealer what I’d like to do and he says no problem. So I take out the stuff and he laughs:

– “C’mooon, how can you doubt it — that will fit without a problem. Don’t worry!!” – “Wait, wait, let me try, I know what I’m talking about.”

And then I try, and he tries, but it doesn’t go so easy — the cart is a bit long and the boxes a bit high. Separately they go in no problem, but together, not that easy. Finally, he laughs again and remarks:

– “And you really thought ALL OF THAT will fit into this trunk??!!”

Wha…??

Get all the money you can

I receive a long talk describing how I should buy the replacement insurance. And the more expensive one (“better” in the jargon), which covers you for a longer time and gives you the value of the new car, rather the amount that you paid. Ok, that is a fine product. Now I also get a long description on how I should absolutely buy a VIN engraving package where they engrave the VIN on all windshields so that the thieves are less likely to steal it (they can’t sell the windshields for parts). It’s about $300. Well, I gave both of these things a good thought, but tomorrow I realized a simple thing: Why do I need two protections? If I get the replacement insurance, and if they are going to give me a new car if mine is stolen, why would I then protect it even more?? Damn, I should also probably buy two cars in case one is stolen after all.

And on top of that, I found on the internet that the engraving kit, very simple to use and apply, can be bought for mere $20.

Get all the money you can — again

This one is well-known, and usually titled as a “dealer scam”, but I decided I put it here anyways just as another example.

So I finally decide to buy the car and I arrive to the dealership at around 6:00pm. I expect the process to last about an hour. However, little thing here and there and I end up at the dealership for four hours. I think ok, nobody’s fault, there are simply a lot of things to do and a lot of people to involve — the dealer, finance guy, insurance girl, then the finance guy again, then the manager because there was an error, etc. So, I get the contract with all the figures there, and everything looks fine: all the figures match almost perfectly to mine that I calculated before. Except one thing — $900 of loan life insurance. So I ask:

– “Why is it there? Is that mandatory?” – “Well, we made such an application to Company’s Finance.” – “Ok, but is it mandatory?” – “We could reapply and see what happens — if you have life insurance elsewhere.”

Now, you see, I am not too easy to confuse, but it was late and I didn’t want to repeat the whole process again, so I’m thinking: “Ok, I’m going to think about it tomorrow.” And I let it by. Now good thing was that I had the contract with me (I had to take it home for my wife to sign), so I wasn’t too worried.

Anyhow, in the morning I realize that not only it is not mandatory to have the insurance and that I definitely do not need life insurance elsewhere, but another application without it will certainly go through. And, at that point I sincerely doubted that they need to make another application at all. So I get really angry and I go there and I get the exact same answer again. So I say:

– “Let’s apply again; I am sure the application will go trough. I simply don’t want it and I never wanted it and I never asked for it. And if it doesn’t we’ll see then what we do.”

And she does the paperwork, and seeing me irritated, remarks: “Don’t worry I’m sure it will go trough.” Of course it will — and it does.

Get on customer’s side — even if you overdo it

One of the dealers was affirming every little thing I said. It got funny and a bit annoying:

He thought that the features I wanted are absolutely the only important features in the car.

He was also in computer business just a few years ago.

The funniest was when we discussed payment options. He told me that leasing is a better option if I want to change the car every couple of years. So I say:

– “You know, I am more the other type of buyer, at least so far. I drive one car for years before I buy a new one, so I probably won’t go with the lease.” – “I understand, I completely understand. You know, the worst part of the auto business for me is that you simply have to change the car every 1-2 years. I hate that. If I wasn’t selling cars, I would do the same as you.”

Well, this really made me feel like home. C’mon guys, we just met and will probably never see each other again; don’t do these things.

Advertise what you have

This one was not really on the negative side, it was just funny. I went to Subaru and dealers there were actually very cool. They were very cooperative, and without the aggressive edge. And they never called me to push or ask whether I’ve made a decision. They also have a great program where you can take the car for 24hr test drive. I had really a good experience with them.

Anyhow, I told this dealer that I know that their cars use specific technology in their engine that is different from all other cars, and that repairs can be expensive. And he says:

– “Yeah, it’s so called Boxer engine where pistons are opposed horizontally instead of vertically. But we are not the only ones to use it… Porsche uses it — you know Porsche Boxster. … And some smaller planes.”

Well, that much for the affordable repairs…

Then he also added that it’s an old technology that has been well perfected so far and that I shouldn’t worry really, which was a bit more reassuring.

Always fish for customer’s weak spots — even in the dark Honda was giving rebate and they advertised it everywhere: that was very important sales pitch. Now I come to a dealership, and one of the first things the guy tells me is: “You know, I’ll tell you one thing: we will give you a good rebate, and it’s Honda’s rebate but most of the dealers won’t even mention it.”

He made it as if he is letting me know a secret, and not only that it isn’t, but it’s all over radio, their website, everywhere. But I might have been uninformed and careless and would think that I’m getting a special deal.

Lie like there’s no tomorrow and hope you don’t get caught

I was quite close to buying a car so I called some dealerships inquiring whether they have a certain model and the color on the lot. I told them I don’t want the car to be brought from some other dealership. I want to see the car and get the one I saw. This is because I don’t want to get into whole new set of issues and questions. For example, one dealer told me that they charge extra delivery fee if they bring the car from other dealership, which is by the way ridiculous and perhaps deserves story on its own. It can also happen that the car that arrives is different in some detail than what you wanted, and you already signed the papers. Etc.

So I made sure they know what I want, and then came to one of the dealerships. We chat a bit and then I say:

– “So let me see the car.” – “Oh, I was afraid you were gonna ask me that. I really don’t know exactly where the car is.”

I laugh: “But I told you I want to see the car before I buy it.”

– “Oh, don’t worry — it’s here, I’m just not sure where.” – “Ok, I’ll go outside and look for it.” – “But our lots are really big.” – “I don’t mind, I have the time.” – “But they are not really all here — we have two lots a few blocks away.”

I just don’t like arguing that much — in cases like these I give up and simply walk away.

A good guy

The positive highlight was a young dealer for which I could quickly tell that he is not (yet) turned his abilities into a deceitful routine — he even gets confused a bit when I ask him a stupid question. To me that is the normal reaction. And when I asked him what he drives, he said: “an old Volvo, you know it’s a really good car.” I am really sorry that cars he was selling were not suitable for me — I would have been very happy to buy one from him. And I didn’t even feel like negotiating with him at all.

A Top Ten List of Automotive Extended Warranty Companies

Automotive extended warranties should be a very important part of one’s budget. After the vehicle’s initial warranty expires it would be wise to extend it because unexpected breakdowns can be devastating for one’s finances. A warranty is collateral that is offered by the manufacturer or another insurance provider. This means that if the product or service fails you are entitled to have it repaired or replaced. Let’s look at some of the top providers for automotive extended warranties.

1. Mogi

Mogi is a very recent entrant into the market of insurance. With their technological advances in terms of web based protection and support, Mogi has become the convenient and reliable choice of many consumers. Mogi offers several coverage plans for new and used vehicles. Each plan is tailored to the specific needs of the customer at the lowest rates possible.

2. Warranty Direct

Warranty Direct is very popular due to its wide array of coverage plans at reasonable prices. With more of a track record than Mogi, Warranty Direct has been in the business for 30 years. In terms of reliability you will find no better automotive extended warranty among the other companies. Warranty Direct is one of the largest warranty companies in North America making it very appealing to buyers looking for a safe and reliable purchase.

3. CARCHEX

Another well-known name; CARCHEX provides several automotive extended warranties. Plans for new and used vehicles add to the diversity of this company.

4. Stop Repair Bills

Stop Repair Bills will cover almost any vehicle. Most of their customers have vehicles over 12 years old. This company’s boldness has earned it a household name for good reason.

5. U.S. Fidelis

U.S. Fidelis is one of the largest automotive extended warranty companies in the United States. U.S. Fidelis offers many economic plans for new vehicles. This provider is a wise choice for those looking for an established company.

6. U.S. Direct

U.S. Direct is another exclusive provider in the United States. This automotive extended warranty company boasts a solid track record and excellent customer service.

7. Fidelity Automotive

Fidelity provides extended warranties to both new and used cars. To go along with their coverage, Fidelity also offers excellent customer service with roadside assistance and repair.

8. Auto Protection

Auto Protection is smaller than the other providers; to compensate for this Auto Protection offers excellent customer service and makes their policies very clear.

9. Endurance Protection

Another small automotive extended warranty provider; Endurance Protection offers several incentives such as instant savings and roadside assistance.

10. Auto Service Warranty

Auto Service Warranty provides used and new automobile coverage. Automotive extended warranties are provided at very economical pricing.

Aftermarket, OEM, OE Auto Parts Explained

Aftermarket, OEM, replacement parts–you see these words in almost all auto parts stores online. What do these terms mean?

For a passive buyer, these things are but ordinary terms used in the automotive market but for someone meticulous and who wants the best for his auto, these things matter considerably. Deciding which among these to purchase is just like deciding what car to buy.

O.E.M. stands for Original Equipment Manufactured. This means that OEM Ford parts are manufactured by Ford itself, Chevrolet parts are manufactured by Chevrolet, Toyota parts by Toyota, BMW parts by BMW and so on. The terms O.E.S. and OE are also used; these mean Original Equipment Supplied and Original Equipment, respectively. While in many cases, OEM and OES mean the same, OE is more general referring to any part that came as original equipment on the car. Some of OE car parts and components are not actually made by the car manufacturer but are purchased and assembled by the automakers to create a vehicle.

Those referred to as “aftermarket auto parts” are not made by the original car manufacturer; furthermore, they are bought and added to the vehicle only at the dealership or after the vehicle left the dealership. In terms of design and function, aftermarket products are almost the same as the stock auto parts since they are primarily used to replace a damaged original part so that the vehicle can continue to run. If you need replacement parts for your car, however, you can either buy O.E.M. or aftermarket auto parts. There are numerous sources of aftermarket auto parts. Stores like Auto Parts Discount give you a great variety of parts for almost all makes and models.

Some cars, especially the base models are not completely equipped so users just add aftermarket parts later on. For example if you have purchased an old Toyota Corolla, you can add aftermarket Toyota fog lights, Toyota spoiler, Toyota turn signal light or Toyota mirrors. Aftermarket products can also help you give your car a fresh new look. Even if your original parts are not yet damaged or worn out, you can replace them with or add specially designed aftermarket auto parts like Honda taillights, Ford center cap, Chevrolet chrome bumper, and Mercedes Benz Front Cover Towing Eye found at Auto Parts Discount.

Enthusiasts, on the other hand would opt for custom parts and specialty equipments. Compared to a universal fit auto part, which can be installed to any vehicle make, year and model, custom aftermarket products are designed to fit only a particular application. Examples of custom parts are your Ford hood, Ford fender and Ford doors. Specialty equipments on the other hand, are intended to make the vehicle more stylish, comfortable, convenient and more up-to-date.

Most auto users prefer aftermarket products because they are less expensive than OEM replacements. While it is true that there may be some aftermarket auto parts that do not meet high standards of original equipments, it is not right to say that aftermarket products are generally inferior in terms of quality and style. Replacement parts sold at Auto Parts Discount, for example are made by car parts manufacturers that are mandated by high international standards.

Which is better, OEM or aftermarket replacement part? It depends on the product. Some OEM parts are not durable enough while the aftermarket parts you use to replace them could last for many years. If you want to give your car a different look and also, if you want to save, aftermarket products are worth a try. However, make sure to get these replacement parts from trusted sources.

Exotic Cars: Expectations and Realities When Looking for One

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of exotic cars? Is it a popular sports car like a Ferrari or Lamborghini? Or maybe you prefer some of the latest muscle and luxury cars around, like the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro, or the Ashton Martin V12 Vantage S.

Whatever rare car you’re dreaming of, you should know from the outset that it takes more than a bulging briefcase of cash (or a check with dozens of zeros) to get your own exotic car of choice. Look back to the first time you’ve bought a car. Snagging the car of your dreams requires more than just walking into that dealership: you’ve got to negotiate your loan rate (if any), discuss the terms, request to upgrade or modify some things here and there, and so on. Let’s discuss the process of buying an exotic car.

An Opportunity of a Lifetime

There are many exotic cars to choose from, especially if money is no object, but it’s certainly going to be easier said than done to decide on ‘the one’. One of the first things you should do is to set your budget: say, like $200,000. Setting a ceiling automatically lessens the stress of choosing from possibly dozens of options to a more manageable list.

Next, since you’re looking for an exotic car, you need to define for yourself the “exoticness” of a car. Do research online, list down your preferences, and learn the nomenclature associated with luxury cars or sports cars, including what sort of engine they’ve got and so forth. That way, you can be upfront with the dealership’s salesperson by saying the details of the car you want. Remember to tell him/her your preferred price range as well, and don’t be afraid to round it up so you’d have a wider range of models on the top of the heap.

Keep in mind that dealers rarely allow potential car buyers to test drive a car right of the bat. To help you decide on which exotic cars to consider, search online and read unbiased reviews or test drive videos of your shortlisted cars.

Do note that rare cars that are reviewed online might not be available in your market, so make sure to list down several options and rank them based on your personal criteria.

Dos and Don’ts

Do show proof with regards to your financial capabilities. Ask the sales staff to inform you about different maintenance plans, gearing options, brands, and models that are currently available or will soon be. The more you’re able to engage with the salespeople, the likelier it is for you to get a decent plan at the lowest price.

If you want a car that crosses state lines, don’t be afraid to do some cross-country traveling to get it.

When permitted, take the lucky car/s for a brief spin in order to get a good feel of the vehicle, from its purring engine to how fast it can really go.

If you want online tools that can assist you in locating any exotic car that you deem fancy enough to be part of your car collection or garage, visit websites like Cars.com, eBayMotors.com, and AutoTrader.com.

Finally, make sure to check an exotic car’s mileage, condition, options, transmission, and other parts that you deem important before making a final decision.