Updated: Nov 7, 2019
Buying a car in the early 2,000s
This is a subject I find fascinating and incredibly challenging. You see I negotiated the purchase of a new car using strictly the internet back in 2003. I emailed at least ten dealers and worked with the one who was transparent and was willing to give me a great price. The car was a new 2003 Toyota Camry and the time frame was September 2003. The 04's were rolling out so it was the time to strike. The internet manager at the dealership started the deal at $21,000. I got it down to $17,300 and $18,700 out the door after negotiating with her for a two week time period. The pick up day came and I had the agreed on price email printed out and was good to go. Well the salesman greeted us and advised us they had no 03's in stock. You can imagine my dismay and I began to get aggravated but when I showed him the email he immediately took us to the car we negotiated on and the VIN # matched. We test drove the car and then went to pay for it. This was another process which was aggravating to say the least. We had a check written for the out the door price and yet it took four hours to finalize the deal. Car dealers need to understand and respect an individual's time. I scheduled a PTO at work to pick this car up and it still took four hours after the deal was already negotiated. The reasons for this huge delay, add-ons and the F&I manager who in my opinion is the real salesman. The first thing he advised us to purchase was an extended warranty. Now my thought process, it is a Toyota and it will run for a long time with no major issues. Well this did not come to fruition but I will explain later. The next thirty minutes I sat through a meeting looking at all of the options such as scotch guard, undercoating, an exterior protectant along with several expensive additional services that we didn't need or consider. Finally it was time to get the keys and head home. My thought was wow what a process, rediculous but we got a nice,safe, dependable car for a good deal.
Update on the 03 Camry in 2017 the odometer is reading 119,110. The car at 111,000 miles overheated and blew the head gasket, very disappointing for a Toyota. Now the key to this was the thermostat never showed the car overheating. The simple issue was the radiator failed, which caused it to overheat with no warning signs until it was too late. What is the purpose of a thermostat if does not indicate the car is overheating. Very disappointed in Toyota and will never buy another one.
Buying a car from 2013 and beyond
I have recently been involved in two late model car purchases, one being a Kia Optima and the other a Honda Accord. We located the cars using a service that is called CarGurus. They are an aggregator site that will show you many models of the specific car you are looking for. It shows whether it is a great deal, good deal or high priced. Now the car dealers realize we have gotten very sophisticated in researching a vehicle that meets our criteria. True Car is another service which gives the impression what folks are actually paying for a car. The issue I have is True Car gets a kickback from the dealer allegedly
so what is their real motivation to show what is being paid by an individual when their revenue source is the dealer. I now ignore True Car for pricing. I also use Autotrader, Carmax, Tempest, and Car Guru's. Now I also will ignore KBB and Consumer Reports . When their revenue source is tied to the dealer network how can we use it to value what a car is worth. My plan going forward is to stick to the same process I used for the 03 Camry. We were charged a dealer fee on the Kia and Honda and that is not going to happen on any new purchases. I will reach out to many dealers all over the country, you can now have a car shipped reasonably from anywhere. My criteria is last years model with less than 10,000 miles. Give them your low ball price at the end of the month and at the same time the new models are rolling out. Make sure you get the out the door price not just a quote. A local Ford dealer on a car that is valued at $33,000 advised me my payment would be $487 a month for seventy-two months and that is after offering $12,000 down. Not very transparent and in my opinion a very bad deal. So when these dealers have thousands of cars in inventory and they need to move them, keep pushing for the absolute lowest price. Ignore the hype and those price sites. You will get a great deal on a car that is like new. I will update this article after my next purchase with the exact process and price I paid.