Car Buying Experiences
As with anything in life you usually hear the bad, but not so much the good. Everyone loves to hear of some other poor fools drama or issues as I'm sure it gives them a number of satisfied moments: You're not the only one, theirs was worse than yours, someone you don't like got taken or bad decisions of the past coming back to haunt. It's why reality TV is so popular and the majority of news on TV/radio and in the paper is usually bad. From a car buying perspective, if you simply listen to negative stories of others then you get the perception that all dealerships are out to rip buyers off. In some cases, car salesmen or finance managers WILL do what they can to make an additional buck, but if you know what you want and what you want to pay then this is usually not the norm in the least.
I've had a couple of negative experiences with dealerships over the last few years, none really spectacular. A local Hyundai dealer
wanted to sell a non-titled previous year car to my fiancé (now wife) at sticker price, even though the car had almost 8k miles on it and the
wheel wells were splattered in mud. His trade-in offer for her low mile 3yo car was laughable. Guess he figured after an hour of
haggling we would not walk out the door, he was quite wrong. In another instance, the dealership I had purchased my Maxima at, one
year prior, would not let me test drive a new 350z without working out finance papers as "people who buy this car do not want it
driven by anyone else prior to purchase". Really? So, out the door I went and I will never purchase from them again. I was a
repeat customer and had expectations that were not met.
Then you hear the horror stories. For the most part I hear these from my wife as her coworkers tell their sob stories.
From a positive aspect, I have had numerous good experiences when purchasing cars. In fact, within the last 13 months I have purchased two vehicles; one new and one used. Both experiences were somewhat different as one was with a reputable dealership and the other with an "unknown to me" used car dealer in another state. I will quickly detail both purchases.
In '08 I finally decided it was time for a new car as I travel a lot for business. After I had previously test driven a G37 Sports Coupe at the local Infiniti Dealership I already knew what I wanted, what they cost with the options I liked, what they were selling for at dealerships and the dealers invoice pricing. Armed with this information, an excellent credit rating (which I validated before the whole process) and a price in my head that I was willing to pay, I paid a visit to Infiniti of Cincinnati while the wife and I were on a weekend getaway. If you have never worked a deal with a no-pressure dealership then you don't know what you are missing. They had the car I wanted, in the color and options as well. After test driving a demo with the wife to get her approval I told them what I was willing to pay and within 10 minutes of telling the salesman it had been accepted by the Finance Manager. The "out the door" price was shown to us and after a credit check everything was approved. But, we were not done quite yet.
Now, my wife is one of those who is always cautious with dealerships and simply did not believe that the Infiniti dealership would be so straight forward in working to meet our offer. Thus, it was only after the price had been agreed upon in which we decided to discuss a trade-in on her car (this is a "best practice" when working a deal). Per her, she felt the dealership would low-ball the trade-in as a way to make greater profit margins and we had performed research to see what trade-in and resale values were for her car prior to the visit. She had a number in her head that she wanted for the car and was intending on walking away from the deal if it were not met. Yeah, she's a spitfire. After looking at the car and working some numbers they announced the amount they were willing to give on the trade-in.....which happened to be the exact fair value the wife was wanting. When helping her pick her jaw off the floor I knew negotiating a higher price was not an option at that point. The deal was done, there was no back and forth haggling over price, no pressure to get extended warranties or undercoating nor anything else. It was the least stressful deal I had ever made and I give the dealership and Infiniti a hearty Thumbs Up.
A year later, my wife decided it was time to trade in my old car (2002 Nissan Maxima) on something for her. She spent a month looking at cars ranging from Audi to Lexus as she wanted a "premium brand name". She did not want a new car, but something newer than 2006. As luck would have it I came home from a week on the road and she announced she had found the car she wanted and it was a 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport Sedan. Issue? It was at a non-dealer used car lot in another state. Oh boy......
To keep things somewhat short, I went ahead and checked on interest rates for used cars and eventually contacted my bank for pre-approval (always suggested). I called the dealership (AutoWise in Hendersonville, TN) and spoke with Trent. I gathered as much information as I could on the car and he was very forth coming with the history and that it had some minor rear damage at one point in its previous life. I went ahead and gave him information on my trade-in instead of gambling on getting what I wanted after a 3 hour drive and he came back with an acceptable offer for the Maxima itself. The next day, I drove the Maxima to the dealership and while they checked out my car they gave me the keys to the G35 and sent me on my way to test drive it as I saw fit. Afterward we discussed the car and issues that I had found on it and then we discussed price and negotiated a deal. Trent was very open about the car and provided a AutoCheck document on it which pretty much matched the CarFax I had pulled the previous evening. As the car is still under the factory warranty I was not too much worried about the minor issues I had found as they should be all replaced under warranty anyway so the deal was done and I was out the door. The car is not perfect but with how much they had discounted the car in regards to its worth I knew with a little bit of cash it would be exactly what the wife wanted. Since the purchase I have found out that the deal itself was actually better as the car is fully optioned out, including 4 Wheel Steering. The wife loves it and I have another Infiniti in the driveway.
So, at least in my case, good car buying experiences can be had. The key is doing your homework first. Know what you want, know what it sells for, know your financial status and check out everything you can before hand. The big one is to be prepared to simply walk away. If you have a bad feeling or don't like the way the negotiations are going then there are more dealerships out there who are more than willing to take your business.
It's all on you as dealerships cannot take advantage of those who do not let them.
Article By: Matthew Moody