Advan046
Advan046 UltraDork
8/30/18 4:06 p.m.

I would like to hear from others how they buy cars in terms of how many visits to the dealer before the deal.

  1. Do you buy the car at the first visit to the dealership? Same day transaction with no prior interaction?
  2. Do you visit for a test drive, then have them to prep the car for you before you sign anything? So maybe a two or three visit transaction? How long total time?
  3. Do you do a lot of internet based haggling and agree on a price and car before you physically visit? So lets call it many virtual visits and one physical visit?

Why do I ask?

So in my life I have worked for an automotive company for about 10 years. While in the automotive company I experienced many variations on the new car acquisition process. 

  1. One Week/Three visits. Straight purchase of a 1998 Dodge Neon Coupe ACR that was ordered by mistake by a dealer and sat on their lot for two years. I bought it in early 2000. The price was below my Employee Price so I didn't even need to use that. First visit was to confirm it was actually an ACR and look at the lot rash. Second was to agree on the costs and they started to prep the car. Third was to come back sign the final documents and drive home.
  2. One to Two Months/One Visit. I then acquired several company two year lease cars where my leases are a employee perk so no real price haggling at all. Just order and pick it up. 
  3. Two Month Battle/autocross meet/Four Virtual Visits/One Physical Visit. This was to get my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII RS. They were hard to find in my area and my closest dealer sales manager told me that he wouldn't order or try to sell me one. (no kidding he looked me in the eye and said, "I am not ordering you one even if you paid for the whole thing in cash right now....No.") He didn't even ask my name or anything. Oh well. I called around a bunch of dealers with no luck of stock or they gave a price over msrp. Then Andy of Showcase Mitsubishi was at a local event and I hit him up with a request to get me one. He found what I wanted at the other corner of the country and after several phone calls back and forth he got it over to me and I didn't haggle on price as hell he was the only game in town.

After I left the auto company I only bought a few used cars from private sellers. My wife had a purchase back in 2005 then has had two leased cars. She preferred to walk into a dealer early morning and buy the car she wanted off the lot based on what she researched online. 

So despite acquiring about a dozen cars and trucks, did some minor assistance on the two leases my wife did, I haven't done a "Regular" new car purchase since 2000! 

Please help me. 

jj
jj HalfDork
8/30/18 4:43 p.m.

For me:

1. Find a dealer with an overstock of the make/model I want in the August to December time frame.  They should be wanting to get rid of them before the new model years start showing up. 

2. Get a quote from true car or USAA buyers guide.  Make sure the true car quote is a good bit below MSRP. 

3. Get the stock # of the cars you like off the dealers website.

4. Go to the dealer and enter through the service entrance in order to avoid the sales people that won't give me space.

5. Find a sales person, show them the stock #'s and the truecar quote.

I bought a brand new mustang GT this way for $5k under MSRP, and the whole buying process only took 4 hours.

Edit: also go with pre-approved financing.  The dealers finance person will usually try to beat the rate you brought.

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/30/18 4:57 p.m.

NEVER buy a dealer car on your first visit, unless you had to walk there with a broken leg. And even then, hide the limp. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
8/30/18 5:13 p.m.

The last car I bought from a dealership went like this:

- talk to Mazda to get a feel for what the new model will be like

- put in a wish list for the perfect car without knowing exact spec

- get word that a car has been allocated and that it will be on the first boat

- get word that the car is in the port

- get word that the car is en route to the closest dealer

- arrange for e-plan pricing and get the money wired to the dealer

- arrange for pickup on Monday morning

- realize on Saturday at 8 pm that they're still open and I've got nothing to do

- show up at the dealership, wait just long enough for them to print up some tags. Time spent: probably 45 minutes, and that was waiting for them to do the tags when most people had gone home. About the easiest sale possible for everyone involved.

 

-------------

Okay, not typical. The previous time I bought a vehicle wasn't that far off, really. I knew what I wanted. I stopped in to drive a couple to fine-tune the options, presented the dealer with the excellent fleet pricing we were entitled to (cue the big sigh), took the 0% APR financing and I may have brought it home that night. I don't recall.

Patrick
Patrick MegaDork
8/30/18 6:10 p.m.
Duke said:

NEVER buy a dealer car on your first visit, unless you had to walk there with a broken leg. And even then, hide the limp. 

I go to the dealer with the insanely marked down internet prices, show them their site and say give me this.  I walked in to get my truck and said give me this truck for this price and what commercial incentives can you throw in with it.  I got my truck for 12500 less than msrp and a new set of bosch cordless tools via the commercial incentive program.  I don’t have time to fudge around and go back 5 times and play the walk away over $500 and some clear coat protectant game

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 UltraDork
8/30/18 6:20 p.m.

I decide what I think I want.

I go test drive what I think I want, until I know what I want.

During the test driving phase I'll indulge the sales staff, and entertain pricing, but won't buy.

I call and/or email every dealer within ~300 miles of me that sells what I want.

I let them all bid for my business.

Some will play ball, some will blow me off, but eventually, I'll have it whittled down to 3-5 dealers.

Whoever has the best price, figuring travel, perks, whatever else they might throw in, wins my business.

I've bought my last 3 new cars this way, have gotten very good deals on them, and believe it or not the same dealer has won my business all three times.

Advan046
Advan046 UltraDork
8/30/18 7:09 p.m.
jj said:

For me:

2. Get a quote from true car or USAA buyers guide.  Make sure the true car quote is a good bit below MSRP. 

I have read about this. I tried to get a price on USAA but at some point it asked if I wanted them to send my information to dealers for them to submit prices. As I am a few months off from buying, I didn't do that step. 

Did you get bombarded with dealer sales calls? 

How do you "make sure" the price is low? 

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
8/30/18 7:18 p.m.

All I can add is it’s a year long process with a lot of time wasted for me.  I’m the giant pro/con yellow pad kind of guy. Analyze and analyze again.  You gotta live with this decision for a long time - decade or more?   

My in-laws were GM retirees and decided they wanted to get a new car and went to the Buick dealer on a Saturday and bought a new LeSabre that day.  Who does that?

Ransom
Ransom PowerDork
8/30/18 7:24 p.m.

Most of the wasted time is after the sale, in the weeks of extra long showers trying to feel clean again.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/31/18 7:06 a.m.

Depends, I've done it multiple ways.

The Speed 3, my ex-wife and I both bought her Mazda 3 and my Speed 3 I think on the third visit. I drove the base 3 for her, then decided to try the Speed 3 since I was unhappy with my 350Z. We agreed to prices on the separate transactions, done.

My 2011 Frontier Pro-4X, went to the dealer, drove one, liked it enough. But told them I didn't want what they had on the lot, so the found a white one with other options I wanted from another dealer and brought it in. Price for trade in and the truck were agreed to before they brought the truck to their dealer.

2013 Mustang GT Track Pack, I test drove a GT at a different dealer because I happened to be out that way. I called the dealer I wanted to work and just said, "I want to work with you guys on special ordering a '13 White Mustang GT (base model) with the Track Pack. Call me back with a price that will not make me bother calling any other dealers and I'll be down 20 minutes later with a check for the deposit."  They called me back with a price that was $3500 off MSRP.

2015 BRZ - I picked it up on the 3rd visit to the dealer. I wanted to drive one so I did, they lowballed me on the trade-in so I told them thanks but no thanks and left. Called me about 6 weeks later and asked if I was still interested, I said, "I am if you guys can sharpen your pencil."

Went back again for to work out the details while the car was on its way from the port to the dealer, went back ~10 days later to actually pick up the car. 

 

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
8/31/18 7:10 a.m.

The best dealer experience was when I bought my used '13 135i. 

 We worked out the price on the car, trade-in for the BRZ, got the loan setup and everything over the phone and through email. I drove from OKC to Indianapolis to Falcone Subaru. 

During the deal I explained I would be there when they opened the doors Friday morning on the agreed date and I wanted to sign paperwork and leave since I would be making the same 750 mile drive home I did the day before. 

They had all the paperwork, both keys, etc, ready to go when I got there at 8:55 am. Girlfriend had a cup of coffee while I did the paper work. We were out of the dealership by 9:10 am and back on the road.  

Tyler H
Tyler H UltraDork
8/31/18 8:37 a.m.

Day one:  Call internet sales dept of the local Toyota franchises in my area and tell them exactly the van I wanted and what I wanted to pay for it based on my research.  One payment vehicle.  None of them would budge on the price at all.  None of them participate in Truecar.  

That evening, about 6:45pm, I submitted what I wanted to Truecar for a different area with participating dealers.  Dealership called me within 15min with an offer for $7k off the best price I could otherwise negotiate.  They didn't have the color I wanted -- they said they would order the one I want and have it by in 3 days.  I accepted and they sent me the deal sheet.  Told my helpful sales guy that I wanted to shoot for the record for the fastest new car delivery.

Day of the deal, I was there when they opened.  Looked over the van, went to the finance guy with my check, and was out of there in about 40min start to finish.

Advan046
Advan046 UltraDork
8/31/18 9:32 a.m.

I just have a hard time haggling. I just don't have the heart for it.

Actually it is better to say that I piss people off when I try to haggle. I just don't do it right I guess. devil

So I will try to get lots of internet prices. From dealer websites and try either USAA or NFCU or Interior FCU car buying service for prices. Walk in with the pre-approved loan rate from one of the same credit unions. 

I want to get that awesome 0% through the factory finance arm. But not sure how often that happens. 

MrChaos
MrChaos Dork
8/31/18 9:52 a.m.

I use my credit unions car buying service, which iirc is backed by AAA's car buying service. Or i will use carvana.

84FSP
84FSP SuperDork
8/31/18 10:10 a.m.

Once I know what I want I've been using cars.com. I search nationwide for new cars older than the currwnt year to find the old stuff unsold on the lot.

I them ring the nearest one to me and ask for the Internet Sales Manager.  This is the only guy in the building paid to move volume not margin.  I them haggle with him using the lowest price I found anywhere.  Once we have a deal I come sign papers, give a check, and drive off happily.  

barefootskater
barefootskater HalfDork
8/31/18 10:32 a.m.

Get job at dealership. Negotiate price from desk. Test drive at lunch. Prove income source... Clock out and walk to finance office and sign. 

That is the story of how I got paid to go buy a car. Though in all honesty it took a couple days because nervous to buy a new car.

jj
jj HalfDork
8/31/18 6:45 p.m.
Advan046 said:
jj said:

For me:

2. Get a quote from true car or USAA buyers guide.  Make sure the true car quote is a good bit below MSRP. 

I have read about this. I tried to get a price on USAA but at some point it asked if I wanted them to send my information to dealers for them to submit prices. As I am a few months off from buying, I didn't do that step. 

Did you get bombarded with dealer sales calls? 

How do you "make sure" the price is low? 

It's true that your e-mail and phone number will be sent to the dealer, so you will be spammed a little bit.  I haven't had too much trouble with that though.  What I meant by "make sure" was just to see which makes and models had the highest discounts going at the moment.  I think there was a feature to sort search results by the biggest savings below MSRP.  There are some cars where demand is high enough that you just flat can't get a good deal.  That's also why it helps to find a dealer with many of that car on their lot.

wspohn
wspohn Dork
9/2/18 11:25 a.m.

Although I have only bought maybe 3 new cars in my 80 or so lifetime total, I have a pretty straightforward approach. Go in, test drive, ask for their best deal, and negotiate it right there or walk.  Actually got out the door when negotiating for a new minivan for my wife, and they ran out to renew discussions.  They annoyed me so I balked again when they refused to take Visa for $20K worth, but then agreed (paid it off in cash on our bill next month, and used the 20,000 card points to buy my wife something).

Hate the process as car pimps...er, salesmen, are duplicitous liars. Frustrated the sales manager no end when I asked them to specifically include the things the salesman had told us (several of which were inaccurate or simple lies) in the contract and explained that unless they were specifically included as representations I wouldn't be able to sue them successfully if they turned out to be untrue.  In one instance the salesman, who was sitting there with the manager, said that he had never said what I alleged.  I was quite happy to pull out my cellphone, on which I had recorded all our discussions and prove him an instant liar, to the embarrassment of the manager. They included the things I wanted and I expect that they were happy to see us go....

And that is why I so rarely buy new - aside from the huge depreciation in the first 3 years, you have to deal with jerks

Curtis
Curtis UltimaDork
9/3/18 9:17 a.m.

I rarely buy new, and rarely buy from a dealer, but I'm a very sharp negotiator and I bring cash to the table.  My dealer buys go like this:

02 F150 on a mom and pop used lot listed on CL for $7999.  I knew it wouldn't sell fast at that price, so I waited until it had been on CL for 24 days.  In PA, after 30 days, a dealer is required to title the vehicle to themselves which they hate (costs money, liability, etc).  On the 25th day, they lowered the price to $7500 and changed the title to "this weekend only sale."  I showed up, test drove the truck for a while, went back in and put $4500 on the salesman's desk and he took it.

05 Scion xB on a Toyota used lot in Houston (I was in Austin) for $10,999.  I called a salesman and said "this is Curtis from Delaney Chevy Buick Honda" (which would have been true in 1994) and then proceeded to earn trust with a bunch of lingo I picked up when I actually was a new car salesman 25 years ago.  I told him my wife wanted the car (true) and asked how much he had in it.  He rifled through some papers (or pretended to) and told me $7000.  I said "great, I'll give you $7500" and he agreed.  I faxed him my driver's license and it was a done deal pending a test drive.  I felt like such a gangster that day because the bank didn't have a lot of large bills.  I showed up with a bag full of 50s and 20s.  The poor F&I guy had to use that ink test pen on every one of them.

96 Impala SS brand new at Delaney Chevy Buick Honda.  I had heard they were getting one.  I was on my way to a job interview as a bartender, so I was wearing khakis and a button down shirt.  There was the auto transport unloading the SS.  So I stopped, buzzed over to the driver and said "hey, this one has a real interested buyer who's been pestering me all week, and he's here right now."  So he handed me the papers and the keys.  I drove it around back and walked in the manager's office with the paperwork and keys.  Sticker was $26,700.  I put $500 on it and said, "it's mine, we'll talk price after my interview"  I of course meant my bartending interview.  He thought I was demanding an interview with him.  He said "let's talk price first."  So I blew off my interview at the bar and negotiated $21k.  I played serious hardball because I had done the research and knew what they had in it, all about dealer holdback, etc.  After all the paperwork was signed and I owned the car, the manager said, "that was enough of an interview for me, you're hired."  I started the next day and took delivery of my new 96 Impala SS.

My recent 94 Mazda B4000 purchase kinda played out here last week.  It was on a small used lot.  I drove it and inspected it carefully so I knew within 30 minutes that I wanted the truck, but not at the $4900 he was asking.  I low-balled him pretty hard at $3500 and walked away.  He called me every day with a lower price until he got to one that I liked; $4100.  It was not a bargain, but a slightly higher-than-fair price.  I knew I was dealing with a used lot and therefore overhead; rent, commissions, etc, so I took his price.  If it had been a private sale I never would have paid more than $3700.

Holiday Rambler travel trailer on a used RV lot for $13,900.  Inspected the trailer for 45 minutes, came up with a number in my head of $10k. I negotiated for 2 hours by simply not negotiating.  I just told progressively more boring stories about fish I had caught, medical issues I had, good restaurants I liked.  He would try to bring us back to the trailer by knocking more off the price.  He eventually got to $10k, but I was curious if I could make the stories more boring and get it cheaper, so I got out the pictures of my dog's leg surgery.  He finally got to $8900 and my stories stopped and I signed the paperwork.

For the most part, I am very thorough in my research of what I want and what to look for.  The process of deciding on what vehicle I want all happens at home.  I get very specific with what options I will accept and which ones I won't, so its easy for me to walk away.  I have a number in my mind and I make them sell me, not the other way around.  So most of my dealings fall into three categories:

- one visit and discover I don't like the vehicle or there is something wrong with it, so I walk away and look elsewhere
- one visit and discover it is a vehicle I want, but we can't get to my price so I walk away and make them bring me back
- one visit and I successfully play hardball and get the deal I want and  drive away with it.

Andy Neuman
Andy Neuman Dork
9/3/18 11:42 a.m.

One visit to the dealers to test drive cars to pick what I want.  

Hours of internet haggling while being paid to be at work. Anyone can get a “decent deal” in three hours of internet haggling. Obviously they aren’t giving away cars, but you can find who will work on the lowest margins.  

Time is money and I can’t make enough to ignore the savings of three hours of negotiations. 

Show up at dealer and check out. 

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
9/3/18 12:06 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

The last car I bought from a dealership went like this:

- talk to Mazda to get a feel for what the new model will be like

- put in a wish list for the perfect car without knowing exact spec

- get word that a car has been allocated and that it will be on the first boat

- get word that the car is in the port

- get word that the car is en route to the closest dealer

- arrange for e-plan pricing and get the money wired to the dealer

- arrange for pickup on Monday morning

- realize on Saturday at 8 pm that they're still open and I've got nothing to do

- show up at the dealership, wait just long enough for them to print up some tags. Time spent: probably 45 minutes, and that was waiting for them to do the tags when most people had gone home. About the easiest sale possible for everyone involved.

 

-------------

Okay, not typical. The previous time I bought a vehicle wasn't that far off, really. I knew what I wanted. I stopped in to drive a couple to fine-tune the options, presented the dealer with the excellent fleet pricing we were entitled to (cue the big sigh), took the 0% APR financing and I may have brought it home that night. I don't recall.

This reminds me of when the first Miatas hit the dealerships. We went to look at them and of course they were both marked up and backordered. The salesperson said "yeah there's a 6-month waiting list, do you want to get on the list?" Okay, sure. ONE day later, "Sir, you're Miata is here, when can I expect you." I asked what happened to the 6-month waiting list... a pause on the phone... yeah, that's what I thought, so that didn't happen.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
9/3/18 12:23 p.m.

I swing between extremes. Sometimes I do hours of research and spend hours working dealerships. Other times, when I don't want to deal with them, I'll just go through Costco. I'm sure I'm not getting the best price, but it's not the worst either.

P3PPY
P3PPY New Reader
9/3/18 9:39 p.m.

Since I've had so many cars people ask me about dealerships and it's the same as with asking me for a recommendation for reputable mechanics: "how would *I* know!? I don't deal with those people!"

The one exception was last Christmas visiting my MIL who needed a new van. Her Chrysler blew its head gasket the week before we came. I was excited to buy a car on the trip but oh yeah, i'd better find some sympathy for her loss. Oops.

Anyway I like Craigslist for private party deals (the whole thing of someone wanting to get rid of it vs. a dealership wanting to make money off of it) but I wasn't finding anything so dealership it is. I talked her into looking for a Sienna exclusively and she didn't want to spend more than $20. How it boiled down was I called a little used car place with a higher mileage 2016 who was asking 21, told him we already had financing, asked if he could get us out the door for $20. He seemed to want to make the deal but after doing some paper shuffling and all that said that with taxes fees etc. we could get it for 20,700. That was close enough for us. On the drive out there I called a couple dealerships with comparable vans and no one would make it work so that's what we got. I really appreciated talking to the dealers over the phone after finding a workable deal to compare with. I was able to be very direct but polite and they were able to respond in kind. It took hours off the process of narrowing it down.

And that's all I know about buying from a dealer.

 

Also, LOL about the dog leg surgery

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
9/4/18 9:19 a.m.
Duke said:

NEVER buy a dealer car on your first visit, unless you had to walk there with a broken leg. And even then, hide the limp. 

When I buy something I research it to death. So when I go into the showroom I know what it's worth and what I want to pay. If that happens, then I buy it on the spot.

The exception is my last new purchase.

August 2011 I saw an ad in the newspaper for $10,000 off on all Colorados. I thought for sure there would be a hitch, but I stopped by the dealer on the way home from work, asked, and it was exactly that, $10,000 off all Colorados. Can you get me a 4 cyl. 5 spd truck? Yup, $16k out the door.  Sold, I spent less than a hour in the dealership and picked up my new truck a week later. I should have bought two laugh

gunner
gunner HalfDork
9/4/18 10:16 p.m.

I live to haggle. When I'm buying. I used to sell new and used cars off of a new car dealership lot 15 years ago. I hated the stress of selling but I got good enough at it that I made a living. Now that I no longer sell, I enjoy it. Bought my wifes 16 forester xt from a subaru dealership in July, certified, and when I was done the salesman complained to me that he made a mini. I told him. good, Im glad you did. And I was. then I may or may not have slipped him some extra dollarage. (he was a buddy from my car club after all).  I paid cash, and I swear the finance manager tried so hard to sell us a warranty. I was impressed. I bet he has a 90% closure rate. He had a 0% closure rate with me. BTDT. What I learned all that time ago is that if you think you got a great deal or you think you got screwed, you're probably wrong. I prefer to believe I got a great deal, and I'll do it again. Every time.

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