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Participant ○

Advice for car shopping

I buy new cars very infrequently. My current car, a VW Golf, I’ve owned for 7 years. I kept my last vehicle, a Ford Ranger, for 15 years. Thus, when I start shopping for new cars several things happen. I get blown away by sticker shock. I’m overwhelmed by the choices. I’m terrible at negotiating and the salespersons quickly pick up on this.

Lately I’ve been considering trading the Golf for a larger vehicle that also gets good gas mileage. MPG is important to me for environmental as well as economic reasons. I love my Golf, but VW — in the wake of its emissions scandal for diesel engines— seems to have abandoned the high MPG market. The dealer near my house is loaded with SUVs and GTIs, with none of VWs more economical models. VW is no longer importing the Golf Sportwagen, which I had thought might be my next car.

That got me looking at hybrids, which make a lot of sense for people like me who live in the suburbs. Most of my driving is in heavy, stop and go traffic, which is terrible for gas mileage. Hybrids actually get their best mileage in stop and go traffic because they shut off at red lights and rely mostly on their electric engines.

My problem is that hybrids tend to more expensive than comparable gas models. Many of them are ugly as sin, and others don’t have much room for carrying cargo. I lug a bike around very often. That’s why my ears perked up when Toyota introduced its new RAV4 hybrid, which gets 40 MPG average and supposedly costs only slightly more than the gas version. Here’s the rub — my dealer never has more than a few in stock and they are all loaded with expensive options. The base model is nicely equipped for about $28,000 but I can’t find one in my area for less than about $35K. They also won’t apply low-interest loan rates to their hybrid models. I can find them online at dealers located 100-200 miles away, but it seem ridiculous to have to drive 4-6 hours to find a vehicle to buy when I live in a metro area with dozens of dealers.

Anyway, does anyone have suggestions for finding and getting a fair price on a vehicle with limited options? I’m in no hurry and might just benefit by waiting because Ford and Honda are both coming out with hybrid compact SUVs in the coming year, so competition might work in my favor.

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Participant ○○○

Re: Advice for car shopping

"I can find them online at dealers located 100-200 miles away, but it seem ridiculous to have to drive 4-6 hours to find a vehicle to buy when I live in a metro area with dozens of dealers."

Any halfway decent dealer will go GET a car for you from another dealer, and drive it back to you.

If they want the sale, that is. If they don't, go elsewhere, and be sure to tell them why.

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Re: Advice for car shopping


@Bruzer wrote:

Any halfway decent dealer will go GET a car for you from another dealer, and drive it back to you.

If they want the sale, that is. If they don't, go elsewhere, and be sure to tell them why.


I was going to say the same thing. It's true.

I don't know about hybrids. The lithium batteries have a finite life, and if you were looking for 15 years like your truck, I don't believe that's in the cards.

The way to get a good price on a car is to not want it very much.

 

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Contributor ○○○

Re: Advice for car shopping

 

@Dawgie,

I have owned a 2011 VW Golf (2.5L, 5-speed) for 7.5 years.
This car has been very good to me except for an oil leak which was somewhat expensive to fix.

The following article includes detailed car buying strategies.
Hopefully, this information will be useful to you.

Link

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Follower ○○

Re: Advice for car shopping

We used Costco car buying service in 2012 to buy our Prius V & were very happy with the price & experience.  Had choice of options.  No pressure.  Dealer not closest to our home, but still having it serviced at a dealer less than 2 miles away.

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Participant ○○○

Re: Advice for car shopping

I agree with the previous post, use a car buying service if you don't feel confident negotiating the best deal. I don't think you will get the very best deal with a buying service either, probably closer to average price paid, but that's still way better than getting ripped off.

Although I didn't end up buying, I was happy with the offers the buying service from my credit union provided.

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Participant ○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Good idea about a car buying service, and we are members of Costco.

I started car shopping again when interest rates dropped so low, naively thinking that would mean low rates for car loans. I bought my Golf with a 0% loan and was hoping to get a similar deal. I seem to be finding that dealers are offering low interest loans only for makes and models that few people want. My credit score is excellent, so that is not an issue.

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Participant ○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Good article. Thanks

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Contributor ○○○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Previous 2 cars I bought online. You end up dealing with the internet sales manager. No bargaining, just a fair price. The more in demand the car is the harder to get a good price. Edmonds and other sites will tell you the prices cars are selling for in your area.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Advice for car shopping

I had a Civic Hybrid and was disappointed. Its hybrid battery went out and was replaced once during the battery-warranty period, and when it started to act up after the battery-warranty period expired , I got rid of it - it would have cost almost as much to replace the hybrid battery as the car was worth. Dealer said that I wasn't driving enough and a couple of times I let the hybrid battery drain [stuff happens] and that can irreversibly damage the cells. So, no hybrids or EVs for me for a while.

Be careful with online buying. One dealer didn't want to honor the online quote because the manager said we weren't an online shopper although that was the first thing we told the sales guy who handed us to another. Only when I showed the manager the prior emails, he was going to do us a favor by offer an in-between price - higher than the online quote but lower than what he claimed was a good in-store/walk-in price. We told him that we didn't trust him or his people anymore and walked out. We got the car from another dealer.

YBB
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Frequent Contributor

Re: Advice for car shopping

These are the steps to get a good deal, and I hope I’m not going to forget any.  I tried using a vehicle service club or other options and I always came up ahead because I love bargaining and take my time. Since I live in the Atlanta area and only buy Hondas and now only Toyotas I never had a problem of finding what I want.  There are plenty of dealers in the area.

Your situation may be different if you don't want to drive so far so just use Costco.

I started buying Honda in the early 90" but now only Toyotas.  Nobody can beat Toyotas for the reliability and costs of the car and LT maintenance and the drive is pretty good too while in the past it wasn't.  

I only buy Honda LX or Toyota LE because you get all the automatic stuff you need without the luxury you don't need.  They get you on all the luxury stuff that you hardly use and the more luxury the more things might brea

1. Test drive all the models you want to buy and decide what you want.
You've got to know exactly….for example
2020 Toyota RAV Hybrid LE
and what color you want.

2. You need to find this car in
http://www.edmunds.com/ and look at 3 prices.   MSRP (highest), True Market Value, Invoice.
You must never pay more than True Market Value.  Actually you want to pay below invoice.
 A known trick is to purchase at the end of the month.

I also found out the invoice now is what used to be MSRP of years ago.  This means Honda dealers know that we look at Edmunds, so they raised the invoice above the bottom price.

The real price can be $1000-3000 below the invoice.

3. Get pre-approved for finance before going to the dealer.
I always get a better one thru the dealer, but I’m afraid they will trick you.

4. Send an e-mail to at least 5 dealerships in your area
for a specific quote like this
=========================================
“I would like to get a quote for a
2020 Toyota RAV Hybrid LE  Color=White

This quote should include the following
(you must fill in each item)
1)  Car + destination = $$$$
2)  Tag fee + Title fee + Doc fee + any other fee = $$$$
3)  Taxes = $$$$ (I live in XXXX county)
4)  Total price drive out = $$$$$$

What is the VIN* for the above car?
This email was sent to every dealership in town.
I will buy the car at the dealership with the best price.
=========================================
*VIN is vehicle ID #. This will guarantee they have the car on the lot.

5. Now wait for the offers. After you get the best offer,
email it again to the next best dealership WITHOUT SHOWING WHERE IT CAME FROM.

6. You have the best offer now and your financing is ready.

7. Call the dealership and set an appointment at 1 hour before closing.
The main reason for that…they will not play too much before closing.
They are also more tired and want to go home.

8. Walk in and drive the car.

9. You are ready to sign the papers with the finance manager.
WARNING – The finance manager is the most dangerous person in the dealership

10. You walk in and say
“I brought a printed quote with me.
I also have financing available with another institution.
If you try to raise the price by one cent, I will walk away.
I don’t want any other warranties.
I don’t want to hear about finance.
Please do the paper work.”

11. Check what you are signing for very carefully…just read and take your time.

That’s it and good luck.

===========================

The price difference between the Hybrid and "regular" is about $3000.  The way I look at it is how many years it would take me to break even.  The official numbers for gas consumption are Hybrid 40 MPG and regular 30. I would use Hybrid 38 MPG and regular 26(hybrid does better in the city).

If you drive 10K annually then Hybrid needs 263 gallons and regular 385.  Let's assume a gallon costs $3(it's cheaper here)

Yearly gas costs = Hybrid 789  vs 1155 = 366   how long it would take to get even $3000 / $366 over 8 years.

In my case, I drive only 5-7K miles annually and why I never buy a hybrid because it doesn't make sense if it takes over 10 years.

=====================

Just by looking at Edmunds for both car prices I can tell you will get an even better deal on the regular Rav4.  Toyota makes a lot less Hybrid RAV4 which means if you find a regular Rav4 sitting on the lot the price will go down more. If you look below you can see the true market value on regular RAV4 is closer to the invoice which tells you you may get a better price.

Rav4 HybridRAV hybrid.PNG

Rav4

Rav.PNG

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Participant ○○○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Costco is a good (mostly hassle-free) option. I've seen friends/family spend far too much time haggling with competing dealers only to later find out the price from Costco was better than they could negotiate themselves.

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Participant ○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Good advice all. 

FD, I want a hybrid for environmental reasons more than cost savings. However, as long as I keep my cars, I would probably save money on a hybrid or break even. I spent my entire career and education in environmental science and protection. Climate change is real, and I’m doing my small part to help the situation by getting the most fuel efficient vehicle that suits my needs. I don’t need to debate anyone about this because I spent my entire career in air quality and environmental protection and I know the science.

Toyota knows how to do hybrids, and their current models have 10-year, 150,000 mile warranties on the battery components. I might also consider Kia, Honda or Ford, but have the most confidence in Toyota for hybrids. If only they could get new designers because their styling does not appeal to me.

My Golf gets great mileage on the highway (35 mpg) but it sucks in town (24 mpg). Since 90% of my driving is in the city, a hybrid makes a lot of sense to me. You pay no mileage penalty for sitting at red lights or stop and go traffic with a hybrid. BTW, the RAV4 hybrid is all-wheel drive only, so you have to compare it to other AWDs for price comparisons.

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Frequent Contributor

Re: Advice for car shopping

Dawgie...good reasons.  Toyota makes the best hybrid and the nice thing it works without recharging.  

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Explorer ○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Dawgie,

I agree with a lot of the comments on shopping.  If you're patient, then FD's approach is excellent.  If you want to get a reasonable deal without negotiating stress, then a buying service such as Costco is a good choice.

I understand why you want a hybrid and that's also the minimum bar for me.  Toyota's hybrids are certainly very good; I have a brother who has had two RAV4 hybrids and he has been very happy.  I have 2 Ford hybrids right now -- a Lincoln MKZ hybrid and a Fusion Energi PHEV.  They have been very reliable.  The mileage has been good and the transitions between ICE and electric are seamless.

RAV4 hybrids are in high demand and prices on used ones remain high.  The Ford Escape hybrid is new this year, and they are just now trickling into the dealerships.  Because it's new, the incentives are pretty skimpy.  

Both RAV4 and Escape will be adding PHEV models next spring.  The RAV4 Prime will only be available in SE and SXE trims and has an estimated electric range of around 39 miles.  The Escape details haven't been announced yet.  Both of these models are likely to be pretty pricey, although there will be an offset with Federal Tax credits (not sure how much at this point because battery size hasn't been announced yet). 

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Re: Advice for car shopping

Hi.

I found that if you have the cash to purchase the car, the following may apply, it did for me. If I bought the car for cash the vehicle cost $40K. However, if I financed it through Toyota, I could get it for $39K. What was hidden was the 4% note which did not bother me. I would simply pay the full amount due at the first payment. When the sales people heard that, they said I could not do that. I informed them that there was no penalty in my state for paying consumer loans early. The said they would give me another $100 if I carried a balance for four months with Toyota. I found out that the dealer does not get his kickback until then. So, I took the $100 and carried $150 for three months at 4% interest. Also, when at a dealer, the best negotiating tool you have is your feet. Go home, and they will call with a better offer within 24 hours.

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Re: Advice for car shopping

i've owned a prius iv for the past four years and love it.  super reliable but what i like most is not having to go to fill it up with gas as often as i've had to with gas guzzlers.  hate gas stations!  love high gas mileage cars!

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Contributor ○

Re: Advice for car shopping

Dawgie I agree with toyota hybrids and toyota in general when it comes to quality (as measured by lack of repairs) I had a 2007 Prius that lasted 230K before the hybrid battery died. In the time that I owned it I replaced the struts front and rear. Their puny 12V battery even lasted 10 years. None of the mechanicals ever broke. No maintenance other than the wear and tear items (tires, headlight bulbs). The only reason I sold it in 2018 was because I do much of my driving out of cell range and since the car was old with so few things being replaced I didn't want to risk the eventual break down in the boonies. I guess my thinking was similar to the idea of investing more conservatively because we have been in such a long bull market. How much longer could this car last without a problem? 

I bought a golf to replace it. I would have bought a Prius again but I didn't like what they did with the 2018 models, and found the feel of the golf much better in handling and interior finishes. 

How did your golf hold up for you? My mechanic advised against it and told me to stay with toyota or Honda. He told me people love the Golf for the first 70K miles and then not so much because things start going wrong about then. 

The newer golfs have not decreased in MPG. They have a smaller engine and they added an 8th gear which kept acceleration pretty much the same. THey also put skinner tires on them. I am averaging 37MPG in mine. I do mostly HWY driving. I average 41 on the hwy which for me includes a lot of windy roads and hills where I average 30-60 MPG 

I found negotiating a purchase to be pretty easy. When it comes time to talk price I just start walking every 10 min. I came in prepared as FD suggested and still got another $1500 off. I told them otherwise I was going with the Honda hatchback. 

Internet sales are much more of a no hassle experience but I actually like the haggling. The sales people start of like they have the upper hand but in the end they are reduced to hanging onto my pant legs as I am doing the out the door trick. 

I also got another $1000 off by going through their financing. I then paid the loan off the first month. I though paying cash would get me a better price but it's the opposite. THe dealer told me I had to carry the loan for 3 months, but then I called the finance company that actually holds the loan and they said I can pay it off as early as I want. 

Please let me know how your Golf held up and how many miles you had on it. I kind of figure on just replacing my cars every 5 years or so for ease and peace of mind.

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Re: Advice for car shopping

Rich — Don’t forget, Honda also is coming out with a hybrid CRV this year. Hopefully, the increased competition will keep a lid on prices. I still trust Toyota the most for hybrids but prefer Ford and Honda styling and interiors. I’m also hopeful that Honda and Ford will match Toyota’s warranty. 

Another vehicle I’m considering is the Kia Niro, which is really more of a large hatchback. However, it gets 50 mpg with a 10-year warranty. The Honda Accord hybrid is also in the mix but I’m not sure if it will meet my storage needs.

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Re: Advice for car shopping

Archer — My Golf is the 2.5 model, bought in 2012. It’s had zero problems in seven years but I’ve only driven 41,000 miles in it. The service people at my VW dealer tell me that the 2.5 liter is VWs best and most reliable engine, but it can’t compete with most small turbos in gas mileage. One of the mechanics has told me he would be interested in buying my 2.5 Golf when I trade cars again. Ironically, I bought a 10-year warranty for my Golf when I got it because I was uncertain about VW reliability. I’ve only had to make one small warranty claim, which was for some sort of valve that went out.

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