Sunday, February 13, 2011

When buying a car

We recently had to replace our old car. I had been secretly on the look out for a replacement car. However, with the deadline to re-register our old car coming up, and the need to fix a few things to pass the smog check, we decided to buy immediately.

The selection process
I made a check list with features we wanted in a car. My wife and I both check of whether it was important, nice to have or a don't car.

Looking around us every day, we had settled on three or four candidate models: VW Jetta Wagon TDI, Subaru Forester, Toyota Rav4 and the Honda CRV. All were good brands. It was time to check them out closer and we spent two Sundays on the Auto-row. We test drove the Subaru and the Honda CRV and with some internet resource, we paired it down to the Subaru Forester.

Now finding the model, color and price we wanted. This is always the part most dreaded when buying a car. And we wanted to trade-in our old car. Upon a great tip from a friend, we tried and got some initial internet pricing. Sending emails back and forth between dealerships within a 50 mile radius, the price kept on dropping, from about $26500 to $22400 for the same model and options. You might have to be flexible on the color. At the end I never had to have the one on one conversation with the car salesman in his office, going back and forth with 'his manager' on the price. We did have a great price in hand when we drove up to the dealer, about 50 miles from here.

The trade-in was simple. The trade-in was negotiated at the dealership. First of all, I made it clear that the deal was {trade-in,new car}, and not new car alone. I was willing to leave if I didn't get a good price on the old car. We had a price in mind and when their offer was about dead on, we felt we might be able to get something more. We negotiated about a few options on the new car and kept the trade-in price fixed. For example, a new back bumper protector is $80. However the cost for the dealer is much less, so it was easy for them to throw in such items.

Lastly, although it is said, that financing the car is beneficial to the dealership and you might be able to get a cheaper price (as some of it is recovered by the dealer in loan-recruitment-fees), it didn't appear to have a difference or our final price. Having cash on hand helps in my opinion.

Thus, negotiating over the internet and willing to drive a few miles has made buying a car fun and without too much hassle.

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