I’ve talked about cars in the past, but it’s worth re-mentioning, since it’s on my mind. Our first new car, is now a classic, a 1969 Chevelle. I was pretty tight with my money, more so than today. It was a plain-jane car, no A/C, manual everything! just AM/FM radio and a 3-speed floor shifter. It was the first in a long line of Mr and Mrs. cars. It was my first experience of on-the-lot cars purchases. It was the beginning of the “big-box-auto-store” concept.
I can remember my first remembrance of a new car purchase by my father. A 1955 Buick Special, red and white. In those days the Dealership had four or five display cars, you looked at an order book, chose colors, accessories then waited 6-8 weeks for delivery.
Our 1983 Oldsmobile was the last new car that we ordered. New car, sure there were a number of cars on the lot, but none in our desired color. Once we chose our desired exterior color, we had only two more decisions; 1 which color pin stripe did we want, silver or gold, 2. and since interior accessories were now grouped, and we wanted only one item which came in package 23A, we go 15 other items, making the package price another $700!
Oh, and then there’s the dealing on the price! In days gone by, you could sit and haggle, beat your fist, raise your voice and wind up getting discounts of 10-15%. The manufactures have changed the game today. Saturn was good leader in game changing sales. They didn’t haggle, the car was not over-priced. It was like going to Walmart to buy jeans, the price advertised is what you paid. Today the available discount is much smaller, the dealer doesn’t lose anything, because the manufacturer retains a “hold back” percentage for the dealer’s profit.
We don’t buy a new car often. I marvel at people that either know someone or “stumble” into a deal. Somehow they find the exact vehicle they’ve been wanting, only 6 months old having less than a million miles for half price. How do they do that???? We tend to make our primary vehicle a new purchase and keep it for 10 years.
We purchased a new (end of season) Honda van in 2006. I liked that van, plenty of room AND storage and large enough to haul stuff! But “one” of us had been contemplating a change. While I had hoped to look at another van, it seems that was not to be our direction. Apparently, it was time to consider SUV’s. “We” had predetermined our focus, a Ford Explorer. Unlike my usual big box store shopping techniques, which include want, decided, walk-in, buy, walk-out, this required 6 months of research, wheel base, width, towing, colors, crash tests, blog sites for complaints, car magazines test drives and on and on. Here, in our home state, auto dealers are NOT open on Sunday’s. So one Sunday we decided to visit 5 dealership and do the walk around. We gravitated to two finalists. The Explorer and the Durango. Durango!!!! I hate Durango’s! Why??? We owned a 1999 Durango, the worst made car I’ve ever owned. Three thousand miles after the warranty, we couldn’t pass up a dealer service center, and every dealership service visit was another $500+. Even after Chrysler determined to recall and “take care of things” they only covered the year after ours and beyond! Now its time to research pricing, and multiple different dealers for available discounts. We paid for that Durango TWICE!
Ok, to cut the story short, we wanted to wait for the Christmas-time sales, “we” settled on the Durango (I must confess, we were a mixed marriage; she was from a Chrysler leaning family, I came from a a GM leaning family!) We did the TrueCar web site and let the dealerships come to us (a first for me). The local dealership had the match we were looking for (which we already knew). The salesman wanted to talk Invoice Price (HA!) I opened my folder of printouts from 7 different dealerships and my spreadsheet of their discounted prices. Their price was close, but I wanted $400 more, so I said $500. He accepted that without even needing to check with his manager, dang, dang, dang (I didn’t ask for enough!!!) Now once we settled on the price, then there’s the tax, documentation, etc. ok.
Then we went over to the finance guy! Here’s where the pile it on happens. After learning about the 36 and 60 month warranties, you learn what is NOT covered. For a mere $3000+ you can insure 5000 items more, including the digital computerized instrument panel, which isn’t already covered!!!!! Here’s where we squirm, do you pay $3000 for something that isn’t going to break or not buy it and it breaks tomorrow!!!!
Manufacturers freely insure what usually doesn’t break and sell the buyer invisible coverage on something that might break……. This car already costs 15 times more than my 1969 Chevelle! Yep, they want to sell you a new car, pile it on, sales price, dealer fees, documentation fees, sales tax, tire hazard coverage, exterior paint coverage, rust coverage from outside in, computer coverage, instrument coverage, we just wanted a car…………………………..