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View Full Version : Help! Need car buying advice...


alnorth
04-22-2006, 10:59 AM
OK, so I'm in the market for a car later this year, probably fall or winter, and I figured of all the places in our wide world to gather life-altering financial advice, Chiefsplanet is probably about as credible and trustworthy as any other place.

My situation: I graduated from college last year and have a decent entry-level job in Des Moines, but I'm driving an older car that my parents drove, I basically took over the payments but its not in my name. I've told them to be ready to take the car back later this year, but I hardly know where to start.

The car: I dont need a new car, used is fine. However, if a new car is affordable, fine. I'm probably looking at $15-$20k. I currently have rediculous gas mileage (less than 15 mpg), and would like to improve that, BUT I've learned that driving in Iowa's icy weather is not a lot of fun without 4WD, and its hard to get that with good gas mileage. I have no loyalty to a particular car brand, foreign or domestic, any suggestions on make/model? What should be considered when deciding on whether to get the extended warranty?

Down payment: I've got $200 saved so far in a safe online 4% money market account with ING. I figure I could probably afford to squirrel away 400/month, and maybe more if I absolutely have to untill car buying time. How big of a down payment do you need before you start to get favorable terms with financing? Assume I will have no trade-in value and the only down payment available to me will be whatever cash I can save in the next 5 months.

Terms: Anyone try to get financing through sources other than the dealer? I've noticed all kinds of online banks offering financing, as well as my local bank. What's a good rule of thumb for interest, and length of time for the loan? I'm not one of those people who has a rediculously long term because they care only about the monthly payment, I want the thing to be paid for within 3-5 years if possible.

Finally, I imagine I could do some shopping by going to different dealers and playing them against one another, but other than something simple like that, I dont have a lot of confidence in my negotiating ability. Any tips on how to avoid getting screwed by the salesman?

ferrarispider95
04-22-2006, 11:45 AM
Interest rates are going to depend on when you buy, unless you are getting a special rate through the dealer as an incentive to buy the car.

Credit Unions are a good source to get the best interest rate, they usually can beat banks.

If you are looking to buy in the fall, you can most likely pickup an 06 that they are discounting, because of the 07's will be arriving.

Edmunds.com has good information on finding the car you want, there TMV (true market values) are mostly overpriced. It should be a buyers market because of the gas prices and the soft US auto market.

Also be prepared that foreign cars don't typically offer the same discounts you would find at gm, dodge, or ford.

sd4chiefs
04-22-2006, 11:54 AM
If you want a car that gets 30 MPG and has 150 HP and under 16k then I would maybe get a Mazda 3.

http://autos.yahoo.com/newcars/model/overview.html;_ylt=AhQa.EnV7iNl61sXI3RnI7wEc78F?modelId=4586

Simplex3
04-22-2006, 12:01 PM
As with any negotiation don't lay all your cards on the table when talking with the salesman. Look around, find out what price range you're looking in. Then go find a bank/credit union to finance you. Once you have that worked out, go car shopping for real. Don't let the salesguy know you have your own financing, negotiate for other things and let him think that's where he's going to get it back. Always ask them to throw in the extended warranty, new or used.

The biggest rule in car shopping: be ready to walk away and DO IT. If they're pressuring you into taking a deal it isn't a deal. Deals walk away from the lot without pressure. As long as the sales guy has a way to get ahold of you (phone number, email, whatever) you'll likely hear back in 48 hours or less with a sweetened offer.

sd4chiefs
04-22-2006, 12:05 PM
Or if you want an American car you could go with a Dodge Caliber. It is new so I don't know much about it.

http://autos.yahoo.com/newcars/model/overview.html?modelId=4767

Simplex3
04-22-2006, 12:09 PM
Or if you want an American car you could go with a Dodge Caliber. It is new so I don't know much about it.

http://autos.yahoo.com/newcars/model/overview.html?modelId=4767
I'd be very careful getting a first or second year for a make/model. I generally like them to have sold a few and worked some of the kinks out before I own one.

cdcox
04-22-2006, 12:31 PM
Normally you don't need to have a huge downpayment to get a good car loan. Since you're young and may not have a well established credit history, having $1000 to put down would not be a bad idea.

Arrange your financing before you go to the lot. If the dealer can offer better rates, then fine, go ahead and take it.

Negotiate based on the selling price of the car, not on monthly payments. Having your financing in place will allow you to do that. Use Edmonds or another service to find out exactly what the dealer paid for the car and add a $200 profit. Also don't forget to check for rebates, you may be able to drop your initial offer even lower. I might come up a couple hundered dollars from there, but that's it. Also, refuse to pay for any of the dealer add ons like undercoating, paint sealer etc. Just say "I don't want those and I won't pay for them. If you want to sell me the car without the add ons, I'll take one." They always give me the addons for free.

Watch yourself in the closing deal stages. Even if you have your own financing, they can sneak in fees at this stage that can add hundereds to their profit. Know what each charege is, and whether you agree to pay for it. You probably need to do some research on typical fees in terms of what is legitimate and what is not before you go.

Plenty of people get around fine in Des Moines without 4WD. If you decide you want it, fine, but don't trick yourself into thinking it is a necessity for routine winter commutes.

Simplex3
04-22-2006, 12:41 PM
Plenty of people get around fine in Des Moines without 4WD. If you decide you want it, fine, but don't trick yourself into thinking it is a necessity for routine winter commutes.
The best winter-driver I've ever owned was a front wheel drive Jetta.

andoman
04-22-2006, 12:51 PM
Don't pay over invoice and don't let them tack on advertising fees. Dealers get another couple of percentage points profit from the factory. Its called dealer holdback. They can sell you a car at invoice and still make a profit.

Simplex3
04-22-2006, 12:54 PM
Where's recxjake when you need some unbiased car buying info?

http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/customavatars/avatar6570_6.gif

burt
04-22-2006, 12:59 PM
As with any negotiation don't lay all your cards on the table when talking with the salesman. Look around, find out what price range you're looking in. Then go find a bank/credit union to finance you. Once you have that worked out, go car shopping for real. Don't let the salesguy know you have your own financing, negotiate for other things and let him think that's where he's going to get it back. Always ask them to throw in the extended warranty, new or used.

The biggest rule in car shopping: be ready to walk away and DO IT. If they're pressuring you into taking a deal it isn't a deal. Deals walk away from the lot without pressure. As long as the sales guy has a way to get ahold of you (phone number, email, whatever) you'll likely hear back in 48 hours or less with a sweetened offer.

I have had customers do ALL these. Not bad ideas. I strongly recommend that my customers see what their bank can do for them then see what my Finace department can do for them.

I also urge you to go see Phil Johnson at the Des Moines Toyota store. The RAV4 is bigger than ever, and 4wd.

The Equinox is also a great value. Don't be afraid of salesmen that are genuine. But sleep on ANY decision. Feel free to PM me with any deal you have questions about. I have been in the Car Sales business for 18 years. Now a Sales Manager.

burt
04-22-2006, 01:04 PM
Don't pay over invoice and don't let them tack on advertising fees. Dealers get another couple of percentage points profit from the factory. Its called dealer holdback. They can sell you a car at invoice and still make a profit.

All true. But most dealers won't tap into holdback. Holdback was initially conceptualized to offset the cost of floor planning the inventory. It is not actually a "profit center".

burt
04-22-2006, 01:06 PM
Where's recxjake when you need some unbiased car buying info?

http://www.chiefsplanet.com/BB/customavatars/avatar6570_6.gif

Yep, he's a car buying expert......BECAUSE HIS DAD MAKES CARS! That makes me a Surgeon....because my dad was a butcher......

Phobia
04-22-2006, 01:24 PM
You're probably young - all things considered. You also seem pretty intelligent about financial decisions.

You don't want to buy a $15k car w/ 4WD until you hit 25 year old. Otherwise your car insurance will go through the roof. You'll probably pay $250-300 a month for car insurance alone.

So what you want is a much older car for which you can pay cash and carry liability insurance - kinda like what you have now.

alnorth
04-22-2006, 01:42 PM
You're probably young - all things considered. You also seem pretty intelligent about financial decisions.

You don't want to buy a $15k car w/ 4WD until you hit 25 year old. Otherwise your car insurance will go through the roof. You'll probably pay $250-300 a month for car insurance alone.

So what you want is a much older car for which you can pay cash and carry liability insurance - kinda like what you have now.

Thanks for the advice, from you and the others in the thread. If anyone else has a thought, feel free to share it.

When it comes to insurance, I've got a few things working for me. First, I'm now a little past the 25 year mark. Second, I work as an entry-level pricing Actuary for one of the nation's major P&C companies. So, I'm one of those guys who decides who should pay more or less for home and car insurance every year and I also pretty much know what all our competitors would charge me.

SALEEN 209
04-22-2006, 03:00 PM
Hello new guy here. If you want to buy a car that is everything that you have outlaid, As far as payment MPG 4wd my advice is jeep grand cherokee you can get an 05 for 18,000 low miles and 6 or 8 cyl. Now on the finance end go to anual credit report.com and get your credit report.
You must know how you rate before going into the deal. Also set your limit on payment price and down money before you go in and dont hesitate to say no if you dont get what you want. Car sales is based on sales if they want the deal they will come to your terms. But remember dont go to theirs. Buying a car get the deal you want not the one they want to give you. If you have any other questions let me know.

Dr. Facebook Fever
04-22-2006, 03:08 PM
Buy a Toyota. I work at Planet Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Toyota in Quincy, Illinois. Our number is 217-224-1500. Ask for Brian.

:)

burt
04-22-2006, 03:57 PM
Buy a Toyota. I work at Planet Shottenkirk Chrysler Dodge Toyota in Quincy, Illinois. Our number is 217-224-1500. Ask for Brian.

:)

Shouldn't you be selling something...RIGHT NOW!!! Something about me being a sales Manager made me say that.....

Dr. Facebook Fever
04-22-2006, 04:00 PM
Shouldn't you be selling something...RIGHT NOW!!! Something about me being a sales Manager made me say that.....
Yes.

I would be more enthused if I hadn't spent four hours with some really nice people today who wanted a Sebring Convertable just to find they could get approved because of major credit issues.

:banghead:

burt
04-22-2006, 04:15 PM
Hello new guy here. If you want to buy a car that is everything that you have outlaid, As far as payment MPG 4wd my advice is jeep grand cherokee you can get an 05 for 18,000 low miles and 6 or 8 cyl. Now on the finance end go to anual credit report.com and get your credit report.
You must know how you rate before going into the deal. Also set your limit on payment price and down money before you go in and dont hesitate to say no if you dont get what you want. Car sales is based on sales if they want the deal they will come to your terms. But remember dont go to theirs. Buying a car get the deal you want not the one they want to give you. If you have any other questions let me know.

And what makes you an "expert", new guy?

burt
04-22-2006, 04:17 PM
Yes.

I would be more enthused if I hadn't spent four hours with some really nice people today who wanted a Sebring Convertable just to find they could get approved because of major credit issues.

:banghead:

4 hours woth nice people....AND a step closer to the next sale....now get your ass out ther and get another guest!!!!!!!!

alnorth
04-22-2006, 05:44 PM
Yes.

I would be more enthused if I hadn't spent four hours with some really nice people today who wanted a Sebring Convertable just to find they could get approved because of major credit issues.

:banghead:

I think I'll try to have financing approval from a 3rd party lender on hand before stepping foot in the dealership. I'm not going to go through the hassle of setting up a deal only to then fight another battle for financing. I'll just give them the terms and ask if they can beat it.

Phobia
04-22-2006, 07:32 PM
When you figure out what car you'd like to buy, look me up and I'll refer you to a wholesaler.

I'd also recommend Consumer Reports for your research. At a bare minimum, you should use Edmunds.com.

CrazyHorse
04-22-2006, 07:42 PM
And what makes you an "expert", new guy?

Expert? No, but he's half right.

Isn't he?

My advice is to go find you a program car on a large lot that turns a lot of cars and offer 3500 less than they are asking? They will make about 400 on the car and the salesman will put 100 bucks in his pocket. Not to mention it's a car that they dont mind selling at bottom dollar because there are plenty more where they came from.

That's expert advice.

trndobrd
04-22-2006, 09:52 PM
I would suggest that a good front wheel drive is probably going to be good enough to get you through all but the worst snowstorms. If you have a 4wd, you will not have the option of calling in to work and telling them you can't make it in because of the snow.

I would suggest you take a look at some reputable rebuilders. Last year I bought a 98 Honda Accord EX (V6) 85k about $3000 below bluebook retail. I found the rebuilder much easier to deal with than a typical car dealership (I had walked out on two previous deals...$150 'purchasing fee' my a$$). So far, I've been perfectly happy. I would suggest you do get a carfax or other history so you know it's not from Louisiana.

greg63
04-22-2006, 09:55 PM
Help! Need car; buying advice...

...Don't pee uphill or against the wind. That will be $100,000,000,000.00.

ChiefFripp
04-22-2006, 09:59 PM
Don't buy American.

alnorth
04-22-2006, 10:37 PM
Another wrinkle in this whole ordeal is that I prefer manual transmission and refuse to consider an automatic. I dont care if the tradein value will be lower and options limited, I learned to drive on manual, but I've been stuck with this stupid automatic for a year and I hate it, you dont have nearly as much control.

Anything specific to manual transmission to keep in mind while shopping around?

Phobia
04-22-2006, 10:44 PM
Another wrinkle in this whole ordeal is that I prefer manual transmission and refuse to consider an automatic. I dont care if the tradein value will be lower and options limited, I learned to drive on manual, but I've been stuck with this stupid automatic for a year and I hate it, you dont have nearly as much control.

Anything specific to manual transmission to keep in mind while shopping around?

You're either going to be stuck purchasing a high end sportscar or a stripped down piece of crap. I too prefer a manual transmission.

I actually bought a Ford Contour SHO in the mid 90's that has a manual transmission. I know what everybody thinks of Contours - it's a deserved reputation. This car was an exception. It performed flawlessly (for a Ford).

I also owned a Dodge Daytona turbo back in the day with a manual - and a VW Rabbit.

You might be able to find a foreign product that doesn't devalue manual transmissions. I haven't actively sought one in nearly a decade. Good luck.

burt
04-23-2006, 10:15 AM
Sorry to disagree.....but,

Wholesalers and rebuilders are too risky. They have NO vested interest. They sell you a piece of crap? So what, you have NO recourse. I work for the largest dealership in Kansas, with a parent company that is the 7th largest retailer of vehicles in the U.S. We have to put a used vehicle through a 128 point inspection BEFORE we can even put it on the lot. Wholesalers and rebuilders don't have to do that. They sell vehicles AS IS. That means if you dirve it off the lot, you are on your own. They also have NO WARRANTY WHATSOEVER. Worst case, our vehicles have a 30 day warranty. Most have much longer warranties. A certified Toyota has a 6 year 100,000 mile warranty.

Quick case scenario. You purchase a vehicle for $15,000 from a whole saler. A week later, the tranny drops. Do you have $2000 laying around to put in a new one? You just put down a grand or so to liscense and title it. A used vehicle from a reputable dealer, would have a warranty that would cover you, with maybe a $50 deduct.

As for financing, it should NEVER be a hassle. Check your sources, go to the dealer with knowledge of what your sources will do for you. If the dealer has better terms, go through them. If not, go throught your sources.

Beware of internet lenders. Most dealers WON'T take their drafts. They take up to 8 weeks to clear, the dealer has to jump through all kinds of hoops to make it good...and the whole timeframe, the dealer is at risk of the draft NOT clearing and they now have a vehicle that is 8 weeks older, that may have 1000 or more extra miles accrued. If they can get it back. Dealers are wary of scams, too.

Lastly, if you don't feel comfortable with a salesman....there is probably a reason for it. There are plenty of good sales people out here that will ASSIST you. There are plenty of slimeballs too. I won't hire them.

mlyonsd
04-23-2006, 10:34 AM
I'd seriously be looking for a car that is capable of burning E85 fuel. I'm not sure what is available in the car category right now though.

CrazyHorse
04-23-2006, 10:47 AM
Sorry to disagree.....but,

Wholesalers and rebuilders are too risky. They have NO vested interest. They sell you a piece of crap? So what, you have NO recourse. I work for the largest dealership in Kansas, with a parent company that is the 7th largest retailer of vehicles in the U.S. We have to put a used vehicle through a 128 point inspection BEFORE we can even put it on the lot. Wholesalers and rebuilders don't have to do that. They sell vehicles AS IS. That means if you dirve it off the lot, you are on your own. They also have NO WARRANTY WHATSOEVER. Worst case, our vehicles have a 30 day warranty. Most have much longer warranties. A certified Toyota has a 6 year 100,000 mile warranty.

Quick case scenario. You purchase a vehicle for $15,000 from a whole saler. A week later, the tranny drops. Do you have $2000 laying around to put in a new one? You just put down a grand or so to liscense and title it. A used vehicle from a reputable dealer, would have a warranty that would cover you, with maybe a $50 deduct.

As for financing, it should NEVER be a hassle. Check your sources, go to the dealer with knowledge of what your sources will do for you. If the dealer has better terms, go through them. If not, go throught your sources.

Beware of internet lenders. Most dealers WON'T take their drafts. They take up to 8 weeks to clear, the dealer has to jump through all kinds of hoops to make it good...and the whole timeframe, the dealer is at risk of the draft NOT clearing and they now have a vehicle that is 8 weeks older, that may have 1000 or more extra miles accrued. If they can get it back. Dealers are wary of scams, too.

Lastly, if you don't feel comfortable with a salesman....there is probably a reason for it. There are plenty of good sales people out here that will ASSIST you. There are plenty of slimeballs too. I won't hire them.

The best way to get by a slimeball is to work the deal on price and not on payments. That's where most people get hammered on thier car deal. They'll let the saleman flip them from total cost to payments.

Do not tell them what payment you are trying to stay within'.

Lastly Dale: if you are unwilling to hire a slimeball who will absolutely knock someone head clean off for a hefty commision, then you wont have your job there long. Especially if you are working for one of the bigger retailers.

burt
04-23-2006, 11:43 AM
been doing this for 18 years....been here 3 years...I think my job is fairly safe. We can make a good honest profit. THis practice also increases repeat business. Don't get me wrong...I do make a fair profit margin....but ya don't have to be a slime ball to do so.

burt
04-23-2006, 11:45 AM
The best way to get by a slimeball is to work the deal on price and not on payments. That's where most people get hammered on thier car deal. They'll let the saleman flip them from total cost to payments.

Do not tell them what payment you are trying to stay within'.

Lastly Dale: if you are unwilling to hire a slimeball who will absolutely knock someone head clean off for a hefty commision, then you wont have your job there long. Especially if you are working for one of the bigger retailers.

If you don't discuss payments...you just MAY get your head knowcked off in finance. The best as=dvice is to just be very aware. Through out the entire process.

CrazyHorse
04-23-2006, 12:34 PM
If you don't discuss payments...you just MAY get your head knowcked off in finance. The best as=dvice is to just be very aware. Through out the entire process.

Absolutely. But that's finance. I am talking about dealing one on one with the salesman. In finance you'll get your head knocked off due to the extended warantee, IMO not particularly by the finance company. If you are going to finance your vehicle you have to talk about payments at some time. But not while working your car deal with the salesman.

The main thing with any car deal is that you are happy with your purchase and that the customer feels he got a good deal. Whether they did or not. A person that recieved a good deal but thinks they didn't wont be as happy as a customer who thinks they got a good deal but didn't. The main thing is find something your happy with. No way to do that until you get out there and see what kind of deals you can find.

Another important thing is to find a car you really like. If you settle for a car you dont like up in the 15 to 20 thousand range just simply because you got a good deal on it, then you will likely get tired of that payment long before you have any equity in the car.

So:

1) Find a car that you really want because you like the car. Asking for advice on this board is good. But dont let that make your decision on what car you buy. Everyone has thier own cars they prefer. The dont buy American stuff is bunk. There's no such thing as American. All the electronics are made in China for most cars I think. That's usually what goes wrong with them.

2) Work your deal on total cost, not payments.

Phobia
04-23-2006, 12:51 PM
Sorry to disagree.....but,

Don't apologize for disagreeing, it's nothing to be sorry for.

There are wholesalers who do offer warranties and inspect their products. I think you have to be careful from which wholesaler you buy. The wholesaler I visited with yesterday depends on return visits and referrals so he does have a vested interest in the cars he rolls out of his warehouse.

recxjake
04-23-2006, 02:05 PM
Yep, he's a car buying expert......BECAUSE HIS DAD MAKES CARS! That makes me a Surgeon....because my dad was a butcher......

wrong... he works for GMAC, he finances cars.....

oh by the way GM had a great 1st Q. stock went up 10% on Thursday!

recxjake
04-23-2006, 02:06 PM
I'd seriously be looking for a car that is capable of burning E85 fuel. I'm not sure what is available in the car category right now though.

Chevy Impala

burt
04-23-2006, 03:16 PM
wrong... he works for GMAC, he finances cars.....

oh by the way GM had a great 1st Q. stock went up 10% on Thursday!

I thought you were studying to be a lawyer, not working for GMAC. Sorry. What is your title?

Miles
04-23-2006, 04:13 PM
If you are looking for a manual and don't want to get into high milage cars or something stripped down, you may check these out:

03-05 model Honda Accord V6 w/ 6 speed
02-05 Acura TXS Type S w/ 6 speed
03 Acura 3.2 CL w/ 6 Speed (though this one may be very difficult to find in your market)
02-05 Nissan Altima V6 w/ 5 speed (Not sure what year they started offering a stick)

Here are a few good sites to check out:

http://auto.consumerguide.com/auto/used/
http://www.cars.com
http://www.autotrader.com

Archie F. Swin
04-23-2006, 07:33 PM
If you're mainly a city driver and wont be doing any hauling...I drove an '06 Hyundai Accent for two days and was blown away by the features, looks and performance. you could probably get in a new one for $13k and get nearly 30 miles per gallon in the city.