Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Confessions of a Car Salesman"

By Donald Sensing

In light of the events related here, I am reading up on buying cars.

If you're in the market, too, then read, "Confessions of a Car Salesman" at Edmunds.com. Enlightening!

I have not bought a new car in many years. One of the advantages of buying a used car (apart from letting the original buyer get soaked by depreciation) is that it's much harder for a salesman to "bump" you - get you to agree to high-cost extras. The car is what it is. Its options are already installed. All they can do is try to sell you high-profit items such as a used-car warranty, but these are easy to turn down.

Saw a new car in a display in the local mall last week that had $2,500 of dealer-added cost, things like "anti-theft engraving," "paint protection," fabric protection," junk like that.

Walk away from dealers who do that. They'll tell you that so many of their customers ask for it that they always add it to all their cars. Those things are about 90 percent profit. So walk away.

Otherwise, this is what you are!


Anonymous said...

Rev. Sensing, how correct you are about dealer practices. In your present search for a new car, I recommend the following process.

First, identify several good models that meet your needs and match your expectations. Edmunds is a great site for researching vehicles.

Next, determine a weighting system for the most important characteristics of the vehicle to achieve your satisfaction. If you want to give more weighting to proven design, or domestic manufacture, or roominess or safety, put numbers on it so when comparing models you narrow down the list based upon your requirements.

Finally, eliminate from the list any models you cannot purchase because there are no straight-shooting dealers you can conveniently use. Friends and contacts can steer you away from the worst dealers, your own search will then screen out the rest.

Buying a car is hard work and not fun, but knowing what you want and knowing what is not acceptable in the deal is key to satisfaction.

BTW, GM seems to be making impressive progress in improving their models, and Hondas seem to be well designed and built. But can the dealers hold up their end of the deal?

Donald Sensing said...

Truth be told, I don't actually have to replace the wrecked car at all. I already had a spare 1998 I-30T that I was holding for my son to take to college out of state. But he hasn't claimed it yet (doesn't actually need one at Wake Forest, since he lives on campus) so I almost certainly just drive it until he claims it.