This week the Malationman had the “pleasure” of buying a new car. It wasn’t actually a pleasure or a new car, but it is newer than my other cars.
I had to buy a car because two of my three cars were down and we didn’t want to spend the money required to repair them. I was hoping to find a dealership that was willing to take the broken cars as trade-ins.
I found a nice Chevy Tahoe at a near by dealer. The price was a little more than I wanted to spend, but I really liked the car. The room inside the car and the leather interior was great, but my favorite thing was the Bose stereo system. Blondie’s One Way Or Another came on the radio during the test drive, so I had to crank it through the entire song. The salesman and I looked like Wayne and Garth jamming to Bohemian Rhapsody.
We told the salesman what kind of down payment we had, the kind of monthly payment we were looking for, and that we wanted to trade in both clunkers. “We will try our best Malathionman,” hissed the slippery salesman. About 20 minutes later slippery salesman slithered back into the waiting room with the news, “We think we can do this for you.” He got the monthly payment exactly where we wanted except for one thing; the loan was for 72 months! We had no idea they did used car loans that long.
Sherri and I looked at each other in disbelief. Although they pretty much did what we asked; we didn’t want to pay that much for the car. We had to run a few errands, so we told them we would be back in an hour with an answer.
I really wanted that car, but even I knew that was a bad deal. Sherri said I could buy it if I wanted, and I was going to, but I had some conditions. 72 months was too long, I would go no longer than 60, and the monthly payment needed to stay the same. So I figured the price needed to come down. The DVD player didn’t work, that would have to be repaired. The car needed to be detailed; there was still crumbs and trash from the previous owner in it. Lastly, I thought the tires only had a couple of months left in them, so I wanted a new set of tires. Now that I’m writing about it, this car sounds like a piece of shit.
I returned with my demands. I told him these were deal breakers. I would not drive the car off the lot without these things done. If he couldn’t do it, I understood, no hard feelings. He said he would talk to his boss. 5 minutes later slimy sales boy brings in the "closer". We go over my deal and he agrees to all my terms. I’m feeling like Donald Trump, playing hardball, making the big deal. I agree to the deal and tell them I’ll return with the pinks to my trade-ins.
An hour later I return with the pinks and my wife. We are signing papers and I noticed the price of the car remained the same. How did they shave off 12 months and keep the monthly payments the same? They lowered the interest rate. This kind of pissed me off. Why didn’t I get this better rate in the first place? Donald Trump had such a bonner over this car they probably thought they could stick him with a crummy loan too. I’m feeling like I’ve just been screwed when I say, “When will the car be ready for me to pick up?” “You can take it home now,” scumbag cheerfully replied. “Really? You fixed the DVD player? There is a new set of tires on the car?” I’m starting to smell bullshit. “Your detail is almost done. You will have to come back and make an appointment to get that DVD player fixed. What’s this you say about a new set of tires?” "You know about the tires, I told you about them, closer boy agreed.” “Oh. I’ll be right back.”
Slimy, slithering, scumbag, sales boy comes back with his sales manager. Pampas jerk says, (That would be the sales manager, not me.) “Who promised you tires?” “Closer boy.” “ He didn’t have the authority to do that. You know we thought we had an agreement at 72 months, and then you make us go to 60 with all these demands. I think we are being taken advantage of.” I’m getting pissed real fast, but I see my opportunity, “Well we didn’t sign anything at 72. Your guy agreed to my terms. If you can’t do them I’m walking.” “Hey, no need to be that way, we can make a compromise.” ”No we won’t. We are done.” I pull the pinks from his folder and walk away.
We get 3 or 4 follow up calls the next day. They do their best to try and get us back in there, but I won’t budge.
So now I’m really in a really pissy mood for the next 24 hours. It took me that long to cool down. I regroup and think about what mistakes I made while trying to purchase this car. Here are some things I learned.
1. Don’t negotiate monthly payment. Negotiate price of the car and interest rate. Almost all dealerships have a website with a loan calculator. If you know the price of the car and the interest rate, the loan calculator will figure out your monthly payment. If you tell the dealer you want a $400 a month payment, that’s probably what you’ll get, even if you can do better.
2. If the dealership has their used car inventory on-line, check the price on-line with the sticker price on the lot. I bet the on-line price is much lower. The price of the Tahoe I was looking at was $2000 less on-line. This is the price I agreed to pay; the dealer had no problem with that. I would guess there isn’t much room for negotiating on the on-line price.
With those two things in mind I looked for another car at a different dealership. I looked for a car that I liked, with an on-line price that I could live with. I found a 2004 Mountaineer with 30,000 miles for $14,000. I drove down to the dealership and checked out the car in person. The price on the lot was $19,000. I went home to do some homework.
When I got home I went back on-line to the loan calculator. I entered the on-line price, my down payment, my trade-in values, sales tax, the interest rate I could live with, and the number of months I wanted to pay. Voila, here is my monthly payment. Now I’m informed before I go to speak to a salesman.
I go back to the dealership. I test-drive the Mountaineer. I am happy with the ride. So I try my new strategy. I told the guy I wanted the on-line price, which he knew was $5000 less than the sticker. There was nothing wrong with the car. I didn’t have to ask for any repairs. I wanted blaa, blaa, blaa, for my trade-ins. I had blaa, blaa, blaa for a down payment. I wanted the best possible interest rate, and a 48-month loan. If I can live with the interest rate you offer me I will buy the car. They came back with an interest rate 1% higher than I expected, so I told them they needed to do better, they lowered it 1%. I bought the car.
I was home with the car in about than 90 minutes. It was that easy.