August 31, 2009

Recent doings - plus some tips

I've been car-hunting. Fun fun. I recently came to the decision to look for a SUV or a wagon for a few reasons. Apollo really does need the extra space. Last time we went on a short road trip, he was so grumpy afterward that he snapped at another dog that tried to mount him (domination thing, not sexual). He normally just runs away. And because I'd like the extra space for the next few times I move. And because my poor civic coupe has a hard time on dirt roads that I often have to take to get to hiking trails. Blah blah. To sum it up...time for an used SUV.

My experience so far has been pretty interesting and I want to share my experience with ya'all. The first was a couple weeks ago: a dealer had an '07 Jeep Liberty with 35k miles that had hail damage. Sticker price after taxes - just under 18k. After some negotiations, they offered it to me for 10k - tax included. At the time I wanted to look around some more, but now I wish I had taken it!

The key to getting a good deal is getting a sales guy to say this magic phrase, "We'll work with you/your budget."

Saturday, I went to a few more dealers before I found one that said the magic phrase. My first choice was a Honda Element they had on the lot, but I very quickly found out they wouldn't negotiate below 12k (priced at 14k). They did their damnedest to get me to buy an old Durango - '98, 80k miles. The sticker price was 14k. Laughable. I made them kelly-blue-book it and we discovered that the sticker should've been 7k at most. They finally offered it to me for about $6200. But when I asked for more time to think about it, the guy got a little snippy with me. So at that point, I demanded my keys back (I had given it to them for appraisal) and walked out.

Arm-twisting and pressuring is a common sales tactic. I despise it and won't tolerate it. The key, I think, is to be very patient at beginning of the negotiations and keep insisting that, no, you can't afford that. Dealers and car salesmen usually have a bottom line in mind when they negotiate. Sometimes there's not as much room - usually if the car is a popular one like Subaru Forrester or Honda Element, for example.

With the cars that aren't as highly demanded, they will usually come down little by little. Be prepared to walk, especially if they get overly aggressive. Avoid signing anything, especially a piece of paper that says you'll buy the car if you and the "boss" agree to X terms, in case you decide you want to negotiate some more or to walk. It can be considered legally-binding in court, no matter how informal the paper looks.

It was a smart move for me to walk - after I got home and logged online, I found an '05 Durango for 7k at a nearby dealer! (No I didn't buy it.) If a sales person says their offer is off once you leave the premises...leave anyway. You are likely to find a similar car for similar price somewhere. You can ask if the offer will still be good the next day, they sometimes will "reluctantly" agree. Go home after negotiations, do your research. And after you're armed with information, either go look elsewhere or come back to the table.

Remember, it is YOUR money, you have the right to be happy with the car that you buy. If you want to shop around, it's your right to do so. Don't let car salesmen intimidate you into buying it right that minute.

Right now, I have my eye on a few '03/'04/'05 Jeep and Ford SUVs. They're not fabulous cars, the gas mileage sucks, but for a couple years (at least), it will work for Apollo and me.
Oh, and - yesterday, I shot a rifle for first time ever. And hit a tin can on second shot! It flew into the air! I can see why so many people enjoy it.

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