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Hoo boy.
A couple weeks ago, the transmission went out on our old, but recently purchased Bonneville. We've always just bought older vehicles either with cash or interest free payments, but DH is sick of constantly working on them, occasionally not having transportation when we desperately need it, and then having them die within a year. So, he's fed up and has asked me to look online for a new car with good mileage, and see what would be best for us.

Thus, I have been calling dealerships and talking with salespeople *shudder*. I don't know, somehow I'm a bit hedgy about buying something so expensive and long-term from "Cowboy Dale" (I kid you not!).

Sigh... back to the phone I go...
 

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Big Front Porch advocate
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Have you done your homework about cars, via internet? See what is listed in your town so you don't have to talk to salesmen right off? Check the gas mileage, find the usual price, etc?

Angie
 

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In one of my financial books it says buying brand new cars are the worst "investment" anyone can make. As soon as you drive it off the lot, it has lost like 20% of it's value.

They did give a tip though to buy a car (new or used). Figure out what kind of car you want. Once you know what kind you want, fax a letter off of all of your local car dealers saying you are looking for _______ car with _____ mileage and will buy from the dealer with the lowest price. Once you get your responses back, you then pick the best price car and fax all the dealers within a 200 mile location saying you have received a quote for _____car with _____ mileage. If anyone can beat the price, have them fax back the information to you. Once you have received your responses back, pick the car you want, call the dealership and tell them you are coming down to look at it. Then go there, and if it's what you want, buy it.

Notice that you are FAXING what you want - not going to the dealers in person. The best thing you can do is stay off of the dealer lot until you have found the car you are looking for.

Of course, in order for this to work, you have to be comparing apples to apples. Color really doesn't matter, but you want the same model of car, same year, with mileage that closesly matches. You also need to make sure you specify what "extras" you want - air conditioning, etc.

Good luck!
 

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Know what you mean. We haven't had a car note in 6 years, and the transmission was going out in my 98 Windstar. DH is SOOOO anti-new car, but he found me a great deal on a brand new Explorer (XLT, 3rd row seating, pretty much everything except leather, navigation, and sunroof. sticker was 34K, we got it for 26K and payments are $390/mo. we didn't pay for ext. warr, but did pay for gap ins). Some tips from DH:

KNOW what you want. Look online, in the paper, etc. Go to the dealership late at night and check sticker prices/options. Set limits as far as monthly payment, financing options, car options (upgrades, color, motor, etc) and STICK to it. Cars aren't selling great right now, so you have a lot of flexiblity! When you go into that dealership, KNOW what you are talking about....ex: I want an Explorer XLT, third row seat, I want a V6 to save on gas, don't need 4 wheel drive either, show me your base model w/ rear air. Also, I prefer the charcoal color if it is available.....and I don't plan on spending more than _____ a month. Can you help me?

If you are against brand new, but want "new", a good alternative to a brand new car is a "program" car. Last year's model w/ low mileage.

BUT....if you are financing, it's probably just as well to get a brand new car. Most places are offering a 0% interest rate on new cars...can't beat that. Sometimes they offer 0% or so many thousand rebate....once you get down to dealing, have the salesmen run ALL the FINAL numbers for the 0% and also the rebate. Sometimes 0% looks better, but you actually save money in the end w/ the rebate.

Also, if you are trading, know what it is worth...this will help a salesman to get you to your bottom line.

ALWAYS, ask for the bottom line. DO most of this over the phone. You will get quicker more personal service than online, but don't have to deal w/ pressure. Don't give them your #, if they have something you are interested in, tell them you'll come by after you have shopped around.

Go to reputable dealerships...if you are buying new, you usually get deals/coupons on maintenance as well. Also, they often have their own finance companies and you will get a better rate as long as your credit is good.

PLAY the dealers....we were about to sign a deal that DH wasn't completely thrilled w/, so he walked outside and called another dealership, gave the guy the car info and bottom line, asked if he could beat it. The guy beat it by $15/month, so DH went back in and asked the first salesmen if he could do that, he said no, and we walked out, took a 30 minute drive to get a nicer car for less money.

Oh, and check and see if you qualify for any discounts: Ford has A plan, X plan, etc. DH's company supplies fiberglass to Ford, so all the employs get Xplan discount...I think it saved us a couple thousand.

Good luck! Rachael

BTW....I hate the note, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new car!
 

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Here is an excerpt from "You Have More Than You Think" by David & Tom Gardner:

Test drive the car - don't be test driven.
Start by narrowing down your list of desirables to five cars & then pick a day early in the month to drive each. Schedule these appointments by phone in advance & make it very clear to the salesmen that you're interested only in taking their cars for a spin. During your test drives, don't talk about anything but the weather & how the car handles.
Do not, under any circemstances, discuss how soon you want a car or how you plan to finance it, or anything about your financial situation at all.
After the test, obtain from the salesmen all the information you can on the cars that you like. Take brochures, fliers, posters, pictures, price sheets and head home. Again, don't talk about actual buying inclinations nor about how much money you have to spend. And don't give them your phone number, home, or e-mail address - YOU will contact them.

Build your dream vehicle at home.
At home, begin building yoiur dream automobile out of the packets of information you collected.
As you build your dreamcar, patch together the make, the color, and all the accessories from the brochures. Itemize them on a list on a single sheet of paper.

Wait till the last week of the month.
As impatient as you may be to buy the car, there's one guy who's even more impatient. Most dealers are on a month-to-month quota system. For this reason, you should always wait until the last week of the month to begin negotiating for a car. Why? As the end of the month nears, they begin to sweat their own sales performance. This induces a reaction in them that causes each of the cars sitting as inventory on their lot to appear four times it's actual size.
This reaction is due in part to the need that dealers have to make space on their lot for incoming shipments. The arriving cars with their new gizmos are much easier to move than those that've been sitting unsold for weeks. If you start negotiating early in the month, you'll be doing so smack in the middle of a seller's market. Be contrary and wait until the last week of the month to bid.

Fax your bids to dealers within a 2 hour radius.
Never, ever, EVER venture down to a dealership planning to negotiate. Down at the dealership, the salesmen root one another on - that's an enormous disadvantage for you.
Toward the end of the month, having typed up that one page description of your car, it's time to create your cover letter. It should read something like this:

Dear ________
I'm looking to buy a new car this week. On the second sheet, I've listed the made, color, and various features of the car that I want.
Over the next 3 days, I'll be taking bids from any local dealer interested in my business. After selecting the most attractive bid, I will formally secure financing for purchase within the week.
If you bid, I ask that you include ALL costs, itemized by option, ALL dealer preparation fees, and ALL tax liabilities. Please fax your bid to (XXX) XXX-XXXX. I look forward to doing business with you.

Get the fax numbers of all dealerships within a 120 mile range that sell your car. Fax your 2 page sheet proposal to them, with ONLY your return fax number on it (you don't want them calling you).

Set aside the two lowest bids and fax again.
Over the next 72 hours, you should expect to receive fax-backs from every dealership you contacted. Some of them will respond by refusing to deal without you on the showroom floor. Others will jump right in. Among the bidders, you can expect to see a wide range of offers. If you're looking at cars in the $15,000-$20,000 range, don't be alarmed to see deviations by as much as $2000 - $3000. The pricing in barter markets is naturally badly inefficient, since personality & emotion enter the fray. By removing those elements, by refusing to bargain in the showroom, you are now getting a taste of just how diffuse the pricing is.
Yoiu should now set aside the 2 most attractive bids & go back to the fax lines. What you will need to do now is obtain the fax numbers of all thecar dealerships 120 miles further out than your first range. In other words, your new range is from 120-240 miles away. Send them the same cover letter, except for one key alteration. Post the lowest bid you've received on the car in your cover letter. If you got the Acura Integra of your choice down to $14,800 in your first fax-a-thon, put that right in the middle of your fax for the second round. Follow it along with the query "Can you beat that price?"
Over half the time, you'll already have the lowest bid in your living room, but sometimes you'll get a better bid from the newcomers saving up to $500-$1000on your purchase.

Now set aside the top two bids and negotiate.
Ok, so you have a folder full of faxed offers. take all of the bids but the top 2, fill out a short, one-sheet thank-yoiu, and fax that to the losers. (This is optional, but it's a nice thing to do and should formally end their sales pitches.
Call the second place dealership up and propose a firm offer $250 LOWER than the best bid. If your best existing bid on the Integra is $14,400, call the other guy and counter with $14,150. You're making a firm commitment to stick to it if they accept. If you don't get a nibble, just take the lead bid.

Read up and visit www.fool.com/car. At the site, you will find hundreds of tips and experiences posted by other car buyers, sharing opinions on what to look out for in the final hour of negotiating (beware the dreaded extended warranty), which options are worthwhile, which aren't, and so forth.
Spending an hour of your time at this site will practically ensure that you aren not surprised by anything that happens at the dealership. It should also give you some crucial insights into the financing process, tailored to your own specific situation.

Stay on your guard, as you trot out for the signing.
After shoring up any final research & solidifying your financing, you're ready to head down to the dealership. Looking back through the steps, you'll note that you show up on the lot only to test-drive a car and to sign the closing papers. If you were persuaded to visit the showroom at any points in between, you have weakened your position.
Believe it or not, when you arrive, the salesmen will be happy to see you, even if you knocked good money off what they might normally get. They like clean, simple, & signed deals. This was an easy contract for them.
But even here, you need to be on guard. You haven't signed anything yet, the deal hasn't been finalized, and here you are in the enemy dugout, exchanging pleasantries! Be careful.

Good luck.
 

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.................I was looking at new Suzukis a while back and they were using a common method to sell their vehicle.....so they tell me we'll discount our XYV-3 model by $3,000 from 13k down to 10k ! So , I said fine , I'll finance at MY bank , Nope , you have too finance thru Suzuki financial or NO discount . Well , what they they were doing is charging a high interest rate which I would be stuck with and then Suz financial REbates a big check back too the dship . Nope , I won't play that game ! I'll just Keep my Paid for 99 pickup , thank you very much . , fordy
 

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if the car has a solid body, and is well maintained, they shoudnt "break".

and you have to look for god used cars, and dealers do not have them.

i just bought kathy a new festiva (she is in love with he old one). I say new because after looking for a while I found a good one. the car is spotless. one owner, with every oil change slip (4 times a yr, every yr since 1991) and every repair slip in a folder. engine runs like a new one, and considering the level of mainteneace the owner gave it, 140K is nothing to fret over.
the engine has near perfect compression on all 4. it has no leaks. NO leaks, for a festiva thats unreal.
$500.

this car will run for at least 10 more yrs with no major problems. I guarantee it.
the one she already has, we got for $300, it was rough, and needed about $600 in parts.
its still going, at 45 mpg every day, 100 miles average every day 7 days a week.

why buy a new one then... well it has age issues. it needs a new exaust system, the shift linkage is worn out and it has one headlight. and its oil pan has sprung a leak.

$500 would make it ready for another 50 or 75K run, but I found this other one for 500 that needs NOTHING.
When it does, there is the first one to use for good parts.... it has lots of new parts in it.

my truck is an 88, a 500 buck truck. it was also well cared for and itll last me another 20 yrs easy..... I have a twin under a tarp for parts or, for a quick rebuild.

500 for one 300 for the other, and 400 in parts to make the runner "right".

you can buy a new car and youll be ok for 5... 8 yrs of you care for it. maybe, much longer.
but very few people care for their cars&trucks right, and wonder why they fall apart or stop working.

my advice is to look around, and find a really mint used car for 500 to 700 bucks. find one that has a reputation for ease of repair and durability.

then maintain it..... and it wont wear out and break down.

when it does, dropoing 500 on parts is beter than buying soomeone elses car of unknown past care.
you know you got a nice car with a blown auto trans....

replace it and you know what you have.
go buy another car because its trans is "ok" and it might be 1000 miles from going down.

your tired of fixing them whenthey break dowwn... well why is it breaking down?

think about it... some people drive a car for decades and they remain like new (like the festEvil i just found.... 16 yrs old and in perfect shape. and its been everyewhere,the maintance records are from MA, OR, AK, CA, FL, TX and PA.
someone used this car as a long distance commuter.

someone took care of it. they changed the oil, they kept it tuned, lubed..... and clean.

you can do it too.

if the body is good, and the engine is sound.... it can last of you want it to/
 

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I am almost ready to get another car. What I would like to do is get a smaller 4 cyl manual transmission car and then getting a new 3 cyl engine from Japan or China to put in it and have something with a new motor that will give fantastic mpg.
 

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I hate to car shop...I think it's spending the money. I don't buy new...couple yrs old is good. I hate the payments but...I commute and need something dependable. I read once, never make payments over 3 yrs and I have stuck by that. I might get the loan for 4 yrs but pay it off early just so the monthly payment is low. The last one I bought was $6,000 cheaper at the dealer I went to...I researched on line first.
 

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When my DH bought his Saturn ION he purchased it brand new, base model and it was a little under $11k. It was worth it to us to know that we had the warranty that would cover costly repairs if needed for the next 3 years. We paid cash.

You don't have to buy new expensive cars. His Saturn has been great. So was his previous one that we bought used with 250,000 miles on it and that lasted us several years before we traded it in.
 

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Don't know if it's been mentioned but if you can wait 'til around the end of the year, the auto dealers will make a better deal so they don't have to pay taxes on the car.

.
 

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I had never had a new vehicle(only good used ones) until my husband died and before that he had everything written down (to make it all easier for me) and one of the things he insisted on was a new vehicle. right down to the one I should buy. a Honda CRV.I wasn't happy about it but shortly after ,I did just that. I think it was between 40 and 50 thousand. if I had to finance it I wouldn't have wanted the payments but I was very happy with it. no worries. took it in when i was supposed to. then when i remarried. my husband was use to buying a new vehicle every year . so we got another of the same only new. I intend to make this one last a long time . ...Georgia.
 

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If you are looking for 0% financing but don't want to pay the new car price, look up what brand cars are offering 0%, go to or call the dealer and ask if the have any loaner or owner used vehicles for sale ( the ones the employees or dealership owner drives). These vehicles usually have 5,000-10,000 miles on them and have never been registered, so the dealership can offer you 0% financing as if new.

Once you find a dealership with a car you want, look on ebay for the same car with same miles. Print it out and bring it to the dealer. Test drive the car, get the lowest price you can negotiate, make sure you can get 0%, then pull out the ebay sheet and give it to them. If they can match it or get close enough to make you happy then buy it. If not then leave. Make sure they have your number so they can call you with a lower price.

I did this 3 years ago on managed to get a dealer down by $11,000. It was $60,000 new, dealer was asking $54,000, I had an ebay "buy it now" price of $40,000 same color, options and miles. I was able to get the dealer down to $45,000. I was happy with the 0% and the fact I didn't have to get the ebay truck from Texas.

The key with dealing with dealers is PATIENCE, they are anxious to sell cars and they know most buyers are emotional and play off that. Walk away and better yet, get three dealers to fight over you if you can. The key is you have to act as if you could take it or leave it. Don't rush in to buy, they will make you think if you leave you are passing up the deal of a lifetime. Don't believe them.

It took me 3 weeks of negotiating with the dealer. Two more interest free payments and the truck is mine. I plan on maintaining it for the rest of it's life, so hopefully no more auto payments for me for a long time.
 

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Patience is the key, for sure. Visit the dealership often but don't buy right away. My dad once threatened to spend everyday in the manager's office until he made the deal. We eventually made a super deal on a Toyota truck...jokingly Daddy told the poor, exasperated manager that he also wanted his desk and the art work over it...I think the manager would have even given us all that just to get us to go! :)
 
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