I’ve kept my car buying process under wraps as I endure the monumental process. Cars have changed exponentially since I last bought one and so have the prices. I’ve covered advanced connected car technology for some time and my head is spinning with information.
Each technology decision usually adds about one or two thousand dollars to the price of the car which I have to weigh with my budget. Then there is the wait and see factor because the technology will get cheaper and cheaper.
What’s the Real Story?
I’m researching little quirks of models in car forums. In the forums, I see the real stories of car models a few years after they were released. I see how the automakers deal with consumer complaints and how they treat their customers.
In one forum, I read the story of guy who was told that a major part of the car had been replaced. However, after he installed an app and OBD-II dongle, he realized that the car’s computer had been reset by the dealer and the part had not been replaced.
I read the story like a soap opera for hours. He spoke with an attorney. Through forum support, he “Googled” the VIN number to find the photos of the car, he bought three months prior to knowing the problem. He was told to contact the corporate office of the automaker. Weeks later, when I returned to the forum, the car dealer knowing of the story in the forum offered to replace the $6,000 part for free. That impressed me about the automotive brand.
Decisions Decisions Decisions
Do I really want the big navigation screen or can I live with a basic Bluetooth system? In one model the navigation system is a proprietary head unit and is not replaceable. The lower model can be replaced with a dual-DIN unit, later. In two years from now, I’ll have a different smartphone and may want to upgrade.
Then there’s all that ADAS stuff. So far, I’m absolutely certain I do want a rearview camera, even if I have to have it installed after I buy the car.
I Have to Deal with Car Dealers
Some car dealers are entirely email focused, they keep sending me emails. Other dealers ignore my emails but answer the phone. Some car dealers are service oriented others are not. So far, I’ve found one car salesman, that I actually like. When I saw his photo, he looked artsy. He even has good sense of humor.
A few years ago, I had a very bad encounter with car dealer for a popular model car. The salesman gave a me price. I had him write it down and then I went to get something to eat. When I came back, he told me I couldn’t have the car I test drove and would have to negotiate with his boss Chuy. Chuy was 6’4″ tall and weighed about three-hundred pounds! Needless to say that didn’t work out. They had to blast the stereo because although Chuy was a lot bigger than me. I was louder.
I discovered that popular well-reviewed cars are higher priced. Other cars that have a low resale value have prices that span $4000 for the same model. When I use car-buying search tools, I can see dealers who price the same year/model just $12.00 lower than their competitor. The car priced $12.00 lower sells first. Los Angeles is a great price to write about cars but is also one of the most expensive places to buy a car.
Knowledge is Power
When I talk to the salesmen, they say things like “You know more than I do about this car.” When they give their spiel, they can’t sway me.
You see, not only I have read every review of the exact model, I read the manual, called the automaker and sniped forums enabling me to make the best decision about a car—–for now.