My Experience at the Car Dealership

GETMETOCA

Can't Wait For Tuesdays
Mar 17, 2002
4,768
0
I just wanted to share my experience at the car lot yesterday. I have to say that if you do your research and know what you want, it can be a very pleasant experience.

I was in dire need of a new vehicle. I own(ed) a 1995 GMC Yukon 4X4 and it had been nickel and dimeing me for the past year. Alternator, battery, belts, A/C, another alternator, manifold gasket, fuel filter, another fuel filter, and on and on. A week and a half ago it started showing low oil pressure, like 20 psi. Normally, it runs pressure of about 40-55. At stop signs it would go down to "0". Mechanic says it is either bearings going out or the oil valves were not holding the oil pressure.

He suggests it could be either one, both are costly to repair, and that I should consider replacing the whole motor. I was looking at a lot of $$ for an older vehicle with 145K miles. Plus, my peace of mind was shot every time I got on the road. I dreaded stop signs knowing my oil pressure would drop. Driving through Starbucks was out due to waiting and idling in line, etc. I could not drive over to the Bay Area at traffic-heavy times due to stop and go traffic. I envisioned burning up the engine, flames leaping on the side of the road. :(

Time for a new rig. I was excited about driving something new, but also apprehensive about dealing with auto dealerships, haggling over price and the logistics of actually driving to a dealership that had the best deals. I decided to rent a car for the day at the local Modesto airport because I was worried about driving all the way over to San Jose or up to Sacramento to see vehicles and have to deal with the oil pressure at stop lights or heavy traffic.

The night before, I researched all the Central Valley and Bay Area Dealerships. GMC/Pontiac was offering 0%financing on new vehicles (Sweet!!) but I was not sure I wanted to buy a brand new vehicle. Plus, I'm not too fond of the 07 Yukon looks. I decide that a vehicle 2-3 years old would meet my needs, although the 0% financing option would be out.

So then I research the whole thing about "Certified Pre-Owned" vehicles on the GM website to look at available inventory, as well as research Kelly Blue Book prices. KBB will provide estimates for vehicles sold by a private party as well as what one could expect to get for a trade in. I'm a huge data/analytical type, so I'm looking at every available vehicle option and pricing parameter to decide within myself what is a fair price to pay for the type of vehicle I want.

I also learned a lot about CARFAX, which is never a sure thing, but its at least a good indication of how many owners the vehicle had, what states they were registered in, if the vehicle had been a rental car, in an accident, or been serviced for warranty issues, etc. Keep in mind, if someone did some home-garage repairs, it would never get reported to CARFAX :|

The next thing I did was research how much I could expect to get for my Yukon. I was convinced it was worth quite a bit, sans the mechanical trouble, because I had just put brand new tires ($850!) on it, it had that fabulous Flowmaster dual pipe exhuast, the billet aluminum grille, and hey, that brand new alternator must be worthy of something. Kelly Blue Book thought otherwise and told me it was worth only $2800 - $3500. I thought I would try for $4000 and work from there. If they wanted my business, perhaps they would consider it.

So off I go in my rental car, a Camry. The first thought in my mind is "I WILL NEVER OWN A LITTLE CAR!" I guess, I am just used to being a little higher off the ground and having a little more cab room. I felt very confined in the Camry, but for $34 a day, it was giving me peace of mind while I drove around looking for my next vehicle, not having to keep an eagle eye on the oil pressure gage and all. I drove through Starbucks for my morning caffiene hit.

I had found two dealerships that had vehicles I was interested in. One was in Manteca and the other was in San Jose. There was also a Chevy Tahoe in Patterson, but it did not have leather seats, regaling it's status to third place on the list.

I've had some seriously unpleasant experiences at car dealerships in the past. When I was 17 and shopping for my first vehicle the car lot salesman had shown me a grandma-style sedan that had been in an accident with scrape marks down the side of the body. I politely declined, not seeing anything in the lot at all that interested me. The salesman got downright IRATE with me and started yelling about why I didn't want the car he had "found" for me. I had another experience like that the next time I went shopping for a vehicle (Car salesman yelling and getting nasty). I don't know why I put up with that crap, because I certainly would not put up with that bull**** now. Hell no.

So I park the car at the dealership and immediately see 4-5 car salesmen huddled in the cool morning air around the entrance of the office. I'm thinking "Vultures!!" as they all smiled and said good morning. I walked into the office to see "Luis" the internet sales manager. I had exchanged a couple of emails with him the day before about a 2005 Yukon Denali that was on the lot.

The first thing Luis says to me after I introduce myself is "Are you here alone?" I guess he was looking for my "husband", but no, it's just me. I'm thinking this is not getting off to a good start but decide to let him show me the vehicle. The Denali looks nice from the outside, but I was surprised that it was a little smaller on the inside that I expected. We go an look at another vehicle on the lot, another Yukon that has a lift kit, a DVD player, Bose stereo and the XL package. It was a nice truck for a twenty year old kid, but I'm soccer Mom age now ;) Plus, it was only "lifted," it wasn't a real 4X4 :debil:

I'm about to hop in my Camry and head to San Jose to look at a couple other Yukons when one of the other salesmen drives a really sharp-looking Tahoe onto the lot. My Mom drives a Tahoe and I like it. Hmmmm. I should check this one out. It appears to have everything on my list: Leather, Multi-disk CD, heated seats, OnStar, rear A/C for my guests, 4X4, Tow package, Power everything, Flex-fuel option. This one has all the bells and whistles, low miles, excellent body and interior. The vehicle is two years old.

"Greg" the other salesmen takes over for Luis. He is very polite and tells me about all the features. We drive the vehicle over to the gas station to put fuel into it. While we are fueling, Greg tells me more about the vehicle. He drives for a while then pulls over so I can give it a whirl. I'm liking the vehicle quite a bit. The oil pressure gauge is on 50 psi. I can see myself driving the Tahoe, peace of mind restored once again.

Back at the dealership, we talk dollars. I already know what amount I was willing to spend. It all came down to finding the right vehicle within that price range or adjusting accordingly if I did not. Greg tells me about the "asking" price on the vehicle, but reassures me that it is just a starting point and that any offers would be considered.

So here was my dilemma. Most of my research had been placed on Yukons and very little on the Tahoe, the other vehicle I would consider. Knowing my analysis-paralysis personality, I would need to have a very good feeling about the vehicle before making any offers. Back in the office, I ask Luis if he would pull up the CARFAX report on this vehicle and he does. It checks out as far as I can tell: One owner, no repairs or anything that raises a red flag. The vehicle was apparently traded in for a newer model.

Now I need to check Kelly Blue Book (Retail and Trade values), as well as the prices offered for the same Tahoe Z71 at other Bay Area Dealerships. I explain my dilemma to Luis and Greg. And by this time, thier manager has joined us as well. The manager tells me that I am welcome to use Luis's personal computer to do my research and Luis steps aside. By now, we're joking about me sitting behind the desk selling cars. So far, everyone has been very accommodating, and I have forgiven Luis (refer to "are you alone" comment).

Sitting in Luis's big leather desk chair, I slice and dice the internet searching for facts and data about this vehicle. I shop and compare "offered" prices at other dealerships and start to formulate in my mind what a "fair" price is to me.

In the meantime, I tell the manager about the Yukon I want to trade in and I tell him I am looking for $4K and rattle off all those fabulous features, but 'fess up to the fact that the vehicle is nickel-and-dimeing me at the moment. He tells me he can offer me $2K. I'm very persistent and eventually get him to commit to $3K, sight unseen, if I am to purchase this Tahoe today.

Eventually, I offer an amount that is $7K less than what the sticker price is. After reviewing my research, the manager decides that he should show me the "facts" about how they come to the price that they need to get for the vehicle. He shows me the list of options that are included in the vehicle and how much they are worth over base price. I note on his list, that the vehicle shows $600 for "Moon Roof" and $150 for "Cassette Player". I point out that the vehicle has neither and chop $750 off his "best offer" even though he has come down from the original sticker price. The manager apologizes and makes note that I am on my game. I do not think the error was intentional and give the benefit of the doubt.

I ask Luis if any of his other customers had ever asked to use his computer to do intent research and he laughed and said that I was his first. ;)

Greg decides to take me back out to the vehicle and we go through the list one by one to make sure the list is accurate. Everyone is still exhibiting a friendly attitude and all parties, including myself, are interested in coming to some agreement on price and closing the deal.

After another hour of discussion and two more back-and-forth offers, we agree on a price that is only $1400 more than my orginal offer.

After this, I meet with the finance manager to discuss my down payment and financing. I decide to buy a 48 month/100,000 mile warranty that will most likely see me through the timeframe that I own this vehicle.

I still need to go return the rental car, empty all my moto gear out of the old Yukon and bring it back to the dealership. I decide I will feel guilty if I do not point out all the issues with the Yukon so I make a list. It includes the replaced driver side quarter panel from an accident I had in 05, the low oil pressure, and the couple of glass chips in the windshield. Oh yeah, the CD player does not work anymore. That's it.

I head back to the dealership with the cleaned out Yukon, a little melancholy to say good-bye to it, but know that it was time for a new rig. Back in the lot, Greg and the Manager look it over and I point out all the "stuff". Neither seem too interested in the low oil pressure, but I have relieved my Catholic-infused need to confess it. I ask them what happens next to the trade-in and he said that a vehicle this old will just go to auction after they clean it up.

It is now 5PM and a total of 6.5 hours since I first stepped foot on the lot. I feel like I got a good, fair deal on the Tahoe and my peace of mind is restored when I drive. Everyone I dealt with at the dealership was friendly and I think respected the fact that I had done my research. You have to expect that a dealership will try to get the most money they can out of a vehicle, so it is up to you to do your research and ask questions and walk into the situation informed.

This morning, I got up early and drove the Tahoe through Starbucks for its first time.
 

GETMETOCA

Can't Wait For Tuesdays
Mar 17, 2002
4,768
0
Thanks! I just pulled up all the detail on the Z71 package and I like the vehicle even more. There are more features that I did not know I had:

Z71 is a premium package specially equipped for off-highway driving and is only available for 4WD models with the Vortec 5300 engine. Z71 includes an off-road suspension with gas shocks and off-road jounce bumpers; heavy-duty locking rear differential; 3.73 rear axle ratio; skid plates for the oil pan, differentials, and transfer case; high-capacity air cleaner; removable front air dam; tubular assist steps; painted front bumper; panted rear step bumper with pad; color-keyed grille and door handles; round fog lamps; roof rack with cross rails; dark gray lower rocker moldings; wheel flares; Trailer Package with heavy-duty hitch platform, seven-lead wiring connector and external transmission oil cooler; and P265/70R17 on/off-road tires on 17-inch cast and machined aluminum wheels. Z71 also includes many of the same comfort and convenience items as the LT: the Driver Information Center; Bose nine-speaker stereo with rear audio controls, dual headphone jacks, and steering-wheel controls, power heated mirrors with turn signals and ground illumination; OnStar; leather seating surfaces; power front bucket seats with heat and memory; adjustable head restraints; and an inboard armrest.
 

XRpredator

AssClown SuperPowers
Damn Yankees
Aug 2, 2000
13,510
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RocketRaccoon said:
congrats on the new ride. Sounds like a nice truck.
Truck? :bang:

Well done Natty m'lady . . . wish I coulda helped, but it seems you had it all well in hand! I'm so proud :)

btw, what year is this fine piece of American Iron? 04 or 05?
 

GETMETOCA

Can't Wait For Tuesdays
Mar 17, 2002
4,768
0
'Tis an '04 m'Lord. I can just see the two of us in a dealership. My tenacity...and your presence.... I coulda saved another grand with you there! :)
 

IndyMX

Crash Test Dummy
~SPONSOR~
Jul 18, 2006
5,548
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Amo, IN
GETMETOCA said:
'Tis an '04 m'Lord. I can just see the two of us in a dealership. My tenacity...and your presence.... I coulda saved another grand with you there! :)


If he could have kept his hands to himself that is... ;)
 

oldguy

Always Broken
Dec 26, 1999
9,419
0
Congrats Natty I envy you going in and enjoying the experience. I have to confess my last 5 vehicles were purchased by my older sister for me. She loves the games at the dealerships and always seems to come up a winner. I give her a list of vehicles, options, colors, my top dollar and turn her loose. She calls me when the papers are ready to be signed. A couple years ago while I was signing the papers there was a girl at the desk next to us that was really getting worked over by a salesman. She wanted that car and he knew it and was giving her a bull*(%@ story about only being able to mark it down $50. My sister walked over and told the girl "you have to use the restroom --right?" Finally the girl got up and walked away with my sister and when they came back Deb started negotiating for her. She bought the car but for $3200 less then what the salesman said was the best possible price. The dealer manager came over and immediately offerred my sister a job as a salesman which she turned down telling him it was way more fun on the buying side- besides if she was loosing she could just leave and find the car at another dealership
 

robwbright

Member
Apr 8, 2005
2,283
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You think the Camry is a little car. . .? Ever rode in an escort? ;)

Having sold cars some time ago, the things I would add to the story:

1: KBB was rarely used by our dealership (and was never used to actually assign a value to a trade in) - except when it showed a price which was to the dealership's advantage. KBB is very inconsistent - $1000 high on one vehicle and $1000 low on another. NADA and the Black book were exclusively used for actual, real world values.

2: At our dealer the typical markup on a used vehicle (more than $10,000 retail) was $4000-5000. But then again, we're in a small town and since I left they moved it up a $1000 or 2.

3: They are ONLY going to give you what the NADA says your car is worth (trade-in). There was almost never a situation where they went above that. They tell you they are, but really they're just cutting into their markup.

4: It's almost always better to sell your vehicle (if you can), rather than trading it in.

That said, it sounds like you got a really good deal, GETMETOCA. If I read it right, they gave you $3000.00 and came down $5500?

Here's a couple links to (IMO) the best way to buy a car. . . It's longish - skip to the 2nd half if you're interested but in a hurry.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north124.html
 

GETMETOCA

Can't Wait For Tuesdays
Mar 17, 2002
4,768
0
oldguy said:
Congrats Natty I envy you going in and enjoying the experience. I have to confess my last 5 vehicles were purchased by my older sister for me. She loves the games at the dealerships and always seems to come up a winner. I give her a list of vehicles, options, colors, my top dollar and turn her loose. She calls me when the papers are ready to be signed. A couple years ago while I was signing the papers there was a girl at the desk next to us that was really getting worked over by a salesman. She wanted that car and he knew it and was giving her a bull*(%@ story about only being able to mark it down $50. My sister walked over and told the girl "you have to use the restroom --right?" Finally the girl got up and walked away with my sister and when they came back Deb started negotiating for her. She bought the car but for $3200 less then what the salesman said was the best possible price. The dealer manager came over and immediately offerred my sister a job as a salesman which she turned down telling him it was way more fun on the buying side- besides if she was loosing she could just leave and find the car at another dealership

Great story Dave! :)

Rob - thanks for the info. I always figured KBB was meant more for the buyer to do estimates of trade-in value or to sell the vehicle privately. The thought of selling the Yukon and having people come over to test drive it, having to deal with the low oil pressure, etc. was not something I wanted to do, in fact it was making me uncomfortable just thinking about it. I was very happy to have the dealership take it off my hands quick and easy like that. Truthfully, with a private party, I probably would have caved in and got less.
 

XRpredator

AssClown SuperPowers
Damn Yankees
Aug 2, 2000
13,510
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GETMETOCA said:
. . . The thought of selling the Yukon and having people come over to test drive it, having to deal with the low oil pressure, etc. was not something I wanted to do, in fact it was making me uncomfortable just thinking about it. I was very happy to have the dealership take it off my hands quick and easy like that. Truthfully, with a private party, I probably would have caved in and got less.
Not having to deal with looky-loos is worth something
 

squeaky

Roosta's Princess
Damn Yankees
LIFETIME SPONSOR
Mar 28, 2003
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Congrats on the new ride Natty!

I'm going to remember this story when I go to buy a new vehicle (hopefully in the next couple of years!).
 

tonibaloney

I'm here
Member
Sep 19, 2006
190
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right on! congrats on the new vehicle! and even better you stuck with GM. what color is it? have you christened it with any stickers yet?
 
C

CaNaDiAn,Eh?

Congrats on the Tahoe, those are nice vehicles. I'm glad you had such a good experience at the dealership, to be honest I have never been in one I have really liked, usually the salesmen drive me insane, makes me laugh when they act like you don't know anything about vehicles when in reality they have been on the job for only 2 days because they just got fired at 7/11 and you probably know more than they do. I will never forget a salesmen telling me that I need to be careful because sometimes I might not realize that what I am looking at isn't actually a 4x4 and if it's not a 4x4 then it will be cheaper and thats probably why I think they are to high on their price....I mean good god how stupid do they think I am?
 
C

CaNaDiAn,Eh?

tonibaloney said:
have you christened it with any stickers yet?

Oh no please don't do that!!!! Maybe on an old beater but not on a nice new vehicle. Sorry but I worked detailing vehicles over the summer :| and I have become very anal about the appearance of vehicles :)
 

Moose

~SPONSOR~
Sep 16, 2006
1,091
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I think stickers look good when placed in the right spots, and the right colours. As do most things.

One thing I HATE are fake flames. The stick-on kind. They don't look real in the slightest way.
 

GETMETOCA

Can't Wait For Tuesdays
Mar 17, 2002
4,768
0
CaNaDiAn said:
Oh no please don't do that!!!! Maybe on an old beater but not on a nice new vehicle. Sorry but I worked detailing vehicles over the summer :| and I have become very anal about the appearance of vehicles :)

I'm gonna have to agree with you on that! Too new to sticker up! :)

I had my District 36 sticker on the Yukon and on the Silverado, I have my Maui Built Wahine sticker, but this one's going to stay clean for a while. I did put my KTM cover on the receiver though :cool:
 

tonibaloney

I'm here
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Sep 19, 2006
190
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nothing crazy regarding the stickers. i thought a strategically placed ktm sticker somewhere, maybe... i hear ya with a new vehicle and taggin it up with cheap stickers (yes, flames). my truck is fairly new, but i thought a dirtbike representation sticker was necessary, especially when everybody and their grandma is driving the same damned truck (almost).
 

tonibaloney

I'm here
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Sep 19, 2006
190
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CaNaDiAn said:
Oh no please don't do that!!!! Maybe on an old beater but not on a nice new vehicle. Sorry but I worked detailing vehicles over the summer :| and I have become very anal about the appearance of vehicles :)

ahhh, how hard is it to get rid of swirl marks then? do i hafta take it to get waxed? they're just awful in the sunlight! :(
 

KelvinKDX

LIFETIME SPONSOR
Aug 25, 2000
1,622
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You could always beef up that Tahoe and put a little orange paint on her:
 

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XRpredator

AssClown SuperPowers
Damn Yankees
Aug 2, 2000
13,510
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GETMETOCA said:
I'm gonna have to agree with you on that! Too new to sticker up! :)
nothin's too new.

I get tagged with the "signs by Fred" stickers no matter what . . . it's a long story
 

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C

CaNaDiAn,Eh?

I can handle a sticker when they are on the rear window....but never never NEVER on the bumper or tailgate or anything like that.
 

tonibaloney

I'm here
Member
Sep 19, 2006
190
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i'd never put a sticker on paint, that's just plain crazy. glass only. well, you can't blame the ford owners for the fmf cover up sticker. i'd be in a hurry to cover that emblem if i HAD to drive one. :fft:
 

KelvinKDX

LIFETIME SPONSOR
Aug 25, 2000
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The school my nephew goes to wanted all students to put their school emblem on their parents vehicle ... Catholics!

My brother said "No @$)*& way!!! I told his wife to get some of that magnetic rubber backing material at the craft store and cut it to shape and stick the sticker to that. Then she could just put the magnet on the back of their Tahoe (actually a Suburban).

When my little brother came home and saw that thing on the back of the Suburban (not knowing it was a magnet) he just about blew a gasket. :)
 
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