Saturday, August 27, 2011
How To Buy A Car
Know your absolute frickin' limit, budget-wise. I mean, what exact amount is the top you can pay. No ifs ands or buts. And then write it down and put it in your pocket. Then? PRactice saying it. Out loud. Then say, "Nah. Really. I will NOT pay more than that. Thanks!! BYE!"
Next: Leave your purse IN YOUR CAR. Do not bring in a driver's license or anything. Trust me on this.
You can bring a spouse if you want to. It's more fun when you can roll your eyes at somebody.
OK: now you're parking your existing car (don't bring your trade-in. I'll explain in a moment) in the lot. Get out and start walking towards the cars. Count. See how long it takes for someone to approach. Make little side bets with each other. ("Before 10 seconds? I owe you a Coke!") Then, tell the guy (it's usually a guy) what you want. It's best if the "little lady" does the talking. It really throws them. They think you'll be soft. HA!
They'll ask you if monthly payments are more important than the total, and you should be all, "WHAT? It's the total, duhh."
NOTE: there are some lovely little tricks they might try to make you want to buy NOW. Like, they will try to find something in common with you. "Hey! I used to live in your neighborhood!" or "You go to XX University? My son-in-law's COUSIN goes there. Small world!" or even, "You like Mexican food? ME TOO!"
Give yourself a mental $10 each time you catch them doing one of these things.
Another one is the, "Well, there's onllyyyy onnnne in stock.... I hope it'lll beeee herree tomorrrrrowwwww...."
Oh good grief. You know how many forest green Toyota Camrys are out there? Can it, dude.
Now, you've approached the car. He opens it up. Suggests you get in. Go ahead. Then shut the door. Don't listen to him. Take it in, adjust the seat, the mirrors. THEN get out, climb in the BACK SEAT. Buckle in and feel how it fits. THEN open the hood. WHY? Because you want to see if you can figure out where to add oil and coolant and such. Is the hood easy to get up and put down? Open the trunk. (don't get in -- he might call the cops at that point) Reach in and see how far you have to lean over to get to the back, because that's where the can of refried beans is gonna go when it falls out of the grocery bag.
Ask to look at MORE cars. He'll try to upsell you. Remind him (after giving yourself your mental $10) that there's not a Buddhist's chance in the Vatican that you're going to go over your limit. Then smile. Roll your eyes.
Now, let's say you like one. Whoops! You left your driver's license in your car. You and your spouse walk back together to the car to discuss. DO NOT LEAVE HIM with the sales man. You need a chance to be alone. If, at this point, you think that he's kind of a slimy jerk, drive away. It's liberating. If not, grab your purse. BUT, leave every kind of ID and loan paperwork IN THE CAR -- except your driver's license.
Go ahead and test drive the thing. It's fun too. Make the salesguy sit in the back.
Now, we're at the fun part. You're back at the dealership. He's limbering up his "sad puppy" eyes look. You know the one -- "I'm not gonna make ANYTHING on this deal." If anybody says that, you get a Coke! See if you can MAKE them say it. It's fun.
They'll ask you what you want to pay.
Your goal: To make them say the "not gonna make anything." If they don't you haven't beaten them down enough. Know your Blue Book values. (Hello, Smartphones? Yeah. While you were driving, your hubby should have been tappitytapping on his phone.)
Realize that each dealership adds TONS of fees that you'll never ever see written down. Don't feel bad about asking them to chop thousands off. Let's say you're going for a new car, but last year's model. It stickers at $20K. You say, "well, shit. Ain't no way. Blue Book really says that should be about $18. And it's been sitting here for months. Let's say, oh, $16?
They will cringe. They will gasp and rend their hair. They will laugh and be scornful. (Hey that's fun -- you're making them act!!) Roll your eyes.
They counter, well, maybe, with dealer discount, and good-student discount, and maybe "It's Tuesday" discount, we could bring it to $19000. How's that?
Here's where it gets awesome.
Laugh. Smile. Mention that you have a trade-in. Now, for argument, let's define it as a 14-year-old stick shift with a decent engine but with malfunctioning air conditioning and one door that won't open from the outside. But new tires! (Last winter)
They'll say, "Trade in? Oooh. What IS it?"
You say, "It's a 1998 Hyundai Accent, manual transmission. I love it."
He'll start hemming and hawing, and you just cut through and say, "What will you give me for it?"
They'll say, oh, $500 for parts. Here's a fun part. Stand up and say, "Well, maybe your dealership isn't going to be right for me today. Thanks!"
They'll try to stop you, and offer more. Remind them of the paltry one thousand they were offering off the sticker price. Say, "I'm not gonna make ANYTHING off this deal. I have kids to feed!" (it's hilarious to quote them back to themselves).
If/when they agree to any good amount on the trade in (before you go out, be sure to look it up), get them to write it down and add "AS-IS" on it. Better yet, YOU write it down, and have them sign it. That way, when you bring in your trade-in that afternoon, they can't make you feel bad about the no air conditioning etc. Hey, if they're dumb enough to buy it sight-unseen, is that your problem?
Then counter. Say, "Ok. How about bring the price to $18K, and give me $1500 for my trade in. Sound good?" THEN? (this is the best) Hold out your hand for them to shake. This NEVER happens to them.
Certainly they will NOT agree. They'll say that they have to take it to 'their manager' in back for approval. (OH, and if they try to write down a price, be sure to READ IT OUT LOUD with an incredulous tone. Just do it for me, ok?)
THIS IS MY FAVORITE PART.
When your salesguy goes to the back, wait until he's juuust disappeared, then FOLLOW HIM.
You heard me. Take your little handbag and clackclackclack across the tiles. Go right into the manager's office and say that you see no point in this silly charade, and that you'll be happy to just talk right to him.
Their jaws will drop. They'll try to shoo you out. They'll babble. Stand there and let them. Then, repeat, "Really. Boys. Let's just do it or not, ok?"
(THAT IS SO MUCH FUN)
If (or more likely, when) they do not agree to your terms, just smile, hitch your bag over your shoulder, call out to your husband (be sure to stay at the manager's door while you holler), "Honey? It's not gonna happen! Let's go!"
Then start walking. I pretty much guarantee you'll have somebody chasing you.
Now, if they say that they'll take the deal, be glad. If not? More fun!!
Say, "Well, Charles. I am disappointed, but not surprised. What say my hubby and I take the car out for another spin, and maybe we'll go to lunch and think about it. Then I'll call you and see if you like my offer any better after you've thought it over."
See the genius? If you HAVE the car, they can't possibly use the "oh, well, somebody might buyyyy it while youuuure thiiiinking about iiiit. Wouldn't that be saaaaad?" line on you.
If they agree, then hop in with the hubster and go to a nearby restaurant for some nachos and diet coke. After maybe 10 minutes, give them a call. Ask them if you will be able to finish your lunch as a happy future owner, or should you just bring it back and they can not sell a car before 1 p.m.?
You have to be willing -- nay, eager to walk away. You have to WANT them to say all their awful things. The more upset they are, the more worried (check with the manager! He's gonna be so mad!), the better you're doing. You know, if they really, truly weren't going to make anything on the deal, they'd say no? Your job is to make them say no, then TEST IT. If they really let you go and they don't call you later that day, you could go back tomorrow and make a slightly better offer. If you really wanted to. But now YOU know their bottom line, and you never let THEM find yours.
I have bought ALL of our family's cars, and it is like a sick perverted sport. I love to go along with my friends, too, when they shop for cars.
And I LOVE the idea that, at the end of the day, those guys realize they were given as good as they got.