Saturday, March 25, 2006

Breaking the new car fever.

The new car, a Honda Civic coupe.

For the past week and a half or more, I've been distracted by chasing sheet metal with a higher MPG rating than our SUV. Something that might ease our slide into the post-petroleum age of falling supplies and rising prices until social collapse and total anarchy finally arrives.

Okay, maybe that won't happen but whatever happens, wherever we're headed, we'll drive a little further into the future on a little less gas.

I was thinking about how each human totally replaces all the cells in their body with new ones about every 8 years. That's almost as long as we keep a vehicle, so that every time I go to buy a new car, it's like a whole new experience. I have to "wing it". Meanwhile, every car dealership I visit has been trading cars, many many cars, every day for those past 7-8 years.

Somewhere in my cellular 'rebirth' there must be some "goo" in the new molecular me that retains some memories however. Because, while I don't recall the specifics, I remember my last car buying experience as bad, just as the slightly vaguer memory of the time before that was bad also, ad infinitum.

But this time around, I did some very good things by watching keenly the salesmen from the three Honda dealerships. I still got screwed I'm sure. But it didn't feel too bad this time. And next time I trade, I'll do even better. If I just remember this time next time.

(Of course, all the prep by reading up on dealing with the pros, researching trade-in values, and deciding on which car's right based on your criteria is mostly done before you start--that's assumed here.)

Okay, here's a thing or two I did or did not do that I felt worked well. I involved three different Honda dealerships in the process. (I realize that's not always possible.)


On the visit to the third dealership, I stopped by a Toyota/Scion yard, looked at 'em and procured a couple brochures. I added a PT Cruiser brochure from my next stop. Pulling into the Honda dealership past the vultures waiting to pick my bones clean, I carefully arranged these brochures on the passenger seat before getting out of my car.


After the dealer drove/appraised my vehicle and gave me a bid, I noticed upon leaving that along with the brochures from different dealerships I'd left in the front seat, I'd forgotten and left my notes on visits to the other Honda dealers with their trade-in offers and different possible scenarios I might expect from my visit to this dealer.

So was it coincidence their trade-in offer matched exactly one of my worksheet estimates, which coincidentally, was one of my low ones? I think not. This was a dumbest ass thing I did in this process. It negated all the brochures I coulda stacked on the passenger's seat.

I don't know if this is an example of why a hungry man stopping for a meal and shelter should not accept the farmer's post-dinner offer to stay the night in the only place he has to sleep--in his daugther's bed. It could end up getting you shot! Nah, that's probably a bad analogy, huh?


Never, ever do this unless you knowingly have a "KICK ME" sign taped on your ass. My wife delegated the car buying to me. So, they were nice enough to loan me "our" new Honda to drive home and show her.

I don't know if this is an example of why you shouldn't sleep with the aforementioned farmer's daughter but if you do, you're gonna marry her. You can pretty well place your money (and lots of it) on that. (Hmmm, I think the analogy's improving?)


Once you've permitted the dealer time with your trade-in, away from you, and he gives you his estimate, leave! I got appraisals from 2 of the 3 dealerships. The third dealer which was the first we'd visited and whose salesman (our favorite) was a young marine reservist home between tours in Iraq, was off the job for the next week when I called and tried to involve him. He was getting married this weekend. (Perhaps because he'd slept with a farmer's daughter?)

Anyway, once a dealer's appraised your trade-in, there's no way they need you to "come in and talk about it" any further. For me, I can now use the phone and negotiate it from there, in my jammies if I want. And they can't work me over by pulling in their sales manager while you're staring out a lot full of shiny new sheet metal. As I told my wife while I was negotiating with these dealers over the phone, "Next one who calls, maybe I should ask, 'What can I do to get you to put me in one of your cars today?'"

I don't know how many hundreds of dollars more I could have saved ourselves if I'd just stuck to this strategy.

But yesterday morning was nice and I told the wife I'd take her by the Chrysler dealership to see that bright yellow mustard colored Route 66 PT Cruiser that doesn't get the mileage of the little Civic, nor have the *5-star* crash safety ratings of it either. Before that, however, we'd drop by one of the Honda dealers who'd called and said they really worked up a much better deal for us. We didn't make it over the see the PT Cruiser. And we ended an ordeal, hopefully, til the end of Oil Age or I at least replace all my body cells, whichever comes first.

Oh, and by the way, we're tickled like most new car owners, at our new baby. I'm sure it will get even better once we get used to the absence of a hood (engine?) and begin enjoying going farther on less.


Anonymous said...

Good job, well done dada! Great color, too! Certainly no humanoid appraiser would stoop to looking through your private papers from other dealers, would hesheit?!! And your comment on their time-tested "what'll it take to put you in this car" bait, reminded me of TIN MEN (Richard Dreyfuss & Danny DeVito). As an opening bid/gambit, the new car salesman asks Dreyfuss "how much do you WANT to pay for this vehicle?" Dreyfuss (a sharky aluminum siding salesman himself) answers "I WANT to pay NOTHING, that's what I WANT." {D.K.}

enigma4ever said...

Oh, such a pretty new baby...lovely....

( and DK quoted Tin Men too funny)

BTW loved hearing the story of the car....

dada said...

D.K. Yeh, I was feeling smug after the appraisal. NOT that I liked their offer, but that it was higher than the other dealers, I declined to haggle price with 'em, nor did I take 'em up on their offer to take "our" new car home to show the wife.

Imagine how dumb I felt when I got in the SUV and saw my notes lying there with the Toyota brochure. DUH!

Oh well, it's over with thankfully. It'd be nice if that's the last car we ever have to buy. Each one always is. (grin)

dada said...

e4e: Thank you (and DK). Glad you like the sheet metal. Oh, and thanks for a snippet from the movie "Tin Men", DK. I'd always intended to see that movie but never did.

Anyway, e4e, with car shopping out of the way, I was able to enjoy a little basketball myself yesterday.

God, I'm loving the top seeds getting knocked off. Texas gone! YAY! Memphis! Pfffth, hate 'em! UCON, where are they? Is that a Canadian team?

Guess I'll root for the west coast team, but I'm real, real nervous about LSU.

dada said...

Oh so, on occasion when I'd accompany the wife to her Friday noon peace vigil at the Fed'l Courthouse, I could never carry the "anti-SUV" sign. But with ours gone now, I can. In fact, I'll probably make my own.

"Make IUD's, not SUV's"

or something....

enigma4ever said...

Intra-Uterine Devices ?????!!!! are your sure about that sign???
( some woman will smack you up the side of the head...or some "right- to- lifer "?....)

You meant IED's right???

dada said...

ahm, oh hell. Thanks Enigma. Maybe ATM's? PVC's or MP3's? No, ok, back to the drawing boards.

Anonymous said...

How about " Make LUV, not SUVs " ??

Ok, my 60's roots are showin' again. Plus I'm not even sure I believe it anymore, what with overpopulation problems. Still, not a bad alternative. D.K.

some_maineiac said...

that sure is a fine-looking machine you got there

- "Easy Rider"

your new machine has a shape that's pleasing to the eye and with Honda's penchant for wringing performance out of a small engine, likely to give you the "butterflies in the stomach" feeling when you mash the accelerator...

I have never had to deal with the haggling over trade-in value, haggling over the purchase price was enough for my car-owning history, the early ones were wrecked in my reckless youth and the later ones were driven until their value was essentially zero, or they became unrepairable and so, only knew one owner before being sold for parts or scrap...steadfast, loyal steeds to the end...

I hope this one has a long and useful life for you (no reason why a car should not last the rest of your life in the winter-free west)

dada said...

D.K. - OMG! When I read your "Make LUV, not SUVs" to my wife, she loved it. (I confess, it has a certain, nice, *retro ring* to it.

Don't be surprise if it shows up on a downtown street corner outside the federal courthouse during one of these Friday noon anti-war vigils.

(I'll let you know!)

dada said...

Maineiac: God, it's nice to be among one's peers. You notice how this small group is able to quote great lines from movies and books from 40 years ago....and the rest of us remembers!

Thanks for the nice comment re the new car. Drove it down to the insurance agt's yesterday for it to get its picture taken. I love it. Squeezing 140 HP outta 1.8L, I'm very pleased with its performance. But MOST pleased because, unlike our former SUV, its LED fuel indicator hasn't left "F" yet! I think we're gonna enjoy that a lot.

It sounds like you get the most from your vehicles. That's great. I know, when car shopping, I really rue having a trade-in, enabling 'em to work the numbers from two ends. But, I hate more having to sell the old car privately. If I can just learn to do as you do, I wouldn't have to concern myself with either of those and I will have gotten maximum utility and value from the vehicle.

some_maineiac said...

well, dada, my practice has a down side that your wife might not yard might be politely termed a car museum...including a plow buggy made mostly of wood that is a necessity for winter (600' driveway, locals are unreliable and want $100+ per storm) and a rolling shell (off to the crusher soon with no toxic material) that was stripped of every removable part to keep the 212K Escort going...

and yes, this blog of peers is a wonderful oasis from the cacaphony of the electronic wasteland and one I enjoy very much...

"make LUV not SUV", that's great, DK! I will appropriate that phrase for a bumper sticker of my own, hope you don't mind!

Anonymous said...

Feel free, use it wherever, whenever & however applicable (er, hope that doesn't sound too much like old Joe Kennedy's advice to his sons). Something seems wrong with the rhyme when said aloud, but I think anyone from that generation will instantly recognize the intent. D.K.