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Jeruba's avatar

Some advice on car buying? (Question 4)

Asked by Jeruba (51821points) August 21st, 2012

By now several of you kind, patient, and knowledgeable jellies know that I am hopelessly ignorant and naive about shopping for a car. And this is after absorbing all the information I can find on (a wonderful site—thank you!) as well as reading all your responses to me several times. I’m immensely grateful for all help and advice.

Here are my previous questions on this subject: [ 1 ]  [ 2 ]  [ 3 ]

I’m pretty close to narrowing my choice to a 2012 Ford Focus.

•  I want a safe, reliable design.
•  I want a trunk and not a hatchback.
•  I don’t want sporty.
•  I want a small car that’s easy to manuever and park.
•  I no longer commute.
•  I don’t drive every day.
•  I rarely carry a passenger.
•  I’d like a car I can keep a long time so I don’t have to do this very often.
•  I’d prefer new. I’ve never had a new car. And I want to pick the color.

So—after making an online inquiry, I have an e-mail quote from a dealer, considerably below MSRP, and I have an appointment to test-drive it.

I’ve put aside the savings so I can pay cash.

My question: If I walk in and like it and am ready to buy, am I a fool if I just pay the quoted price? Am I expected to dicker at that point or not? Haven’t the rules changed in recent years so it’s less of a game of chicken? What’s the current expectation and practice?

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22 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

It never hurts to ask for a discount, especially if you are placing stacks of $100 bills on the table. The closer to the end of the month the more likely they are to deal, they may be willing to take a loss in commission on your deal to make their perfomance bonus for the month.

gailcalled's avatar

I can’t help you with the bargaining but can tell you that I had a Ford Focus that I loved. I got rid of it only because it couldn’t handle the ice and snow we have here. So I traded up to a Subaru Forester.

We also bought my mother a Focus for the last period of her driving life. She stopped driving and sold the car when she was 92 but until then also loved the car. Hers and mine were red…easier not to lose in a parking lot or underground garage.

JLeslie's avatar

They expect some negotiating back and forth. I recommend not paying what they have quoted you, unless you have actually talked to at least one more dealer and you know this is a great price. Even then I would try for a little more off, or something thrown in that usually costs extra. If it is an end of year model and they know you are all read up on your coices, they may very well have given you a good first quote to get you into the dealership.

Some brands don’t negotiate. Like Saturn had a policy of no negotiating, but I persinally have not been dealt with a dealership lately that did not move a little on a price. We revently bought a Ford truck and leased a VW. I do find that the negotiating is less extreme now compared to years past.

FYI, they will likely do the TO bullshit. I hate that. Turn it Over to their manager for approval on a final price, or the manager will come over to meet you. I find it disgusting. I build rapport with my salesperson and then the manager seemingly belittles the salesman with having to watch over every little part of the sale. It does not happen in all dealerships. It is a huge waste of my time in my opinion. I can’t believe a salespersn who probably sells 3–5 vehicles a week does not know the bottom line on what he can and can’t sell a car for, and indeed as I said, some dealerships the salespersn works the deal right through beginning to end.

Oh, and also “out the door price” is lingo for what you will actually write your check for. Still…still…you should clarify if it includes all taxes and license plate fees.

Let us know how it goes! Don’t fret about paying an extra $500 here and there on a such a big purchase if the deal overall is going smoothpy and you love the car.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JLeslie sparked a thought. Right before you accept the deal on the car, tell them you have to go check the Chevy or Chrysler Dealership’s lot.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Or you could be talking to another Ford dealer in the area. Get more than one quote, it will give you a bargaining chip. Ask for free maintenance for 30,000 miles ( 5 oil changes and mileage required dealer checks ).

CWOTUS's avatar

I would check prices at other dealers for the same car. These days that is pretty easy to do online.

Since this is the tail end of the 2012 model year, it is no surprise whatever that the quoted price is less than the MSRP. If it was anywhere near that, I’d be mighty surprised.

Tachys's avatar

While I understand the allure of a new car, a good used car makes more sense. At least look at a few for the same money you are prepared to spend.

Sunny2's avatar

If you belong to AAA or AARP, you can ask if the car dealer gives their discount. This time of year last year’s models are discounted already, usually.

Buttonstc's avatar

Why not have several dealers bidding for your business and taking the best email quite?

Consumer Reports offers a service which processes this for you. since you’ve now narrowed it down to a specific make and model. With. Consumer Reports as your bidding intermediary, you’ll know that you’re getting the lowest price at which each particular dealer is willing to sell it since they know that this customer base is educated and savvy not just se Rube from off the street. It saves a whole bunch of haggling.

Brian1946's avatar


Consumer Reports offers a service which processes this for you.

Thanks to CR’s buying guide, we got a V6 Accord for $22K, instead of the dealer’s $25K asking price.

Response moderated (Spam)
JLeslie's avatar

Let us know how the test drive goes. Are you only test driving this one car? You did that a little backwards in my mind, I first have to find the car I like, including test druve, and then I start really doing the money part. But, my husband would do it like you most of the time. It’s rare he is uncomfortable in a car, I am much picker.

Jeruba's avatar

I like the ideas of getting quotes from other dealers at the same time. Thanks—I needed that pointed out. I also like the idea of asking for free maintenance for a period of time or use.

I’ll contact some other dealers today. But I’m not buying a gray car. If I can sit comfortably in the designated Focus and operate the machine, I’ll probably go for it.

And yes, I’ll report back. Again, I thank everyone for the very helpful comments.

JLeslie's avatar

A lot of cars now include maintenance, so don’t put that out there as part of the negotiation until you already know if it is included or not.

SaveTheRhinos's avatar

Prius, you can get a LOADED one for 25k so other models are cheaper. Easy to drive, super reliable, will easily last you over 200k miles.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The month you are ready to buy, check with Edmunds as to any factory to dealer money that may be on the Focus model and subtract that amount from the Ford factory invoice price. Negotiate the buying of the new car separate from a trade in car, if you have one. You can always dicker (yes, they expect you to) down to the last minute and then say you think you want to trade the old.

Rebates from factory to dealer are very likely since Fords don’t hold value and there must be incentive passed on to customers to buy a 2012 now that 2013 models coming or already out. Refuse to pay for any add on such as extra window tint, aftermarket (non Ford Factory) alarm systems, wheels added by the dealership instead of the factory installed for the trimline of Focus you want. Don’t buy Gap insurance or LoJack but do buy the extended warranty. Don’t buy a service warranty unless you qualify for super low financing and can have the services discounted than paying as you go and less than what your credit card (if you use them) would charge in interest.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @Neizvestnaya. Could you please say that last part again? I am having trouble getting your last sentence. If it’s relevant, I’m not financing it.

Also when you say “refuse to pay for…” are you saying add-ons that are already on the car? or that I order as extras?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes, dealerships regularly add-on things that don’t come standard with the factory produced trimline. They may try to dress up a car with fancier wheels or rims, a spoiler, an alarm system they will try to say is better than the factory one, that sort of thing. You say you aren’t financing which is fine but also know there is no benefit to a dealership if you pay outright so they won’t discount for that. Know this though, you can buy that car for the invoice price, usually less if you research factory rebates that help the dealer sell those cars. Some are as little as $500. but sometimes they are over $1000. and for a cash buyer, that’s nice to take advantage of. Every 30 days, incentives changes for the dealerships so they will only bargain hard on the very day they think you’ll actually buy.

Jeruba's avatar

Again, thanks. This is the sentence I’m asking you to restate because I can’t parse it:

Don’t buy a service warranty unless you qualify for super low financing and can have the services discounted than paying as you go and less than what your credit card (if you use them) would charge in interest.

hearkat's avatar

As I mentioned in one of your previous questions, will tell you what the dealer’s invoice price on the car with the specific features and your state’s destination charges and taxes are. Knowing what the vendor paid for the product gives you the best bargaining chip – you don’t need quotes from other dealers anymore, just print out the Edmunds information. If you’re trading-in your current vehicle, use the tool to figure out what it is worth, and add that to the negotiation after they give you a reasonable selling price.

Go to the websites of the different dealerships and see which have the exact model (color, accessories and features) that you want in stock, and start there. Since this is the end of the month at the end of the model year, you are more likely to get a good price if you’re getting a 2012 model, but the selection will be limited for some fetures. I think I also previously suggested that you ask for free Oil Changes FOR LIFE – a lot of dealerships in this area are offering those. You could ask about extras they can add on for free, such as wheels, mud flaps, floor and trunk mats, etc.

If at any point they start getting on your nerves or don’t seem to be willing to be reasonable, just stand up and say that you saw that ___ Ford two towns over has the same model in stock, so you want to talk to them first – that usually gets them sweating.

Since you won’t be putting many miles on the car, there is no point to an extended warranty. Have fun on the test drive!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba The financing is irrelevant to you, because you are paying cash, but some add-ons they likely will try with you. Could be insurance for the tires, which is outside of the regular warranty, extended warranty on the car, and some other stuff probably I can’t even think of now, because I always tell them I don’t want to hear it, You think you are done, everything negotiated, and then they will try to up the sale again. It can be very annoying.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Jeruba: sorry about that sentence.

The finance/contract manager may try to sell you a prepaid service plan. Usually the benefit to the dealership is this adds profit to them by way of some bit of interest rate when combined with your car purchase. Since you’re not financing then the dealership won’t have that profit. The benefit to you is if the pre paid package they sell is at a discounted price than if you paid for your regular scheduled service as you go.

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