Miscellaneous

How Not to Buy a Car, Update #2: Searching For Some Trim

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It has unlimited updates. Who knows how long this shit is going to take? This is Update #2. For the next update, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

Searching For Some Trim

I gave up trying to buy an electric vehicle (EV), after growing disillusioned with the scam it seems to have become, and the long wait just to buy one. So I decided to go the opposite direction, and try to buy a good ol’ American gas guzzler.

I figured that with gas prices the way they are these days, surely there must be some gas hogs for sale that nobody wants, and that I won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for, while waiting forever for the privilege of purchasing it.

And I was right. My wife and I visited our local Chrysler dealer and test drove a Chrysler Pacifica minivan. And oh my God, was it heaven! I never knew a car could feel so pleasant and thrilling to settle my ass into and accelerate down the road. It was as if we were sailing on a luxury liner. We were instantly sold on buying a Pacifica.

2022 Chrysler Pacifica Limited. A gorgeous tank.

But this was a two-year-old car with 68,000 miles on it. We wanted something new. But the dealer had no new Pacificas on the lot. “Supply-chain shortage,” he explained.

But that’s okay, Chrysler allows you to order a vehicle from the factory. It’s strange that most domestic and European automakers allow consumers to factory order, while none of the Asian automakers allow this. And what I mean by a factory order is a real order, and not a fake, Toyota-style “factory order.” So I asked the dealer to order one for me.

“No problem,” I was told. “But first you have to pay a $1,000 non-refundable deposit.”

I said, “Whoa, wait a second. Are you telling me that if I try to back out of the deal, for any reason, I’ll lose the deposit?”

“Yup,” the salesman smirked with a glint in his eye. The bastard knew this was a seller’s market, and he was taking full advantage of market conditions. And of my wallet.

I felt nervous about plunking down a thousand clams that I might never see again. And later research indicated my nervousness was with merit. State of California Vehicle Code Section 11736 requires all deposits on the purchase of a car to be refundable on demand by the consumer, prior to taking delivery of the vehicle. So the $1,000 non-refundable deposit was an illegal request from a crooked dealer.

I had enough of that bandit and decided to look for a different, more honest dealer. So I did some Googling and found a variety of Chrysler dealers within an hour or so drive from my house. I got on their websites to check out their inventory.

That’s when I noticed that whenever I opened up a car dealer’s website, a pretty girl instantly popped up in the lower-right of my PC screen, inviting me to chat with her. She always had a sexy name, like Sabrina, or Candy, or Velvet. This is a trick. Should this happen to you, don’t fall for it. She’s a robot.

She asks for your phone number. And if you give it to her then your phone will soon start ringing. But it won’t be her, it will be a sales associate (often a man), from the dealership, trying to sell you a car.

Don’t ask how I figured that out.

Anyway, none of the dealer websites I checked out had the car I was looking for. They had plenty of Chrysler Pacificas, but not at the trim level I desired. Trim has to do with all the goodies and doo-dads that come with a car. For instance, with Pacificas, the trim levels available, from lowest to highest, are the Touring, Touring L, Limited, and Pinnacle. You can also choose All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) or Front-Wheel Drive (FWD). I wanted a Limited trim level in AWD.

But none of the dealers I checked out had any trim level in stock, above the Touring L. This seems to be a problem with all car models these days. The higher the trim level you desire, the more scarce it will be, and the more likely you’ll have to order the vehicle.

So, to find a Limited trim, I tried a different strategy. I started an account with Autotrader.com. This is a website that allows you to buy and sell new and used cars online. It’s very similar to other car-buying websites, like Carvana, Vroom, Cars.com, etc. Hell, there must be a thousand of them. But Autotrader is the oldest of this type of online business, so I figured that by now, they must know what they’re doing.

We’ll learn how that went in my next update.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

21 replies »

  1. I would imagine that special orders kind of interrupt the manufacturing flow. Maybe that is why some companies don’t do it.

    In 2014, I did special order a Toyota and it took me about 6 months to get it. At the time, my sister-in-law worked for Toyota (the corporation) and she hooked me up with a family discount on the car but I had to order it to get the discount. It took 6 months but I got about 18-20% off the MSRP, which is amazingly good. This particular Toyota was manufactured in Indiana, if that makes a difference.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The whole concept of factory ordering seems misleading, in the auto industry. Perhaps Toyota has modified their policy since 2014, or perhaps you were under the impression it was a factory order when it was actually an allocated vehicle that you got in line for, to receive when they got around to building it.

      But that’s great you got such a steep discount off the MSRP. It seems highly unlikely you could get such a deal these days. Unless maybe your sister-in-law still works for Toyota. By the way, what’s her name and phone number?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alas, my sister-in-law left Toyota or I would have definitely hit her up for the Tacoma I just bought.

        Things may be different today, but at the time I filled out a form with the trim, color, options, etc. and got exactly that. It has been a pretty good vehicle and I still have it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Toyota has a “Build” feature on their website, that allows you to input all the things you want, similar to the form you filled out. Then it creates a Build Sheet, detailing all the charges and a total MSRP price, that you can print out. But at the bottom of the sheet are the words, “Vehicle builds may vary by location, please contact your dealer to find your match.” In other words, it’s a wish list and not a factory order.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. It apparently made a difference where the cars were built with Subaru. When Husband was looking for his, he could pre-order a US built car (Forester), but not a Japanese built car (Crosstrek). The US cars were supposedly waiting for chips, while the Japanese built cars were just waiting for a place for the ship to unload. Meanwhile, big Chinese-apartment style markups and deposits. Seemed like a kind of a toilet paper Ponzi character to the whole thing.

    BTW, my Toyota was built in Mexico. I don’t know if that counts as “foreign” since NAFTA?
    Time to go beat on a U-joint now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You use the term “pre-order,” but I wonder what that meant, exactly. Did it mean your husband could specify the exact color and options, and the factory would build it accordingly? Or did it mean he’d have to wait until the factory got around to building something like that and randomly shipping it to your dealer? It seems with every car maker, a “factory order,” or “pre-order” means something different.

      As to your Toyota being built in Mexico, that’s probably where it was assembled. But the parts probably came from all over the world, including the USA. These days there seems to be a lot of blur between “foreign” and “domestic.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • “Assembled” in Mexico… yes. The failed U-joint says “made in USA” on it.
        Yeah, I know parts are an international thing anymore. I think the only German-made part in a US-built Volkswagen is its Fahrvergnügenator. Probably be an automotive cup-holder shortage when Russia cuts off their supplies.

        Liked by 1 person

          • Ha! The bearing extraction tool I ordered didn’t work… the old bearing caps were too corroded in place. So, per Husband’s suggested technique… eight-pound hammer and a couple of old sockets… Yeeaah! I’m feeling good.
            Now taking a break to get myself re-centered (calmed down) for putting in the twelve new bearing caps. I don’t think I’m allowed to beat them into submission.

            Husband originally removed the drive-shaft… because it took me an hour to get one bolt loose, and there were ten. But if I can actually get it all back together, I might try re-installing it myself. First time I’ve ever done this, so I think I’m permitted some forgiveness if everything flies apart as soon as I put it in gear. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Just so you know, I custom built my car on the website but didn’t select the button to send it to the dealer to actually build. I just put together exactly what I wanted. Then I tortured a sales person to find it and they did. Brand new cars – had come out the week before I got mine. She put in to be the one to receive it. Might work that way for you too. Just ask if that’s a possibility.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the advice. From what I understand, it depends on the dealer, when it comes to this sort of thing. Some dealers are willing to contact other dealers, to find the car you’re looking for. Then they have it shipped to them, often for an extra fee they tack onto the total price. In other words, they act something like car brokers. It’s a great service, but it can be hard to find dealers willing to do this.

      Like

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