Category: Miscellaneous

How Not to Buy a Car, Update #6: The Find

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It began with unlimited updates. But I’ve finally bought a car, so this will be the final update. This is Update #6. To read the previous update, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The Find

Back in September I started this series of posts, with “unlimited” updates. The updates were unlimited because I didn’t know how long it would take for me to buy a car, in today’s crazy supply-chain-shortage world. The most recent update was September 30th, about how I backed out of a suspicious deal for an “in-transit” 2022 Chrysler Pacifica Limited.

Since then, I resigned myself to waiting until the 2023 model came out, which I planned to factory order through a dealer. But a few weeks ago I checked out the dealer’s website, and found they had just the make, model, and trim level of the 2022 Pacifica I was looking for. And it was white, which is the color I prefer.

I sent the dealer an email inquiry, asking if the vehicle really, truly was in stock, or if this was yet another case of false advertisement so common with car dealers. And I asked for an Out-the-Door (OTD) price. The OTD price is the amount you would write the check for, if paying cash for a car. It includes destination fees, taxes, license fees, and other fees that normally get tacked onto the sale of a new car. The dealer came back assuring me that it really-wheely, truly-wooly was in stock and was available. And the salesman quoted an OTD price of around $60,250.

I balked at this price, and a back and forth ensued. I got him to remove a dealer-installed security system. You know, the kind that makes your car honk all night, keeping your neighbors awake, after a cat jumps on your car. I told him I wanted no dealer-installed products whatsoever.

I also got him to go under the MSRP a little. Chrysler is owned by Stellantis, and I’d heard that Stellantis vehicles often sell for less than MSRP, even during a time when many cars have been selling for above MSRP. So this is what I asked for. After some weeping and gnashing of teeth, we worked out a final OTD price of $57,858.

I also worked out what seemed to be a fair trade-in value for my car. I did this by going to CarMax and another online website, requesting bids on what they’d pay for my car. I then got the dealer to match an offer I received.

After all the wheeling and dealing via email, my wife and I drove the 40 miles to the dealership to finalize the transaction. We arrived about 4:00 PM, and drove off in our new car about three hours later.

If I had paid cash, it would have likely only taken about an hour, but I wanted to finance, and that requires a lot of time-consuming paperwork. I got 7.99% APR on the loan, which is a bit high. I didn’t try to negotiate a lower rate, because I plan to pay this loan off quickly. But I did refuse gap insurance and an extended warranty. Getting the dealer to drop those items reduced the payment substantially.

I love this new car. It’s pretty much what I was expecting and hoping it to be. The Pacifica is a minivan, which has been stereotyped as a vehicle for large families who have a bunch of screaming, squalling, snotty-nosed kids occupying the copious amount of rear seats, while vomiting candy and making faces at passing cars.

But my wife and I have no kids. I wanted this van for the cargo space. It has Stow ‘n Go rear seats that tuck down under the floorboard. After stowing the seats, I took out my tape measure and found I could just barely fit a 4′ X 8′ sheet of plywood in the back. Not that I’m in the market for plywood, but that’s an impressive amount of space. This space is longer than many pickups offer, though it’s a little on the narrow side, compared with pickups. But unlike a pickup, it’s all enclosed.

Rear seats? That’s for sissies.

Who knows when I’ll ever see those rear seats again?

I’m happy with the purchase, and that my patience has paid off. I also want to give a shout-out to Your Advocate Alliance (YAA). This is an online business, at JoinYAA.com, that has provided me with very helpful information about the current state of the auto business, and how to buy a new or used car without being screwed over. I tend to be a lousy negotiator, but YAA has helped me improve my negotiation skills up from being lose-my-ass terrible to being save-my-ass mediocre.

YAA puts out a short YouTube video every day, with useful information and updates on the auto industry. Usually a father and son present the video. The father is a retired car salesman, and the son has followed in his father’s footsteps. Their videos are not only informative, but are often spiced with light humor. Even if you’re not looking to buy a car, you might enjoy watching YAA’s videos, just for the entertainment value. Here’s a sample:

If you’re looking to buy a car, I wish you luck. It’s a jungle out there. I invite you to read my series from the start, so you can learn from my mistakes. And check out the JoinYAA.com website. But above all, do your research and due diligence.

This ends my series of “unlimited” updates on how not to buy a car. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the road!🚗

My new baby.

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How Not to Buy a Car, Update #5: The Bluff

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 #5. To read the previous update, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next update (when available), CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The Bluff

My salesman, Dick Dastardly, reluctantly provided a Priced Order Confirmation (POC) to me, showing the MSRP and a few other charges, on the car I had reserved. But it didn’t show everything, and I wanted to know all the charges and fees I’d be hit with, once the car rolled in from the factory.

So I decided to hold Dick’s feet to the fire. I emailed six Chrysler dealerships within a 75-mile radius of my house and asked if they would commit to a detailed purchase order, signed by a manager, showing all charges and with no dealer extras, if I factory ordered the car I wanted.

I got one dealership to agree to this. Then I contacted Dick and threatened him with canceling the deal and going with the other dealership. But I told him that if he would provide me with a detailed POC, showing all contemplated fees and charges, I would consider sticking with the deal that he and I made.

Dastardly replied that with our deal, I’d only have to wait about a month for my car, because it was “In-Transit.” But if I factory ordered from anyone else, I’d have to wait about six months. So no, he wasn’t going to provide a detailed POC.

The bastard called my bluff.

He was right, because four to six months is what the other dealer told me. The fucker had me by the balls, and he knew it. He called my bluff, and since I was in no mood to wait six whole, goddamned months, I backed down.

But only for about a week. Dick’s recalcitrance stuck in my craw. One evening, feeling moody, I got on Yelp and looked up the ratings customers had given to Dick’s dealership. I nearly fell out of my chair. That’s because I hadn’t fastened my seat belt.

Nearly all the Yelp reviews, out of hundreds, were one-star. Customers posted dire warnings to run away from any deals with these “crooks.” One common complaint was that they loaded up “In-Transit” vehicles with additional dealer installations, after the cars arrived at the dealership. This added thousands of dollars to the price of the car. Then they pressured customers to pay for these additions, under threat of losing the deals they had reserved with their deposits.

That was the last straw. The next morning I got in touch with Mr. Dastardly and requested a refund of my $500 deposit. And, to my relief, he complied without a fight. Within a few hours, the money was credited back to my credit card.

So now I’m back to square one, trying to figure out how to buy a new car. Because I haven’t yet learned my lesson. I haven’t figured out how not to buy a car. Which is to not buy one.

And that’s where things stand at this moment. I’ll post updates now and then, to this ongoing saga, as I continue to wade through the shitstorm of buying a new car in the seller’s market of 2022.

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How Not to Buy a Car, Update #4: The Naked Copy

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 #4. To read the previous update, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next update, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The Naked Copy

I’d just made a deal to purchase a Chrysler Pacifica Limited, which I’d been told was in the process of being built in Windsor, Canada, and that the build wouldn’t start for at least another month. This is the sort of doublespeak and vaguery I’ve come to expect from car dealerships.

I was promised that after my Canuck car arrives in California, it will be delivered to my house for free, where we’ll sign all the paperwork. Then they’ll take my trade-in and haul it away. And we’ll all live happily ever after, with shit-eating grins on our faces. At least, I think that’s what they said over the phone. Or was it just my wishful thinking?

My salesman, Dick Dastardly, also promised that there would be no dealer markup over MSRP. Heh-heh, that’s the beauty of buying a gas-guzzling, gross-polluting vehicle that nobody wants these days. The Pacifica gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg, highway. That’s a gas hog by today’s standards. But hey, no dealer markup! And hopefully, very little wait compared with buying an electric hybrid. So let gas prices and climate change be damned!

I gave the finance department my credit card info over the phone, and put up the $500 deposit. Soon after, an email arrived with a photo of the deposit receipt. It was a tape receipt, and it was laid over the Priced Order Confirmation (POC). The POC is a document that lists a long column of prices and fees, including MSRP price, and Destination Fee.

I quickly noticed that the tape receipt in the photo was positioned so that it covered most of the numbers in the long column of prices. That left me feeling nervous. So I emailed Dick and asked him to send me an unobstructed POC, showing all the prices. I also made it clear that I wanted no additional dealer installations (such as nitrogen in tires, VIN etching, paint protection, horse cock up the ass, etc).

Dick’s naked copy, preparing to fuck me over.

Dastardly’s reply was rather terse. He protested that this was a “naked copy” of the POC, and that there is no invoice or set price until the vehicle, which is in the process of being built, but which won’t begin being built for a month, is built. He said the price was subject to change by the factory, due to inflation.

Naked copy. I wondered about this strange choice of words. How could Dick call it a naked copy, when he’d used the credit card receipt like a fig leaf, to cover the column of prices? I responded by assuring him that I understood the price was subject to change, due to inflation, but I still wanted the complete, unobstructed POC, so I could have a ballpark idea of what the vehicle would cost when delivered.

Dick relented and sent it to me. And I felt relieved to see that no additional dealer-installed extras were listed in the column of prices. But I felt perplexed that no other fees were listed either, such as sales tax, licensing, registration, and all the other usual fees we get nicked with in a car sales contract.

It only showed the MSRP of $51,545, a $73 discount because the goddamned supply chain shortage won’t allow Chrysler to include power folding mirrors, and a Destination Fee of $1,596, for a total price of $53,067. For a ballpark out-the-door (OTD) price, which would include taxes, fees, and other charges, the salesman advised me to dig out my calculator and add 13%.

13%?! That would lift the price of my gas-guzzling heap to $59,965.71! I felt nervous about this, worrying about what sort of dealer extras they might be planning to stick me with, to arrive at a price like this. I wondered just how big of a horse cock they kept down at that dealership.

I decided to play hardball. We’ll see where that got me, in the next update.

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