I buy a car once every 10 years or so. While there are some who enjoy the person-to-person haggling, I don't enjoy it. 10 years ago, I bought my Chrysler Convertible, and it's served me quite well, but this year, it's starting to cost a lot in repairs and mainteneance, so it was time to buy a new one. Selecting a car turned out to be quite easy, since John and Pamela Blayley picked out the Honda Fit as the only tiny car that can handle a full size tandem without couplers or an external rack. We did try out the Nissan Cube, and it didn't work. I also liked the way the Fit handled.
Here's the process I used to get a reasonable deal for the car. Note that the Fit was apparently one of the top sellers during the cash for clunkers program, so don't expect super good deals.
- Visit Edmunds.com, and select your car and zip code.
- Click "View Full Dealer Directory". This gives you all dealers within 50 miles.
- Copy and paste the specifications of the car into the text box, and fill out the details, for every dealer. Specify all details like trim level, transmission, and color preferences. (Annoyingly, most dealers won't actually read what you wrote, but since you're spamming everyone, you'll get a good chance of getting a fair number of reasonable responses.
- Visit Cars Direct. Select your model.
- Click "See our price"
- Click "Continue" on the Save with Cars Direct link. This is your backup price. If nobody else gives you this price, just buy it from Cars Direct!
- If your best price came from a dealer, you might try to drop the price further by calling another dealer close by and seeing if they'll match or beat it. You can play this game over the phone a couple of times or until you get sick of it.
- Confirm your final price over the phone and make your appointment.
When you show up, don't get talked into paying for features that the dealer installed and want to sell you as part of the package. It's not your fault they installed it. Don't get talked into extended warranties or anything like that. (Though in my case, there was one deal that I couldn't pass up --- a reimbursable extended warranty which meant that I was buying an extended bumper-to-bumper dealer warranty for 8 years for $50 and foregone interest on the premium --- given how low interest rates are, the NPV of foregone interest is very low)
Anyway, here's to hoping this new car lasts way more than 10 years!