As Jalopnik’s resident car-buying expert and a professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve picked a few of your questions and will try to help out. This week we are discussing how to avoid being screwed even when the sellers seem to have all the power and selling an older car for way more than expected
I’m shopping for a new or used CX-5. New inventory is almost impossible but I found a few used ones that looked pretty good. Then I saw the fine print on the dealer’s website that said, “internet price includes a $1,995 downpayment.” That’s ridiculous! I went to another dealer who offered a few hundred dollars off a brand new car, but then had $1,000 in doc fees and $2,000 in dealer added accessories! It seems like this market has made the really bad dealers even worse. Is there any way to just get a fair price?
Shopping for a car right now is extra frustrating because dealers know if they don’t sell to you, they will probably sell to someone else. Salespeople are willing to wait for the right sucker. My two best tips for your situation are to be flexible on your target and make a reasonable offer. I assume you don’t want to deviate from the CX-5, but if your color choice is too narrow and/or you can’t find the trim you want, widening your choices on those fronts will get you more available inventory and a higher chance of a cooperative dealer. Not every dealer is terrible, it just takes a lot more work right now to sort out the good ones from the bad ones.
The other thing is when you encounter a price that is bonkers, make an offer that seems fair rather than just walking away from the negotiation. I was recently helping a client with a very similar circumstance where the dealer had about $2,000 off add-ons on a new car with a “fair” discount. I told them straight up, “take the add-on fees out and you have a deal.” Surprisingly, they accepted the offer.
We have a 2007 SUV. Fairly low miles and it’s in great shape mechanically, but does have some dings and scratches. We had been wanting to trade it in right about now, but the current market had me thinking it’s not the right time.
But then I saw dealers selling way worse versions of our SUV for $7 to $8,000. Im thinking I could sell it privately for $5,000 easy. A couple of years ago the trade in value was $1,000!
So, now I’m thinking we may even come out on top? Sure, we’d overpay on the new used car by two or three thousand dollars, but we’d make it up in the sale of the old car and we’d avoid spending about a grand in new tires and some minor maintenance stuff.
What do you think? How can I check to see if I’m paying more of a premium on our new pre owned car than whoever buys our old SUV?
So there are a few moving parts here. First of all, your car is worth what people are willing to pay. While it’s possible to get $5k on a private sale, the only way to find out is to list it and see if you get any interest at that price. Assuming you do and you can sell it for that amount, theoretically, you have made $4,000 more for your car now than the $1,000 trade offer from last year. The key to finding balance on the next purchase is to not overpay by $4,000. For example, let’s say you replace your car with a new Outback, but the best price is MSRP. It probably wouldn’t have been likely to get a $4,000 discount on that car even in a buyer’s market so you still made out OK when factoring in the two transactions.
Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!