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How Come The Dealer Says I Can't Lease An Older Model Even Though It's Brand New?

Illustration for article titled How Come The Dealer Says I Cant Lease An Older Model Even Though Its Brand New?
Image: Fiat

As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing leasing on old but new inventory, expensive documentation fees, and

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First up, how come you can’t do leases on new cars that are really old?

I was looking at a couple of leftover new 2017 Fiat 124 roadsters at a local dealer, and the salesperson stated that FCA won’t let them lease them because they are too old. Do I call BS on it or is this a common policy once “new” cars have been sitting around for a few years? Thanks.

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This isn’t BS, a dealer wants to sell a car whether it be a lease or a purchase, so if they have a mechanism to sign you up for a lease they will use it. What happens is that old cars, even if they are new, at a certain point no longer have lease support from the factory. FCA finance doesn’t want to underwrite a lease for inventory that is now essentially three years old.

Next, what’s the best way to handle expensive documentation fees?

Had a quick question that I can’t seem to find a good answer to. Here in GA there is no cap on doc fees, and most dealers are anywhere from $600 - $900. When negotiating price on a new vehicle, is it OK for me to try to get a dealer to take the cost of doc fees off the purchase price?

You can certainly ask but it’s unlikely a dealer in the South will yank that line item out and they will give you some line about “Well, legally we have to charge everyone the same for that” which is a bit of a dubious claim, but they may reduce the sale price of the car enough to offset that high dealer fee. Again this is why, on new cars, I tend to focus on the out-the-door price of a car rather than just the sale price because at the end of the day the lowest total transaction price is what you are most concerned about. Of course on used cars, this is a bit trickier because it may be possible to have a used car with a higher transaction price but it’s a better deal due to factors such as: lower miles, more warranty, higher trim and so on.

Finally, what is a good strategy to get the best deal on a desirable but mainstream car?

I’m anticipating purchasing a 2021 Toyota Rav4 Prime this summer when they hit the showroom floor. The auto media is ablaze with articles about this vehicle, loading heaps of praise on it. I anticipate that it will be a highly desirable SUV and dealers will be pretty stingy, not wanting to negotiate much on the price, options, etc.

I’m curious if your strategy of negotiating for a highly-desirable vehicle differs from your other car buying strategies.

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You are right that the upcoming Rav4 plug-in will likely be a hot car. I can tell you that the RAV4 Hybrid was one of my most requested Toyotas, far more than the Supra. When the RAV4 Hybrid first hit the lots it was hard to get deals on them as most stores had a waitlist of buyers and therefore supply and demand economics dictated that those cars went for full sticker or above. However, unlike something like 911 GT3, Toyota is going to keep cranking these cars out and at a certain point in time inventory will increase and demand will decrease. Therefore the best strategy to get a good deal on something like this is to wait. Having patience might not be the “beat the dealer” hack you were looking for, but if time is on your side you will eventually get a competitive deal.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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DISCUSSION

“I can tell you that the RAV4 Hybrid was one of my most requested Toyotas, far more than the Supra.”

Are we supposed to be surprised that your car buying service had more requests for a car that moved over 100k units last year than a car that sold 3k?