Is It Easier To Get A Deal On A Car With A Manual Transmission?

Photo Credit: BMW

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, deals on manual transmission models, a new car that has issues and thoughts on a cheap but fast BMW.

First up, are manual transmission cars easier to get deals on?

I just sold my second heavily used S4 (2007 w/145k and 2012 w/152k miles) in the last 5 years. I am taking delivery this weekend of 2016 M3. All are 6 speed manual cars. I feel like I benefit from the fact that when I’m shopping for these cars and they are only a few years old I can kind of squeeze the dealer on price because newer car buyers aren’t as likely to want a manual. Alternatively, when I go to sell them and they are 8ish years old with a bunch of miles it is typically a younger enthusiast buyer (aka Jalopnik reader) who is specifically seeking a manual transmission car and will pay a premium for it. Have you considered this? Is there any data on it?

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This is a good question, and as you already indicated it can cut both ways.

On the one hand, a dealer may have a harder time moving a three-pedal car, so you might be able to wiggle them down a bit more. However, what I have found that certain cars like 911s and BMW M cars have a subset of buyers who only want a manual. If a dealer has a well spec’d car with an ambitious price they may hold firm and “wait for the right buyer.” It really all depends on the market conditions at the time.

I will say on new cars there isn’t typically extra leverage for a manual model, dealers have a floor at which they can’t go any lower and that margin doesn’t increase because there is a clutch pedal.

Next, what are your options if your brand new ride already has problems?

Bought a 2020 Honda Insight Touring on December 7th with like 9 miles on the clock. Needed the gas mileage also my Civic Si was killing my knees on my commute. Drove it for a few days, put a few hundred miles on it. One morning went to leave for work got a Critical Failure detected warning, a transmission system problem warning and a 12 volt battery charging warning all in one shot. Thought maybe it was a bug, turned it off turned it back on again and it was fine went to work all good. (Former IT person) Next morning same problem, went into limp mode on the way to the dealer. Next morning they said it was the 12v battery and replaced, I picked it up drove it home. Next morning same warnings again, limp mode drove it in. Had if for a few days, said it was the radiator, few days to get the part replaced it. They went for a test drive, same issue. Said they are getting Honda corporate techs involved as they could not figure it out. They have basically had my brand new car since December 18th and replaced two items, I’ve been calm and they have provided a new loaner car but how long should I rationally wait before getting irate or asking for a new car? What’s reasonable in a situation like this? Do I want a brand new car that has this many problems already? My first payment is coming due soon and I really don’t want to make a payment on something I don’t have. What are my options at this point?

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OK, so you can’t stop making the payments on a car that is problematic. The bank doesn’t really care. If you do so, you will take a major hit to your credit report.

Also, getting irate at the dealership is also not likely to get you the result you want especially if the issue is beyond their expertise to fix.

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If your car continues to have issues you can file a Lemon Law claim and Honda may buy it back. However, there is a process for this and the laws vary from state to state. If the dealer has escalated this up to Honda Corporate and they can’t solve the problem, you may want to get in contact with a Lemon Law attorney in your area.

Finally, how risky is an older BMW 3 series with a turbo motor?

I am very interested in a used 2007 335i. I’m moving on from my recently totaled 1997 328i that I loved. I bought that for $1600 and I’m receiving $4500 from insurance . I want something newer and quicker though. So this 335i has a salvage title, 160,000, and needs paint on the back bumper and some brakes I’m sure. The price is listed by a private seller for $4500. I offered him $3500 considering all the issues and the title situation. He of course countered with

$4000. It’s a sedan model ion dark blue with peanut butter interior. It drove well. I was thinking about taking it to have it inspected.

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The 2007 335i is certainly a lot faster than the 328 you had. But this particular car has a few marks against it. First, it has a salvage title. Second, the overall cosmetic condition needs work, though that is somewhat excusable for the price. Third, the 2007 335is had the N54 turbo motors that were a bit notorious for high-pressure fuel pump failures that can be an incredibly costly repair. Now it’s possible that the HPFP was already replaced and an inspection may reveal a decent car for the money, but I would be extra careful with this purchase.

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

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About the author

Tom McParland

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)