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 will discuss a potential fire sale on General Motors’ canceled cars, inspecting cars for friends, and buying out leases.
First up, now that GM will end production on several cars, just how cheap will they get?
“Is now a good time to buy the cars that are cancelled like the Volt, Impala, or CT6? Should I wait? I would imagine prices would go down even further.”
One would expect a fire sale mentality from GM on the cars that they plan on canceling. The thing is, because no one has been buying them, many of those models like the CT6, Impala, XTS, and Lacrosse have been on clearance sales for some time.
A quick look on some of the major listing sites and you will see discounts on some cars around $10,000 or more. The exception here is the Chevrolet Volt hybrid. In some regions, the Volt is fairly popular, and therefore finding one with a lot of cash on the hood would be tough.
What buyers need to realize is that there is a point at which a manufacturer and dealer just can’t throw any more money at the car. I’ll get emails from folks who folks who think they are getting ripped off with $15,000 in discounts when they wanted $20,000 instead. Sorry, that’s just not how the world works.
When you are shopping for the best deal or the lowest price that number is determined by comparing quotes on similar cars within a market region, not some number that a buyer thinks a car should sell for.
What some people don’t understand is that a dealer’s ability to throw money at a car significantly below their invoice is usually due to what is called dealer cash from the manufacturer. That “hidden rebate” is provided to dealers to clear out inventory, but at some point in time, it is no longer available. This limits the dealer’s ability to go super deep on price. So if buyers hold out too long, hoping to get their CT6 at 50 percent off, they may actually lose out on the opportunity to get the biggest discount possible.
If you are in the market for a large GM sedan, which by the way, are pretty good, with some careful shopping you should be able to score an excellent deal before the New Year.
Next up: What do you do when you are the “car friend” who is asked to check out a car you don’t really know about?
The father of my friend that lives in North Carolina asked me to take a look at a used 2010 Porsche 911 Carrera S for him at a dealership near me. He asked me to look it over for any issues it might have. Well the problem I’m having is I’m no Porsche expert, I’m more of a rusty Jeep wrangler guy. All he really asked of me is to make sure there aren’t any dents/scratches/stone chips, take a look at the undercarriage and make sure the interior is acceptable.
I don’t want to disappoint him and I’d like to go the extra mile, but again I’m no expert. Blatantly obvious items that pertain to all cars I’ll be able to spot, but I’m asking you if there are certain things I should look for so he’s not upset when it arrives on the back of a truck in North Carolina.
While that is nice of you to help a buddy out on a car purchase, good on you for admitting that this is not your area of expertise. Because you just looking at paint, bodywork and maybe taking the car for a spin is not going to really give him the info he needs. You should tell your friend that Porsches aren’t your thing and that his dad needs to get this car inspected by a local Porsche expert.
A good pre-purchase inspection will run anywhere from $200 to $400. He will want a shop to run codes on the computer to spot any issues that wouldn’t immediately trigger a check engine light. If it’s a manual, he will want an over-rev report to know how hard that car was driven. You want someone looking at engine mounts and suspension components, along with brakes just to name a few of the key points
Talk to anyone that buys used Porsches, or any specialty cars, and they will say that a thorough and independent inspection is the best way to avoid a problem car.
And finally is there a way to buy out a lease without getting hosed by the dealer?
I have a Rav4 coming off lease and decided to buy it. Have called the dealership a couple times and gotten no reply. Went down to visit and was told that in addition to the pay-off total plus sales tax, I’d have to pay another $995 for a safety check and $449 for “documents fees.” Have a friend at another dealership, and he recommended calling Toyota directly, and they agree to just the pay-off plus sales tax. It’ll take a while to process by mail, but at the savings of ~$1400. Is this uncommon at dealerships?
I covered this topic a while back and you can absolutely buy out the lease without going through the dealer on most cars. Some brands will not let you do this and you have to use the dealership as the intermediary.
I bought out my Mazda3 lease without using the dealer. I’ll admit while I saved a few bucks in paperwork fees it was a royal pain in the ass, because I wanted to put a down payment on the car and the lenders just couldn’t figure out how to work that. I ended finding a local bank that helped me out.
As for this particular store, the $449 doc fees are a bit high but not terribly out of the ordinary to push the paperwork. However, the $995 safety check seems excessive. I would definitely call Toyota directly to see if you can just work with them and a lender, or call around to some other dealers to see if they can offer a less expensive way to facilitate the process.
Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!