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 factory rebates for cars that are impossible to find and avoiding a flooded car.
“Reaching out to ask why would Audi run new car purchase incentives with Costco in August and September yet not have any to buy? I want to buy a new S4. I figured with the Costco incentive plus their pricing, and with an Audi loyalty bonus a good deal might be had but no new cars are available. Plus, the closest dealer [to] Seattle aligned with Costco pricing is in Idaho so visiting a dealer to seeing the Costco special pricing is a bit difficult.”
Keep in mind that these Costco/rebate programs often apply to multiple models, not just a specific car like the S4. So while the car you want may not be found on the ground there are probably a number of more common cars like a standard A4 that can be had using these rebate programs.
Typically, with Audi’s Costco discounts the dealer doesn’t have to be affiliated with the Costco car buying program, it works as a factory rebate for Costco members. My experience has been that most Audi dealers will apply the Costco rebates. Also if you can’t find your S4 in the region, it may be worth casting a net nationwide. Even with shipping, the deal may be favorable, and you will have access to a lot more inventory.
“We are in the NYC market and are trying to buy a moderately priced used car around $15,000 but are concerned that a dealer will try to sell us something with flood damage. What’s the best way not to get screwed after the storm?”
Most reputable dealers will not sell you a flood-damaged car. The risk is just too great for them, of course, the key is finding a reputable dealer and that is a challenge in the NYC metro. I’ve mentioned before that often when it comes to used cars shopping the dealer is almost as important as shopping the car. Read reviews, and do some research on the dealership, often you will figure out quickly what stores are legit and which stores are slimy. When you go to test drive a car there are some tips and clues to see if the car has had any water damage. I strongly recommend an independent pre-purchase inspection, but that can be difficult when cars get sold so fast. You may want to take advantage of retailers like Carvana, Vroom, and Carmax who offer return policies if you buy a car and find something that is problematic.
Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!