Tysinger Hyundai

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 discounts for repeat customers and the eternal question: Porsche Boxster or Mazda Miata?

First up, are you more likely to get a better deal if you go back to the same dealership?

“Last weekend, I wandered into my local Hyundai dealer to take a test drive of the new Elantra N Line. I wouldn’t have usually done this randomly but, they promised (and delivered) a $50 incentive for doing this. I bought my current car from this same dealer about 4 years ago and told the salesmen as much. From then on, he was constantly saying that return customers always get great prices and an easy purchase experience.

Do return customers actually get better prices or a more enjoyable/easy buying experience?”

While you would hope that dealers reward repeat customers with solid deals, there are several reasons why this isn’t a guarantee. First, due to the sky-high turnover rate in the car sales world, it’s often the case that the salesperson you worked with last time isn’t there anymore so that relationship is gone. Of course, the dealer has a record of your previous sale, but the salespeople that have been there a while and bring several clients back can often push management down to the bottom dollar a bit better than someone new.

Second, sometimes a dealer that thinks that you are under the assumption that they are giving you a sweet price due to repeat business may not try as hard to be competitive. I worked with a client a few years ago who was leasing a Honda Civic, her family bought all their Hondas from the same dealer and she was going to trade in her current Civic for a new one. But when she saw the numbers something didn’t sit right with her. That’s when she contacted me and I requested that she send me the quote. Her local dealer was offering a whopping $700 off the sticker price for the new Civic. After shopping around I was able to find discounts well over $2,000 off the MSRP for the same car.

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What it comes down to is that often a dealer’s willingness to discount a car is only in play when they think they might lose the business to someone else. If you have had a good experience with a certain dealer, you should give them an opportunity to earn your business again, but shop their numbers around to make sure you are getting the best price.

Finally, when looking for a fun weekend convertible, which is better: the Miata or the Boxster?

“I have a 2012 Civic Si that I bought to keep for a year or so, to learn driving stick. I’ve had the car for three years now and absolutely love it. I’m close to paying off the car, and given it only has about 65,000 miles on it now, I’m planning on keeping the car for the long run, and use it as a daily driver.

So that puts me in the market for a more fun weekend car. I’ve really enjoyed the lightness of my Civic and am looking for something that feels relatively light, and possibly has more power (50-100hp) than the Civic. Practicality is not a concern for me, and I’ve always had a thing for convertibles and am okay getting one, even though I’m in Ohio. Other big factors for me are to have a reasonable monthly payment on the finance front, something not more than 500-600$ a month (with a 3-5k down payment) AND reasonable reliability.

I’m currently looking at the 2019 ND Miata, 2007-08 987 Boxster, and 2012-13 981 Boxster.

Here’s how I look at them each:

1. ND Miata - I could get a new car for 32-33k, has great power to weight ratio, and I love the way it looks. Strictly power wise, it might be a downgrade from the Si but I bet it’s more fun to drive.

2. 987 Boxster - I don’t quite like how it looks but might get an S for 25-28k. I can get much better power and a Porsche! I’m worried about any reliability issues, which could get expensive in the long run.

3. 981 Boxster - I love how it looks, might get a base one for about 40k, decent power and probably better reliability than a 987. I’m worried about spending that kind of money, specially given interest rates on financing aren’t super low right now (I got 1.8% on the Civic 3 years ago!)

What would you recommend?

So before we dive into the three options, let’s take a hard look at your budget target. You said you wanted to be between $500 and $600 per month. When I fire up my handy, dandy loan calculator and plug in $600 per month assuming a five percent interest rate (you may do better) and a 60-month term, your financed amount can’t be any greater than $26,495.

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Of course, we can add your $5,000 down payment to this and get a total budget of $31,495 but that includes all tax and fees and depending on your location. So you probably need to be looking at a car that costs around $29,000. Therefore, the newer 981 Boxster at around $40,000 is going to be out of budget.

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This leaves the older 987 and the Mitata, both can be had for under $30,000. While there really is no wrong answer here, it comes down to balancing your risk threshold for an out of warranty German sports car against having the experience and performance over the reliable but still fun Mazda.

I say drive one of each and go with your gut. You can find well-sorted Boxsters with reasonable miles, and maybe just save a little extra in case you fear major repairs. And be sure to get it inspected first too.

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