Posted By Paul
My wife and I decided to finally replace our car with a new one and I thought I'd share my experience in the hope that it's of use to people.
First of all if you are one of those people who loves the car buying process, specifically the negotiation and back and forth with the salesperson, this posting is NOT for you.
I am NOT one of those people who loves that process. I find it exhausting and more trouble than it's worth, so my experiences and tips are based on the goal of getting a good deal on a car without a lot of hassle.
So here are the steps I took and how it went:
Step 1: Pick a car.
My wife and I did our research including checking out consumer reports and came up with a car that seemed promising. We went to a dealership and looked at the actual models on the lot and picked up some information on the different features that you could add and how much they cost. Based on that we came up with the exact model we wanted in 3 colors that we liked.
Step 2: Determine price.
For this step we decided to try two different car buying services. These are just services that are offered through various organizations where they have a pre-negotiated price for a model. We tried one that was through our credit union and the other was through CostCo.
We tried the credit union service first. It was just a phone call where we told them the car we wanted, they did a little research and told us the price they could get for us. No haggle, no hassle, no pressure. When I told them I was going to think about it they said no problem and that was that.
The CostCo service is a little more complicated. You go to a webpage (or you can call them) and you tell the kind of car you are looking for and where you live. Based on that information they give your contact info to one of their dealer affiliates and the dealer contacts you. The dealer tells you the price of the car (supposedly they need to do it in person so that they can see your CostCo card but in many cases they will tell you the price over the phone) and if you want to take it great, and if not, no big deal.
Our first experience with the CostCo service was terrible. The dealer had us set up an appointment to come in and see the car (and find out the price). When we came in it turned into the same old dealer experience (lots of tedious sales tactics, etc.). When the sales person said: "What would it take to get you to buy this car today?" I just left.
To their credit CostCo called me to get my feedback on my experience with the service and when I told them how much I didn't like it they told me that what I was expecting WAS what was SUPPOSED to happen and they offered to set me up with another dealer. We decided to give CostCo one more try.
The second dealer was great, no pressure just: here's the price.
By the way, the price offered through our credit union and CostCo were essentially the same.
Step 3: Do a little financing research.
I came to the dealership already knowing the best interest rate that I could get through my credit union. The dealership was having an incentive rate for financing that was 1% less than the credit union rate so we decided to finance with the dealer. By coming into the dealership knowing the rate I could get from my credit union it was an easy decision to make when it came down to financing.
By following these steps the car buying process was a breeze (well except for that first CostCo experience which was a disaster).
The next time we decide to buy a new car I will definitely use a car buying service and avoid having to deal with a pushy salesperson.