Patrick is a former used car salesman who grew a conscience. He has three tips to share with us:
1. Buy in December
2. Bring your own financing
3. Watch out for the squeeze play.
Learn more, inside…
Buy In December
First off, if you want the best deal on a car, everyone knows to wait until the dealership and salesmen are desperate – Guess what? That means December. No one is buying cars because most folks are focused on buying gifts for the family. Everyone from the General Manager to the poor bastards taking “ups” (walk up customers, usually the worst chance of a sale) is feeling the pressure to produce. Now is your time to extract your best deal. Go for everything.. lower interest rate, pricing concessions, free detailing, window tint. Whatever you can think of.
Bring Your Own Financing
It’s very simple. Do you have a saving or checking account? Go to your financial institution and get “pre-qualified” . Your bank / Credit Union will give you a realistic idea of how much car you can afford to buy. You may not like what you hear, but you will be better off in the long run (witness the current meltdown over the sub-prime mortgage market) If you are pre-approved, you can shop for a vehicle in a realistic price range, and avoid the temptation of the buying too much car when the dealer flashes a “low payment” at you.
Watch Out For The Squeeze
This one absolutely broke my heart. It’s been 10 years since it happened, and I remember it as clear as day. A hard working couple, “salt of the earth” type came down to Phoenix from the Grand Canyon (at least three hour trip) with the ancient station wagon they wanted to trade in for a newer car. They worked at a diner in the park, she waiting tables and he washing dishes. they saved their tips for a year in order to have a down payment. After walking the lot for a half hour, I enthusiastically showed them a 3 year old Nissan Sentra. Well within their price range, solid value, reliable, and easy on gas.
They went through our finance department, and we sent them home, assuring them that we would get the interest rate and payment promised, for the down payment they left with us.
Now the heartbreak. A week later I was called in to the sales managers office and told that I need to “squeeze” the customer – call them up, and tell them to come back to the dealership (3 hours one way drive) and either bring us more down payment, accept a payment double that of the one quoted, or give back the car. “Why”, you ask?
Because the finance guys “made a mistake” and couldn’t get their loan “done” with any lender.
But finance and the manager weren’t concerned at all. They knew once the customer had driven the car for a few days, they would love it, and do almost anything to keep it.
I refused, and quit shortly afterwards.”
Thanks, Patrick. Seems to jibe with what we’ve heard and talked about before. Bring your own financing is probably the most important tip. Otherwise you’re going to also have to watch out for the four-square dealers use to rip customers off.
— BEN POPKEN