Efficient use of time in buying a new car

davidro1August 10, 2009

I'm thinking of emailing a large number of dealers. Here is what I'm thinking of saying.

Comment on this please.


Hello __,

New car to buy soon.

We are equity buyers + have never leased or financed.

Have often bought privately and enjoyed the experience.

Have always kept cars for five to eight years, and mostly had used cars bought at less than half their initial price.

To us, pride of ownership is a balance between owning a depreciating object and having a quality object.

How much loss per year is the question. This is how we think.

We must have answers when we ask questions or else we move to another person to deal with.

Your self-interest is an open subject.

Tell us if any option we'll buy will give you less money (% commission) or more hassle.

We expect you get a sales commission on any feature (item, accessory, option, etc).

-- Otherwise you have no incentive to encourage buying that feature.

Agree or disagree to proceed on the basis of informing us if your commission is higher or lower for any feature.

Answer "yes" or "no", if you please.

We may want accessories that you do not have in stock or have never sold as add-ons.

Tell us if this is going to be a problem for you.

We are willing to have you install these accessories weeks or months after the date of purchase.

We may customize our own logo on our next car.

We'll remove the name brand logo, just to please ourselves.

If your contract with X manufacturer requires you to oppose this, say so.

We must know the dollar price of the new car before proceeding.

The value of our trade in is not a subject worth discussing until we allow you to discuss it.

You can set trade-in value high or low to suit your purposes and adjust new car price accordingly.

The price to us remains the same.

If credit cost is low, we can say yes to that in part or mostly; otherwise it's straight cash since we have the money to spend.

A lease can be considered, if it can give us a clear sense of the loss in value per year.

Otherwise, discussions about credit financing are a waste of time and focus.

Please know that as a general rule the more time we waste with you, the higher is the probability we will move to another person to deal with.

Quality appeals to us, so we may opt to get a better car than today's target car.

You may offer other cars to us that you believe may suit us more.

You will succeed in making no sale at all, if you actively discourage us from buying our target car today.

So, upgrading our target is OK, but denigrating our target is not OK.

Target Car to purchase:

** Loses value per year at a low rate - therefore a lease can be considered.

5-doors in a Size like Versa / G3 Wave / Yaris / Accent / Rio / Swift / Golf or Rabbit / etc

5 door = hatch, crossover, whatever

Place for non-visible storage (so not Mazda5)

moonroof - veto if glare sunblindness

AC with air vents directional + ergonomics

manual transmission

solid suspension


rain runnels around windows

antirust protection

4 extra wheels and snow tires

heavy-duty suspension: potholes, winter, country roads

(and moonroof and AC)

Our needs are for


transporting big things like furniture or construction materials (on roof OK)

scooting around the city

winter in snow country

road trips up to 500 miles

clearance high enough to get over roadside snowbanks.

Good to have: an easy to wash down interior

Please get a willing salesperson to contact us by email or phone.


am sure I'll want to add more later but this is fine as a first draft.

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Do you really think a dealer is going to read all that and contact you? If I were a dealer I'd have to be pretty desperate to answer a letter like that. Is that who you want to buy from--they might be out of business soon.

Make your list of what you want in the car and take it to the dealers. Get all your car options ironed out and then tackle financing.

I don't care what the other guys say. We have a very good dealer, who is honest and helpful, tries to get you a very good deal, and applies no pressure. We have bought our last 4 vehicles from him and have always been satisfied.That to me is more important than answering a lot of questioms.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 3:31PM
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I'm glad you read it or most of it.
Thank you!

One day, I'll meet my dream retail outlet.
People like you inspire me to hope it can happen.

Any retailer could be out of business in any near future year.
Even the manufacturer could be out of business!

Is there a significant advantage to buying from a retailer who is still in business in year X in the future?
I'm in a big city with hundreds of retailers.
A dozen or more for almost every make of car.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:33PM
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Don't take any inspiration from me. I only skimmed your missive. I don't know about New York, but I'd rather deal with someone who I know and trust and will go to bat for me if something goes wrong.

You however may think differently and that is your right

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 5:52PM
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Sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but I didn't read your whole email and don't think any dealer would either. I don't think they care whether you have always been equity buyers, whatever that is, or enjoy the experience. They just want to sell cars and collect a paycheck.

When we bought our last car, I went to edmunds.com and found the cars we wanted to consider. You can even find out what the price for your area is for each model. You can also contact dealers through them. In my email, I gave the make & model I wanted, told them I would be paying cash, and asked for their out the door price. Dh thought haggling was the best way though, and even after I had my best price, he insisted on stopping at another dealer on the way to my best price dealer and played the game with a salesman for about an hour before I finally said I'd had enough and walked out the door. Went to the dealer I had a quote from, picked out a color, paid for it, and left.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2009 at 8:53PM
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I was laughing through it and couldn't even do more than skim it. This is a joke, right? It really doesn't make sense. You don't HONESTLY think a dealer is going to stand on their head and gargle peanut butter to entertain you do you?

A car jockey will look at the email and see that you're not serious to buy. They will look at this and think obviously you're a tightwad since you won't even go into the dealer to ask questions about vehicles. A phone call will get far more credibility than a spam mail, which this is nothing more than. Trying to assert your terms and conditions like this will brand you as someone nobody will want to deal with.

Knowing what you want is fine, but it's silly to make a big deal about don't talk negatively toward my car or you won't be rewarded!!!! or several of the other comments that don't even apply.

You may get a response to your email by a couple, but they won't be any more serious than this mail is. Hope you don't mind my being blunt but it needs to be said.

"If credit cost is low...". Uh, your credit cost will be based a lot on your credit score. Unless you give them the info to run a report on you it's worthless to even mention these things.

You want them to go get special add-ons and put on for you. Are you willing to pay for this? Don't expect this for free.

You don't really think they care if you take the stickers off do you? Unless you're leasing they don't care if you repaint, bang it with a hammer or use it as a public toilet once they have the money in hand.

You're obviously trying to tell them you won't be taken, want what you want and expect them to bend over to give what you want. What business would put up with that? Go into the business and get some credibility and make your positions clear that way. You'll be far better off. If they read you as a potentially serious customer, you'll get a lot if not all of what you want. If they read you as a lookie-lou they'll mess with you if they waste time with you.

Adding more to it? No, you need to delete a lot of it. I'd suggest you go check some dealers and at least decide what kind of vehicle you want to buy and then you could make some calls to preliminarily negotiate. You've only stated one vehicle you don't want to buy (Mazda) so you need to do some legwork. Just because dealers are hurting doesn't mean they're going to fall for spam IMO. I'll make one prediction: This email will be forwarded around a LOT of sales desks!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 6:33AM
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Forget the email.

Go to the dealers that have the cars you are interested in and take each one for a test drive to see which one fits you best. Narrow it down to two or three favorites based on your test drives and the objective data about each car that is available on-line.

When you have narrowed it down, see which car is overstocked on the dealers' lots and thus may be available with a higher discount. Dealers want to move cars they have in stock. A less popular model may be a thousand or so less expensive than a more popular model. That was the case when I purchased a new '95 Mazda Protege' instead of the competing Honda Civic. After 14 years of very economical and reliable service, I have not regretted my choice. Of course, also check for rebates offered by the manufacturer to either the dealer or the consumer.

Buy on the last day of the month, because some of the monthly sales volume incentives that dealers receive could be passed along to you in the form of a better deal.

The cars you list are not designed for your stated objectives like driving through high snowbanks, over potholed roads, or hauling big stuff. An old pickup truck or Ford Explorer with 4 wheel drive is better suited for occasional off-road use.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 11:09AM
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Anyone that reads this knows you aren't serious. You don't even know which car you want.

If you really want to save youself some time then do this:

1. Research the models you are interested in.
2. Narrow your search to about 3 or so models.
3. Find a local dealer where you can test drive the models you are interested in.
4. Decide which one you like best.
5. Go to Edmunds and send out emails to dealers to see where you can get the best price.
6. I gave the dealer where I did the test drive a chance to match the best price because they did let me test drive their cars. They ended up matching it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 11:15AM
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Good tips! The above two have a lot in them. The two higher up have some.

A Subaru Impreza would be good for snow country but I won't spend that much.

I need the small size in order to fit in with the others of the same size on tight streets in downtown Montreal, where I am 80% of the time.

I like Versa / Fit / Golf City.
I included all the others because I can't reject them yet, sight unseen.
Yes, I'll admit that the scope is still a large-angle lens.
Since I'm efficient and tight, I want to know price before I narrow my scope.
The real price not the visible price in official places.

Since I'm efficient with my time I already sent this out yesterday afternoon without waiting for any tips after that first one.
I did call first. -- So you and I are on the same wavelength!
I got return calls after the email yesterday afternoon. (!)
They had read it. (!)
I called some of the others this morning.
They had read it. (!)
I won't go to showrooms for test drives.
Not now! Not at this point in time.
Later, sure.
Not before I've found the retailer who pleases me: I'm "efficient with my time"

I'll be renting one of these vehicles during my vacation straddling month end, so the idea of observing their lot is a no go.
No disrespect intended, but I'm more efficient with my time than to go watch lots miles away... and besides, they could have other lots and warehouses elsewhere: it's a big city.
Also, many dealers are owned by a single holding corporation, so one spot lot does not represent more than a slice of reality, and not the whole picture.

I WILL tell one or two guys to keep me in mind to call if he needs to close one more sale at month end, otherwise all bets are off and a new month begins the next day.
That's the discourse they give you, about their temporary incentives.

Today I asked the Versa sales guy if he could give me either the August or the September incentives, when I get back from vacation.
He said no; I probed more. (!)
Together we worked out a way: if I order a specific one that he cannot deliver right away, then he can sell it with August incentives, deliver it in September and give me either the September or the August incentives, whichever are better for me.

Unfortunately I think since I'm in canada I can't make much use of edmunds.com although it's great.

Of course all accessories have to be paid for: let's all agree it's wisest to include them during the big sale when you have leverage.
Since I'm contributing to a money-saving forum, I'll act like I'm tight and proud to be so.
Within a few hours over the phone got price reductions of SEVeral thousand, so if where you are a difference of one thousand is considered a lot, then, wow, i don't know if we'll ever be able to help one another.

The retailer contract obliges them to sell the entire car intact, so no removing logos, and also no agreeing to buy back Mag Wheels so you can have steel wheels instead.
Who needs aluminum alloy wheels if they cost you an additional 5 or 10%.?
I just want "basic transportation" - as S I Hayakawa said.
Not what sellers determine will be the mix to make people keep up with other Joneses.

Keep the tips coming!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 2:27PM
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Davidro, I agreed with the others that no one would reply, so the economy must be really bad there.
I'm basically on your wavelength, as hubby and I always purchased used cars and kept them as long as possible. Our most recent car, a Prius, was our first new car. We have always paid cash. Hubby checked around and would do business ONLY with the dealers who would give him a quote via phone or email. Some refused.
Two things that I didn't see anyone mention. Since you are scoping out all kinds of vehicles, I strongly suggest checking Consumers Report. We also use the good guy/bad guy approach. Hubby is a softy, so I'm always the bad guy. When the dealer doesn't budge, I say "Come on, honey, let's go. This one is too expensive." Always works for us.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 7:39PM
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In case you are not aware, inventories for many makes and models can be viewed online at the dealers' or manufacturers' websites.

To waste your time and the dealers time pricing cars that you might not even want because you have not been in them or driven them is not what most people would call "efficient with my time."

"Within a few hours over the phone got price reductions of SEVeral thousand, so if where you are a difference of one thousand is considered a lot, then, wow, i don't know if we'll ever be able to help one another."

Many people already understand that the transaction price is typically much lower than the sticker price with new cars.

I second that you buy or read at the library (if you can fit it in your schedule) the Consumer Reports Magazine New Car Issue. It usually comes out in the Spring and has excellent information for someone buying a new car for the first time.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 2:43PM
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There's a dealer whose going to read that email, a newbie because they have quota and I'm sure they will spend time reading your email. But I doubt it if they would believe you because a sure buyer will go directly to the car dealer's outlet and choose the car that he or she wants to buy.


    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 4:59AM
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When I got home at 6:15 yesterday I found I'd received an email from the Honda Fit salesperson, who sent me a price quote, a PDF attachment, at 5 p.m.
I had dealt with him over the phone one day earlier and sent him a long email after the call.
-!- Yes, the email was based on the draft above, and modified in ways that reflected comments above. I can post it if people want.
His message: "Thank you for the detailed email. Here is a price."
At 6:30 I emailed back and phoned (leaving message) saying we'd be available downtown around 7:30 p.m. for the test drive he wanted us to do.
I live downtown.

A similar story:

Yesterday I called the Suzuki retailer closest to me and spoke to a salesperson. Ten minutes at 10 a.m.
Before 12 noon I sent email to the manager for him to forward to the salesperson.
The same long email modified as per feedback received.

The salesperson called me back at 2:30; his price was $X thousand lower than the web price.
He agreed with me that this was just the "over the phone" price with a stranger so the real price would be even lower than that.

After calling him again at 4 he was expecting me to confirm later whether he'd see us that same evening.
I sent email at 6:30 asking if it was reasonable to expect him to pick me up and drive another mile to fetch my wife who was finishing work.
In other words, if the test drive could start at my wife's workplace or at my place.
That email was also sent to the manager's email address, for him to see and discuss with the salesperson.
Then I called and asked him the same thing.
He went to get the email and consult his manager, and got back to me. No go.
At 7:30 p.m. I was at his front door showing him my drivers' license while standing a few feet inside the front door.
He gestured to a chair and I said "No time, remember we're driving now to go pick up my wife."
He walked over to a floor model to show me things, and I said "You'll show all this to my wife when we get her into the vehicle, right? So let's get going."
We left to go pick up my wife.
The manager observed from the distance and did not approach.

Minutes after picking up my wife, I was driving and my cell phone rang.
It was the Honda Fit salesperson getting back to me at 7:50 p.m. Can't talk now, thank you for the email, bye-bye.

I drove the three of us back to the Suzuki showroom, my wife drove a second vehicle, and then we did all sit down.

Since he used silence as a closing tool, my wife resisted him.

The best way to save money is to avoid spending money.
(An SX-4 at $X deprec./year, plus insurance, plus gas, plus maintenance, etc)
We still have our ten year old car depreciating at $1700 per year (bought used) and have never paid for major repairs for it yet.

Since last year we now belong to a car sharing service.
We've used it a few times.
Compare A to B:
A. carsharing service, regular car rental service, taxis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carsharing)
B. owning a car
Conclusion: A is way better. My wife was frustrated with our current situation. Now she is happy. She was the one who said "A" is way better after we went for a walk around the duck pond in the park. At 10 p.m.

I feel now I've come as far as I needed to on Tuesday, 48 hours ago.
We'll go rent a Versa or a Fit for our vacations. To try it out.

I'll look into inventories visible on the web. Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 9:15AM
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Please consider a car from an American car company -- not one whose profits are returned to Japan.

The bumber sticker -- "Out of job yet? Keep buying foreign" is no lie.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2009 at 11:37PM
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I know my method worked. Between my message Thursday a.m. and this one above I received two more return phone calls after my directive email. That means almost all of them who got the email responded.

New car prices are not yet low enough. We are going to let someone else pay for the depreciation that a new car inevitably undergoes. We'll buy a 4 year old car that saves us money.

It probably won't be a Korean made US car, since US car labels are symbols of followerism.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 8:23AM
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