Author Topic: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?  (Read 2228 times)

jeromedawg

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Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« on: October 27, 2016, 11:08:27 PM »
Hey all,

I think we may be looking at a used van (either a Mazda 5, Sienna or Odyssey) and I was wondering what you guys would recommend as a starting point for finding one at a good price and with the least hassle. A friend of my told me about Shift and regrets not using it over going into a Toyota dealership to haggle down the price of a new-used Sienna last year... I think he and his wife spent nearly the remainder of their afternoon and evening after work haggling and playing waiting games with a high-pressure sales guy at the dealership (which was also an hour or more away). I just don't want to deal with any of that crap and want something straightforward and fair... so for someone who has never done this before, what's the easiest way to go about it?

If buying new, another friend of mine recommended getting a fleet quotes via PenFed - I have an account with them but buying new isn't a priority for me. Just something with under 70k miles
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 11:12:30 PM by jplee3 »

Interest Compound

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2016, 12:47:23 AM »
This method worked wonders for me:

https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=124638

Long story short, I searched Autotrader and TrueCar for the best prices, then sent them all the same email:

"I am looking to purchase this car, specifically VIN XXXX on your lot. I am soliciting multiple dealers for the best price. My zip is xxxxx. Please submit your very best bid OTD (Out The Door) for this car. This negotiation will take place entirely through e-mail, and I will not be coming in to the dealer to discuss the price or making any phone calls. --"

Got a great price :)

jeromedawg

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2016, 09:00:57 AM »
This method worked wonders for me:

https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=124638

Long story short, I searched Autotrader and TrueCar for the best prices, then sent them all the same email:

"I am looking to purchase this car, specifically VIN XXXX on your lot. I am soliciting multiple dealers for the best price. My zip is xxxxx. Please submit your very best bid OTD (Out The Door) for this car. This negotiation will take place entirely through e-mail, and I will not be coming in to the dealer to discuss the price or making any phone calls. --"

Got a great price :)

Thanks! I noticed the advice seems to center around new car purchases, but it looks like this will work for buying used or new-used too but still having to go through dealerships?

ltt

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2016, 09:19:57 AM »
The easiest way I've found is to know what you want to buy ahead of time, go to the car dealer, take a test drive, and then, if you like the vehicle, be willing to write them a check for the amount you are willing to pay for the vehicle.  It's such a pain, I know.  But it seems to be much easier if you have your checkbook out and are willing to walk away if you don't like the deal.

The last time we bought a used pickup, and when they came back with a counter, it was just a little too high (maybe a few hundred bucks), and we were willing to walk away.  It also helps to purchase a vehicle on the last few days of the month. 

The other option you have is to buy from an individual seller.  We have actually sold our old vehicles to private buyers.  I don't think there is much hassle at all.  If you can come to an agreement and have the proper paperwork, everything should work out well. 

frugaliknowit

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2016, 12:08:08 PM »
Unfortunately, the "least haggle" way is from Carmax, where you tend to PAY the MAX (they "spit shine" the cars and make all sorts of claims about how throroughly they are inspected, yada, yada, yada...).  In my opinion, you NEED the hassle and haggle to get a good value with a used car.

Interest Compound

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2016, 03:44:38 PM »
This method worked wonders for me:

https://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=124638

Long story short, I searched Autotrader and TrueCar for the best prices, then sent them all the same email:

"I am looking to purchase this car, specifically VIN XXXX on your lot. I am soliciting multiple dealers for the best price. My zip is xxxxx. Please submit your very best bid OTD (Out The Door) for this car. This negotiation will take place entirely through e-mail, and I will not be coming in to the dealer to discuss the price or making any phone calls. --"

Got a great price :)

Thanks! I noticed the advice seems to center around new car purchases, but it looks like this will work for buying used or new-used too but still having to go through dealerships?

I bought used, and it worked for me. Some dealerships won't play ball, they'll INSIST you come in for a test drive, or INSIST on your phone number to discuss how they can best help you. In this way, the untrustworthy dealerships weed themselves out (and without you having to go visit them!). Almost all the other dealerships responded with a lower offer than advertised on their site. I simply choose the best offer, went down for a quick test drive, and bought the vehicle.

Even then they tried to screw me...take it from me:

Never
Sign
Anything
Without
Reading
It

No matter how quickly they go through it, or try to give a quick summary of the form so you just sign and move on. Remember, this do this for a living. Everyday. They're the experts, not you.

They gave me document after document to sign, and tried to slip in a BS extra for a few hundred bucks that we never discussed. It was simply a, "Sign here, ok now here, initial here, yea how's the car isn't it great? Ok now here" ...etc. I stopped to read and refused to sign for the extra fee.

Very sneaky.

Reynolds531

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2016, 05:07:22 PM »
I would have walked to the nearest bus stop if the paper I was asked to sign had something they were trying to sneak in.

Del Griffith

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2016, 05:53:35 PM »
As someone else mentioned, be willing to walk away. When I was shopping several years ago, I narrowed down what I wanted and then looked around online to see which dealerships carried it. Once I found a good match at a price I felt was reasonable, I reached out to them via phone. Since at that time I was financing, I kindly told them I was willing to pay $X per month, and if they weren't able to give me that price, no problem and I totally understood and didn't want to waste anyone's time by coming to look at it in person. They called back and let me know they could get me that price at $X+3 per month. I told them, no, I didn't say $X+3, I said $X, and again pleasantly reminded them, if they couldn't do that price, that was fine, no pressure and I'd move on. Shortly after, they called back with an offer that came in couple bucks under my price per month. I was willing to walk away over $3 per month because I knew that salesperson needed me more than I needed him. Once I got my price, we scheduled a time for me to come in and test drive it, take care of all the business and take it at that scheduled time. Also, from what I understand from a friend that sold cars at a dealership, the last day of the month really is a thing when it comes to bonuses, so I scheduled coming in on the 31st to make sure everything went smoothly. This worked well for me. Good luck!

Saskatchewstachian

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2016, 08:22:55 AM »
The easiest way I've found is to know what you want to buy ahead of time, go to the car dealer, take a test drive, and then, if you like the vehicle, be willing to write them a check for the amount you are willing to pay for the vehicle.  It's such a pain, I know.  But it seems to be much easier if you have your checkbook out and are willing to walk away if you don't like the deal.

The last time we bought a used pickup, and when they came back with a counter, it was just a little too high (maybe a few hundred bucks), and we were willing to walk away.  It also helps to purchase a vehicle on the last few days of the month. 

The other option you have is to buy from an individual seller.  We have actually sold our old vehicles to private buyers.  I don't think there is much hassle at all.  If you can come to an agreement and have the proper paperwork, everything should work out well.

Couldn't agree more on this one. Our last used vehicle (also a pickup) we looked around online and found one at a dealership we really liked. We walked in and after the test drive said we have XXX set aside and will pay cash today. There was the typical "O we can't possibly go that low" then the salesman talked to his manager who pretended to be angry, who then went and spoke to the General Manager. They came back and said we can give you your price if you finance OR your price + 700 if you want to pay cash. (something about the bonus they get from the bank for bringing in loans).

My thought was "great  will get the loan then just pay it off, so this will also improve credit score!" Turns out there is a 6 month waiting period before you can pay off the loan. we said thank you very much and prepared to walk out. That is when they finally offered if for our ask price.

We had the cash available to spend more if we wanted to, but we set our price and told the salesman "this is our absolute max, and if you can't meet it we won't buy." Paying cash was the best leverage for us and allowed us to get a great deal.

Livingthedream55

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2016, 11:30:16 AM »
I recently bought from  no haggle used car dealership in Massachusetts (not CarMax though). I bought a 5 year old Chevy Cobalt with 60,000 miles on it for $5,000.

It was unbelievably pleasant and stress free. Now, did I get the most rock bottom price? No, but it was a fair price (I had done my research) and I saved myself countless hours of time and hassle and stress. I hadn't bought a car in 10 years so if I "lose" a few hundred every 10 years when I get a car, I can live with that.

I did leave a small deposit to take car to my mechanic prior to purchase and they also provided a free CarFax report.  Paid cash so was in and out of there in an hour when it was time to pick up the car.

See if you can find one by Googling "no haggle used cars --- fill in your State name)"  - they make a lot of profit on trade in (I had none) and selling warranties (which I declined) - they did offer a 90 day warranty at no charge which was better than the 30 day warranty offered by their competitors.


mskyle

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2016, 01:13:31 PM »
I want to put in a small argument in favor of private-seller care sales. I've sold my car as a private seller and bought a car from a private seller, and both times it was incredibly easy. If you're not in a rush and you're not looking for a special snowflake of a car, it's not necessarily that difficult. But you basically end up shopping for both a car and a seller - you want someone who's easy to work with, motivated to sell, and not any more interested in haggling than you are.

honeybbq

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2016, 01:24:32 PM »
Carmax. No haggling, no bullshit.

kristof

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2016, 01:30:04 PM »
I've bought a couple of cars, all from Craigslist. Seems like the easiest and cheapest way to go. The level of detail and articulateness of the description is usually a decent signal about how serious and trouble-free the seller will be. For maximum efficiency, you can meet at your mechanic's and have them do the inspection right before/after you test drive it, then make them a cash offer right after.

One time I offered $x and the guy came back a couple minutes later saying he wanted to sell it for $x minus $300 because he didn't think it was worth that much. Most people are honest and well-intentioned.

ender

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2016, 03:33:29 PM »
One thing to figure out is what the value of the car you are looking for is. There's no real easy way to find this other than watching listings for a while.

Then, when you see one that is a decent deal, buy it - if you live anywhere other than the middle of nowhere you can trivially find thousands of cars within a 250 mile radius. You likely won't need to go further than that and probably can cut that radius a ton.

A lot of dealers now have to list cars with a pretty good price online because many people won't bother going to the location if it's too high. Find one you think is a good deal and go in person and you probably can get a great deal (or call, potentially). They will have some flexibility but a lot less than 10-15 years ago. The ones with a lot of flexibility are the ones listed for $2k higher for the same car ;-)

MrsPete

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2016, 05:04:12 PM »
I don't enjoy haggling, but I am very, very good at it. 

First and foremost:  Know what you want and what you can afford.  Be realistic and get your down payment and credit in order before you start shopping.  If you're trying to buy an "out of reach" car or are underwater on a current car, you cannot expect to get a good deal. 

Dress nicely -- nice jeans and a sweater rather than athleti-leisure, nicely groomed hair, etc.  Looking poor won't get you a good deal, but looking professional and put-together will convey the idea that you're intelligent, prepared, and probably have the money to make the deal happen.  Salespeople will judge you and decide whether you're worth bothering with. 

Go pick out your car, drive it, etc. ... but DO NOT talk money that day.  Snap a picture of the VIN or the window sticker.  When you're sure, go back ... but DO NOT drive that day.  When you're driving the car, you think about how much you want it, and they're pumping you for information ... you can only lose.  So separate the issues.  Choose on Day 1.  Bargain on Day 2.  If your car gets sold, so what?  Cars are not difficult to find, and if yours gets sold, it just wasn't meant to be. 

Do your homework ahead of time and know the value of the car you're looking to buy.  Know your out-the-door price; that is, the total cost of the car + taxes + tags.  The REAL total cost.  Car dealers are VERY GOOD at switching between sticker price and invoice price and total price and whatever else ... they do it all day, every day, and they are better at it than you. The only way you can win is to stick to your guns:  "I want to discuss one number only.  The total, out-the-door price."  They will do everything they can go twist the conversation:  Adding accessories, offering incentives, etc.  I can't emphasize this enough:  "I want to discuss only one number today:  the total, out-the-door price."  You aren't here to make friends. 

Do not trade in an old car.  Again, car dealers do this all day, every day -- and they will beat you every time ... if you allow them to discuss your trade and your new purchase at once.  If you have a car to trade, sell it privately. 

Do not talk about anything except the car.  You have kids?  I'm more interested in discussing the out-the-door price of the car. Do you have a lengthy commute?  Let's talk about the total price of the car. I could show you this other model with more storage space.  No, I want to discuss the total price on this car; no others.   The salesman couldn't care less about your personal life; he is trying to talk you up or down to a different model, or he's starting to play emotional games about your children's safety, etc. 

If you're looking at a new car (meaning, it's available lots of places), the dealer will absolutely say, "Go check everyone else's prices, then come back to me and I'll beat them."  No.  I'm only interested in the out-the-door price right here, right now. 

Arrive at the dealership /car lot exactly 40 minutes before they close.  They DO NOT want to see you leave; theirs is a cut-throat business, and if they let you walk away, they are unlikely to see you again.  This puts THEM in the hot seat:  They have to skip the "manager is mad at giving you this deal", or the leave-you-waiting type of games and go ahead and jump to real negotiations.  40 minutes is exactly enough to bargain with you BRIEFLY, then get your paperwork done.

Put your phone away.  Paperwork too.  Leave your kids at home.  Be 100% accessible to the salesperson.  Make it clear that you are here to make this happen, and it's the only thing about which you care at this moment. 

Do not be afraid of silence.  If the salesperson has thrown out a number, and you've answered ... do not be quick to fill the empty space.  If the salesperson is allowing silence, he's hoping you'll fill it by caving /giving in.  Answer once -- he heard your answer.  Maintain eye contact with the salesperson.  He will speak again. 

Do not talk about going elsewhere or the cars available elsewhere.  You've already decided you want THIS CAR, and you should not encourage the conversation towards anything except -- you know what I'm going to say -- I only want to talk about the out-the-door price of this car. 

Incidentally, if they leave you sitting alone waiting ... do not talk to your significant other.  Or, discuss nothing but the dinner you plan to eat later.  I'm 100% certain they are listening in on you. 

If they start playing games with you, be the non-emotional, your-schemes-amuse-me INTJ that you almost certainly are if you're reading this board.  Give them "the look" ONCE and remind them that you are interested in only one topic:  the out-the-door price (remember, you've already done all your homework; you know the fair price, you know about the warranty, etc. and do not want to rehash that in your limited 40 minutes).  If they abandon their games, fine -- keep negotiating.  If you were in their shoes, you'd try too. 

If they persist in playing games, say, "I'm sorry we couldn't do business" and LEAVE.  Straight to the door, no meandering as if you want them to beg you to return.  GONE.  I did this when I bought my current car, and as my husband and I were driving off the lot, the salesman literally ran out in front of our car and JUMPED ONTO OUR HOOD, saying, "Yes, we will give you your price.  Come back in."  We did. 

Remember, they will win at games.  All day, every day, better at it than you.

If you leave without buying, leave the salesperson's business card on the table.  Look at it, sigh, and make eye contact with him as you set it down.  This tells him, If you let me walk out, I will not be contacting you later.  You deal with me now ... or never. 

The salesman will want to discuss whether you're going to finance.  Refuse to discuss that topic.  Tell him you're still weighing your options, and the only thing you want to talk about today is the out-the-door price. 

Can you tell I am excellent at focusing, even obsessing on a single thing? 

If you intend to finance, consider doing it through your credit union -- their terms are almost always better than those at the dealership /car lot.  Talk to them ahead of time so you'll know where you stand.  If you do finance through the dealership, do not disclose that fact until after you have agreed upon the out-the-door price.  Once that price is established, you can say, "Okay, now let's talk about financing." 

Have a single blank check in your hand while you negotiate.  Do not take in cash; too dangerous -- you don't know who's watching.  At some point the salesperson's going to say, "If I take this deal to my manager, I have to show him you're serious -- write that check for $$$$."  Do it.  If the deal doesn't get made, you'll get it back.  Anyway, you have another check in your pocket, if that one should turn out to be for the wrong amount. 

Once you've agreed upon the price, don't let your guard down.  Read all your paperwork.  Be ready for them to try something sneaky.  For example, once I bought a car and after we'd done the paperwork they "suddenly realized" that only one key existed.  I told them that was absolutely not acceptable.  Cars have at least two keys.  I demanded that they make me a copy (I tried to get a copy of my Honda key made, and it was going to cost $250!).  They refused, which I thought was silly -- it can't cost them all that much, but I'd negotiated hard, and they weren't thrilled with the deal.  I said, "Okay, then this deal is off.  Let's start the process of returning the car."  My college daughter, who was to be the driver of this car didn't even blink -- smart kid that she is, she knew very good and well what I was doing.  (You can return a car within a couple days, but it really screws over the car dealership -- what used to be a one-owner car is now a two-owner car, even if you never took it off the lot.)  Suddenly making a key was possible.  I just had to wait for the key to be made, which I found perfectly acceptable.

Finally, at all times conduct yourself in a polite, respectful, professional manner.  Don't expect that they'll sell you the car without making some profit for themselves.  If things don't work out, tell the salesperson -- honestly -- that you're sorry you just can't do business. 

And good luck.  As I said, I am GOOD at this, and this method has worked well for me. 

« Last Edit: December 23, 2016, 05:12:27 PM by MrsPete »

lbmustache

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2016, 09:06:56 PM »
I agree with the above post, it's very detailed, but the basic premise: know your shit, don't take shit, is 100% spot on.

Typically, dealers seem to have less wiggle-room on used cars (for example, a brand new Camry can go for $5k off MSRP, but they will not take $5k off the price of a used car) so know that beforehand. You'll have better luck with a used car that's been sitting on lot for awhile, in terms of negotiation. I would recommend NOT going to Carmax - they are very easy to work with, but their used car prices are typically $1500-$2500 higher than other dealerships or private party. Basically, you are paying for the convenience of no haggle.

Dave1442397

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2016, 11:15:12 AM »
You can use sites like TrueCar.com to get prices on used cars in your area. TrueCar will give you actual dealer quotes if you want to go that far.

Other companies such as Costco, PenFed, and even my employer have car buying services for both new and used cars.

Another site I like is CarGurus.com, where they give you an idea of whether the price is a good deal or not, and also tell you (in most states) how long the car has been on the dealer's lot. Price reductions tend to come at 30, 60 and 90 days, and some dealers will just send the car to auction if it hasn't sold by then.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2016, 11:18:05 AM »
Just throwing out there that no-haggle dealerships will sometimes actually haggle. Not drop the price, but throw in other things. I got a set of snow tires and TPMS sensors at the no-haggle place where I bought my used Fit (and the no-haggle price looked pretty good to begin with according to blue book and whatnot).

The Money Monk

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2016, 12:40:58 AM »
I agree with several of the posters above - if you have the money and are very clear to them that you are firm on that, then its not that much of a hassle. You either get the price you want, or you leave. I've never had it take more than an hour to get to that point, including the test drive.

I have bought my last 2 cars used from dealerships. I went it, test drive, and said this is what I'm willing to pay OUT THE DOOR. Everything included. I'm not shopping payments, im shipping price. I understand if you can't do this price, that's not a problem, just don't pretend - let me know so I can leave and not waste either of our time.

Most decent places will be pretty straightforward and painless once they realize what type of customer you are. If they still continue a lot of the high-pressure flim-flam type tactics after you tell them a few times very clearly what I said above, then I wouldn't trust that place and would leave.

GetItRight

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Re: Easiest and least hassle/haggle method for buying a car (used)?
« Reply #19 on: December 25, 2016, 01:27:39 PM »
Craigslist. Ask all relevant questions and agree on a price before going to see the vehicle. If everything is as expected there's no need to haggle over price. I've bought most vehicles I've owned through CL, very easy and painless.