A Car Buying Odyssey: part 4

Recap of the search so far:

K and her husband need to replace her small car with one that fits a car seat. For more information on their criteria please visit previous articles in this series (link). Having visited 4 car lots on 4 separate occasions (some of them multiple times) the couple decided to widen their search to mid-sized sedans and do more online searches. However, they learn that their pre-qualified bank loan won’t allow private sales.

Day 6:

Thus, Monday began Day 5 of shopping. K spent her first break checking the net for cars, and text her husband links. Her husband took the day off work, and dutifully chased down leads. He even checked on cars by auto makers that he had owned before and decided never to own again.

That day, he added two more dealerships they hadn’t been to before and test drove three more cars. What he didn’t do was check private party sellers found for him by the car finding service. Many of those deals were, at face value, better than what the dealerships were offering.

The evening of day 6, the couple sat down over dinner to talk over their options. K’s husband had found one car that interested him, but the dealership only had new models which weren’t in the budget. The couple decided to revisit the dealership they felt most comfortable with and locate a used sedan that met the highest number of their criteria. They simply couldn’t afford the time to keep looking.

Since they didn’t have childcare at the moment, they looked online for the car they wanted to check out and then went to test drive it one at a time after the baby went to bed. The found a car that had nearly everything they wanted accept navigation on the dealerships website and texted their favorite sales lady to verify that it was still in inventory. When their daughter went to bed, K’s husband drove his car over to test drive the vehicle.

The plan was to test drive to their home, a few blocks away, and then switch so that K could drive back and then return in her husband’s car. If they both liked the car then her husband would arrange to have it inspected the next morning. Of course, battle plans never survive first contact…and neither do car shopping plans.

When things went sideways…again:

The sales lady was ready with “the numbers” when K’s husband arrived. They were willing to offer 3.99% interest through their financing and give $4,500 trade in for K’s car, but the amount was higher than listed on the internet. Furthermore, the dealership could only offer this deal tonight.

By the time K’s husband got to the dealership it was 7:30 pm. The dealership closed at 8 pm and that’s when the couple liked to go to bed. K’s husband pointed out that the price was different and that they were serious about using their own financing. The sales manager agreed to lower the price to match the internet, but when they quoted the payment the numbers didn’t seem right. So he agreed to drive the car home and let K test drive it before they rejected it. The sales lady, the sales manager, and the finance manager agreed to stay open late.

When K’s husband presented the deal to her she felt like they were putting a gun to her head. She pointed out that they’d agreed not to buy a used car without an inspection. She didn’t like being told that she only got the price advertised online if she agreed to use their financing at a higher rate and if they agreed to the deal tonight.

The couple decided that K’s husband would return the car and explain that they resented being pressured by the time constraint and not being allowed to use their own financing. When he returned the car, he added that the car was definitely worth the online price of $18,000 but not the full price the dealership wanted. The sales lady tried to explain that they had agreed to lower the price but K’s husband said that was conditional on using dealership financing and the only way they would agree to buy the car was if they got the internet price and were able to use their own financing.

The sales lady and the finance manager both insisted that the couple’s bank couldn’t give them the fixed rate 3% on 72 month loan (2.25% on a 60 month loan) that the couple had prequalified for. The dealership’s position was that banks only offered such rates for the first two years and then raised the rate to 8% or 9%. Tired and upset, K’s husband stormed out.

Round three:

While K’s husband drove home, the sales lady texted K to apologize for upsetting them. She stated that she and her coworkers had felt that they had finally succeeded in meeting all the criteria the couple established. They’d beat the 3% financing number, agreed to the trade-in value, and lowered the price to match the advertised price.

When K’d husband returned home the couple talked it over. K’s husband felt like the monthly payment quoted to him didn’t match all those concessions. When K pushed back about the monthly payment the sales lady said they’d decided to lower the price which would lower the payment but hadn’t had a chance to tell her husband that before he stormed out.

The couple talked and prayed about it. They were exhausted and didn’t want to make any snap decisions, but they were now sensing that the dealership wanted to sell them this car even more than they wanted to buy it. They decided to negotiate hard over text before making any final decision, but that they would be willing to buy that night if their demands were met.

By 9:15 pm, the dealership agreed to 1.99% financing, internet price, and gave the couple the amount they asked for their trade-in. K got dressed again and went out to sign paperwork. The couple had mixed emotions despite having achieved their demands. They weren’t comfortable with having made a rushed, pressured decision, especially since they hadn’t been able to get the car inspected. They’d pushed, and at one point had the sales manager agree to fix anything their inspector found wrong with the car—in writing—but when K showed up to sign paperwork they back peddled and restricted their liability to motor and transmission.

By 11 pm a weary K returned, exhausted and unsure, but with a new vehicle. The couple went to bed knowing that the following day they’d take the car for inspection and find out if they’d just made an $18,000 mistake. Stay tuned for part 5 and the exciting conclusion to “the car buying odyssey.”

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