Monday, November 21, 2005
The Search for the Best Deal on the Best Car
One of the things we tell people that are looking for their next car is this: Don't pick just one. Why? I really like the new M5, but I'm not fond of putting Thousands of dollars on deposit for the right to "stand in line." When I was single, I had the same rule about getting into clubs and bars. Never stand in line to give someone your money.
As I was thinking about this, I got a call that warmed my heart. Dealer in FL has 2 brand new Audi S4s, with "slight" hurricane damage. $Thousands below invoice. How bad is the damage? Slight nick/scratch...nothing substantial. Now there's a deal!
Save $4,000 on a never driven car and fix it up with $50 in touch up paint. Car can be shipped for $700. So what are we talking about here? Instead of a 500 horsepower, 2 wheel drive BMW M5, I could get an S4 and save $500/month. BMW has more rear seat legroom and newer technology. BUT...the S4 is a Quattro for lovely winter driving...with "ONLY" 340 horsepower. The extra $ saves on the S4 means I could buy extra winter tires and have enough left over for a boat. Mmm...but then...I couldn't tow the boat with the S4.
The BMW has more wow factor but I don't care about that too much. Now...if I could get the S4 with more rear seat legroom...
Need to think about this a bit longer. Plus...my lease isn't up for a few more months. But...you can see how an open mind allows you to consider a better deal?
Friday, November 04, 2005
One Consumer's Search For The New Car
- Realize lease is coming due May 1 on wife’s Honda Odyssey. It’s been a good vehicle for us but she is tired of minivans so time to get something more fun
- Sliding doors sometimes don’t open or close all the way. This can be rather annoying…especially when you need to be someplace. Sure, we could read the owner’s manual…but who does that?
- Not so stain resistant carpeting
- Paint shouldn’t peel off the dashboard on passenger’s side.
- Good stuff
- Almost 36,000 miles all across the U.S…Yellowstone, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Michigan with bikes on the roof and our dog snoring in back, sleeping on, over and under the luggage, food wrappers, DVDs and CDs.
- Awesome engine, pulling power and stable ride at speed
- Heated leather seats, Michigan winter, enough said
- Wife mentions Jeep. Why?
- 4WD…we have a steep driveway and the Odyssey was leased when we lived in Pacific Northwest…where it almost NEVER snows. Too many Michigan days where she felt un-safe and got stuck in our neighborhood after snowstorms. Try ramming that beast up a snowy driveway? Traction control is useless. Must backup into neighbor’s driveway, gun the Jap V6 and hope that I don’t skid right through the garage door.
- Chrysler employee discount potential
- Had a Durango in Northwest…she hated it so much (the ride, hard to park, terrible 3rd row seat entry/egress etc.) that her next vehicle was a Honda Odyssey. I think we would have gotten the Chrysler or Dodge van except the salespeople at 2 different stores were so incompetent that it soured us on the whole deal. Sometimes, you just pack it in and move on. Unfortunately for Chrysler, there was a nice young former Marine at the Honda dealer who had worked hard on how to sell.
- We also talk about the Honda Pilot, which we looked at briefly when we went with the Odyssey.
- Strangely, no one from Honda has called us. Not even the local dealer where we’ve had service. Makes you wonder…either a database problem or they just don’t want our business. Or business is too good at Honda so they don’t need to try that hard. Probably the latter…
- Used MotorAlley reviews to read up on the various products and get a sense for what people are paying for these products. Also looked at the Manufacturer sites.
- March 2005
- I introduce idea of Audi AllRoad…AWD and, I think, very attractive products
- She immediately takes liking to the All Road
- Big lease payment is scary. About double that of the Grand Cherokee. We attempt to submit an interent pricing request but don’t hear back from the dealer.
- We also decide to look at a Saab 9-5 Wagon…good products and I once met Deborah Kelly Ennis, the president of Saab. Day we submit a pricing request on the Saab station wagon it is announced that she resigned to become chief marketing officer of Diageo. Probably not the first or last GM exec that’s been driven to drink (attempt at humor).
- I decide to also look at the Ford Explorer XLT to compare one pay leases to the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. Both companies tend to have aggressive one pay leases and I have some fondness for the Explorer due to some earlier work with Ford. Also, we like the option of the 3rd row seat…could come in handy.
- Read some more reviews on MotorAlley and went to the Audi site to look at some of the certified pre-owned products.
- The tally so far using the online quote system, April 2, 2005:
- Lame emails from Saab (want to come in for a test drive?) and nothing from Audi other than a quote from Florida relative. Also, a lame email from Honda. It’s now the 3rd day and only calls from the Jeep dealer internet manager (3 calls, he’s doing a good job) and one from the Ford dealer.
- April 5th to April 9…no calls from anybody…
- Was able to get a coupon for Audi and went online to try to get a price. None of the 3rd parties (including us…gulp) has a participating local dealer. Looks like I’ll have to call instead. Too lazy…putting it off. I’m busy.
- April 11th
- Took the Odyssey in for last service before turn in. Friday is the inspection and needed oil change. They found that it also “needs” brake pads so instead of $150 for brake fluid, oil change and other miscellaneous, we’re now talking $400. Ouch. Service guy says, “sure you want to do this?” I said yeah…it’s the right thing to do. Could have gotten away with not spending the money, but safety is a concern.
- Susan gets excited because there’s a Pilot, “on sale” and we never heard back from the dealer on our one pay lease. Salesperson runs the numbers and explains why the Pilot is better than the Grand Cherokee. One pay lease is almost $10k for 24 months. I fail at attempt to contain laughter. Nothing as intimidating and depressing to a good salesperson as a customer laughing at the price. The G.C is almost half that on a one pay lease. Yes, the Pilot has leather and arguably better trim in some areas. A comparable GC might only be $3k cheaper. I explain, “I can get two Grand Cherokees for the price of one Pilot.”
- I feel badly for the sales guy. Selling Hondas in Detroit is tough work. We know…we have an Odyssey and paid through the nose for it. No more. We drive and dispose as long as someone will let us in and out of new cars for next to nothing. It’s an appliance.
- April 14th
- Jeep salesman calls again with new incentives and will run one pay lease program again. Really like the follow up. Only one really working for the deal.
- April 15th
- Honda turn in-inspection. Vehicle is in good shape but he discovers an indentation in the body panel. It was there when we originally leased the vehicle. About 3 inches in diameter, it looks like the body panel was painted with the dent or it was damaged in transport to the dealer before it was sold. I had noticed it when we first leased the car but figured it was the way the body panel sloped. A few months later I compared it to the other side of the car and realized that it was indeed slightly depressed. I should have said something to the dealer in 2002, but didn’t think it was a big deal. It is now. $399 damage. I told the inspector that I wasn’t happy about it because the car was bought that way but since I didn’t complain about it in May of 2002, I’m out of luck. Mmmmm…well…so much for considering that Pilot. The car is in excellent condition and under the mileage, and the area of the indentation has no pain chip or scuff. A word of advice, if you’re leasing a vehicle…and there is even the slightest concern about anything, HAVE THE DEALER NOTE IT IN THE ACQUISITION PAPERS OR YOU COULD HAVE A BAD INSPECTION DAY.
- April 25th
- Call Audi dealer to get pricing on A4 Wagon. Salesperson does a nice job and calls me back twice on the same day to work on pricing.
- Looked at Cost of Ownership info on Audi and decide that although it’s a great car…it’s still a lot of cash
- Love the Audi but this time, the Jeep is such a great deal…can’t pass up. Briefly consider the Certified Pre-Owned Wagons. They have a nice used S6 rocketship with extended factory warranty. Mmmm…that stops me in my tracks. But the Jeep is still a great deal and I’m more comfortable with a new vehicle than a 3 year old with factory warranty. All wheel drive systems, when they go bad, are really, really expensive to fix. Thousands of dollars.
- We go to the dealership so Susan can test drive the Durango, to make sure the GC is the way to go. She hates the Durango. Nice vehicle, but too big for her and same complaints as before. She hates it as soon as she gets in.
- Later that day, Jeep salesperson calls to give me the one lease price. I tell him we’d like to pick it up Wednesday. “You made my day,” he says. We opt for the richer content package with leather, heated seats. He throws in the 24 month free service package. Nice.
- April 27th
- We pick up the car. I write an up front check for the 24 month lease. Sign paperwork. He does the traditional walk around explanation and asks us to make sure he gets top scores on the salesperson satisfaction survey…his bonus depends on it! No doubt he’ll get it…he did a great job, earned the sale and at the right price.
- May 2
- I drop the Odyssey at the dealership. Honda waives any damages on the car as it falls below their lease repairs threshold. That’s nice…we’re all good again with Honda.
- Combination of great Grand Cherokee one pay lease and poor follow up by the competition led to the decision to get the Jeep. Audi was a strong consideration but we were more price conscious this time.