I recently came to the realization that even though I’ve spent the last 20+ years in the car business, no one ever asks for my advice on buying cars. I’ve had a very stable and successful career, spent mostly in management, at reputable dealerships. I have knowledge that ranges from working to expert on any possible situation involving buying, selling, financing, or servicing an automobile. But you’re not impressed. You will use your own ideas over mine when it comes time for you to make important automotive decisions. In fact, because I am in the car business, my advice has less weight to you than your uncle Al’s or that guy on TV or almost literally anyone else.
I doubt other professions are this way. If I told you that I spent the last 20 years manufacturing widgets, you would probably say, “Wow that’s really interesting. What can you tell me about the widget manufacturing process?” But if I tell you that I sell cars, you are more likely to actually begin telling me all of your precious insights into the car business. Strange, huh?
Of course I’m being a bit facetious. I do certainly have family that trust me 100% to handle every aspect of their car purchases. And of course any successful career in the car business requires that a customer base of returning happy customers be cultivated over the years, all of which at some level at least respect my professional advice even if they don’t always take it. But you, the savvy car buyer, have no need to ask me, the enemy, a single thing.
You know better than me the best way to get a great deal. You know how to negotiate the best buys, how to arrange financing, get the most for your trade, and how best to outsmart the system and thwart the scams. Good for you. But even though you never asked for it, I’m going to give you my best advice anyway. Customers that do what I’m about to tell you are by far the most satisfied. But even though I’ve seen this technique successfully used thousands of times over my career, you won’t believe it works anyway.
So here it is: Find someone that you like at a reputable dealership, and pay full sticker. Let the dealership handle any financing that you need, and add whatever products the finance person recommends. Customers that do this are always by far our happiest. They are the ones that leave raving reviews and bring us home made pies to thank us. On the other end of the spectrum, customers that spend hours or days grinding out every penny, and save .015% by going to their own bank, and tell the guy to shove off when it comes to the optional warranty are always our least happiest customers. They leave still feeling slighted and dissatisfied, wondering if they could have done even better. They will be unhappy with some part of the long tedious process that they engineered, and will leave lousy reviews.
I’m not saying pay too much or get duped. I’m saying do your homework, know a good deal when you see it, research the dealer, and then if everything feels right when you get there, just buy the car you want and protect your purchase with the best coverage available.
You know what else no one has ever said to me? “I’m so glad that I ignored your advice and didn’t buy the warranty. Instead I put that money back and was able to live off the interest for last five years and the car has not given me the first problem.” Nope. Instead I get two scenarios. The first is the person that declined the protection and upon their first service estimate are for some reason mad at the world, the manufacturer, and especially the dealership, even though we are the ones that suggested a solution to their woes up front. The second scenario is the person that stops in just to thank me for saving them thousands when their car inevitably went berserk one day. I’ve been hugged over GAP claims. For real.
You have access to all the information anyway, so if it’s truly not a good deal, why are you even there? Buying a car should be fun. Cars are cool. Have fun and enjoy the process. And if you truly want to be happy with your purchase, don’t negotiate at all.