4 months ago, our Toyota Camry when kaput so we replaced it with a 2014 Honda Accord lx.
We have been meaning to replace our 2005 Honda Civic for a while now but it has been a low priority since the car still works great. Low miles, engine is still in great shape.. it was really hard validating getting rid of it and spending more money on a different car. It's just that the manual locks and manual windows are such a hassle.
However, it just so happens that a family friend is currently shopping around for an affordable car for her to take to school so it was the perfect opportunity for us to sell the car to the friend and for us to replace the car!
Our requirements for the new car were:
- gas efficient
- repairs won't break the bank (so hybrids were out)
- hatchback (or something where seats can fold down and haul cargo)
- a great value. preferably something under ~$18K msrp
We also considered looking at used cars but the difference in price between used cars and new cars were very small. I think right now, a lot of people aren't buying new cars so dealers are handing out killer deals. At the same time, everyone is buying used cars, so the price to buy a used car is fairly high. Just to give you an idea: when I purchased my Civic used 5 years ago, I purchased it for $8,000, which had a kbb value of $8-8.5K. Right now, when we checked the resale value of my Civic on kbb, the resale value is still $8K. Other car sites estimated my Civic would sell at $7.5K. So the point is, it's a great time to sell a used car but it is a great time to buy a new car.
Off to the dealer we go.
We test drove a Mazda 3 hatchback 2015 and a Honda Fit 2015 and we decided that we preferred the Fit. It felt better and the price tag was a couple thousand dollars below.
Now it was time for us to do our online "homework".
With the Accord, I used TrueCar.com to get an idea how much cars were selling for in my area, but the TrueCar guaranteed price wasn't the cheapest. I also looked at the Costco auto program but that wasn't a deal at all. Using the Edmunds Price Promise tool, I was able to get a very very low quote on an Accord, then I took that quote and went to my local Honda deal (0.5 miles away from my home) and asked them to beat that price -- they did.
So I tried to do the same approach this time:
I went to Edmunds and did their Price Promise tool. Odd.. I was only getting quotes right around the same price as the MSRP for the Honda Fit: $17,115. I never expect to pay sticker price!
After getting several quotes and also manually contacting dealers directly, I was getting quotes at or above MSRP. One dealer even quoted me a price that was $2000 above MSRP.
What was going on here???
As it turns out, since the year 2015 isn't here yet, manufacturers aren't giving out many Honda Fit 2015s to dealers. As soon as a dealer gets 1 or 2 Honda Fits, buyers come and buy them right away because the 2015 Fit is pretty dang awesome (it really is. You get so many features in the base model that the 2013 Fit doesn't have. The Fit did not produce a 2014 model).
Because the 2015 Honda Fits are selling like hot cakes, the dealers are able to sell them at sticker price or higher.
But I didn't give up!
I went on TrueCar and got quotes from several dealers, and one dealer located all the way in Woodland Hills (about 30 miles away) quoted us a Honda fit for $16,744, which is almost $400 below msrp. The great thing about TrueCar prices are, the price they tell you is the price the dealer has to honor. No haggling, no hidden costs.
We called the dealer and they said they had the colors gray, blue, and passionberry in stock (we were picky about our colors: no white, black, red, yellow, and silver for us. Yet every dang dealer in town only had the reject colors like white, black, and yellow since people snatch up the decent colors fast).
We ate breakfast and drove off to the dealer on Saturday morning (Nov 1).
At the dealer:
We arrive and we were promptly offered juice boxes, hot teas, hot coffees, and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I liked this place already. All the other dealers we have visited in the past gave us water at best.
Caitlin played in this awesome kids play area while we waited for our sales associate. Did I mention I liked this place?
Jeff test drove the Honda Fit LX (we decided ahead of time that we wanted the LX) while I sat and drank tea and ate cookies with Caitlin in the kids play area.
After Jeff was done test driving, the sales guy had Jeff start with the paperwork. How pushy! We didn't even say yes/no yet!
But we mentally already said yes, so we began the paperwork. He asked us so many questions about employment and income background and about 25 minutes in, I asked the sales guy "um, is this background check truly necessary, since we are paying in full for the car?".
Oh. Apparently we didn't need to do all that! We just wasted 25 minutes!
I'm going to assume its rare for people to walk in and write a check for a car, which is why he assumed we were getting a loan or leasing.
Once all the paperwork was complete, the topic of money came up. I showed the sales guy the TrueCar price (the manager was nearby and he seemed utterly insulted and angry at the TrueCar price we were promised.... but... they have to honor it! that's how it goes!) then the sales guy left to tally up the out-the-door price.
When he returned... I reviewed each line item on the bill. Something was amiss!
In addition to the TrueCar price of the car ($16,744), and the gov taxes & fees, he tried to charge us $1,590 for accessories! This sh*t happened the last time we tried to buy a car too.
We said we weren't paying for anything more than what TrueCar promised us.
The sales guy brought over his manager who told us what a great deal we were getting with the accessories (typical spiel) and we still said "no, we don't want to pay for the accessories. Either give it to us for free or rip it off the car". The manager left to go talk to his "manager" about this. Of course, that is all a lie. They just want to make us wait and make us impatient while they leave and go watch some TV or something. Manager eventually returns and says he can charge us an even $1,000 for the accessories. We said "no thanks, we just want to pay the price TrueCar promised us". The manager is unhappy and leaves again to
The TrueCar price was $16,744, the accessories was $450, and all the gov taxes and fees was $2423.72. Bringing the out-the-door grand total to $19,617.72. Not bad!
Now.. we bring up the topic of colors. What colors can we choose from? Last we heard, there was gray, passionberry, and blue. The sales guy leaves to check the colors.
A while later, him and the manager returns informing us that they have none of those colors on the lot and all they have on the lot is a red Honda fit that is used for test-drives (and the AC is broken). What the hell?
We pack up our bags and get ready to leave.
Then the manager quickly changes his story: "wait wait. we see a gray car on its way".
See? Where does he "see" this car? I looked out the window. I don't see a gray Honda fit LX.
Maybe he got nervous and didn't want us leaving the dealer without money.
The manager later says something like, the gray car is on its way from another dealer.
Ok. so we wait for the car, while we handle payment in the meantime. Jeff leaves for the bank to get a cashier's check because we forgot out checkbook at home.
15 minutes in (while Jeff is still at the bank), the sales guy sheepishly informs to me that the gray car was actually just sold at the other dealer, so there is no gray Honda fit LX for us.
I was already packing up my bags at this point and getting ready to leave.
But wait wait!
The sales guy tells me they have 1 gray Honda Fit EX on the lot, that his manager is willing to sell us for $1000 more [than the agreed on price of $19,617.72].
I said I will have to call Jeff and discuss.
I wanted to take the time to research online if $1000 more for an EX was a good deal or not, but Caitlin was bugging me about having to go pee for the last 5 minutes, and I kept ignoring her, and then she peed her pants and all over the office chair as a result...... so I called Jeff and told him to figure it out while I took Caitlin to the restroom to clean her up.
We already knew that the EX is a more expensive model than the LX, and we were aware of all the cool new features you get on the EX model, like a bigger screen, right lane camera, hdmi input, ally wheels, etc . But it has one big feature that we weren't so thrilled about: the push-start engine. That is one big compromise to consider.
5 minutes later, Jeff calls me and says he thinks it's a good deal and we should move forward.
I told Jeff to get the cashier check then get his butt back to the dealer. While we waited for Jeff's return, the sales guy asked me if we decided. Even though I knew our answer was "yes", I told the sales guy "please sit tight for a few more minutes. Jeff is on his way back to the dealer and we will decide then". I said this to buy me some time to do some research on the internet.
I quickly checked the MSRP for the Honda Fit EX ($19,025) and I got some TrueCar quotes ($18,650), and since we were being offered the Honda Fit EX for $17,744, I felt much better knowing we made the right decision.
Jeff returns, he gives the Honda Fit EX a test drive (even though we already test drove one 2 weeks ago), then we agreed to buy it. We paid for the car (they made the total cost of the car an even $20,500. So we actually only paid an extra $883 to upgrade the Honda Fit from an LX to an EX. YES!!!), got the keys, and got our butts out of there (but not before I grabbed 2 extra cookies for the road).
Overall, this car buying experience was a lot more positive and and faster than our process 4 months ago when we purchased the Honda Accord. Using TrueCar helped a lot, and just understanding the whole car-buying process helped a lot too.
It was 4pm and we were starving (we didn't have lunch yet!) and we were exhausted (none of us had our naps yet!).
We went to Red Robin 0.5 miles away since I get a free red robin burger on the month of my birthday, then we drove home. I sent Jeff and Caitlin home in the crappy ol Civic while I cruised along home solo in the fab new Honda Fit!
The rest of the evening was so so odd.
Since we had lunch at 4pm, none of us was hungry for dinner. Caitlin dozed off during the car ride home so I didn't know what time to put her to bed. And Jeff and I didn't get to take our naps so we were zombies. I hate when our schedule is thrown off.
Let's not make car-buying a habit. It's so much work.
Our gray Honda Fit EX 2015. Exact same color as our 2014 Honda Accord LX
Unlike other car-sellers out there, I have the courtesy to professionally wash and vacuum the car, rotate the tires, change the oil and get a smog check (actually legally, it is the owner's responsibility to get a smog check but some sellers will still refuse to do it) prior to selling it to our family friend. More car sellers out there should be more like me =)