Buying a New Car: Not for the Weak of Heart

For most of my life as a motorist, I’ve driven a convertible.  I despise air conditioning, and I enjoy the sensation of wind blowing around me as I drive, so it has been a good fit for me.

But with the lease on my Pontiac G6 (surprisingly not as fly as the song would have you believe) expiring in November, I was forced to seek out a new vehicle for myself.  And as yet another sign that I was a full-fledged adult, the convertible would be replaced with a more family friendly vehicle.

While it was sad to be giving up my life as a convertible driver, it will be nice to not have to climb into the backseat of the car in order to put the Cutlet into her car seat.  Not to mention that any passengers in my car will now actually have some leg room.

Unfortunately, to obtain the new family friendly vehicle I would have to go through the sometimes painful process of car buying.

After some research (mostly done by Mrs. Cutter) and a test drive, we settled on a Honda CR-V.  It was big enough to serve our family’s needs, but it drove more like a car, as opposed to some SUVs which make you feel like you’re driving a tank down the road.

Once we settled on the CR-V, Mrs. Cutter emailed a dealer at Sport Honda to see what they had available.  We had wanted a two-wheel drive model, but they didn’t have any in stock.  They were offering a pretty good price on the four-wheel drive, but since we didn’t really want a four-wheel drive, we were hoping that we could use that to negotiate the price down a bit.

Because we knew that negotiations might take some time, I went to the dealership first while Mrs. Cutter went shopping with the Cutlet.  We figured the less time the Cutlet spent at the dealer the better, as she is not known for her lengthy attention span.

In situations like this, I typically prefer to let Mrs. Cutter do most of the initial negotiating.  I prefer to sit back and come in later as the “tight-fisted husband who doesn’t want to spend that much money.”  This typically works out well, partially because most car dealers still expect the husband to be the one who makes the final say when it comes to large financial decisions. 

But in this case, the roles would be reversed.  I would be doing the initial negotiating, and since Mrs. Cutter had done more of the research, she would know the pertinent numbers better than I would, and would be taking the “bad guy” role.

The dealer who had emailed us wasn’t in, so I spoke with another dealer.  I showed him the email exchange that we had with the other dealer, and he told me that there really wasn’t any room to maneuver with the price.  I didn’t fully believe that, but we went with that assumption for the time being.

I told him I’d be trading in my old car.  Since it was leased, the car didn’t have that much value.  But since I was so far under the mile allotment, I should have been able to get something for it.  Unfortunately, after they did an assessment, the value they gave us was considerably less than what we expected.

I told him that I wouldn’t be able to agree to anything until my wife arrived, so I waited around a bit.  Once she arrived, we applied for financing to see what our monthly payments would be.  We had a monthly number we were looking for, and if it didn’t work, we were prepared to go elsewhere and see if they had a more affordable two-wheel drive model.

Naturally, the monthly price came back higher than what we were looking for, so we said we didn’t think it would work.  As is always the case, the dealer went to talk to his manager to see if they could “do anything.”

When he returned, we were told that they had a way to get the payments reduced.  It wasn’t explained to us how this would be done, but we were assured that the financial manager had a way.

I was skeptical, and I probably should have asked for more details at this point.  Because I’m not sure how they could have done any maneuvering if the baseline financial numbers didn’t change in any way.

But instead, we sat around for another hour before speaking to a financial person.  This meant another hour of keeping the Cutlet occupied, which was becoming increasingly difficult.

Not altogether surprisingly, once we did speak with a financial manager, the payments we were presented with were the original values that we said we couldn’t afford.

Now I’m not sure what happened.  Supposedly, the financial manager who gave the assurance about the lower price had already left for the day.  But this particular financial manager knew nothing about a lower price and said that there was nothing that she could do.

After being at the dealership for over two hours already, and with the Cutlet fast losing patience with the whole process, I switched into “angry Cutter” mode.  I said some harsh words to the financial manager before storming out to yell at the dealer.

I accused him of lying to us and working a bait and switch.  Mrs. Cutter saw that I was becoming upset so I told her to take the Cutlet home so she wouldn’t witness me really start to unload on the guy.

At this point, the dealership manager got involved.  I explained the whole situation, and he assured me it was a misunderstanding, and he would see if anything could be done.

Maybe it really was a misunderstanding, but I still have the impression that we were manipulated.  I’m not sure if they thought we’d ultimately accept the higher price because my lease was expiring soon, or because we would lack the patience to do any further dealing after waiting around for so long.

But I went into this deal determined to get the car for a certain price, and I was not going to give in.  Even though it would have been a huge waste of time, I was well prepared to walk away, and then make some complaints about the dealership.

If the numbers we were given were really the best they could do, that was fine.  But we certainly shouldn’t have been misled into thinking that it would be different.  By doing that, they only accomplished making me angry and wasting our time.

The manager managed to drop the price a bit more and upped how much they would give for the trade in.  He gave us a monthly price that was pretty good, and one that we probably would have accepted at first.  But since I was angry about the whole ordeal, I didn’t want to accept it.

After some further discussion, I got him to knock another five dollars off the monthly price, and we had a deal.

Meanwhile, the Cutlet was hungry and tired, and we still had to sign a slew of paperwork.  So one of us had to entertain her while the other signed the papers.  Finally, we were finished, and I drove off in a new CR-V.

While we ultimately got the car we wanted at the price we wanted, I felt like we had been through a stressful ordeal.  Buying a car at a good price shouldn’t be so difficult.

But that’s behind us now.  I am now the proud owner of a brand new Daddy Wagon.  I just ask everyone not to get too jealous when you see me driving around in it.

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About The Cutter

I am the Cutter. I write some stuff. You might like it, you might not. Please decide for yourself.
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One Response to Buying a New Car: Not for the Weak of Heart

  1. Tom Gryn says:

    I hope you like the CRV. We bought one about a year ago and really like it. As you said, it drives like a car but its high up and has the room of an SUV.

    Next time, you might consider using a car buying broker. We used the AAA auto club’s car buying service, and it was refreshingly no-haggle and no-negotiation, and we still got it for under MSRP with good financing. I don’t think I’ll ever do the direct negotiation with a dealership again if I can help it.

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