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October 23, 2003

The dance begins...

Somebody posted today with links to two stories on buying a new car, one from Kuro5hin, and one from Edmunds.com.

The Kuro5hin.org story was by a tech layoff who decided he would sell cars until he could get a "real job" again. The Edmunds story was an undercover assignment by an Edmunds staff writer, who spent 10 weeks selling at 2 dealerships (one "high-pressure Japanese", one "no-haggle American").

When we bought the Odyssey, we took the time to play dealers off against each other, and got what I thought was a pretty good deal on an in-demand vehicle and worked the loan through a credit union. (As I remember, we were something like $600-$1000 off MSRP, but on a vehicle where some local dealers were adding "additional dealer markup".)

I'm going to try a similar strategy this time around, but I've hit a couple of roadblocks. The Honda and Acura corporate websites both claim to offer price quotes, but after you go through the trouble of specifying a model and options, I get to the screen where I should select a dealer I would like to send me a quote, and am presented an empty list, and the admonition "You must go through an Internet Certified Dealer." Thanks -- maybe you could show me a list of them?

Anyway, most of the dealers have their own web pages now, and you can go through them for quotes. I'm not sure they're entirely independent; the forms in particular are very similar, and I wouldn't be surprised if the manufacturers were trying to centralize internet sales so that it's harder to play dealers off by e-mail. That's certainly what I'm hoping to do. I've got requests out to 3 local dealers, two via their websites, and one through CarsDirect.

October 23, 2003 in Cars | Permalink


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This sounds like how we bought our Odyssey in 1998: I worked through Edmunds and found out the pricing details, tracked down rebates, etc., and then set the dealers at each other. The last one standing -- Curry Honda, not too far from you -- came in well under the sticker price (I found the sticker in the map pocket today, coincidentally, and it's in the mid 20s).

We paid $19k, I think, and got the 6 CD changer for free when they forgot to add it to the invoice (we had it installed while they did the paperwork and it never got added in: ooops).

It's all about information: what the dealer's cost is, how they figure markup, who is willing to undercut his brother dealers, etc. Five years on, it may be harder to play them against each other, as you suggest, but a sale is a sale. They'll do what they have to do.

Posted by: paul beard at Oct 24, 2003 12:20:51 AM