November 20th, 2009


Car buying strategies

I'm trying to figure out what the best negotiation strategy is. The general plan is

1: Go to dealership and look at car
2: Test drive car
3: Negotiate
4: Make deal
5: Take car to mechanic to get it checked out
6: Buy car

The tricky part is, where do i put the break in to go look at the other dealerships? (I'm figuring on going through them all once on Saturday, then going back to the top one or two on Sunday.) Do i try to do all my negotiating up front before going on to the next place so when i get done i have the best idea of who to go back to for the final deal? Do i do a little bit of negotiation before moving on so i have some idea of how flexible they'll be? Or do i wait on all negotiation until after i've seen every car on the list?

The other difficulty is the mechanic part. How many mechanics are open on saturdays or sundays? If i really want to do that (and i have no idea how necessary it is when buying from a non-name brand dealer) does that mean i'll need to take some time off monday to take care of it and finish up the deal then?

Currently i've got four or give Priuss and two Matrixs to look at. (Priuses? Matrixes? Car names do not seem to be designed much with a mind toward pluralization.) However the prices listed are a bit confusing.

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So the odd thing, and part of the reason there are so many more Priuss than Matrixs in the list, is that most of the Priuss are _already_ listed under the Edmunds average price, and a _lot_ under the Kelley Blue Book price, while the Matrixs are almost all above the Edmunds price, and a fair number of them are above the KBB price.

So is there something wrong with the set of Priuss i've found that CarFax isn't aware of? Why are the '07s listed at the same price as the '05 that's been in an accident? Have the sales of more expensive cars been hit disproportionately by the recession and the Edmunds and Blue Book values haven't caught up yet? Have the sales of hybrid cards been hit disproportionately because fuel prices have gone back down to "only kinda high" levels rather than "insanely high levels"?

Of course that will make negotiations a little more complicated. If they don't budge much on the price i can no longer pull out an Edmunds price estimate and try to use that as a bargaining point.

Well that's strange...

An addendum to the last post. I got the thought of checking the estimated prices on Consumer Reports. I hadn't been paying much attention to them because they're not as precise (they lump all the cars of the same model and year together) and because they're not as clear about what exactly the price represents.

However their results for the Matrix are:

'05: $9k - $10.2k
'06: $10.6k - $11.9k
'07: $12.3k - $13k

If i average those prices out, they fit right in the range between the Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book values.

For the Prius however:

'05: $12k
'06: $13.9k
'07: $15.8k

That's $1300 below the Edmunds value for '07, $1896 for '06, and $2527 for '05!!!

So there's definitely something weird going on with the price of Priuss, and it's not just the dealers.
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