Buying a new Civic hybred...please help!

No one talks about, if you are paying with CASH! I want to make a good offer on a Civic Hybred with a 1988 260 E Mercedes TRADEIN (200,000 miles). Invoice is 20,804 and MSRP is 22,600 what do you think is a good price to offer?

There are lots of ways to approach this one. My favorite is to approach at least two maybe more dealers with my specifications for the car I want. I don’t look for a car on their lot. I tell each of them the exact same thing:

“This is want I want. I don’t need it today or this week, I can wait a reasonable amount of time. I am going to visit other dealers and tell them the same thing. The dealer that can offer me the best deal will win. I will consider close matches to the specifications on the car, but it has to be close or it will not be considered. No I will not tell you what any other dealer has offered, you are competing with them. The best deal wins.”

I don’t budge. I do exactly what I said and if needed I go to out of town dealers.

This has worked for me. A few dealers refuse to participate but most will. It takes far less time in the dealership. I do NOT talk financing or trade-in. Any thing along that line will be separate. If you don’t trade in a car, you can sell it yourself. If you have a trade in, then you can see if you can work out a deal on that after you have decided on the new car. That keeps the negations on your terms and allows you to make a more informed deal as each part will be independent and less confusing. No invoice price stuff etc. It helps level the playing field. It also puts you in charge. They are no longer setting the rule.

Note: If they try the I have to see my boss, that’s fine, you can give them a phone call the next day to get their bid. Don’t let them corner you and don’t be afraid to walk out. That is the last thing they want.

This is nearly EXACTLY how I’ve bought my cars. I usually will fax about 10-15 dealerships a letter that tells them the same thing. “I have little time, I am putting the car out for bid. This is the exact specification I’m looking for. Best deal under x (where X is a reasonable figure I’ve arrived at through research) takes it.”

I bought my '03 VW Passat this way, and paid under invoice for it when all dealerships I visited face to face wanted $1500-$2000 over invoice. I found two dealerships that were willing to give me the deal I wanted, and a few more had responses for me. The second runner up actually called me and I had to break it to him that the winner beat him by $14.

Two months later, I had my special order fully loaded station wagon with a 5 speed manual transmission. That’s not something that’s normally in inventory.

I basically only use dealerships now to test drive, and I let them humor me with an offer.

I doubt if you’ll get much below MSRP. Everyone wants a hybrid these days. Dealerships can sell them at sticker price all day long. With that kind of mileage your trade in is nearly worthless. You will get maybe $1500 for it. You’ll do better selling it yourself.

I buy cars like Joseph does…HOWEVER this technique doesn’t work on vehicles that are so hot. Most hybrids right now have waiting lists. They are not making close to the number that the public wants.

Trading in a car for a new one amounts to two transactions: 1) you are buying a car from the dealer and if it is a new car, it goes through the new car manager. 2) the dealer is buying a used car from you and this goes through the used car manager. I find it best when dealing for a car not to mention the trade-in and negotiate the price of the new car. There may not be much negotiating room on the Civic hybrid. After an agreed upon price, then I bring up the trade-in. Even though your trade-in is a Mercedes, it is 20 years old and the dealer may just send it to the auction.

I have had dealers twice give me a better price if I didn’t trade in my car. In December of 1995 I found a wonderful 1993 Oldmobile with 18,000 miles. The first price was $14,900. After having the car checked out, I suggested that the dealer might give my an allowance on my 1978 Oldmobile Cutlass. He said he would trade for $14,500 or sell me the car for $14,200 straight out. This dealer was honest–he did not want my old car. I had the same experience back in the summer of 1973. I had a well worn out 1965 Rambler. I found a dealer that had a nice Ford Maverick Grabber. The asking price was $2495. I told the dealer that the price seemed high–maybe they would accept a trade-in. The manager glanced at my Rambler and said, “I’ll trade for $2250, or you can purchase the car straight out for $2000”. In each case I bought the car. I sold the Rambler in a day for $250. I’ve long since sold the 1993 Oldmobile 88, but I still have the 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass as a car to haul my tools when I do jobs at my church.

Part of the problem with a car more than six or seven years old is that it doesn’t have loan value, so the dealer can’t finance it. I think you might be better off to sell the Mercedes yourself.

Paying with cash doesn’t mean you’ll get a better deal and could actually mean you’ll get a worse one. Dealers get rewarded by financing people, so they actually prefer it. Cash is the best concept when you’re dealing with a used car and there’s usually a big spread on their cost vs the selling price.

Try and see what you end up with by using an online bid tool like the one at and see who makes the best offer within 100 miles of your location. I have to be honest though, your money is better spent buying the Civic EX model since it gets excellent mileage and it will take a long time to break even on the additional cost of the hybrid.

According to the on line Kelley Blue Book (, trade in value for your MB is less than $1,000. If you really want to get rid of it, try selling it yourself. Any MB is far above a Civic. If yours is in good shape, consider keeping it purely for enjoyment and use the new Civic as your daily driver.

As others have suggested, getting dealers to compete with each other will get you the best price. However, with all the hysteria about $4 gas, even the best price won’t be very good. The last time I bought a brand that had multiple local dealerships, I went to each one in person, told them what I wanted and that I would be checking price and availability at their competitors. Two dealers were fine with this. The third took it as an insult. One of the first two got the sale. I haven’t tried faxing, mailing or E-mailing a list of specifications and requesting a quote. This might be even easier since many dealers are now active on the internet.

People are paying $500 over MSRP in MD for a Civic hybrid. Before you go into a dealership, check on line to see if they have any in stock. If not, forget about dickering. Just pay them whatever they want for the 2009. If they have 2008s in stock, you may have an extremely slim chance of getting a discount. In this case, discount might mean paying MSRP. Don’t mention price - let them do it first. Then try to dicker with them. Here’s the Edmunds info:

IMO, your chance of getting any discount is slim to none, and Slim just left town. You want an extremely popular car. The dealer will tell you what to do, and you will follow their instructions to the letter. If they tell you to pay $500, $1000 or even $2000 over MSRP, just write the check. They control the entire process, period. You might find a dealer who will get closer to MSRP, but the wait might be longer while they fulfill the 2009 orders that are already backlogged.

Forget your trade in. Its simply a hassle for the dealer who will simply wholesale it off or sell to the nearest scrap yard. They will use the trade in to fudge the #'s making the “deal” look better but be able to confuse you in the process.

I think demand is high for hybrids but it really depends on your locale. Test the waters on what you think is fair and go for it.

Paying with cash doesn’t mean you’ll get a better deal and could actually mean you’ll get a worse one.

The Buying price may be better if you finance through the dealer…but overall I’ve found the dealers financing to be MUCH HIGHER interest rates…and with clauses like you’re penalized if you pay it off early. It usually works out to a MUCH WORSE deal in the long run. When I bought my truck a couple years ago the Toyota dealer was offering a 2% loan. I was getting about 3.5% on my CD’s at the bank…so I looked into this so-called GREAT FINANCING. The loan wasn’t fixed…Subject to increase 2% every year (depending on prime)…not allowed to pay off early…had to put down 20% up front…It was NOT a good deal. I paid cash.

I don’t think there are many, if any, loans that have an early pay off penalty.
And I do agree that ANY hybrid car will not budge on sticker price, in fact, you may have to “bid” on it(offer more than sticker), or wait a couple months for them to build it for you. If you won’t pay sticker price for the hybrid, the next person walking in the door looking for one will.

Totally agree with the previous two posts. The idea is to figure out what you want to pay for the car. It has to be a fair price and there are a number of ways to figure that out. Do research on the internet, talk to the loan officer at your bank. Make sure all options are included. But once you’ve settled on your price and you know it is a fair price, do not deviate from it. And when negotiating for the price of the new car, do not even discuss trade. Wait until the price of the car is settled to your satisfaction. Do your homework on the value of your trade in. Be realistic, and expect less than if you sold it yourself in exchange for the convenience of just trading it in. Once you are satisfied that the entire deal is fair, stick to your bottom line and be prepared to walk out. DO NOT give them a “good faith” deposit, your keys, a credit card or your driver’s licence or anything else that would prevent you from leaving the dealership when you want to. Make sure they know that your bottom line offer is all-inclusive and if they come back with documentation fees, or dealer prep fees, or “just because” fees, politely tell them have a nice day and leave. I have actually had salesmen chase me out to the parking lot to tell me they would take my deal even after saying they couldn’t do it just five minutes earlier.

One last thing, I wouldn’t tell them you’re considering paying cash when negotiating the price. Dealer financing is profitable for the dealer; cash doesn’t gain them anything.

I don’t think there are many, if any, loans that have an early pay off penalty.

The only ones I’ve ever seen were the special ones from the dealer.