Dealing with Dealer Mendacity

OK, we’ve all heard Tom & Ray say countless times NEVER buy NEW. Still – my husband wants a new compact SUV; he’s particularly enamored of the 2008 Subaru Forester 2.5X.

So how do we determine truth from fiction at the dealership? Obviously, we’re trying to get the most affordable deal.

How truthful is the MSRP? Who determines TMV?

We have our own financing, and have no trade-in.

The sales associate we met today wasn’t as offensive as others we’ve encountered; this person actually was polite, respectful, asked intelligent questions, and listened to our replies, minus the crosstalk & interruption we normally encounter.

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Once you fall in love with a car, you’ve lost. You might as well open your bank account and beg for mercy.

As with all business deals, the bottom line is the bottom line. It doesn’t matter what they claim the invoice is, or the msrp, its supply and demand. They have the supply, and if its a slow selling vehicle, then it costs them money everyday its on the lot. The will be more willing to come down on the price. If its a hot selling vehicle and people are standing in line to get it, you better be prepared to outbid everyone else.

If you can find several dealers with the same car, get a price from each, then take the best price to the others and see if they want to beat it. Use the newspaper ads too. If you see the same vehicle at a dealer on another city, you may be able to use it against the dealer to get a little better deal.

Watch out for the little added fees like the processing fee or document fee. Its bogus, but the dealers hang onto it like its gospel. After negotiating a really good deal on a car with one dealer, the dealer pulled the document fee on my daughter. She told them that that was not part of the agreement. They would not give up the document fee, but ended up lowering the price of the car by the amount of the document fee so they could save face, and my daughter ended up with the price she wanted. Next time I buy a car, I’m taking her with me, she’s better at it than I am.

There’s an important clue in Keith’s reply that must not be overlooked – bring along a friend or relative who is good at these matters! Some folk actually enjoy the negotiating process; see if they’ll play on your team.

Keith is right about the desireability of a vehicle affecting the MSRP. Highly coveted means you pay more than MSRP with no negotiating at all if you want it. Slow movers means they can be worked with.

About all I would suggest is that you do a lot of homework with newspaper ads, the net, etc. when deciding the model and option package you want.

Then you go onto the lot and give the sales dept. one shot. They give you the price you’re looking for or you walk.
Do not go into an office and sit down while they provide you with a cold drink and make numerous trips to the manager seeing what “we can do” with the inference that “we” is you and the salesman as a team against the management.

The less sitting and talking involved the better off you are. Once the bantering starts, you’re on their turf.
And skip any paint protection, interior protection, and undercoating packages. It’s not needed at all, but you will probably hear about it anyway.

The key words, as was mentioned, is shop around. Shop competing brands and models and use this information as a comparison to with what you believe that you want to buy and don’t be hesitant to show the salesman what you have found. Let him/her know that you are not afraid to say no deal but always be pleasant. Shopping around is a very good educational process to alert you to the various scams that dealers have to make money. Also, most salespeople are just plain jerks in my view. There are a few who are good at what they do. Seek them out, buy from them and that will make your buy a longer lasting pleasure rather than a bad memory.

Regarding the advice to never buy new, I totally disagree. If nobody bought new, then there would be no used cars. I enjoy very much that we can afford to buy new and so we do. To those that buy used and relish the money that they saved, I say: Enjoy your used car! I got to enjoy the first part; you can have the rest of it.

Curious… I recall Tom&Ray’s advice as never buy used.

Typically, a caller tells about a serious problem or he rattles off a laundry list of the many problems that he is having with his Toyota. He asks if he should fix or sell. That’s the cue. The brothers together blurt out “This is why we tell our listeners to NEVER buy USED!”

Marilou, you will enjoy your new car. Have fun.

If you don’t want to negotiate, go in, offer them invoice and tell them you will do the deal as soon as they say yes. You will not walk through the door on most vehicles. I doubt the Subaru Forrester is that high in demand.


I don’t believe I have ever heard either advice from T & R (don’t buy new/ don’t buy used), assuming I could ever tell the difference between “advice” and a punch line anyway.

Your financial adviser may tell you not to buy new, especially if you are not paying cash for the car, because it involves paying for significant initial depreciation. I would never buy a new car, simply because I do not believe that the advantages of having a new car with a warrantee outweigh the cost difference. OTOH, my 75 year old mom buys new cars every few years because she is very concerned about reliability and not very concerned about the cost. You have to decide for yourself if you can afford the “peace of mind” associated with owning a new car.

Sorry, I can’t help much with the “mendacity” issue, I just don’t speak to new car dealers very often.

There are ways of finding out prices. Consumer Reports offers it for a price. Check em out.

Dependant where you live (4 dealerships within 30 mins of me) I would visit each or simply call for best deal. You should be able to get a Forester at above or at invoice - the rebates.

When a dealer sells at invoice they still make a 3-4% kickback from Subaru.

My wife test drove a Legacy GT (turbo wagon) with manual on her own. They let her borrow on a 3hr+ test drive. She told them she loved it which I thought was the kiss of death…She wanted the car. I called three days latter and it was offered without negotiation at invoice - rebate. I gave them cc for deposit and car was sold shortly thereafter.

Buying used is a gamble. First, if a demo, no one has bothered to service it or break it in properly. If a trade-in, then most are dumped because of recurring problems or issues with the same dealer from which you want to purchase it – again. Or, they may have been purchased by people that don’t know cars and didn’t have a clue why they bought it in the first place (read, no maintenance). There are exceptions.

I buy new, always. I also do a lot of research before ever darkening the dealer’s door. I know more about the vehicle than any salesman. In some cases (GM) you can “build” the car online and then take your specs into a dealership and ask for the online salesman, usually the sales manager, who can give you a price without all the games between the salesman and the manager (what a waste of everyone’s time).

When I find exactly what I want, I tell them up front - no bargaining, factory-direct order, no off-the-lot cars, no financing, no trade-in. Give me your final best price and I’ll go shop it around. No second chances. Low bidder wins. No hidden fees, no undercoat, no fabric protector, no nothing that I didn’t ask for.

This usually gets me about “dealer list” plus a hundred or two. They make more than that with factory rebates. I don’t bother them with test drives, I don’t waste anyone’s time, I just come in, sign papers, give them a check and walk out with the keys. So far, the same dealer and same salesman has won my last 3 car bids. Try to find a salesman you know and trust if you can’t deal with the manager directly.

You also must know your car. New car salesmen are new. (The real money is in used car sales which is where the pros are.) They know next to nothing about their products, so you have to know it. You can get a wealth of information online.

Always make trhe offer over the phione, never in person. they have the upper hand in person

INO never offer mroe then invoice as a starter and after that how much profit are you willing to give the dealer. remember, even at invoice they are making money due to hold backs and other reward programs

Check with your credit union to see if they have relationships with certain dealers. The easiest car I ever bought was done this way. You talk to the sales manager, list the options you want, they tacked on $150 to invoice, and the car is ordered. No muss, no fuss, no trade, no negotiation. You get the car you want about 8 weeks later.