Just walked out of a dealership... Now what?

Hi again, i’m the college kid STILL looking for a new(er) car and came pretty damned close today.

Found a 99 Honda Accord with 118k. Asking price was $7500 KBB Retail value was $6k.

I found that the following maintenance was due and asked if the dealer could provide evidence of these things being done; they could not:

Timing Belt/Water pump and applicable accessory belts, hoses, seals, etc.

Coolant - Drain and Replace

Transmission Fluid - Drain and Replace

Brake Fluid - Drain and Replace

A/C Filter - ???

While sitting in the car on the lot (salesman inside) I called my mom & pop mechanic to ask about how much all of this would cost and he said it would be around $1200!

Don’t Panic, I’ll just subtract that $1200 from the car’s value and voila! $4800.

I threw this offer and the table and they laughed at me (not literally). No counter-offer, nothing. So I walked out. Did I do the right thing ?

I liked the car! Really! But now i’m confused. Is it too late to make a 2nd offer (maybe suggest that the dealer gets the maintenance caught up as part of the asking price)? I figured the salesman would have called back by now (it’s been approx 90 minutes since I walked out the door).

I think I startled the salesman when I bothered to look in the owner’s manual of the car and actually write all this crap down. In their best interest I think they will find some joe-blow who is ignorant enough to just buy the car and then be surprised by the necesssary repairs.

This car search is getting frustrating!

Thoughts, advice ? What can be learned from this? What can I do differently next time ?

Oh yea and add to that list, spark plugs, spark plug wires, distributor cap & rotor.

Also note that I was pretty much completely emotionless during the test drive and when I made my offer they claimed that “you didn’t seem to like the car that much anyway”. What the heck ?

It is also worth noting that it was old-lady driven and she probably wasn’t up to speed on all the major maintenance anyway. Thanks again.

Yes you did the right thing, GOOD JOB

You did exactly the right thing. You found out that a car with that many miles has LOTS of needed upkeep, so you need to find one with the necessary maintenance records. If it doesn’t has them (like this one) it either needs to be heavily discounted (risky, you don’t know what you’re getting), or you need to pass on it (like you did). There are lots of cars of this vintage, keep looking untile you find one with maintenance records that show that it’s been maintained ‘by the book’.

Honda Accord’s are a dime a dozen (in top 10 selling cars for years). Look privately for one and then you will get records. It is very rare a dealer will know much about used car unless they performed the work recently or part of sale.

The only important item is the timing belt of what you list. I would have asked them to replace the timing belt for whatever price you are comfortable to pay for car. The rest may be due and may already be performed, who knows.

How do you know who drove it last? You can rarely believe this old lady story.

The car needed lots of maintenance. I’d have walked, too. Keep looking.

You did an outstanding job. In order to find a true bargain you need to not only do the research, but also be willing to walk away.

The challange you may run into is that used cars of thie type have been “hot” since gas prices skyrocketed earlier this year. Should you find one that you truely like, you may have to meet somewhere in the middle of your offer and the bluebook value. One approach is to trade services for price…get them to put into the contract the timing belt and water pump change, free oil changes, etc. etc. I did this with my daughter’s first car purchase and it worked well. Just be sure it’s all in writing in the contract.

You need to learn to look for a few things, though, because just asking those things, the average salesman doesn’t have a clue.

The fluids… you can get a pretty good idea with just a visual examination, you know? Open the brake reservoir, open the radiator, pull the tranny and oil dipsticks, look at stuff. When you are going to buy a dealer car, test drive it like you stole it and molest that son of a gun up and down until you’re confident.

Of course they’re going to laugh at you, because they have a car that will be sold by next week and you want them to knock 1200 off of the price. “Maintenance records” are going to get you nowhere with your average dealership, you’re going to have to hone your bargaining skills a little bit beyond that.

Something to keep in mind is that because you have theoretically found 1200 dollars worth of stuff that needs to be done does not make the vehicle worth 1200 dollars less.

What you need to learn to do is not get upset, frustrated, or anything else on a car deal. It’s business, pure and simple, and getting too emotional over it can cloud your judgment.

Continue to make any offers that you’re comfortable with and if it gets beyond that simply walk away. There’s another deal right down the street somewhere.

dont let yoru frustration get in the way of your better judgement.

you did a GREAT job of sticking to your ‘guns’

go online and do the kbb thing for both retail and private party and trade in. find a number in between and then subtract the repairs. the timing belt is HUGE.

they use these same figures to get an asking price. you may not get a call back, but if they cant work the figures, then you need to find another dealer.

Wait and see if the salesman calls back in a couple of days. He may not call today. Of the items you listed, I would reduce for the timing belt, etc, about $600-700, and make that my offer if I really, really liked the car and it really, really is in excellent condition (which is what my kbb search says it must be to be priced at $6K).

There are other cars out there. While an Accord or Camry may be ideal, reliability-wise, Mazda, Chevs, etc in good shape can be found and deliver nearly as much reliability as the Honda.

I also agree that a properly maintained private sale car will stretch your dollars. Be patience and keep looking.

At the mileage you are considering, tires and struts are also issues that bear a good review and may increase your leverage in negotiations.

EXCELLENT job…You’re on your way to being a good shopper.

What wouldn’t surprise me one bit…is if they called you back up in a couple of weeks. Happened to me more then once.

Why do you want an Accord. Are you going to be driving a lot?

Do not buy a car with nasty-looking coolant. You will likely be needing a heater core replacement that can cost better than $500.

Hi Jeff! Good job, now wait for his call. He’ll call you with a counter-offer, believe me. When he does, ask him to split the difference between his new price and yours. Ask him also to give you a trade-in price on your old Accord. In my state the tax you pay is not the full price, but the price less the trade-in. And remember to transfer your tags from the old Accord to the new one . . . should save you a few more dollars. Good luck! Rocketman

If you truly want an older person car, go find a few year old Buick something or other. Should be fairly cheap and more than likely maintained properly

I don’t mean to sound like I’m preaching, but Jeff asked if there’s something to be learned from all of this.

Well, I’m guessing the salesman isn’t going to call Jeff back. Jeff went in with a chip on his shoulder. We’ve all been there. He played it cool and apparently never actually let the salesman know he liked the car.

Well, it generally doesn’t help to hold back with important information like “I liked the car.” Those would be the precise words to motivate a salesman to really work with you. Even if it doesn’t close the deal, at least now he’ll know what you like.

I’m assuming the salesman believed you were actually in a position to buy a car and sincere about wanting to buy a car. If you made an offer and got no response, I would wonder about that because salesmen generally sell cars as often as they can.

I don’t suppose you surprised the salesman with anything you did or said. His job to listen and observe.

Also: If you’re at a place or dealing with someone who thinks of his customers as “Joe Blow,” you should definitely go elsewhere. Find a place that looks like it’s been around a while and counts on repeat business.

After all that, here’s my advice and I hope it helps: If you’re going to buy your car from a dealer, next car dealership you go into, tell them you’re new at this whole thing and you don’t have a lot of money to pour into a used car or huge repair bills. Tell them you looked at a used Accord and it seemed to be the kind of car you might like but something just didn’t feel right, so you walked away. Tell them how much time you have, e.g., do you need the car this week or can you wait until something comes in on trade? And see where that takes you.

Also note that I was pretty much completely emotionless during the test drive and when I made my offer they claimed that “you didn’t seem to like the car that much anyway”.

This was the right thing to do. If you claim you “love this car!” then you lose all bargaining power and the salesman will hold fast to his price.

How’s Your Car Running?

I hope it’s running alright because this could take a little longer. Don’t get too frustrated and rush into something. You did the right thing. You got the bad “vibes” and walked away.

You may have learned that to get answers to all of your questions about a used car’s maintenance history then you are probably looking at buying from a one-owner individual/family and not a car lot. That’s what I think you should do next time.

I’d like to see you looking at something newer than ten model years old for $6000, more like five to seven years. They’re out there! This is a buyer’s market for cars right now.

This can be frustrating and exhausting work, but you are getting good at it. It should get easier. Sometimes when you least try to find that perfect car, it finds you! Come to think of it, the last two used cars I bought, I was just driving by and spotted them.

The good news?
You’re not stuck with a car of questionable history and bigger problems than what you currently face. You don’t want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Most places can’t sell cars to save their jobs. Truthfully, they don’t know anything but how to turn people down. Some of the markups on used ces are huge and some of them are less than a thousand dollars. They could have negotiated from your offer and it would have cost them almost $150 in parts to do all the work and about $50 in labor. They don’t pay their mechanic $75 an hour for labor. Work on buying from a private party. Maybe they will have some proof of maintenance.

That deal obviously did not pass the smell test; you did the right thing by not buying it. The car is 10 years old, is about half used up, may need deferred maintenance and you didn’t say how rusted it was underneath. Who among us has not skipped maintenance because a car will be traded or sold soon?

Buying a used car can be similar to buying a house in that you can pass up enough deals, good and bad in order to educate yourself so that you can recognize a good deal. There will always be another car and another house that you will like.

I don’t know if you left in a way that you don’t want to go back and if so, your shopping location opportunities may have been reduced by one and you might need these guys for parts and service so it’s better to leave gently. Dealers are all the same in that they will try to maximize their profit. That is their job and yours is to prevent it.

Check NADA as well as KBB for prices; you will likely see a difference. Also, check other brands for better deals that the herd might be passing up. Most cars are pretty reliable now. Some might be just a little better than others but the differences, in my opinion, are marginal especially if you forgo the bells and whistles and recall why you need a car in the first place which is to travel.