On Buying a Car…

Ready to hear something you don’t often hear?  I had an absolute blast buying my brand new car.  I didn’t get swindled, was in control the whole time, and drove off in a brand new car that was over $1000 cheaper than what the dealer paid for it.  (Over $2,000 cheaper than MSRP.)  

It all began about a month ago, when the possibility of getting office space quickly became a reality.  This was great news — I was tired of my bedroom furniture being my coworker — but it also made buying a car my number one priority.  Because I needed, you know, be able to get to work.  

I quickly narrowed it down to Subaru and Honda based on reliability, resell value and safety.  I’ll save you the suspense: I bought a Subaru.  I did some basic online research about the cars.  I looked at new and used from the past few years.  Then I went shopping.  

On March 13, I went to a Honda dealership and a Subaru dealership to test drive cars.  (Many thanks to my girlfriend Kelly for the ride, company and laughter on that trip.)  I picked one from each dealership that best fit what I wanted.  Then, I blessedly never visited a dealership again until I was ready to sign papers.  

That’s right.  All my haggling and negotiating took place from the comfort of my office.  Thanks to the folks at Fighting Chance, I knew how much every car and its accessories invoiced for, their respective MSRPs, and what “behind closed doors” money was being left on the table.  (Fighting Chance also gives some killer templates to use too.  They cost me $55, but I got over a 3500% return on that investment, so I’m okay with it.)  

Using that knowledge, I called then local Subaru dealers to let them know I was doing a competitive bidding process and that I would like them to participate.  One dealer sounded so morose when I explained my process that he said, “You’re doing this so I fight against other dealers and you get the best price, aren’t you?”  Um…?  Damn, right I am!  

I followed up each call with an email and almost all dealers sent me a quote by the next day (Mr. Morose Dealer didn’t – shocker).  I then called them in order from highest bid to lowest bid, quoting the lowest bid each time.  Each dealer scrambled to beat the lowest — and wow, were those phone calls fun.  I had to put one on mute to laugh out loud while a sales manager was literally scrambling to explain that he would love to beat that price and earn my business.  

It’s worth noting that I based the winning dealership off price, distance from home, and dealer ratings from Yelp and DealerRater.  There was one dealer that was willing to sell to me $500 cheaper, but his dealership was reputed to do bait and switches, sell lemons and got all around awful reviews.  I was willing to leave $500 on the table to go with a close dealership I felt great about.   

Yesterday, I walked into the winning dealership (CitySide Subaru in Belmont, for what it’s worth).  I signed some papers, which had been explained on follow-up phone cars, and drove off in my brand new car: a silver hatchback 2010 Subaru Impreza.  Which, for the record, ended up being close to the same price as some of those used cars I looked at in the beginning.   

Epic.  Win.  

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