Buying a new car and selling your old one.


Recently my wife and I purchased a new car and sold our old one. We learned a lot in the process and I'm putting this information here to assist you when you do the same.

Generally people dread the idea of going into a dealership to purchase a new or used car. The process can actually be enjoyable if you are willing to prepare for it and understand some basic principals of the buying and selling process. By the end of our experience, I was having a ton of fun, and in the end we had a great buying experience and an even better selling experience.

When buying a new car, a few important things to remember not be in a hurry to buy , always, always, always, remember that walking away from a deal is your best negotiating tool. Even if you are going to buy the car, thank the dealer or salesman, walk away, drive home, sleep on it, delay a bit and then when the dealer calls you back, ask for a bit better of a will get it.

My wife wanted to sell her Plymouth Voyager Mini-van. She wanted a small SUV, so I began researching all the options. Using the Internet I priced, built and compared all the viable models. We were considering the Toyota Rav 4, the Jeep Liberty, the Ford Escape and the Hyundai Tucson.

My first stop was the manufacturers websites where I checked out all the "hype" and used the "build and price your car" tools...., then I visited and used their customizable comparison charts (here is the small SUV comparison link I used) to compare all the vehicles that we were considering.

We began visiting dealerships to pick up brochures (no test drives yet) and I left the flashy sales brochures on the coffee table, reading them at leisure whenever the spirit moved us. After a week or so we went back to dealerships to test drive the cars one, by one, always indicating up front to the salespeople that we were just starting the process and were coming to test drive each (saying that we wouldn't be making any buying decisions until driving them all). Of course, most dealerships tried to convince us to "buy today" because whatever deal they were offering wouldn't be available "tomorrow"...we always said thanks, but we will take our chances.

Next we went on-line to the website and filled out the information for specific "no hassle Costco auto buying program"...Supposedly Costco has pre-negociated the best prices for you and you just go in, meet a fleet salesman or manager and they show you a special Costco price which is about just $100-$300 over dealer invoice price...not bad, but it was just a starting point for us, I knew we could do much better ourselves.

Over the next few weeks we visited the special Costco no-pressure salesman at local dealerships (actually some were pretty high pressure) and test drove all the cars and got the "bottom line Costco prices".

The Costco deal was OK, but it was based on a dollar amount over invoice and was not all that good anyway. I found that the newspaper ads often had advertised deals which were below Costco pricing !

Anyway, in terms of price, instead of an invoice or sticker price, I negotiated based on my "OUT THE DOOR PRICE"....the actual cost is would be to me to drive the car away. Negotiating from an "out the door price" sometimes confuses the salespeople (who are used to working from sticker price) but it keeps the dealer from adding a bunch of bogus stuff to the "sticker price" in order to make more money on the car. If the salesperson or the salesmanager is at all capable of math he or she can easily "back into the sticker price" using a calculator, since they know all the additional costs such as dealer prep, state and local tax, license, title, doc fees etc. If your salesperson or salesmanager cannot do these simple calculations, or is unwilling to work with an out the door price, you should ask for someone else or go to another dealership.

Things got narrowed down a bit due to my wife's personal preferences, it was between the Jeep Liberty and the Hyundai Tucson. So, one day about 2 hours prior when my wife had to be at work, (a very good excuse to leave and the dealership after a while, and come back again) we went to the Jeep dealer and asked if we could test drive the Liberty over to the Hyundai dealer to do a side by side comparison. The Jeep dealer agreed and off we went to the Hyundai dealership. We parked the Liberty and the Tucson side by side and spent a long time going back and forth over all the features, then we each got in one and took a test drive, changing cars at the half-way point.

After returning the cars at their respective dealerships we indicated to the salesman that one of us wanted the Jeep and the other preferred the Hyundai. It was our standard good-cop, bad-cop that is a huge help during negotiations. As we dropped off each vehicle we also reminded the salesman that Carrie had to leave for work (remember the ability to walk away is not bow to sales are in control of the buying process...not the dealer).

That night we poured over the pricing, warranty and other information about the cars and discussed our driving impressions. It was clear to both of us that the Hyundai was the vehicle that fit the bill for us. It was everything that we wanted in terms of style, comfort and value for the money.

The next day we drove to a Hyundai dealership about 30 miles from home and said that we were interested in purchasing a Hyundai Tucson Limited in Saraha Silver with dark tan leather interior. (we were implicitly specific as to the car we wanted and refused to look at another just because they had it on the lot...we said if they did not have it we would wait for it to be transferred from another dealer or even to wait until one came from the factory...remember not being in a hurry to buy is a huge advantage). They did not have the exact car, but said they could get one in for us in a few days. We sat down at a table and asked to see their best price...starting with the Costco pricing. They quoted us a price (above where we knew we could get one) so we both looked at them've got to be kidding. Their next move was to ask us, "well what would it take to make you buy the car right now?". I indicated that we were not going to buy today or even tomorrow, but that our highest price would be $21,000 out the door (this was $3000 under sticker price...a price I had arrived at after researching the heck out of was basically dealer cost , minus "DEALER HOLDBACK" holdback is considered "sacred" by most dealers, so don't even mention that you know about it) . Anyway, after saying that our price was not a penny more than $21,000 out the door, it was their turn to look at us like "you've got to be kidding". After the requisite, uncomfortable moment of silence (where you as the buyer should never utter a sound) they told us the lowest they could go would be a bit below $22,000...not a bad price since it was significantly below Costco Pricing but still a bit above where I thought they would be willing to go. Despite this fairly good deal we said that we had to go get a bite to eat and discuss things.

The next day the salesman called saying that they had found the exact car and asked "what time today do you want to come get your new car" ? (this is called assuming the sale). I told him we needed a better price before we would buy and told him we would be out of town for the weekend anyway.

The following Monday, the salesman called again and now was offering us an even better deal...$21,500 (half way between our price and their best price). We were pretty much ready to go buy the car, so we said that we would be back, not to buy the car but to test drive it again the next day....the salesman said, "OK we will have it prepped and ready for you to drive off"...I reiterated that we would be in to test drive the car again and would not necessarily be buying it.

We were pretty happy and proud of ourselves for negotiating a good price (below Costco price), but the dealership that was offering the best price (so far) had left us with some "unsettled" feelings...they felt kind of "slippery" and a quite "pushy"...more like the stereotypical "used car salesman" we all hear about. We wanted the car, but not from this particular dealership....we were not wanting to deal with these folks in the "after the sale" period, when they are less likely to treat you well.

Anyway, as one last shot at getting a better deal, I got on the phone and started calling the dealerships that we had visited, plus 3 others that were around town, but that we had not visited as yet, asking to speak directly to the sales manager. When each manager got on the phone, I indicated that within one hour we would be on our way out the door to purchase a Hyundai Tucson Limited in Sahara Silver with dark tan leather interior, from another dealer, and that we were just checking to see if they could beat a $21,500 price.

Well, now the pressure was on them...a total role reversal.....all of the managers except one that I talked to said that they would call me back within 15 minutes and apparently went to work doing the calculations, based on my "out the door price".

Sure enough, in less than 5 minutes, some of the dealers began calling me back, almost falling over themselves to make a sale. One guy told me that he couldn't meet the price, and suggested that I go get the car (at the competitive dealer), because it was one hell of a deal, (I thanked him for his honest opinion) others called and said that they could now "magically" match the price, or had another color which they could sell us. Finally one dealer called (they were new in town and were needing to make sales at almost any price in order to establish themselves with Hyundai and get more vehicles allocated to them) They indicated that they did infact have a Hyundai Tucson Limited in Saraha Silver with dark tan leather interior on the lot, and would like to offer it to us for our price...$21,000 out the door. I confirmed what I meant by "out the door price" and said we would stop in on the way to the other dealer to talk.

We drove to the ($21,000 out the door) dealership, checked out the car and in a matter of less than one hour drove off with a new Hyundai Tucson.

Oh, I almost forgot....we had planned on upgrading the warranty (not only for our protection during ownership, but also so that it is easier to sell in the future) so, before we bought, we purchased an extension of the 5 year 60,000 mile bumper to bumper Hyundai warranty. We are now covered all the way up to 10 years/100,00 miles bumper to bumper. For this we paid an additional $1039. Be advised, the warranty packages are negotiable....we were quoted as much as $1400 for the same warranty at other dealers.

As far as I can calculate, the dealer probably sold me the car under their cost, (the equivalent of about $3000 UNDER STICKER PRICE, which was of course, well below "Costco special pricing". We were very happy and so were the folks at the dealership !

Here's some photos of the Tucson which I shot the day we drove it home.


Selling your old car:

Well, now it was time to sell the Minivan....

The folks at the Hyundai dealership offered to take our Plymouth Voyager in trade, but before they could tell me what they would offer, I said, "let's not even go there". They understood and dropped the topic immediately

If you are trying to save money, do not under any circumstance trade your car in to the dealer. You can easily sell your car on Craig's list, Ebay, Auto Trader or in the local paper for more than the dealer will give you ! The dealer will need to make money for the service of buying and selling your car, which means they CANNOT offer you the same amount which they will turn around and sell it for.

This leads me to my next point, and a bit of an aside.... it is usually a good idea to purchase a transferrable, extended warranty on your car, if for no other reason that when you go to sell it, you will have a much easier time. Selling a used car with a warranty makes your car much more attractive than a similar car without a warranty..

When I got home from the Hyundai dealer after purchasing the Tucson, I immediately started preparations to sell our 2000 Plymouth Voyager Minivan.

My wife drives very little and since we are non smokers, have no pets and no kids and take extrememly good care of our cars (afterall they are the second largest investments) the vehicle was in tip top shape.

The first step was wash and vaccume the car, next I photographed it and wrote up a complete description and posted for sale on Craig's list.

Here are some photos and my description as it appeared on Craig's list. Both good photos and a detailed description are key elements to selling things on Craig's list and Ebay...the more info you can provide, the more comfortable the buyer will be. I even provided detailed photos of a scratch that was on the back of the car !

Almost immediately after posting the car for sale on Craig's list, we started recieving calls and within 48 hours we had sold it to a very nice woman right here in San Diego. She was thrilled to get a practically mint condition 2000 Voyager with low miles and warranty (the balance of our 7 year 75,000 mile warranty which for $50 was transfered to her). We were happy to have cash in hand, and the space back in our garage !

All in all both buying and selling was a pleasurable experience !

Both my wife and I can certainly recommend the 2006 Hyundai Tucson as a great little car. If you are in San Diego and want to purchase one, we got a great deal, and had a very nice experience with Maureen the sales manger, Sonny the salesman and Bill the finance guy at Kearny Mesa Hyundai .