Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Everything That Glitters Isn’t Gold, But It May Be An Overpriced Used Car

Some signs a dealership paid too much for the used car you’re looking at, and won’t let it go for very much under asking:

  1. It’s parked out in front of the dealership.  A dealership that also sells new cars of the same brand, that is.  As in, “look at this great car as you drive by and come in and ask about it!”
  2. The engine is clean.  Very clean.  I mean like it just came from the factory.  Stickers are vibrant, metal gleams, even the black plastic is coated in something that makes it gleam.
  3. The dealership is not serious about negotiating for your trade-in that is in above average shape.  They start waaaay below average wholesale, and won’t even consider offers near the average.

This was our experience recently when my wife and I tried to negotiate for a used Honda Element. 

When I saw the condition of the engine I thought all dealerships shined used cars inside and out.  Not so.  It was definitely an above average vehicle for it’s age (2008, ~55,000km), but it was dressed up and shown off out front. 

We may have been coming in a little low, but still above average.  We were sure the tires wouldn’t be replaced as part of Honda’s certification process.  They’ll replace tires under “40%”.  Considering the rest of the truck’s appearance I’m sure they would have already replaced the tires if they were below minimum.  They looked to be down to about 4mm, and would probably need replacing in about 6 months.  That was a $1000 cost we didn’t want to incur so soon after purchase. 

They sure didn’t seem to think too highly of our offer, and were obviously not interested in our trade-in.  For a car we could probably have gotten around $10,000 if sold privately they offered just $6000.  Basically, get your stinking car off my lot, you damn dirty apes.

So we walked.

They didn’t call us back.

We ended up finding a less “prestigious”  Element at another dealership that was willing to be reasonable.  It will come with new tires.

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