What I’ve learned buying a new car

Preface

Switching gears from my first posts, I’m going to talk about my personal life on this site as well. Sometimes you just need a place to vent, not towards anyone in particular, not needing a response from anyone, just getting it out there. Feel free to read and maybe learn something new. Also mid-writing update to the preface, it’s a long one. You might wanna grab another cup of coffee and sit back.

Welcome to my blog and my life. You’ve been warned!

~Xanimos

Backstory

So back in august I was at a point where I needed to change cars. I was rocking a 2011 Subaru STi, pearl white, with lots of customization done to it. I loved the car, it was fast, sporty, great handling, pretty, and most of all FUN.

However my life is turning a new path and the car payments were too high for my current living situation, I had a roommate move out and I was struggling to make my bills meet. There’s another blog story or two about how I got here that I will tell later and probably edit this to link them in when I do.

Onward!

So I start by investigating what my car is worth, to figure out my equity, before I jump into the lions den of sales people. I pull up KBB and plug in all the good ol’ information about my car into it. I look at autotrader to see what they are selling for and discover autotrader has a new feature where they will do the KBB thing but give you a guarantee on the trade-in price. I didn’t see much of an issue here so I started plugging away. I get to the end and it makes you choose the type of car you’re trying to trade in. Needless to say, I wasn’t prepared yet.

I was only looking for what my car is worth, and now I’ve got to choose what car I was looking for. At that moment I didn’t have any idea what I wanted. Realistically I wanted my car, the same one I was selling, but I wanted it to be cheaper, better on gas, and overall more affordable….which you know, you can’t get it all. There is a price to pay for everything. So I go ahead and just choose any car, I chose a Ford Fusion. I don’t know why, can’t remember now, but that’s what I chose.

So I get the price and I was sitting pretty good in positive equity from what I’ve paid and what was still owed on my loan. I’m thinking, this is great, I have a few debts that need some money thrown at them. This is what I need to do with my life right now.

Within the next couple of hours I receive a few emails and a couple texts to my mobile phone. When using the autotrader feature you select if it is okay before hand. However, I wasn’t ready for it all to happen in a matter of hours. Like I mentioned previously, I didn’t even know what car I wanted yet. Also these were all dealerships in my local area that had used Ford Fusions on their lot, trying to get rid of them. So this is promising….smh.

Anyway I setup a meeting with one for a Monday, and another wanted me to come in sooner, so I set them up for Sunday. Keep in mind I did this research on Saturday morning with my cup of coffee in hand, with no real plans of doing anything about it this particular weekend. The third dealership didn’t get in touch with me until after I sold the car, tough luck.

Anyway I spend the rest of my day looking up facts and information about buying cars here in CA. I’m from FL, and being in the military and being in multiple states over the years, you hear the horror stories of what not to do and what to look out for. Anyway I focus in on the sales tax associated with the current state I’m in and I find that the rate can change based on different cities and I look into avoiding key areas where the sales tax is 1% higher. If you’re thinking 1% doesn’t sound like much, well then you haven’t bought a car yet, have you? That 1% will translate from $100’s to $1000’s depending on the car you buy.

Always be prepared to walk away, don’t hold on solely because of your previous effort.

~Xanimos

The first dealership

So I take the 40 minute drive to this dealership, my city is pretty big, and I’m regretting it as soon as I get in my car. This wasn’t how I wanted to spend my weekend. This isn’t even the car I know I want to buy. Nothing about this is really appealing. But, I’ve made an appointment, so I’ll uphold my end of the agreement.

I arrive 20 minutes before the scheduled appointment, traffic was light that day. I park and walk up to the doors, as I pass by the first sales person, they ask me if I need help. I tell them I’m here for an appointment with Greg, his name wasn’t really Greg, I honestly don’t remember and it isn’t important. This guy introduces himself and says Greg is with another customer right now and that I was free to roam the lot while Greg finishes up with his current customer.

Okay, no biggie, I’m early and it is understandable. Anyway I start walking around their used car section and browsing their website at the same time matching cars to their online ads. Everything matches up, which is a good thing in my book. I finish looking at all the cars and…wait let me repeat that ALL of the cars. Still haven’t heard from Greg, so I walk back up to the doors and it’s about 20 minutes past my appointment time. The other sales people are just standing around, and I just leave. Great waste of time!

Lesson learned. My time is important to me, don’t waste it. The guy called me back eventually, 3 days later, pathetic.

Onto the next one

I arrive to this appointment right on time, as I’m parking in their customer lot, my phone rings. It’s the person I’m supposed to meet with. She sounds friendly and I tell her I just parked. She says “That’s great, go on inside and tell the receptionist you’re here for me.” So that’s exactly what I do. As I walk up I noticed this dealership looks 10x better than the one I was at the previous day.

Anyway, I find out the person I was meeting with was for her to look over my car and make sure the information I provided to the appraisal was accurate. As we talk she walks me over and hands me off to a sales man Damian. Damian is a clean cut guy with a charming personality and we walk out to the used lot. As we go I start off talking about why I’m there and a little back story of what lead me to be in this situation. Instantly he understands and is on my side already.

Long story short here, we never made it to the used Fusion. We sat and talked for about 15 minutes without looking at any cars. He asked me about what I was looking for in regards to a monthly payment and what I would need out of the car as far as how I used it. I mentioned something about the sales tax and how I didn’t want to pay a lot in taxes and what not. Then he asks if I’ve ever leased a car and I hadn’t so he takes the time to describe how it works.

We made our way over to the new cars, the 2020 models just got delivered. We looked at a few different options, and went on a test drive. Then we went into the sales floor to barter. Here’s where I was prepared for a shit-show of back and forth and all this jazz. But nope, not with us, him and I saw eye-to-eye and clicked. He went back to the managers room, where the team back there did the calculations and brought out a sheet with numbers on it.

He set it down and said here’s the good news. It had what they were going to offer for my trade-in and what monthly payments were gonna be. I was slightly taken aback due to slightly lower than the online offer for it, however there was some body damage and it was still a good price. But, the monthly payment was higher than him and I discussed outside. I looked at him and said “Is this the bit where we go back and forth for a hour?” He said nope, these are the numbers they offered. What do you think is reasonable. I said I really wanted X but it seems unreasonable, how about we meet at Y. He agrees with me and whispers now I have to go back there and tell them you want X and they will counter with Z but you say Y is final and it’ll be Y. Then winks at me. And that’s exactly what happened.

Took a few hours to wrap up all the paper work and get the car all nice and new. It was my first new car, it only had 11 miles on it, 6 of which were my test drive. This was my 4th car though and second I bought by myself. So I wasn’t unprepared for it all. It just happened quicker than I was previously ready.

It’s not the quality of the car that makes a man, but it is the quality of the character that defines a man.

~Xanimos

What did I get you ask? A new Corolla. I know not what you were expecting huh. Not with my previous car right?! I never thought I would own a Corolla as my own car but it fit my needs and it’s only a lease.

The aftermath

This is where I learned a valuable lesson. This is what brings me to write this today. This is annoying.

The whole events leading up to the previous story was 12 weeks ago. Remember that positive equity I had in my car? Yeah, still don’t have it.

In the initial deal the manager told me that they won’t write me a check until they get the title and that could take 6-8 weeks so don’t worry about it. Okay, I won’t worry about it. Well 8 weeks comes and goes. I send out an email and wait, I get nothing back. Another week or two go by, still nothing.

Now I’m worried. I had a surgery that took me out of work for a few weeks. The first weekend of it, last weekend, I called the dealership. The receptionist picked up, I explained my situation, and she says the business center isn’t open today and the one person who could help you is with another customer. (Oh boy!) She patches me through to her phone and as expected no answer. I leave my name, number, and the situation and ask her to call me back.

Three days go by and no call back. So I marched my happy butt right in there and walked up to the reception desk. I was greeted with a pleasant smile once again and was asked if I could be helped. I explained my situation and the face switched to a less pleasant one. She said one moment, picked up the phone, that I did not hear ring, and answered it like it was a fresh call. She hung up and said that it was everyone’s lunch hour who could help me. Then directed me to the waiting area, that was behind a wall, where I could wait.

So I waited, she came back and said that it might be a little bit before she gets back. If I’d like I could call her and leave a message for her to return my call. I say “No thank you, I’ve tried that already with no returned call, I’ll wait here until this matter can be resolved.” She returns to her desk.

Here I sit and wait, deciding on how long I should wait before I make a public tweet about the situation to the main Toyota twitter account. Meanwhile, I see managers and sales people walking all around and kindly ignoring me. They know I’m not here for a new sale. I decide if I’m sitting here more than an hour, the post is happening.

Before that could happen I was helped. The receptionist came back around the wall and started talking, then realizing we were talking over a long distance, she asked me to walk to the counter. Keep in mind my whole time in there I’m 1 week into a surgery that removed a tumor from my left leg with a 6 in. incision up my inner thigh.

She explains that they haven’t received my title yet and they can’t release the funds until they have my title. They pay off the loan from the lean holder and then they release the title. She says something to the extent of me feeling shes politely asking me to leave. To which I respond “No worries, I’ll call them right now and see what the hold up is.” I walk back to the waiting room and call my bank. After 5 minutes on the phone with my friendly banking people I discovered that when the car dealership payed off my loan they never gave my bank an address to send the title to…

So while on the phone with the bank, I walk back to the receptionist and grab a business card from right in front of her and keep the conversation going with my bank. I give them the address and get a few more details that I was never told before. Like once my bank does release the title I still have to call the DMV and tell them to release the physical title or the DMV will hold on to it. All of this would have been great information to know 12 weeks ago before this was a pain in my butt and pocket.

I finish the conversation with the bank and hang up. Then I tell the receptionist what happened, and how I feel people should be informed so that when they go through this they will know to inform the customer. She doesn’t seem to understand and I kindly thank her for her help with a smile on my face then I go on about my day. I’m slightly irritated, mostly annoyed, and in physical pain over the situation.

No matter what, it should end with a smile on your face.

~Xanimos

Conclusion

All of this could have been avoided with better communication on all parties, myself included. I made the mistake of trusting the dealership to handle it all, and “don’t worry about it.” The dealership failed to give the address to the bank, and that boggles my mind. The dealership failed to follow up with the bank after paying off the loan and not receiving a title. The bank failed to reach out to me or the entity that paid off the loan for an address to send the title to, and just held on to it. And last but not least I failed to follow up with either the bank or dealership until it was well past the time it should have taken for me to be paid the money that is owed to me.

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