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Topic: Adventures in Car Buying, USA  (Read 2197 times)

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Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« on: November 07, 2020, 06:35:02 PM »
Well, that was bizarre.  ::)

Rented a car and drove out to a nearby hamlet to test-drive a used 2018 Fiesta on Thursday. Liked the car. There was quite a bit of damp in the spare tire well with some actual water at the bottom, and the floorboard above it was damp and dirty (literal dirt) in spots. Some gravel and dirt was also down in the spare well. Other than that, the car seemed clean. Sales guy said he didn't know what that water was about, but would get it checked and have the floorboard above shampooed. Ok, no probs with that. Came home, did some research. Seems it's not unheard of for there to be water leaks in Fiestas near the tail lights and for people to find water sloshing around in the spare well after a rainstorm, and that either a gasket replacement or grommet (depending on location of leak) is needed to fix it.

Salesguy also said he'd throw in four tires at their cost (we'd pay only their cost, no markup) when they were needed, as the original tires had 48,000 miles on them. Said he'd put it in writing. Ok, sounded good. First oil change free, too. Ok. No problem with us taking the car to a mechanic for a once-over - in fact, "they recommended that." All ok and would be put in writing.

So after coming home and considering, I sent a PDF'd summary of our discussion:

They'd check out for a water leak in the trunk, and if there was one fix it. I asked that they warranty that repair.

I reminded them of their offer of tires (our purchasing the tires at dealer cost) and oil.

I noted I had not seen a jack in the car, but there needed to be one, as well as the standard fuel funnel that would have come with the car when it was new. (This vehicle doesn't use a gas cap, but a special port, so you have problems filling it from a standard emergency gas can.)

I also memorialized our verbal agreement that we would take the car to a mechanic before buying it. He said the car was in good order, so he had no probs with our doing that. I wrote that if there were probs found they could fix them and we would then go ahead with the purchase.

Reminded them I was paying cash, and that they said they could take a personal check.

Hadn't heard from them by yesterday evening, so I left a phone message saying I'd emailed and could they confirm that'd gotten the PDF since all this was supposed to happen Monday.

So today I got a phone call from a very angry assistant manager. She pretty much took my head off over my "demands" - said that was "just condensation damp" in the spare well. That the jack was under the tire. (So sitting in the standing water? For how long?) There was nothing wrong with the floorboard over the tire. That the tires thing was completely unreasonable: they were selling the car to me at $126 over their cost. And it sounded like what I really wanted was a new car. They were selling this car "as is" as a used car. All in a really angry, abrasive tone.

I responded there was nothing in my list that had not been verbally agreed to, and that the salesman had thrown in the tires-at-cost and oil change, we had not asked for them. And that it was seeming obvious I needed to find a similar car elsewhere. She agreed. End of conversation. So I'm left wondering what the hell the purpose of that call was? She could have had a professional tone and we might have had been able to work something out. I wouldn't do business with them if it was 50% off at this point!  I am assuming there actually was something wrong with the car.

Not having ever had a car-buying experience like that before, but not having bought a car in the NE USA before, I don't know if that kind of behaviour is standard or not? (I think it's a bullet dodged, at this point.)


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2020, 06:53:01 PM »
FORD = Fixed Or Repaired Daily  ;D

Did you run the VIN and see if it had ever been in a flood situation and written off ?


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2020, 07:32:00 PM »
The beauty of a used car is there is another on the next corner!  Dodged a lemon, I suspect.

Finance hat on,  aim for a vehicle 3 - 4 years old.  More value heave dropped.  Tires, brakes, etc., will have been replaced.  See if there is a Carmax nearby.  They are fixed price and pretty honest.


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2020, 11:07:52 PM »
FORD = Fixed Or Repaired Daily  ;D

Did you run the VIN and see if it had ever been in a flood situation and written off ?

Yeah, it was clean. It had been owned by Enterprise Car Rental in PA, only owner. The dealer apparently bought half-a-dozen of 'em.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2020, 11:20:14 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2020, 11:19:26 PM »
The beauty of a used car is there is another on the next corner!  Dodged a lemon, I suspect.

Finance hat on,  aim for a vehicle 3 - 4 years old.  More value heave dropped.  Tires, brakes, etc., will have been replaced.  See if there is a Carmax nearby.  They are fixed price and pretty honest.

Thanks. Not sure I trust Carmax, but will give them a look. They really low-balled us when we were selling our Mazda Protege in California - offered us half the blue-book, so we donated the car. (It subsequently sold at auction for the full price, proceeds to a charity.)  There's one up the road.

Have an appointment on Monday to drive a 2016 Nissan Versa Note SL with 23,800 miles on it. (Was rear-ended in 2017, $1,500 worth of damage done - knowing the price of repairs, that was probably to replace a bumper/fender and tail llights.) They want about $11K for it.

Also driving a 2016 Kia Soul Monday, similar miles, no accident history. They want two grand $$ more, but throw in a lifetime power-train warranty. I've become very fond of warranties over the years, for the "big" stuff, given the cost of repairs.  The Nissan has a CVT transmission, so it'll cost more to fix than a more traditional one. The Soul is just a traditional automatic transmission. So the Soul gets points in the equation there away from the Versa.

Have known people with Nissans who swear by them. Not much info first-hand on the Soul. Soul has hella lot of cargo space, and a more powerful engine. Gets slightly worse gas miles. (Gas here is about $2.35 an American gallon - need to remember to rub that in when I write to friends in California.  ;) ;) )

The purpose of this car is to be toodling around town reliably, sometimes in snow. The Kia has bigger wheels and is higher off the ground, has about 130hp compared to 109. Both seem to have acceleration that would be ok for our needs, the Nissan being slower (but not terribly so). Kia has a 14 gallon gas tank, Versa Note has 10. 

I'm torn - I think both are probably pretty reliable cars. That warranty... it sure is appealing!


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2020, 11:29:32 PM »
I've owned 3 Nissans in my lifetime and happy.  Also had 2 Hondas and 2 Acuras.  Great cars!

Do NOT discount Hyundai.  They used to offer a 10 year power train warranty.  Which is amazing. 

Carmax low balling on a sale isn't too unheard of.  But they are fair with the sales prices.  Have a look on their website.

I wouldn't buy a former rental.  No one takes care of them!  I would HAPPILY buy a former company car!  Or a former demo vehicle.


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2020, 11:52:50 PM »
I've owned 3 Nissans in my lifetime and happy.  Also had 2 Hondas and 2 Acuras.  Great cars!

Do NOT discount Hyundai.  They used to offer a 10 year power train warranty.  Which is amazing. 

Carmax low balling on a sale isn't too unheard of.  But they are fair with the sales prices.  Have a look on their website.

I wouldn't buy a former rental.  No one takes care of them!  I would HAPPILY buy a former company car!  Or a former demo vehicle.

Thanks for the info on the Nissans. I know they used to make darned good tiny little pickup trucks back in the day - and I'd happily buy one of those if they still existed.

Hyundai does have that massive warranty for new cars still (10 years or 100,000 miles). The full warranty doesn't transfer to new owners, but the powertrain one does. There is one on the lot we might look at, and the dealer is kind of hedging their bets by offering a lifetime warranty - I bet not a lot of people actually keep cars that long anymore. (I do.  ;D ) I'd be getting four more years of warranty just from the original  - assuming I didn't do a lot of cross-country driving to get 75,000+ more miles on it sooner! (Hardly likely.) Still, transmissions are pricey to fix. So that extra two grand might be worth the peace of mind.

I've bought two previous rentals - both from Hertz. A 2002 Mazda Protege and a 2003 Mazda Protege. Hertz use to provide the precise repair/maint histories with them, and both had around 30K miles on them.  Ran the 2002 until it started having computer problems the month before we left (the donated one), and the Daughter drove the other until we left. We had well over 100,000 miles on each (mostly commuter miles on the freeway). I would have gone back to Hertz but they are in bankruptcy and have closed down their car sales division for a while. I don't want to wait for months in the hopes they'd be back up again and selling.  Tried Enterprise, but they don't actually have a sales site closer than Connecticut! Avis is closest in NJ.  I think I'd rather do business with a dealer up the road - and buying in NY means I'm covered by NY lemon laws, whereas buying out-of-state doesn't have those protections.

I had considered another Mazda, as they run a good long time before repairs are needed. (I had a 1985 Mazda GLC prior to the Proteges - the only brand-new car I ever owned. I got it up to 300,000 miles when the repairs just started getting too much.)  But when they do start wearing out, they are always some non-standard part that you can only get from Mazda and it gets expensive. Plus they are very proud of their cars now - they're a lot more expensive than they should be. I wish I could get like a Mazda 2 hatchback, but they haven't made them in years. 

Hondas are good cars. Their reputation means they keep their resale value, and around here they are (comparable year and miles) several thousand more than the Nissan and the Kia.

Well, I'll drive them both and see what kind of deal can be done if I like either of them. And, totally illogically, I kind of like the idea that Kia used to use hamsters in their advertising campaign to promote the car. I know, I know. Insanity runs in my family.  ;)

I do think I dodged a bullet with that Ford Fiesta. Too bad, it was a fun little car to drive and the Daughter liked it, too.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 12:02:56 AM by Nan D. »


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #7 on: November 08, 2020, 01:22:15 PM »
My advice (married to a car guy) which you can take or leave is to spend a bit more and go for the one with no accident history. And i would personally agree with KF about buying a previous rental car. Very risky in my opinion.

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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2020, 06:34:35 PM »
Well, I've bought three different rental vehicles and they've been absolutely fine. All were well maintained and had low mileage.

However, that's neither here nor there, as I'm going to the car dealership tomorrow. I do like the idea of the Kia Soul, and according to what I find online the warranty that does transfer is good. There is another one at another dealer with similar miles, but it's a 2017 and $2k cheaper than the one I'll see tomorrow. Might be going to the other place on Tuesday.... that would pretty much give us two years of "new car" warranty (basically).

https://www.caranddriver.com/research/a33215854/warranty-for-kia/


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2020, 08:50:01 PM »
Ok, drove them both:

2016 Nissan Versa Note.  - Battery was dead when we went to start it! Drove the other car while they charged the battery. NOT a good omen.  When we did drive it, we liked it. Peppy enough for what it was, lots of room in it. Spare tire (under the car - that would be AAA's problem to get, not ours) and a hidy space in the back of the car where the tire would have normally been under the floorboard.  Had heated seats, satnav, and backup camera. about 27k miles. BUT history of accident. No warranty other than what the state requires (3 mos 3,000 miles) Daughter liked that it was lower so she could get her bike into it through the hatch, and it had a CD player.

2016 Kia Soul -  Air Con didn't kick on until we turned the knob to setting 4 (skipping 1, 2, and 3) and then it blew icebergs. ALSO not a great omen.  Very comfy seats, lots of room, up higher off the ground than the Note. Does not come with a spare. Lots of "hidden" storage where the spare should have been. Similar miles. Remaining manufacturer's  warranty of about a year, plus the overlapping 3 mos 3,000 miles required by the state. Daughter had trouble with the height up to the hatch, and no CD player.

The Honda was already purchased, so we couldn't drive it. Same with the Hyundai.

They said the Kia needed a list of stuff that they were going to take care of - new tires, etc. It had only just come into the lot and they had not run it through the shop yet.  The Versa they said was "ready to go". Ummm, with a dead battery?  They had no problem with us taking any car to an outside mechanic to review. 

My thoughts:

Having the minor accident on the record for the Note permanently kills its resale value. It's priced just under $11K and I would assume we'd be driving it for a good five years at least, so I'm not sure that resale/trade is really an issue. If there's an issue with the charging system (dead battery) I'd be more worried. Salesman said sometimes they sat on the lot for a week and the batteries would go down. A car battery should not run down in a week unless the weather was truly Baltic, and it's been in the 60Fs here.  Perhaps the mechanic could test that out?

I preferred the Kia Soul to drive and to ride in. I could do a cross-country in that car. However, the lack of spare tire and the inoperative AC have put me off. I could always buy a spare wheel and have a tire put on it, and it could sit in the back. And they could fix the AC switch. And the extra years on the powertrain warranty are appealing. Plus I believe it's an old-school transmission, not the CVT that the Versa has. It would be cheaper to fix that kind of transmission. Having said that (knocking on wood here) I've been driving for 50 years - a LOT of miles - and I've only had one car have a transmission problem. And that car was overall a beater when I bought it.
The Soul is priced $3K more than the Versa Note. However, across town there's one that's the same year and model that's almost comparable with the Versa.

I think that I would go and re-drive the Soul, and also the one across town, and then potentially use the cheaper price for the second to try to get the price for the first down (unless I preferred the second for some reason).  I think the Versa Note is a no-go.  It is about $3K less than the other dealers are selling 2019 models (with more miles on them, granted) for, and that's just not enough cheaper give its "accident" record and potential charging system issue, I don't think.

I dunno. I think I'll just see about test-driving that second Soul for now.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 10:01:24 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2020, 08:55:15 PM »
Perhaps the aircon just needs regassing? That might be a very minor/cheap fix

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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2020, 09:28:54 PM »
Nope, it didn't even switch on at all. Maybe a switch problem. Dunno. The last thing I want to deal with is a car with any sort of electrics problems, though. Two cars from the same dealer and both had issues on a test drive? That's kind of discouraging, for sure!

I've let the dealer know that was off-putting, and we do have a similar one with similar miles, one year newer, for cheaper to drive. Be interesting to see what he comes back with, if anything.


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2020, 10:06:24 AM »
What kind of car are you after? What's your budget? What mileage per year and primary use?
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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2020, 01:54:35 PM »
What kind of car are you after? What's your budget? What mileage per year and primary use?

Reliable is the most important thing. It needs to not be breaking down and leaving us stranded on a deserted road in extreme weather conditions. So not too old - probably nothing prior to 2017 and that's pushing it. I'd prefer something with a warranty, but most cars either do not transfer warranty or it will have expired at 3 years/36k miles. Automatic transmission. I would prefer something smaller (for US cars smaller), fuel-efficient, with a hatchback.  The budget is flexible, preferably under $14,000.

I would prefer a car that has under 45,000 miles on it. That's where it starts to get difficult - there is a shortage of small used cars in my area right now due to economic conditions (?), and low-miles has typically been accompanied by an accident history. 

It will be my "running around town" and "occasional expeditions out into the country" car until my Daughter finds employment, at which point it will be her commuter car. The annual mileage we'd drive per year probably would not be high - unless we moved somewhere that required a lengthy commute, like back to SoCalif. Otherwise our miles would be almost assuredly much less than the mythical standard of 12-17K per year. It would definitely be much lower as long as I am the primary driver, as it would then be for local errands and the occasional sight-seeing jaunt of a few-hundred miles only. There could be,  however, some cross-country trips (so 5,000 miles round-trip) in its future. So that brings up comfort - I already have a wonky back, so a comfortable car is important if at all possible. (Otherwise we'd have to rent one for long trips.)

It also needs to be able to handle driving in snow. I am really disliking the trend lately of cars that sit really low to the ground. I don't see that working well in snow.

We've driven:

Honda Fit - 2016 model. Wasn't as impressed as I expected to be. Was ok, but that particular car had some issues and was badly overpriced for what it was.
Ford Fiesta - 2018 model, to avoid the problem transmissions they had with earlier years. Was ready to buy it, but the deal fell through.
Kia Soul (base model, 2016) - I believe later year models are very similar, and the warranty does transfer. Really comfortable seats. I like the car.
Nissan Versa Note (2016) - drove ok, not as much power on the freeway as the Soul but it was adequate. The Daughter liked it.

Planning to drive in the near future:

Chevy Spark - which is not a first-choice, as it's a lawnmower engine on wheels, but brand new ones are about $14,500 and would have a three-year warranty. It's certainly not a car we would want to take on cross-country trips. But we'll check it out.

Hyundai Accent -if we can find one with low-enough miles. Would be giving up the hatchback option for that, probably.

Volkswagon Golf - if we can find one affordable with low-enough miles.

Would love a Toyota or a Mazda 3, but they are out of the target price range.


Not planning to look at

Mitsubishi Mirage - lawnmower on wheels (no power), bad rep as far as reliability
Fiat 500 - same reasons

The car needs to be roomy inside, preferably not have a lot of touch-screen tech, have enough acceleration capability to merge onto the freeway without getting us killed, and be reliable. The A/C and the heat absolutely must work. We could manage with an anemic heater, but the A/C needs to pretty much blow out arctic gales reliably in hot weather.

Given current market conditions here, that's kind of tough slate to manage.  I am also having to watch for cars that have been in flood-prone areas. There are a lot of cars on the market here from Florida and down south - which could be problematic or just that a lot of older people here retire and spend part of the year in Florida and then bring their cars back up here and sell them. I'm hoping I'll get lucky if I wait towards the end of the year - I'm already starting to see Thanksgiving/Black Friday sales pop up.

I have found a local mechanic not affiliated with any of the dealers who will check out the car once we find one we like. I have had two dealers now get very hostile to the idea of my taking the car to be checked out prior to purchase.

Suggestions for models not listed above?

« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 02:05:31 PM by Nan D. »


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Re: Adventures in Car Buying, USA
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2020, 02:08:27 PM »
So just a tiny amount of specific criteria  ;)

Can I just ask, will this be bought in the UK or US? That changes things.

Edit:- just noticed your title says USA
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 02:15:01 PM by Ben1989 »
15/03/2013 - Met in Cancun
29/11/2013 - Engaged
25/02/2014 - Married
29/04/2014 - Spouse Application Approved
02/05/2014 - Visa Received
09/01/2017 - FLR(M) Granted
06/06/2017 - Little Nipper born
22/07/2019 - ILR Granted


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