Sunday, May 1, 2005

Score another for the internet

So, I'm sorta shopping for a new car.

OK, I'm actually shopping for a new car, but even the act of shopping isn't something I want to affirmatively commit to until I've actually signed the purchase agreement and am driving off the lot in my new car.  Because, I mean, the whole thing is rather stressful.  And expensive.  (And I can back out at any time and get my deposit back.)

But the really nifty part is how the shopping experience itself is vastly changed by the existence of the internet.

I've found that, in my own experience, it usually takes two times for me to give a task completely over to the online world.  Like, the first time I got my hands on TurboTax -- I did my taxes by hand that year, then used TurboTax to confirm the result.  Once I was confident that TurboTax did everything I did (only faster), I used TurboTax exclusively the next year.  Same thing with booking travel.  First time, I used the internet for researching the flights I wanted, but I still booked them by phone.  Second time, I became my own "internet travel agent," and I haven't really looked back since.

So.  When I bought my last car, I poked around online to get some vague idea of the cars I wanted to test drive, but I did all the legwork out there in the real world.

This time ... well, this time I did all my comparison shopping online.  My good pals at gave me all the information I wanted about all the vehicles in the class I was looking for -- even enabled me to print it all out in a nice comparison chart.  AND (bonus), they also gave me three prices -- the msrp, the invoice price, and the average price the car was actually selling for in my area of the country. 

Armed with this information, I went out for my test drives.  Let me tell you -- you have such a feeling of confidence when you're going into a dealership with all of the data you could possibly need.  I so totally felt like I wasn't falling for any of their crap -- when they tried to steer me toward a vehicle I didn't want, I was able to give them an itemized list of all the reasons why I'd already rejected that choice, thanks very much.  And when I saw a dealer who tried to charge me $5000 more than the average selling price for the car -- see ya, bye, I'm outta there.

Edmunds even hooked me up with a dealership in my area which would guarantee selling me the car for the "average price" as posted on Edmunds -- so I'd know I'm getting a fair price for the car and there's no need for all that posturing and negotiating.  Of course, there's still room for negotiating when it comes to the price they'll give me for my trade-in -- but I've already investigated my car's blue book value online (at two different sites), so I know whether their appraiser is giving me a fair deal there, too.

It's still stressful and scary and expensive ... but with all the information I got from my pal, the internet, I am certain I'm not being taken advantage of -- which fact genuinely makes the car-purchasing process a whole different ball game.



andreakingme said...

You are my hero, NZ. I really like your zeal in learning all you can before you commit to an action. I can learn from you. Usually I do this sort of thing by a gut feeling, which is why I land face-first in the dirt so often. (Well, not with car purchases so much. But with a lot of other stuff.)

What kind of car do you have your heart set on?

grodygeek said...

Yeah, the internet sure helps with the purchase of a lot of stuff. For me sometimes too much. As in I find bargains I don't need.

Anyway, I encourage you to look into Consumer Reports regarding cars. Okay, maybe you've already decided what car you want, but if not they can help. They also can help if you pay their service fee, they will tell you the basic cost and give you much better negotiation power with the dealer. In their words, don't negotiate from the sticker down, negotiate up from the real manufacturer cost.

If you like more information, I'll tell you what I know. I'm a car guy.

Smell ya later...
the cycling curmudgeon