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Buying a New vs Used Car 2010: 0% Financing? Honda Civic LX; Hyundai Elantra GLS; Mazda Mazda3 i Touring; Toyota Corolla LE

eebee's picture

After twelve years driving my 1998 Saturn SL with manual transmission, the poor thing finally died at about 240,000 miles. I have spent the past three months immersed in the car-buying process, having never gone through it entirely on my own before. About halfway through it I felt like a horizontal asymptote: forever approaching the point of zero but destined never to actually get there.

I started out absolutely terrified and wanted nothing more than to wake up one day to a shiny new car - or at least one that runs - and have it all be over. I wanted to get through this painful experience so quickly, I'd wake up in the morning announcing that I would buy a car that day! Then I'd start to unravel another thread about money, financing, used or new cars, and still be at it at 9pm. All those car-buying articles' doomful warnings haunted me 24 hours a day...

If you're a woman and you walk in to a car dealership you will be treated like dirt.

If you buy a car the first time you walk into a dealership you will turn into the biggest idiot that ever walked the planet.

If you so much as step foot inside a car dealership, a salesperson will force you to sit down on the naughty chair by their desk, and then suddenly disappear to consult the 'manager' - the sign that lets you know for sure you are screwed.

If you buy a brand new car from a dealership you will be destined forever more to walk around with 'born yesterday' stamped across your forehead, because you just lost thousands of dollars driving it off the lot. Bwahahahaha.

Don't ever buy a used car from a dealer, used car lot, or private seller, because you will surely be the victim of odometer fraud. And yes, with all the electronic instrumentation these days it is not only still possible, but prevalent.

Don't you know a car is a depreciating asset? - (Isn't that an oxymoron?) - Why would any sensible person buy one?! Don't buy a car! Ever!

Well I'm in the wrong century and location to ever be able to make that one work. And besides, what a strange world we live in. Agreeing to transport ourselves in these objects so we can get jobs to buy food and shelter, and more cars...

Thankfully Roadskater was able to throw bite-sized pieces of information my way in manageable time increments. After determining what would work for me financially, we started off looking at past years' Consumer Reports April editions, specifically the 'reliability' section. Once I had trained my eyes to interpret the dots and circles, I was able to breeze through it in a few hours with a highlighter pen and narrow the field down to four or five manufacturers and about eight models. This would help me later when considering either a used or new car. The car owners rate their cars here, so there is no need for them to inflate their opinions to avoid shame at being stuck with a lemon. I believe Consumer Reports to be impartial. This process also broadened my mental net and helped me recognize a good deal when I saw one - a skill I had always envied in proficient auto-mechanic cousins.

When assessing my finances and what would work for me in my situation, my friend with the great phrases came through again with this one: "That's why it's called personal finance - it's personal to you!". I kept this in mind after realizing that for me a brand new car financed partly with a ridiculously low interest loan would offer the best combination for my available money, future savings & safety net, likelihood of driving this car until the wheels fall off, tight-fistedness, job and family responsibility. From that point on I could happily ignore well-meaning people who repeated verbatim the above doomful-article phrases. Even after deciding to opt for a new car, I was still tempted to be done with the whole thing and profit from a couple of unrelated Indian ladies who were headed 'back home' in a hurry, and needed to ditch their 2 year depreciated Mazda3's. When it actually came time for me to part with my money, I balked. The Kelley Blue Book was on their side. Oh well, bye bye burgundy Mazda3, and bye bye heather-gray/purply Mazda3. You all have too much road noise anyway.

It seems the used-car market doesn't offer much advantage over buying new right now, but then again that depends on your view of money, and whether you are going to have to finance or dump a chunk of your savings. Personally, I think the job market is still a bit too shaky for me to load myself up with a $300+/month car payment just now. Additionally, the auto manufacturers are still reeling from last year's market disasters, and are offering very lucrative incentives in the form of 0% financing for 60 months. This might be worth it as long as you also negotiate for the lowest price, unless you never planned on negotiating in the first place. O% financing would have been worth it to me if my preferred manufacturer already offered it as an incentive. That is, it was not enough, in the end to lure me into buying a car I probably wouldn't have looked at twice. However, 0% financing did bring me to the point of considering that brand. O% financing would only have been worth it to me if I had the cash equivalent. I would not feel comfortable buying a car out of my league just because I'm not paying interest on the loan (and no, you really don't pay interest on the loan - but watch the out-the-door pricing!). For someone challenged by on-time bill paying, 0% (or any) financing might not be a good choice.

I'm not sure it would be worth the time scouting for a low enough interest used car loan, to capitalize on a used car's depreciation benefits. But if you're paying cash without too much damage to your personal finance stability, used might be the way to go. The way I see it, dealing with absolute money is central, and a bargain in imaginary money is an imaginary bargain. I was teetering on the line of not really being able to afford a depreciated gently-used car, and needing to take advantage of the low interest rate loans out there, which are only available on this year's model. Besides, I'm going to need all the miles I can get! I even weighed up the financial implications of a used car with typical mileage, versus shelling out for a brand new one with 5 miles on it.

Knowing my own personal financial limit was the best ammunition when going on test drives, for which I had to navigate the maze of the car dealership lot. I test drove four or five new and used Mazda3s, manual and automatic, a Toyota Corolla, two Honda Civics and a Hyundai Elantra. Breaking salespeople's hearts all over town! But there was no need for ugliness, just carefully-timed truths. Car salesmen are people too.  Honestly, there wasn't even any need for negotiations because I either didn't intend to do it that day or discovered they couldn't meet my limits. I was calm the whole time and didn't have a problem saying 'no' to any of their questions. Wow. What do you know. Knowledge IS power!

The time finally came for me to go ahead and pull the trigger on this project. The Honda Civic passed my own private tests. The Mazda3 is pretty and fun but I just could not get past the road noise and 2010 Pixar-like smiley-face grill. Not sure why they changed the 2007-2009 grill. The Corolla seemed so lightweight to me, it felt like the trunk was made out of aluminum foil. The Hyundai didn't have much wrong with it but just wasn't as exciting as the Honda.

Helped along once again by expert negotiator Roadskater and his equally expert brother, I opted to gather "out-the-door" (or 'drive-out') dealer quotes via email. I did not feel comfortable calling dealers and laying down the law to them, because I suffer from stage fright, so I ran and hid behind email. It worked well! I sent out requests for quotes for the exact model, trim and options to nine Honda dealers and ended up getting usable quotes from about half. The other half pulled the old 'come on by and we'll talk!' line. One lady over the other side of town quoted me promptly, courteously - and more importantly - thoroughly, even providing the VIN and stock number of the vehicle quoted. She was willing to match a lower offer I received the next day from a dealer closer to home. In this case, the 0% financing wasn't worth it because the better offer was low enough to offset the minimal interest charged given my downpayment.

As I sent out the quotes from the Edmunds site, fear of rejection kicked in and I had to remind myself not to worry if nobody quoted me, or that they were sat there snickering behind my back at my pathetic attempts to play hardball. There's always another car, another dealership, or more Indian girls needing to get home pronto. We drove 50 miles to the salesperson with the best online manners and offer. Even on the way we called one of the test-drive salesmen at another dealership and asked him if he could beat that offer. He said no and that we had been offered a great deal. Truecar.com agrees*. As I signed the paperwork - or should I say electronic table work - a storm blew through and knocked out all the power at the dealership. We did have to drive the new car 50 miles back home in the pouring rain, though, which was a bit nerve-wracking to say the least!

If you find yourself pressured into buying a reliable car, you should make sure you have good transportation while you make your careful and sane decision. So a big thanks to Roadskater for letting me drive his car until I bought my own! Stalling across two lanes of traffic is a sure way to make me jettison my old car and skate to the nearest dealer to sign my life away!

*I chose to frequent the free service of www.truecar.com rather than pay the $14 to Consumer Reports for their New Car Price Report. Truecar.com gives data on what people have been paying for the car you are looking for, but don't forget to add in taxes and other fees. 

Some other helpful resources:

Consumer Reports hard copy magazines, a handful of change and a library photocopier.




Motley Fool car buying guide


http://usedcartips.org (spelling and grammar alert!!)

More about odometer fraud.


timv's picture

New wheels!

Sounds like a great outcome, Eebee! I agree that car shopping can be an imposing prospect, but you seem to have used all the resources available and made it work in your favor. I've heard several times lately that despite the "lose thousands of dollars the minute you drive it off the lot" legend, buying new remains a very good deal if you're planning to drive it basically forever.

Congratulations on making it through to the other size with all limbs and digits intact, and thanks for the detailed summary of the process which will no doubt help many others in your situation in the future. May it serve you well for many happy miles.

eebee's picture

Check Edmunds pricing too

Thanks TimV! It's a great feeling.

I wanted to add a note to check any other free sites that list MSRP, invoice price and what customers ended up paying, all the while noting whether that figure includes taxes, tags, dealer fees, etc. I think Truecar.com can be a few hundred dollars too high (at least in my price range), and Edmunds.com seems to be right on target. These are good ball park guides to make sure you're on the right track. Realcartips.com also has a very simple webpage for a quick look.

roadskater's picture

Great Info on Buying New Cars and Looking at Used Cars

Nice wrap-up, eebee. And great job with NOT buying while desperate. We all get desperate, but it's important not to show up at a dealership when we are! I want to stress that eebee did everything, and I just did some duplication and checking in the background, gave a second opinion (sometimes helpfully, sometimes not), tried to learn, tried to be the contrarian sometimes, and distracted people when I could (see below). The main thing I tried to do was make sure nothing happened in a climate of fear and despair. 

My simple advice:

  • 1. Read those Consumer Reports April Issue reliabilty serveys BEFORE you look at body shapes and pearly paint jobs. Narrow it down to 2-4 cars to drive, late in the day, or when you know you will NOT make a deal. 
  • 2. Drive the cars at a dealer you don't really care to buy from for some reason (like you found bad reports on them online or you have heard bad stories locally about them. This helps you NOT buy and NOT owe them anything. We didn't sit down even if we went inside, unless it was in a lobby setting, and even then we avoided sitting. We never talked about trade-in.
  • 3. Call or fax or email about ten dealers with the specific car model and transmission and features, what colors you'd accept, and be sure to ask for out the door pricing including title, tax, tags, everything, making it clear you don't want insurance plans or other add-ons.

Apparently some others hated the car buying experience enough that SOME dealerships are getting the message, and while they still run the game out front watching for spawning salmon coming up their cascade in the river, grizzlies with open jaws, they have others taking requests for bids and using no-nonsense methods of making a profit. You just have to be one of those they know won't be there for the spawning salmon show.

One thing that helped us was to go to the used car dealers while they were NOT there. We also went to new car lots to look at their used cars, and when we did this, we never got near to going inside the building. Of course they had their used cars priced almost as high as the new ones so we'd look at the new ones, but we only looked at used cars if we went to look at used cars. We came back later only to do a test drive of a specific model and transmission and trim line. 

There are two major differences between used and new, I guess: 1. Warranty; 2. Scarcity.

For warranty, Hyundai Elantra beat all hands down, way down (see below). New cars beat used cars on warranty, of course. Certified used cars can be a good option, but we found they cost almost as much as brand new. We saw some, and it would be nice to see more, warranties of 30 days or 1000 miles or some such thing. But used car dealers are really looking for easy cosmetic fixups I guess, and are not interested (and often not capable) in knowing the long term viability of a car. If you're playing odds, better do some research of course.

One disadvantage of falling in love with a used car is there's really on one, or very close to it, that's just like it with similar mileage and all the same options. This is actually and advantage of a new car IF YOU TAKE BIDS. Think of all the new cars of the make and model you want in the USA. You just need to find one, and there's always another U color W brand X model Y trim Z transmission car down the road. 

Another disadvantage of the typical used car is that giant AS IS and they mean AS IS no matter what they say. As so many have said, it's a LIE until it's SIGNED, IN WRITING.

Well regarding warranty, you can do without a warranty if you save bucketloads of money, and the way to find that out it to use BOTH Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com)  AND Edmunds.com used car buyers guide (probably worth buying the books if you can find them, but keep in mind others will be using phones to look up info and you might prefer that too). The problem is their idea of their used car is much higher than your idea of it.

And if you buy used, you really need to pay to have a dealer or a mechanic you trust inspect it. I say if you can't do this, just get a new car. There are too many things you might miss that could cost you, and I've had this happen when I made that mistake. Even if you think you got a deal good enough to cover repairs of unknowns, a mechanic can tell you more realistically what it would cost, including parts AND LABOR. If it's winter, be sure to check the air conditioning, and that's a bit of a trick on a cold day! 

This is where it really helps to have a reliable car available during the entire car-buying process. You can't let yourself think it's the last one, the last day, the last chance, the last deal. The end of the month can be this way, but get online and start thinking about what NEXT MONTH'S INCENTIVES might be. If they're worse, well maybe you are not buying at the best time anyway, and remember that the price of the car changes based on incentives so you may not save any money due to an incentive deal. The only way to know is to nail down all the variables and get away from the dealers and do your comparing at home.

Anyway, in the used car routine, yes it costs money for each inspection, but the mechanic process lets your seller know you're serious in good ways too. However, it also helps slow you down from buying the shiny metal (we're not that different from fish going for a lure) and remember that there's a car inside you have to maintain. Also, since YOU are paying for the inspection, the mechanic is included to help you find the correct price for the car from a buyer's perspective. In the face of this, if the seller fails to negotiate, walk away. 

One private used car seller made noises about "going to Carmax to sell it" instead of taking a reasonable offer (slightly ABOVE KBB value for private clean car). The offer was more than what the inspection of her used car led the mechanic to say would be reasonable. As we predicted, eebee heard from this person again later, wishing they had not passed up the offer. But by then it was too late because more time for coolness had set it and the shiny metal was not visible over the phone! This would have been a good deal for eebee and the seller, but in the end, the new car was an even better deal in her particular situation, includes a warranty, has a known history, and will sell for more money for longer into the future if need be.

One thing that was really great was going out for test drives late in the day without any way for us to act on a particular car. We went when eebee had no intention and had in fact agreed NOT to make a decision. I sat in the back every time so I could be the 3rd passenger and mostly usually stay out of any discussions and just listen and look (there was one exception where I was talkative, one where eebee was). At one point it was almost certain to be a Mazda3, but reading more reviews and watching some free Consumer Reports.org car review videos, plus going to drive the other contenders, made it less certain to be the final choice. In all it was among these, as eebee has said:

My take on the various cars. I purchased a 1985 Mazda GLC 4-door 5-speed and loved it. I might have loved the next year's model better as it was fuel injected, but it was a great little car (later called the 323 and you might say the Mazda3, but bodies are more rounded now of course, car ones, I mean). I liked the IDEA of the 2.4 litre 6-speed manual, but it became clear that the 2.4 was less efficient and needed a sixth gear to be reasonably economical. The 2.0 had plenty of power for this class of car, but we wished the 6-speed had been available in the 2.0! The clutch seemed a bit strange to eebee in the Mazda3 but I'm sure she would have gotten used to that. My concerns were back seat noise (and on long trips this might be an issue up front too) but more importantly, while the Mazda was nimble in the i Touring model, braking statistics were notably poor. How can you mess up on braking distances? I don't know, but how many times have you almost  hit something? In this car, I worried the difference was enough to be careful about if you bought this one. Like most Mazdas, the car was aimed at fun, and it was priced well. We saw a used ice blue with manual everything and no cruise that almost got a nod as it had a nice price and a grin not a smile. It also had a very short but real warranty that made it a bit easier to handle than the giant AS IS on most used cars, even at new dealers. But by the time the price got into range, dropping 2000 or 3000 dollars and we noticed, it was poof zoom zoom zoom.

I have owned two Prizms, a 1996 Geo and a 2001 Chevy, both with automatic transmissions, and I liked those cars as good stay out of trouble (mostly) reliable transportation with reasonable power when needed (though nothing dramatic). These cars were made up until 2001 in the same California plant as the Toyota Corolla, so I was at home in the Corolla, and noted it had enough pickup for traffic and handled fine, but it was not really sparkling in any way. With the recent recalls, I still had no problem believing Toyota makes a great car, but even before the recalls, we found data in the last two years on the Corolla that clearly showed it went from way better than average to better than average based on the private survey responses of the owners to Consumer Reports. That and a lack of any really serious effort to lure us with a free extended warranty or some such made the Corolla a fine choice but with PR problems which could become resale price softness. Lacking any spark like the Mazda3, it was time to move on.

We noted recent dramatically good consumer reviews of the Hyundai Elantra and a nice long warranty, with a 100,000 mile power train warranty (extended to 200,000 if you bought from one particular dealer). We kind of drifted over there late one day and looked and I liked them more than eebee that day. But when we went back, she liked the body style more when seen in the blue color, and after the drive it had a better shot as the very quiet, very room, very reasonable sedan, and we liked that it was made entirely in Korea rather than assembled in part here. (Nothing against USA assembly as long as the car has several years of good consumer data, but the Elantra did better than some other Hyundais partially made in the USA by our reckoning.) The GLS model was lacking some features that could have made it the winner: had it been quiet and roomy but with a bit tighter suspension, electronic stability control and traction control, it might have won. But going up a model put it close to Honda's entry to mid pricing.

We had been to the Honda dealer to look at certified used cars and other used cars, including a Hyundai Sonata that was beautiful but had rain inside gathered in the door handle cup, ha! Obviously this was on a rainy day that was also very cold. I typically would say to the saleperson, "She's the man on this deal!" and then we'd split up so the salesperson would have to show us if they believed it, staying with her, or didn't, going off with me where I'd get them talking so they'd leave her alone. This seemed to work pretty well, and on the rare occasion where the salesperson stayed with her, I'd come back and ask stuff and she could then wander away. The main thing was we were not planning on a relationship with these salespeople, but we did promise they'd have a chance to get our business (and when eebee did her bids she did mention the salesperson who did the test drive for us at 845pm one night, when we accidentally showed up at the used car section out of habit). Our plan was to see the cars at dealers, go away, decide, then do ALL of the business part AWAY from their hunting grounds.

So back to Honda Civic thoughts. They had a DX-VP that had some features but not quite all eebee wanted, so the LX was the goal. It appeared out of reach for MOST of the process UNTIL eebee asked for bids. We went back to the rule, ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT AND LET THEM SAY NO. 

Why did I like the Civic LX? Well first of all when eebee drove it she sparked a bit and I could feel in the back seat that we were getting along quietly and were stable but that it had enough power despite the 1.8 litre engine (like the Corolla, but less than the 2.0 of the Elantra and Mazda3). I knew from data in Consumer Reports that braking was good and this turned out to be true. Even without some of the traction and stability features that would have been nice (hope I'm recalling this correctly about the LX) the wider tires if not aluminum wheels seemed to give good grip, handling, and braking. 

Other factors for me were what if she needed to sell the car...which would likely have the best resale? Our research showed the Honda (and formerly the Toyota) would hold its value the best over five years or so. We believed the Elantra and Mazda3 would hold value too, but would have a smaller audience looking to buy. We thought the Elanta in automatic and the Mazda3 in manual might sell better because of their image and target market (no proof, just thinking). Toyota should still be a GREAT car but lots of things are great that are not popular any more, so who knows how that would play out. But I kept thinking about how many Civics in particular get picked up used by kids who can't afford a truly awesome new car, so they make them special by tricking them out their own way. Granted this is another likely benefit of a manual transmission, but even in the automatic the Civic seems popular with young male drivers especially (no proof, but the youngster we asked said yeah get a Honda without any thinking or research). So the Honda had the spark but without the smile grill of the Mazda3 (among other things we wondered about the durability of that large web front grill) and it felt stable, had enough power, and was comfortable and quiet in the back seat. 

Also, all along the way, we kept going back to the estimates from two separate sources that among these four cars, the Honda Civic would cost the least to own for 5 years. And the consumers who answered the Consumer Reports survey have noted the car to be way above average for years.

But we still didn't think it would be possible to make the numbers work. In fact, I think eebee considered the Honda bid process to be practice. However, one response was well written, thorough, specific, and the exact response to the bid. Another response brought in the 1.9% with a lower price. But that latter salesperson didn't reply as well or as patiently it seemed to me, and I think he didn't take it seriously. (One of his text or email replies sounded like look in the earlier email idiot, to me, though it didn't say that.) So the first woman matched that, and as eebee related the only thing we did was call the test drive salesperson and give him a shot at bettering the offer (we had privately set a mark of 1.5 to 2.0 percent reduction to choose him and drive up there, but otherwise we'd go with the woman who assured us a pleasant, calm, buying experience). That guy tried for a half hour, calling us several times as we crossed Atlanta, but ended up saying if you got that offer for an automatic, take it! So she did.

It was truly funny to be doing the paperwork on this expensive tabletop computer and to realize when it all went poof and reboot that they hadn't spent $30 on a battery backup outlet. It was all good, but pretty funny. So eebee turned down all options not included and all extras on the deal with the IF I STILL WANT IT NEXT WEEK I'M SURE THEY'LL SELL IT TO ME EVEN IF THEY CLAIM THEY WON'T rule. 

Then I had to get in my poor puffing 2001 Chevy Prizm (which I love) to ride home in front of eebee in the rain (no way was I taking a chance on hitting that new car!). With the addition of a bargain priced Garmin Nuvi 255W, the fun is complete!

So yes, it took many weeks of letting the fear out, avoiding doing anything when it was the wrong time, studying what COULD go wrong, and staying out of the cubicles to get there, but well done I say. Probably much better than I would have done in reality unless I had someone to stop me from the impulses too. 

When you feel like giving up, give up until tomorrow.

If anyone wants to know about the dealer eebee went to in the Atlanta area, contact eebee or me using the contact form and we'll make an introduction. We really liked the person we dealt with, and she really liked the company she works for...and they have dealerships in many parts of the country. Maybe we'll get a referral fee to help keep the site going or to pay for some gas, ha!

roadskater's picture

Also Some Advice from California for All of Us

One website that helped me feel ready for just about anything, and to understand what AS IS means, and to watch for that 'Oh yeah we couldn't get financing' gotcha, was...

A search for nodes tagged with "cars" at the Utility Consumers' Action Network (http://ucan.org) provides some useful pieces of information, along with misunderstanding, confusion and fear. There's a California lawyer there named Hal, I think, who sometimes replies. Another guy seems to like to say "AS IS means AS IS" or course. I read these to see what kind of scams people claimed had happened to them, what others thought about it, how these things happened (often based on bad credit scores, not reading contracts, misrepresentations by sellers sometimes), but mostly that AS IS business. It sounds like California is the place you out to be (to buy a car with decent legal protection).

Sometimes it seems dealers will not get the financing they thought they could (and sometimes they go ahead with the deal anyway knowing once you love that car in your driveway they may be able to manipulate you). When this happens you can take the car back. In some states at least, if they wait too long (often ten days), the deal is done and you don't have to take the car back, but instead they have to provide the financing agreed upon. 

Anyway, this is not for the faint of heart, with lots of painful reading. But I wanted to add that link. Please add any more links you find that are useful. 

eebee's picture

Decent price

I just wanted to add that my whole goal in all of this wasn't to put one over on anybody or get a steal, even. It was to make sure I got what I wanted, with financing that works with my particular set of circumstances and personality, in a way I could handle, and not get majorly ripped off. I also wanted, in the end, to be able to handle the heaviness of buying a car.

JonathanS's picture

I also am in the market for

I also am in the market for a car in the next few months.  Thanks for confirming what I had noticed about used cars.  It seemed that so many models only lost about $2000 off the price for used but would  20,000 to 50,000 miles on them.  I just could not see how in these cases that it would pay to buy used, but I've always heard that it was best money wise to buy used.  So you have helped cement in my mind that I think the way to go at this time is a new car.  

Enjoy the Civic.  I owned a 1998 Civic for a decade and sold it with 175,000 miles on it and it still had no issues.  May yours give you more miles and years, and may the sun always shine while you skate. 

roadskater's picture

Used Car Prices Seem High Relative to New Right Now

This was a really strange part of the whole process. I kept looking for used cars in the background and among these cars, there were very few bargains. The best one was at a dealer and had a 30 day or similar warranty. Unless eebee wanted to get something with a lotta miles (isn't that a singer?), I didn't see any real deals. 

And get this: the people who didn't drive much were so proud of themselves, they could barely bring themselves to charge much less than a new car would cost, especially taking into consideration that many people wanting to buy their car would need to get a loan at a higher percentage rate. These sellers didn't seem to feel the pressure to sell, or at least the ones we met or talked with on the phone.

I think a lot of it was they got into a deal that was not as good, perhaps before the downturn, and were upside down on their loan still and couldn't believe their car was not worth what they owed. Not sure, but we saw very few used Elantras available (must be happy with them), not as many Corollas as we expected, though I saw one or two I might have investigated further but didn't, no good deals on Civics that had not already sold quickly, and only a few Mazda3 i Tourings available that would have been awesome had they been selling at Edmunds value or even Blue Book private seller values. I think it must have been that they were selling at the wrong time of ownership and mileage to offer a great deal. I'm not so sure these people really were leaving the country soon, either, because they didn't show the signs of panic one might assume, even before a vacation!

In any case this seems to be a good time to buy in an unfrenzied way even for popular cars that are in ample demand. Good luck and please add your thoughts and notes for others here. Yes this is roadskater.net, but most of us have to do other things, like drive our cars to go do some human powered transportation.

Oh, and regard to eebee's statement of non-crowing, it's clear that she wanted to have a mutually beneficial transaction with a sense of calm, and it was certainly evident that all of us there, including the people selling and offering loan upselling, were having a nice time on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

eebee's picture

Possible throwback from the good times

I don't think the private sellers of the two to three year old cars I looked at (under 30k miles) got very good deals when they bought their cars, because they bought them back in the good old days right before the bubble burst. I think they had to get a certain amount back out of their cars but they were in a Catch-22, because nobody wanted to pay what they were asking, given the current great deals on brand new versions of their cars.

But it's good to sit down calmly and hash through the numbers of the 0%, 0.9% and 1.9% financing combos with a good calculator (I wouldn't trust the online loan calculators!). I tried to envision the next 5-10 years the best I could, keeping my own financial motivations, spending and saving habits in mind. 

Good luck on your search!

roadskater's picture

TI-83 with TVM (Time Value of Money) Solver

As we got near the end we grew tired of approximations and online calculators and pulled out the TI-83, which has a solver screen for loan calcs. Just fill in all but one parameter, and point at that parameter and press the solve key combination. This was way handy and nice to have as we went to the dealer the last day, although we didn't really need it then. Earlier it had been extremely helpful when considering all the possibilities and figuring out the best price/loan combination.

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