Buying a new car?


I just realized that if you use Costco or a credit union’s program for a better discount, you don’t really need to wait until the end of the day or month or whatever. So, all you need to take into account is the manufacturer rebate.


That, and you don’t have to deal with the salesman’s skeezy tactics and condescending attitude.


Okay, now that’s not fair. The air conditioner in my truck decided not to work for about two hours and it ain’t exactly winter right now. It’s probably the clutch that engages it with the engine, but it’s one more thing to worry about before getting the new one.


Truckie has a similar issue. The flapper in the heater core is not ‘great’ so I either have AC or heat. If I flip it to heat, it takes a couple days of shaking around for it to flip over. To replace it is about $1200 since it’s deep inside the dash. I also have some gurgling in the lines. Right now it’s on AC but I rarely turn it on. The speakers are crapping out on my as well. Just another thing that chalks up in the ‘Buy a new truck’ column.


My CU doesn’t have anything like this. The best they offer is financing right at most of the local dealerships so that you don’t have to ping-pong between the CU office and the dealer.


That’s too bad. Mine has brokers for home buying too. I used them when I bought my second house back when the housing market broke and houses were cheap. They saved me money and headache there too.


We have a “Truckie” in the family too!

Only ours is a 1939 Bedford Model O with an eight litre engine.

That eight litre engine can power it to a whopping 27.786mph (we put it on a rolling road once).

Needless to say, Truckie now lives at a vintage vehicle museum, but Dad still has the keys and can go pinch her whenever he feels like taking the slowest drive in the world.

(Fun fact depending how car-nerdy y’all are, since the top speed is more than 25mph, she doesn’t need a yellow flashing light which is mandatory for slow moving vehicles in the UK, but at some point in the 1950s my Grandad imported one of these fancy modern rotating lights from the USA, made by a company called Mars who I think, along with Federal Signal, are still you guys’ largest manufacturer of vehicle lights. You can tell the light is on because the cab reverberates as if there was a millstone grinding away on the roof!)


I gave in yesterday. Air conditioning is getting fixed tomorrow. On my job, I make multiple trips per day, so arriving hot and sweaty at each location isn’t fun.

One thing I didn’t realize was important is the construction of the rear light assemblies themselves. Some manufacturers, like Kia did for the Soul (as seen in this picture), use clear plastic for the exterior surface. The colored plastic for the lights is below it.

This probably helps with protecting the lights and maybe you can replace the clear plastic cover without having to replace the entire assembly if there’s damage. But a side effect, especially when they’re mounted on an edge of the vehicle like this one is, is it’s easier for the sun’s glare to obscure the light below the surface.

There was a car next to me that put on their turn signal to indicate they wanted to move into my lane. The glare from the sun on that clear plastic housing almost completely drowned out the amber light behind it.

Based on this, I will be looking for vehicles where the colored plastic goes all the way to the surface of the vehicle. Those appear to be less susceptible to this problem.


The Consumer Reports “New Card Buying Guide” has been out for a few weeks. Definiitely worth the money. One of the tips I’m going to be using shortly is planning out your own route for the test drive. The one salesperson will suggest will likely be an optimal route. I’ve already got a few streets picked out with rougher and steeper conditions.

A really good tip is to make the interior a priority in your selection and not the exterior. You’re going to be in the car more than you will be sitting next to it and admiring the exterior styling.

Other tips from the local newspaper: Five things automakers won’t tell you.

  1. Cross-over Utility Vehicles are based on cars rather than trucks for SUVs. Since CUVs are very popular right now, automakers bump up the price a little bit, even though they cost about the same to make as a car. So, evaluate whether you really need a CUV or whether a car would do just as well.
  2. Many cars don’t have a spare tire and jack. They save 20 pounds of weight by giving you a tire inflation kit. The New Car Buying Guide says a spare tire is better than those.
  3. Reliability of American brands has improved a lot, and some foreign cars have decreased in quality.
  4. The same components are used in a lot of brands, such as the 46 million airbags by Takata that have been recalled.
  5. Other than oil and filter changes, most of us can’t do any work on the vehicles any more. Too complex, requiring specialized tools and diagnostic system.

For that last one, I’ll buy a service manual and the OBD plug-in display. At least, I’ll have an idea of what kind of error it is, even if I can’t do the repair myself.


Concentrating on the interior vs. the exterior seems like common sense to me. When I was deciding on my car, I didn’t even take the exterior into account. Well, except for the side and rear cameras, but those were features, not cosmetics.


New notes from my research.

Consumer Reports says to list what you don’t like about your current vehicle and use those to make sure you’re getting the features you want in in the new one. In my case, that’s pointless because everything’s so different that my truck’s a distant cousin about nine times removed from what’s available now. The accelleration’s worse than I thought, about 40-50 seconds for 0 to 60. On the other hand, it has taught me to be more gentle with starting and stopping.

For financing, check how the interest is computed. If they use the “rule of 78s”, that means most of what you pay each month goes towards the interest before it starts reducing the principle. Other loans are more straight-forward: interest each month is calculated by what the current balance is. So, if you can pay a little extra each month, it helps on those types of loans.

And now back to color selection. I just ran through one manufacturer’s website to configure what I wanted. The only difference between the two I built were the exterior color. Same exact price when I got done. Used the local inventory search and the second color was almost $1000 more than the other one. So, the local dealers are definitely marking up the vehicle simply because one is a more popular color.

I am definitely making that a point to negotiate. If they won’t budge, I can always pick one of my other color choices. I get that they’re marking it up because they can and it does happen to be the color I like better amongst what I selected, but it’s not worth $1000 to me, especially after seeing there’s no difference in price from the factory.


One thing I found out is that Hyundai might have the best warranty at 10 years/100,000 miles, but when it comes to one of their vehicles, you have to choose the most expensive version to get all available safety features. Other manufacturers let you add options at the mid-trim level to get the same number of safety features. Then you add in the more powerful engine getting less gas mileage, and that ruled that out.

New issue that’s come up is with the recent security breach at Equifax, definitely contact your credit card company to alert them that you’re going to be making a large purchase with it.

As to going through my credit union to have them negotiate the price, I may have to do that myself unless one of the employees can tell me how to provide the kind of detail I need that the online form doesn’t seem to allow. I’ve got the exact configuration I want on a couple of vehicles. I could pick any of them to buy and even the new 2018 models if they’re available for a particular brand are within my price range. The online form couldn’t handle the info I need to provide to get pricing. It would be “get me prices on vehicle A, B and C, and here’s the specific options for each one”.

I am also leaning towards listing the dealerships and salespeople I worked with so that they get first chance to make a sale. I could be ruthless about this and say “find me the lowest price”, but that smacks of “showrooming”. So in this case, I would be comparing price on vehicle A from dealer A, vehicle B from dealer B and vehicle C from dealer C.


When I worked with my credit union I called them and talked directly to a broker. He took down the details on the car I wanted and then looked for it.


Adding safety features?

This suggests that the other models don’t have safety features. I’m genuinely interested as to what weird state your vehicle regulations are in where you can buy vehicles without safety features.


A lot of the “safety” features could also be considered extra convenience, especially for people who don’t pay enough attention to what’s around them or just drive really poorly. Like “blind” spot monitoring - if you have your mirrors adjusted properly, and do a head check before changing lanes, there should not be a blind spot to be monitored in an average passenger car. Or a backup camera - I have one on my truck and it is great, but it doesn’t contribute to safety when driving down the freeway.


I’ve heard these become mandatory in the US with 2018 or 2019 models. I’m being a little curmudgeonly, but wonder if this really makes sense for smaller vehicles.


You are correct!

Some folks have trouble connecting something on a screen with reality - it looks almost like a video game, so they just watch the bumper hit whatever they’re looking at. Lack of depth perception might contribute to this, I dunno. But I’ve seen it happen. Also heard about realtors slamming into cars behind them while watching it happen on the screen. Derp!
Also, the camera has no peripheral vision, so if you’re not paying attention and someone is coming down the road or aisle in the parking lot… bam image


My rear camera has three views. It had the standard view, a wide angle view, and a top down view. I use the top down view for when I’m backing into a space so I can see the curb.


Neat! The government requirement is something like ten feet wide by twenty feet back, so people don’t back over children playing in the driveway. At least, that was the takeaway I got from the article - they’re estimating that mandatory backup cameras will save up to 69 lives per year.


I had my first encounter with a reversing camera when we hired a car a couple of weeks ago. It was a small car, and it was excellent.
As @RoadRunner says, you have to pay attention to everything around you, not just the screen, but that’s the same with driving in general - if you don’t pay attention then you are going to crash.