If you’ve been following my blog, you know how frustrating car buying can be. I made some mistakes along the way, and I hope that this post helps just one person with the process. Before I get too far into this, let me show you the car I did end up with.
It’s a Lexus CT200h in Fire Agate Pearl with an ecru interior. I borrowed that image from here, because I haven’t had a chance to take my own pictures yet. I picked it up on Thursday evening. I know, you’re thinking to yourself, “I thought she despised the Lexus salesman.” I had decided on the Audi A3 (down from a short list of Audi A3, Volvo C30, and the Mini Cooper Countryman.) It turned out that there are no Audi A3s with gasoline engines and the amenities I wanted to be had in the Pacific Northwest. They’d have to build me one, and that could take months. I wasn’t that in love with the car, so I decided to go back and drive the Lexus again. It really does have everything I wanted: a hatchback, four doors, a navigation system, and audio that will stream through Bluetooth from your iPhone or through USB. I wanted to be able to control the iPod from the nav system. I didn’t want to have to touch my phone to make things happen. The Lexus had everything I wanted. It’s also a hybrid – a bonus, but not something that was high on my list of must haves.
I ended up buying the car from a dealer in Eugene, OR who had seven of these beautiful cars on its lot. Eugene is about a 2.5 hr drive from Portland, and I really wasn’t looking forward to driving down there. I contacted the Autoland broker through my credit union and learned that I could have simplified this entire process by contacting her first.
She could have arranged for me to test drive each of the cars on my short list without being pressured to buy at any of the dealers. How sweet is that? Unfortunately, as soon as you walk into the dealer or make contact with them through phone or email, you are giving up your opportunity to have the broker work with that dealer to get you the best deal. There are only two Lexus dealers in Oregon, and I hadn’t talked to the one in Eugene.
I asked her how I should have approached the whole car buying process, and here are the tips she gave me.
- Do your homework. Scour Edmunds.com and read the Consumer Reports articles for information on reliability, cost to maintain, resale values, test drive information, etc.
- Narrow down your list to a possible 2 or 3 cars that you think are going to fit the bill for your needs.
- Call your broker. I went through Autoland, but there are others. Edmunds has a great article on what to look for in a broker and how to choose one.
- Have the broker arrange for you to go test drive the cars on your short list.
- Make your decision regarding packages, add-ons, and specifics.
- Let your broker know exactly what you’re looking for. He/she will check the surrounding area to see if any dealers have that particular car on their lots.
- Your broker will get the “best” price from the dealer. This is what you can expect to pay. There’s no haggling, no back and forth.
Here are some things you should not do if you’re planning to purchase your car through a broker.
- Don’t send out a blanket email to dealers asking for their best price on a vehicle. As soon as you make contact with them you forfeit the ability to use a broker with them.
- Don’t go in and test drive on your own. Again, as soon as you make contact with them, you can’t use the broker anymore.
I hope this helps you with the whole car buying process. I sure wish I had known.
My car was delivered to Portland on a flat bed. I didn’t have to make the trek to Eugene. I’ll be sure to post pictures of my own real soon. You’ll never believe the name of the dealer from whom I purchased the car!