So we're buying a new minivan tomorrow. More on the whys and wherefores of that later, but through dumb luck we seem to have stumbled on a good time to buy a car. I write up our experience for whatever it's worth.
Step 1: Test drive in June. The new model year starts shipping around September. Who knew? I thought it was later in the year, more like October or November. But no, dealers appear to be desperate and Honda, at least, is offering "dealer cash" to dealers who can move out those stale, tired old 2012 vehicles fast.
Step 2: Use a car buying service. Both AAA and USAA (our insurer) offer TrueCar free to their members. It's not clear to me how TrueCar makes its money (insights welcome), but we filled out an online form detailing what we'd like, and then they emailed us the contact information of two Atlanta dealerships offering us a few thousand dollars off the price of the car. One of them called the house literally 5 minutes later, offering us a few thousand dollars more off the price. Off to the races!
Step 3: Bargain over email. An initial email from a sales agent read: "We do have a black one in stock and I am hoping that you will want to get together this weekend to go over all of your options." Ha. I emailed back that we lived over an hour away and wouldn't be driving to Atlanta without a deal in hand.
Step 4: Check with your local dealer and see if they can match the price. Sadly, they couldn't. But they told me I was getting a good deal.
Step 5: Post about your story and hope that readers chime in with helpful tips that don't make you feel like a chump who missed out on some basic bargaining tactics.
Step 6: Remember that. no matter what, it could be worse (start at :44 or, if pressed for time. 3:11):
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