Category: Car Buying

car buying survey
Car Buying
What up with these surveys?

Everywhere we look now are customer service surveys. It is sometimes annoying. I get it! Companies want good ratings. AT WHAT COST? I say that because I was under the impression that surveys are to help improve customer service, see how a company or product can be better and all around help the manufacturer and the consumer. WRONG!
Now you know that a blog is an opinion and I want to clarify this is just my view. I see it from both sides. As I work with dealers all the time for my customers.
These surveys are misleading to me. Here is why. The dealers have these surveys that the customer is going to get after they purchase a car. If the customer does not answer everything perfect, then the dealer fails and loses money.
Some of the manufacturers will take away all of the bonus money that a salesman has coming.
So if you as the consumer answers with a 9 on cleanliness of the dealer (example), and it is out of 10?
FAIL! there is no room for error. This is one of the reasons that your dealer may be trying to really go over this with you.
Here is what I find to be disappointing. This hurts the consumers and the dealers! The dealers are forced to do it because of the manufacturers guidelines . They are requiring certain numbers on those surveys. It is a lot of pressure for a dealer. Especially when lets face it, you just can’t make everybody happy. The consumer may have something to share about how they feel the dealership could improve. The dealer can never get the real answers to help them improve and the consumer can never share their true feelings without really hurting their salesman that they may have really liked! The dealers do get a chance to reach out and make a situation right, but the damage is done!
Some dealers have a video session so that the customer can do a testimonial and this also coaches them to give the dealer the ratings they are looking for. This to me is such a SCAM! It basically is using a survey for all the wrong reasons.
Some of ratings are used on a national level so that manufacturers can say that they get such high customer satisfaction. This is NOT accurate on all levels. Some customers are happy with everything, but you always have people that struggle with understanding or have expectations that are unrealistic!
On the other hand, dealers can be bullies, and dishonest and terrible with customer service. This is a way that a survey can hurt their pocketbooks! Whether it is by mail, email or on the phone, the answers that you are giving on the customer satisfaction survey are important. Just not maybe for all the right reasons!

Car Dealerships
Car BuyingLeasing
Are all auto dealers the SAME?????

Are all auto dealers the same? Of coarse not!!!!! Depending on the customer service, honesty and ability to treat people will separate how the dealership is rated. Unfortunately you can always get a few selfish, dishonest salespeople or mangers that will ruin it for everybody. They are motivated more by the mighty dollar than the consumers best interest.
“There are good dealerships out there.” I hear this from readers and from consumers. This is true. I do not want to sound like I think that every dealership is trying to take advantage of the consumer. There are some good people out there that do care about their customers.

I have however been in this business for over 19 years. I am driven to educate consumers about how to make sure they protect themselves with information. There is nothing wrong with running a business and making money, but why should one consumer buy a car for invoice , and the next customer comes in and is not as educated pay MSRP?
What does the dealer say? “They should have negotiated a better price!” “The customer should have made a better choice.” Isn’t it the job as a salesperson to educate the consumer so that they make a better decision? I feel like we as sales people need to help more and educate more! I think the “sell” would be a lot easier.

There are a couple ways to check out dealers and their reputations.

* Look at their ratings with the Better Business Bureau in your area. See if they have any complaints.
* Google the dealership. See what consumers are writing. Not paid testimonials!
* Ask your friends who they deal with OR if any of them have had negative / positive experiences.
* Check with the Attorney General in your state. That is a good source to see if the dealership has had consumer issues or complaints.
* Use Social Media to benefit you and reach out to your contacts and friends and ask for referrals.

consumer car buying
Car Buying
Do I have 3 days after I buy my car to give it back?

NOT in Ohio.  This law known as the “cooling off period” law varies depending on the state you live in. This is the law that most consumers think gives them 3 days to “undo” a deal on a vehicle purchase. Wrong!! When you sign on the dotted line, you own it. Maybe if the dealer is a friend or family and did not submit the paperwork to the bank yet to be funded, you may be able to cancel. But that is the dealers discretion.
Recently I had a woman that I had  met networking call me. She mentioned that her daughter bought a car and she thinks it may not have been a good deal.  This happens everyday! Buyers remorse. What comes from people making decisions without doing some homework.  What I had found out was that this young woman who scored over 700, accepted a rate of  over 6%. She probably could have qualified for the 0% on a new car. She was sold/ she purchased a bunch of aftermarket products that she probably did not need and bought a current year rental car with 33,000 (estimate) on it.. ARE YOU KIDDING? For a similar price the same car could have been purchased  new.. When I had a conversation with her to try and help her out, I realized that the Attorney General in Ohio does not have a “cooling off period” law. According to the Attorney Generals website http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov  certain consumer laws require sellers to provide cancellation rights. That does not apply to vehicle sales. YOU NEED TO EDUCATE YOURSELF  and make sure you are positive. Follow your gut!
I think  this law never came to my attention because I try to  make sure that my customers are comfortable and feel like they are making the right choices. I will not do a deal if there is uncertainty!
This young women was able to cancel some of the aftermarket products that she bought but did not need, but was stuck with the loan and the purchase of the vehicle. The guy in the F & I (finance and insurance) office was not happy… He loses money. I asked the dealer why they did not offer her the new car option. He said in not so many words that there was more money in the used car with 33000 miles. She is going to refinance through her credit union.  This is information! It does not say that every single dealer and salesperson is like that….but you cannot expect the dealer to educate the consumer. The consumer needs to ask questions and compare. Once you sign… YOU ARE AN OWNER! YOU JUST BOUGHT OR LEASED A CAR. I do need to say that with all the resources we have available, consumers can avoid becoming victims. Once you have the information and you still make that decision you are a volunteer.

Here are some things that may help.

1) If your buying late model used, compare the “new car deals” going on. Ask to see a new car invoice on a comparable vehicle. Also ask for special financing rates through the manufacturer. This will help you evaluate how to get the most for your money. Always get a pre inspection on ANY used car!

2) When going in to the finance office, do not let your fear make your decisions. If you have had the used car inspected and your mechanic says its a good car, follow your gut. Weigh out the cost of aftermarket products vs what the repair reviews are online. Example:  if a warranty costs 1300.00, please think about how much car 1300.00 can fix? You also pay interest and tax on that money. Gap insurance is always less expensive through your insurance company. You can ask the person how long you have to make the decision. It is usually 14 days to purchase the products. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Let the emotion cool down.

3) If your not sure if it is the right deals for you, WALK! You do not have to make the decision right that minute. Take 24 hours and make sure it feels right. Remember, there is no “cooling off period”. You sign it, you bought it!

lease-agreement
Car Buying
Do I have a TURN IN/Disposition fee at the end of my vehicle lease?

If you are leasing an vehicle through a bank or a manufacturer, you most likely have a turn in or disposition fee. You may not remember when you signed your papers or the finance person conveniently forgot to tell you, but it is there. It is towards the top of your lease agreement and it is probably between 300.00 and 400.00. It ranges depending on the financial institution.There are only 2 manufacturers that I am aware of that do NOT have this fee. Honda… which is going to change as of October 16, 2013 and Ally Bank used by Chrysler and GM.
It is very common that when customers leases are coming up, they can forget that this fee is there. When we get a new car, it is exciting and we think that it doesn’t matter in that moment. This is somewhat true, but it will need to be addressed when you get to the end of the lease term. If you turn your car back into the bank or manufacturer, the bill will come! There are many things you can negotiate with the bank when you get that bill. They do not negotiate on the disposition fee!!! It is contractual. It was part of the lease when you signed it.

That being said, you can get creative. There are ways to get around this fee.

1)You can get another car through the same manufacturer. They will waive the fee and sometimes some of the damage on the car being turned in. So make sure you ask about that!

2) You can buy the car. You do not pay the turn in fee if you purchase your leased car. I am not saying that this is always the best option, but for some consumers the residual is under market value.  They would not be able to duplicate the same car in the marketplace for the purchase price ! It also is a way that you do NOT have to pay the over miles if you under estimated.This also works if you have a friend or know someone that wants to buy it. To clarify, the residual is the amount that the car can be purchased for at the end of the lease. It is in your contract and also one of the factors used in figuring out the monthly lease payment.

3) The vehicle can be traded  in and have the dealer or a wholesaler buy it. This is also a way to avoid paying over miles and damage if the value makes sense. Sometimes there is even equity that you can benefit from. Make sure you do your homework and shop the car around!  Weigh out the cost both ways. Get a second opinion if your not sure!

The next time your signing or negotiating your lease contract, ask about:
*The purchase price of the vehicle- whether you lease or buy, the purchase price should be the same!
*The residual at the end of the lease
* The turn in or disposition fee

If you do not trust the salesperson your working with, then find one that you do. Your gut is your best meter and it is your money.
Having been leasing and selling cars for over 19 years, I am just sharing what I think can help consumers to understand.

 

spare tire
Car Buying
Where is my spare tire? Why doesn’t my car have one?

This is a very fair question. I was a few months into leasing my 2012 Kia Soul when I was reminded of this reality. My car had no spare tire and I had a major flat! Now, let me clarify that I know they all feel major, so lets just say that there was no room for getting to the closest tire shop. It needed attention right then.
As I sat there figuring out my pump with the can of some sort of “fix a flat” provided by the manufacturer and my manual and the other pieces parts that need to all fit together to make this thing work, I realized that this is a common occurrence in many car models being produced today. I have been meaning to write about it since. By the way, that can of goop that you pump into your tire, is a one time use item. That means you need to replace it after each use. It can also do damage to your tire pressure monitor sensors that are inside the tire. Those are the sensors that send a message to your car to make the light go on in your dash that tells you your tire pressure is low! This kit does not work if you have a blow out or shredded tire so keep that AAA number handy or the manufacturer roadside assistance information in the car! I do need to say that the technology of tires today does help to minimize those instances.
I will say that once I got the tire filled with this kit out of the compartment, I was able to drive to the shop that works on my car. They pulled a bolt out of my tire that was the size of my thumb!!! I still have that bolt. They were able to fix it. They did say they could not tell if the TPMS (tire pressure monitor system)sensors were damaged. I was grateful I did not have to buy a tire.
Another reason that you may not have a spare, is that you have run -flats on your car. This is a type of tire that can drive up to 50 miles if its punctured. This is common on BMW’s and the Toyota Sienna AWD minivan has them. Run flats cannot be fixed or patched. They must be replaced and they are not cheap. I found that out when I purchased my 2011 MINI Cooper countryman. I do have a customer with a 2006 BMW 3 series who did not put run- flats on his vehicle when he replaced his tires and does not have a spare. He chooses to take his chances. He saved quite a bit on the tires… Is it worth it? A run- flat also has more road noise and does not last as long. That statement comes from part experience and some reading of reviews.
So we wonder why this is a trend….. Well I think that the manufacturers are all competing for the best MPG! The miles per gallon. The fuel economy! Who has the best when the price of gas is creeping up, up, up? It also saves the manufacturer money to sell a car with 4 tires instead of 5.
Some people never find out they don’t have a spare until they are sitting on the side of the road, need to figure out how to use that kit or call for help. Some don’t care. I recently asked a mechanic about her thoughts on this trend, and she is a fan of keeping the spare. When in doubt, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Ask your mechanic, google reviews from people who have had actual experiences and ask your sales man… Does this car have a spare tire?

I will say that I find it ironic when people do so much homework and spend so much time to find the car with the best fuel economy, then they load up their vehicle with a ton of stuff that they carry around with them all the time in the trunk of their car. All that fuel economy goes right out the window. So think about that the next time you open your trunk and there is a bunch of stuff that has been sitting in there for a long time. It is costing you money!!!

Here are 2 websites I like that may help you:
www.fueleconomy.gov
www.safercar.gov

car buying calendar
Car Buying
Is it a better deal to buy a car at the end of the month/year?

Happy New Year! Happy Car Buying!  How many times has someone told you “go to the car dealership at the end of the month or end of the year and you will get a better deal”! Well, it is somewhat true depending on the month and the incentives that the manufacturers are offering to their dealers and consumers. Sometimes it can make a difference of up to 500.00 and other times it does not make any difference at all!  The end of the year push is kinda sketchy to me. I think that this was  probably was more accurate when the end of the year was actually the end of the “model year” for manufacturing automobiles. That has changed a lot since now some manufacturers bring out new models in June and July.
You can get sometimes a better deal if you wait for incentives and Auto Show cash in February and March. At least that what I see in the Cleveland area sometimes. I know that at the end of 2012, Honda was already out of 2012 Accords and the deals on the 2013’s were nothing spectacular because it was a redesign. They still are not GREAT! So I told people to wait a couple of months. The deals on the Accords will get better. That was not the case on Hyundai Sonata’s, those deals were ridiculous . I was telling everybody to grab that deal because Hyundai offered up an extra 2000.00 and the dealers wanted to hit their bonus levels.
That is a perfect lead in in to “end of the month goals and bonus levels that some of the manufacturers offer up to dealers. Some Manufacturers like Subaru, Hyundai, Chrysler and Kia. Just some of the ones I just have more awareness about, have goals and bonuses. If these dealers hit their goals get retroactive money on certain models. So if they are close to those goals, they will practically give the cars away to get another sold unit. It is all about numbers! When they hit their goals, THEY GET $$.
That being said. they do need to make money so you need to be aware of the finance office and financing. They make up a lot of ground on deals with the money made on financing, warranties, gap and extra stuff that you may not need! Or they will make it up in the trade value. The old saying “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is” still can ring true. Especially in the auto industry.

I ask customers frequently, what is your expectation. Unless there are new rebates, holiday cash or lease programs that are changing, the difference your going to save will not be thousands! The mark up in cars is just not what it used to be and with Internet pricing everybody has minimized the profits to be competitive with the other dealer down the street. You could save between 100.00 and 500.00 dollars depending on what that dealer is willing to do and if they have the car in stock vs. having to dealer trade and go get it.This is NOT a guarantee. It is just an observation.
I always go back to doing your homework and trusting your intuition. We cannot stop the unacceptable behavior if we continue to validate it by giving the business and accepting the deal. On the other hand when you have a great experience with great service, fair pricing and and feel great about the deal, end of the month or not that is the type of person you want to do business with!

getting a good deal
Car BuyingLeasing
Am I getting a good deal?

One of the age old questions that many people ask when they are buying or leasing a new car. “Am I getting a good deal?”
How do we know? We can go online and get analysis – paralysis with all the information. We can bully the salesman and his manager. We can spend a month going to or emailing every dealership within a 50 mile radius for a 100.00 discount. All of these options with the possibility of negative and or stressful effects on us. And what is your time worth?
A “good deal” is so relative. I am not saying that you should not do your homework, check on pricing, options and the going rate. What I am saying is that there is a value to feeling good about buying a car, being treated well and knowing that you can trust the person your working with. We all get stressed about spending money and making sure that we get a good value.
You can go to websites like:
www.nada.com
www.carguru.com
I am not a huge fan of Kelley blue book. Sometimes inflated and not always accurate. Just my opinion.
If you feel that your not trusting the person/dealership your working with, then do NOT validate the behavior  by leasing or purchasing a car from them. Getting a new car is an experience and one that we should enjoy and get excited about.
Sometimes the consumer will play “the game” with the dealer. This tells them that it is okay to treat you in a certain way.  You may go to a dealer an their price is $5.00 more per month or $200.00 more on the overall  price of the car, but they treat you exceptionally well. Is the service and the experience worth it? Of coarse it is. I guess it depends on if you value yourself and your money!
The other option of going to the dealer that was a few bucks less, but did value you or your money, treated you crappy and insulted your intelligence.If they are acting like that now, imagine when you need service.
I tell people all the time that I do not play “the Game”. If you want to go to every dealer in town and beat them up over price, go ahead. I do not see the value.  I look at the car business and see how we have validated dishonest, negative and greedy behavior for years.
IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY! We have the ability to change this.

But it has to start with the consumer. What is your part and what are you willing to do?   So At the end of the day, your GOOD deal is not just about every penny you saved, but how good did it feel to walk out of the dealership with those keys in your hand? Did you say to yourself “I got a good deal”?

waiting in a dealership
Car Buying
I am tired of sitting in this dealership!

I get to talk to a lot of people who share their car buying stories with me. Sometimes by the time a person gets to me they are just tired of getting the run around. Someone recently asked me, “why does it take the salesperson so long to get pricing and communicate with his manager?” That seems to be the age old question. My immediate answer is that there is a lack of respect for a persons time. They also know that if you walk out of the dealership there is a very small chance that you will come back and buy the car. Especially if they know that they have decent “gross” in the deal! I do not know the exact percentages, but the numbers are not in their favor.

I also want to clarify that not all dealers are like this! There are many great dealers out there. But unfortunately this is the story that I hear more often!

A salesperson in a dealer may not know all the numbers behind the scene, so they have to go into their manger to work the deal to try to get to where the customer needs to be. This can take multiple tries depending on where they start in the quote. Here  is what gets me. How does a dealership expect a mom or a dad to sit in a dealership for 5 hours with children waiting for a car? Just not realistic. But if it wears you down enough, your done! Sold! Because you cannot even imagine starting over again. So you buy the car/take the deal! Then its off to finance office. Here we go again….
Let start the negotiating all over again, because they are going to try and sell me stuff that I may or may not need and raise my payment.
I know a dealer that will “go off” on his sales people if people walk out the door with out buying a car! Buying a car is a huge decision for people. Especially if you are a first time buyer, maybe have some credit issues or just have a very specific budget. Everybody has expectations of what they want to see happen. That includes the dealer.
I tell people to follow your gut. If something does not feel right or your exhausted, then leave and go home. I believe in taking 24 hours to think it over unless you are totally for sure and everything fits together perfectly. Emotion can sometimes make bad financial decisions.
Here are a few pointers to help.

1) Allow yourself a certain amount of time that you know is acceptable to be in the dealership. If they do not respect your time, then why do you want to give them your business?

2) If you have small children, try to get a babysitter. Being a mom of 3 girls, I do not think I could have handled sitting in a dealership with all of them. I would have been so tired and emotionally cooked!

3) Stick to your budget. Do not let someone else set it for you. You may have to switch the car your looking at.

4) Gap insurance is usually less expensive through your insurance company if you feel you need to have it.

5) You do not need to buy extended warranty’s on new cars. Don’t double pay to warranty, you can buy one when it gets close to the manufacturer warranty expiring.

6) Do NOT shop by PAYMENT ! Shop by the price of the car. That is how you know your not leaving money on the table!!!

7) If you have credit challenges and the finance manager is quoting a very high rate, see if you can find a local company to get your credit cleaned up and then you can go back and save yourself a ton of money in interest!!

The last thing that I want to say is that :

If you are being treated poorly by a dealer or not happy with the service, DO NOT validate their behavior by giving them your money. Its your money and you as a consumer have choices! Find some one you like!!!

Carfax
Car Buying
How reliable is CARFAX?

When I sell a used car to a customer, one of the most common questions is…”Does it have a clean Carfax?” or “Do you have the Carfax?”
Carfax is an important tool that can give a buyer or seller some good information ,but it is not always accurate. Carfax is only as good as who or what is reporting to it.
As a used car dealership, it is a great tool when we buy a car wholesale or take in a trade to see the possible number of owners, service history, accidents or open recalls. It can affect the value of a trade. Some dealers don’t even want to have cars on their lots anymore if there is a “BAD” Carfax! Meaning that an accident has been reported.

Here is what I find to be ironic about this whole process. In the past couple of years I have found that Carfax does not know all!!! I knew a customer that wanted to trade in a car to me. It was a high end car that looked to be in pretty good shape. This customer disclosed to me that it had been in an accident that had caused about $12000.00 in damage. I would have never known that because it had a clean Carfax. Meaning the accident was not reported. I was wholesaling the car and I mentioned to the dealer that the customer disclosed the accident. The dealer said “I don’t care as long as it has a clean Carfax!” This has happened on a number of occasions. How reliable is Carfax?

Perspective is so key. Here is another side to Carfax that is frustrating. A car may be in one of those accidents where there is NO damage. Everyone walks away and nothing happens to the car. This will get reported to Carfax. Those cars now have a BAD Carfax and are worth less on trade or selling because of that. Sometimes they will report to Carfax that there was “very minor damage”. This is helpful because it will not scare people as much when they go to purchase or a dealer takes it in on trade.

We all want to be protected from the bad car deal, buying a lemon or getting scammed. I think that when we run on fear, we end up over thinking and letting our fear make financial decisions. Slow down and use this information as a tool. Carfax is a tool that can help you, but at the end of the day if your buying any used car, have it inspected by your mechanic and a body shop. It will take more time and maybe a few bucks, but will be so worth it over the long term!

about us

Shopping for a car can be one of the most frustrating, time-consuming and tasking experiences. I have over 23 years of experience in the field, creating easy and stress-free car buying experiences! (I promise!) I take the time to help my clients learn about what they are getting, empowering you to find your perfect vehicle. I am backed by an awesome team, and we all work incredibly hard to get every single customer the very best deal while minimizing the amount of time that they need to search.

Contact us

  • Address:
    Diamond Auto Lease & Sales 4901 Galaxy Parkway Warrensville Heights, Ohio 44128

  • Phone:
    216-514-3433

  • Mail:
    katie@katiethecarlady.com