Sunday, December 4, 2016

Could this be the best-preserved 1979 VW Beetle Convertible

Photos courtesy Bonhams.
By the late 1970s, America’s love affair with the Volkswagen Beetle was coming to an end. The final year for the Volkswagen Beetle sedan in the United States was 1977, but with the Rabbit Cabriolet not due until the 1980 model year, Volkswagen sold its Beetle Convertible here through the (extended) 1979 model year. With visions of future collectibility dancing in their heads, many owners parked their final-year Beetle Convertibles, reserving them for special occasion drives. At least one 1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible wasn’t driven at all, and in fact was never registered; when chassis 1592041475 crosses the auction stage at the Bonhams Amelia Island sale, predictions are that it could sell for as much as $100,000.
1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
At first glance, that seems like an astonishing amount of money for a 1970s Volkswagen Beetle without a celebrity pedigree, and the current high retail price for such a car sits at around $28,000. That said, high retail is what one would expect to pay for a very nice driver, or perhaps a restored example clean enough to compete in shows. With just 66 miles on the odometer, the never-titled example (from the personal collection of Seattle Volkswagen dealer Wade Carter, killed in a 2001 helicopter crash) is essentially a new car, as original as is possible after 37 years.
1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
The actual pre-auction estimate for chassis 1592041475 is $50,000 – $100,000, and there’s history to support these prices. At Gooding & Company’s 2015 Scottsdale sale, a two-owner 1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible with 700 miles on the odometer sold for $66,000 (including fees), while the year prior, a 1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible with 659 miles on the odometer sold at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach sale for $58,300, including fees. A second 1979 Beetle Convertible will be crossing the stage at Gooding & Company’s 2016 Amelia Island sale, and the pre-auction estimate for this 14,000 mile example is $40,000 to $60,000.
1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
The next owner of chassis 1592041475 will be getting a car powered by a fuel-injected and air-cooled horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine, rated at 48 horsepower and mated to a four-speed manual transmission. Top speed was said to be 80 MPH, though getting there with a yet-to-be-broken in 37-year-old engine will likely be a leisurely process. The car’s four-wheel independent suspension features coil springs and struts up front, with trailing and diagonal arms and torsion bars in the rear, and drum brakes (without ABS, of course) are used in all four corners.
1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Volkswagen Beetle Convertible production was handled by Karmann in Osnabruck, Germany, and the last cars rolled off the production line on January 10, 1980. As Mark J. McCourt explained in his 2010 Buyer’s Guide to the model, Americans purchased 10,681 Volkswagen Beetle Convertibles in 1979, followed by an additional 4,572 in 1980. To avoid having to comply with stricter 1980 emission and safety regulations, all of the final examples were sold as 1979 models.
1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Whether or not chassis 1592041475 meets or exceeds the high estimate, history tells us it will very likely exceed the $50,000 low estimate when it crosses the auction block on March 10. Should this particular Beetle convertible break the six-figure barrier, it stands to reason that other well-preserved examples will hit the market at future 2016 auctions. Will any others be unregistered, with less than 67 miles on the odometer?
1979 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
The Bonhams Amelia Island Auction will take place on Thursday, March 10, at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. For additional details, visit

UPDATE (14.March 2016): The 1979 Volkswagen Beetle convertible sold for $52,800, including buyer’s premium.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Vintage Bow-Tie Hauler

I get to thinking sometimes that I’ve been around so long that I’ve seen everything. Nothing new under the sun, nothing can surprise me. Occasionally, I am proven wrong about that. Rarely is it as spectacular as this. If you’ve been in the old car hobby for many years, decades maybe, you might get to thinking that you’ve seen it all. Thanks goes to Blindmarc for the tip!

But you have not seen it all, and as evidence to support that position, allow me to present Exhibit A:  One 1950 Chevrolet COE truck, coupled to a car carrier trailer which is loaded up and complete with not one, but four, rusty 1956 Chevy passenger cars.

The seller’s ad appears here on ebay. His opinion is that this setup would be great for drawing attention to a business, or as an ultimate expression of yard art. That is unassailable fact.

But there’s much more to it than that. Four rusty cars and a truck and trailer? Maybe to those eggheads at the county planning and zoning commission. To the true dyed-in-the-wool motor head, this is a heavenly, car spotter’s bliss. A non-rolling automotive Mecca, if you will. It would stop traffic and cause accidents. If there were a way to drag this mess to a car show, after awhile all the shiny-car owners would give up and go home in despair. They’d close their hoods, start their chrome-laden engines, idle slowly off the parking lot and drive away as the crowd surrounded….this.

Rusty treasure. The seller says they’re all non-restorable and have no titles, but frankly, who cares? Is there a title for the Parthenon? The Taj Mahal? The Statue of Liberty?

I often joke about “aggravating my neighbors” by bringing home some obnoxious new-old car. Clearly, this is the Holy Grail. If I could park it on my street in front of my house, even for just a day, they would then know who they were dealing with. Someone who has attained the status of least a demigod. They would surround me on their hands and knees and worship the ground I walk on and the lawn I park my cars on. They would throw small loaves of bread at my feet.  I’m not entirely sure why about that last part.

But back to reality. The seller’s $15,000 asking price is not enough. He has already lived the dream, and has recognized his obligation to now share the blessing with the rest of mankind.

The seller says the cars are complete with engines, transmissions and some trim parts, but are in rough condition. There are two four-door sedans, one two-door sedan Bel Air, and one four-door hardtop Bel Air. These details don’t matter, only the feeling of Zen that I get when I see it does.

s45677This beautiful, rusted offering is located in Wilson, North Carolina. The tip for the write-up came from Barn Finds faithful reader Troy W, to whom I am eternally grateful.


1957 Chevrolet Nomad

Click Here to read all about this 1957 Nomad and to view other pictures.


The Bloat Of Extravagance: Satire In Automotive Renderings

Among the automotive eras ripe for ridicule, a close second to the Seventies would have to be the Fifties. Postwar belt-loosening in the United States had, by the latter half of the 1950s, turned into an all-out bacchanal of chrome, fins, gizmos, multi-tone paint, and girth. And just as in any other time of excess, satirists leveled their pens at the trend with the aim, perhaps, of deflating it a little bit.
While most automotive designers of the mid-century period took themselves deadly serious, as we can see from our OldCarRenderings Tumblog – even when penning flights of futuristic fancy that had no hope of leaping from drawing board to real-life – Milwaukee-based industrial designer Brooks Stevens at least injected a little humor into his renderings. His most recognized satire rendering, above, titled “The Detroit Dilemma or ‘The Battle of the Bulge,’” managed to skewer just about every one of the Detroit Big Three by tacking together all the excess of the mid-Fifties into one design. There’s chrome gravel shields, chrome trim, chrome spears, chrome hood ornaments, chrome wheelcovers, big chrome bumpers, chrome fins, septuple-tone (or maybe octa-tone) paint, wraparound glass, and more. Funny enough, the rendering is dated January 1955 and so pre-dates the height of Fifties fin excess; just imagine what Stevens made of the cars of the latter two years of the 1950s.
satire_Kaiser_02Nor was “The Detroit Dilemma” Stevens’s only break from serious auto design, as we see from the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile and this pair of renderings of his that we came across while searching through the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. Described as Stevens’s vision for a driver’s education car, they were done for Kaiser-Frazer sometime in April 1951. Not sure exactly what sort of education the students would get in a car like this – especially those in the far back – but the pandemonium of nine 16-year-olds trying to steer all at once would make for at least a few minutes’ worth of entertainment.
satire_McCall_05 satire_McCall_01 satire_McCall_02satire_McCall_03 satire_McCall_04
Speaking of cars rendered to reflect mid-century excesses, we can’t forget to include New Yorker artist Bruce McCall’s atomic-era mutants. Though he never worked as an automotive designer, McCall did begin his career as an illustrator for auto ads – fertile ground for raising an artist bent on satirizing the big britches who built and bought such bulging behemoths. McCall collected most of his designs in a 2001 book, “The Last Dream-O-Rama: The Cars Detroit Forgot to Build, 1950-1960,” but his Bulgemobile ads (Fireblast! Flashbolt! Blastfire! Firewood!) appeared many times before then in the pages of National Lampoon. As Owen Schumacher wrote of the cars that McCall envisioned in his review of “The Last Dream-O-Rama:” “All these impossible cruisers, the author would argue, are the daffy, chromed-out expressions of an obnoxious Atomic Age: na├»ve, kitschy, wasteful, superficial, and even McCarthyan.”
Tex Avery might not have had the luxury of detail that static images afford, but his 1951 cartoon, “Car of Tomorrow,” perhaps best illustrated the ridiculous exaggeration many saw in mid-century cars. Casual sexism notwithstanding, Avery might have had some fun with the cartoon, but you can tell he also had a handle on automotive trends – and automotive anxieties – of the early 1950s, from pushbuttons to the exaggerated enormity of cars.
We’re sure there’s more such satirical takes on automotive design, whether concerning the mid-Fifties or other eras.


Friday, October 7, 2016

How To Find The Keyless Code On A Ford Explorer Or Mercury Mountaineer

Driver leaning over reaching under dash
Many Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers were manufactured with an option known as the Ford keyless entry keypad. Some models refer to it as SecuriCode as well. It is a five-button numeric keypad that is used to:
  • Eliminate fumbling for your keys
  • Prevent lockouts
  • Provide easy entry to your vehicle
The keyless entry uses a five-digit code to unlock the doors when it is entered correctly. The five-digit code can be changed from the default code set at the factory to a user-defined code. The users can set it to whatever sequence they want, providing better security and a code they will remember.
It can happen that the code you set is forgotten, and you are locked out of your vehicle. It is also a regular occurrence that, once a vehicle has been sold, the code isn’t given to the new owner. If the default code isn’t on hand either, it can leave the keyless keypad useless and increase the chance of being locked out of your vehicle.
On Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, it may be possible to retrieve the five-digit default code manually with a few easy steps.

Method 1 of 5: Check your documentation

When a Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer is sold with the keyless entry keypad, the default code is provided with the manuals and owner’s materials on a card. Retrieve your code from the paperwork.
Step 1: Look in your owner’s manual. Flip through the pages to find the card with the code printed on it.
  • If you purchased the vehicle second-hand, check if the code is written on the inside cover by hand.
Step 2: Check your card wallet. Look in the card wallet you were provided from the dealer.
  • The code card may be loose in the wallet.
Step 3: Check your glove box. The code card may be loose in the glove box, or the code may be written on a sticker in the glove box.
Step 4: Enter the code. To enter your keyless keypad code:
  • Enter in the five-digit code in order
  • Select the associated key to press
  • Press the 3-4 button within five seconds of entering your code to unlock your doors
  • Lock your doors by pressing the 7-8 and 9-10 buttons at the same time

Method 2 of 5: Locate smart junction box (SJB) 2006-2010

On Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers from 2006 until the model year 2010, the default five-digit keypad code is printed on the smart junction box (SJB) under the driver’s side of the dash.
Materials Needed
  • Flashlight
  • Screwdriver or small socket set
  • Small mirror on an extension
Step 1: Look at your under dash. Open the driver’s door and lay on your back in the driver’s footwell area.
  • It is cramped for space and you will get dirty if the floor is dirty.
Step 2: Take off the under dash cover. Remove the under dash cover if there is one in place.
  • If there is one, you may need a screwdriver or a small socket set and ratchet to remove it.
Step 3: Locate the SJB module. It is a large black box mounted up underneath the dash above the pedals. There is a long yellow wiring connector that plugs into it 4-5 inches in width.
Step 4: Locate the barcode label. The label is directly below the connector facing the firewall.
  • Use your flashlight to find it under the dash.
Step 5: Find the code on the module. Locate the five-digit default keypad code on the module. It is under the barcode and is the only five digit number on the label.
  • Use your extendable mirror to get a view of the backside of the module to read the label.
  • When the area is illuminated with the flashlight, you should easily be able to read the code in the mirror’s reflection.
Step 6: Enter the code on the keypad.

Method 3 of 5: Locate the RAP Module

The default keypad code for Explorers and Mountaineer for model years 1999 to 2005 can be found on the Remote Anti-Theft Personality (RAP) module. There are two possible locations for the RAP module.
Materials Needed
  • Flashlight
  • Small mirror on an extension
Open trunk bed revealing spar tire compartment
Step 1: Find your tire change compartment. On most 1999 to 2005 Explorers and Mountaineers, you can find the RAP module in the compartment where the tire change jack is located.
Step 2: Locate the cover for the jack. The cover will be on the driver’s rear in the cargo area.
  • It is approximately 4 inches tall and 16 inches wide.
Step 3: Remove the cover. There are two lever-style connectors that hold the cover in place. Lift both levers to release the cover and lift it out of place.
Step 4: Find the RAP module. It is located just in front of the jack compartment opening, mounted against the side body panel.
  • You won’t be able to see the label clearly from this vantage point.
Step 5: Read the default keyless code. Shine a flashlight as best you can on the label, then use a mirror on an extension to read the code off the label. It is the only five-digit code on there.
Step 6: Install the jack cover. Put the two bottom alignment tabs in place, press the panel into its location, and press the two levers down to lock it in place.
Step 7: Enter the keyless code.

Method 4 of 5: Find the RAP module on the rear passenger door

Material Needed
  • Flashlight
Close up of rear seatbelt c pillar
Step 1: Find the passenger seat belt panel. Locate the panel where the passenger rear seat belt enters the pillar area.
Step 2: Pry the panel loose by hand. There are a few tension clips that hold it in place. A firm tug from the top should pop the panel off.
  • Warning: The plastic can be sharp, so you may want to use gloves to remove trim panels.
Step 3: Remove the seatbelt retractor panel. Pull the panel covering the seat belt retractor away. This panel is directly below the one you pulled off.
  • You don’t have to completely remove this part. The module is right below the other panel you removed.
Step 4: Look for RAP module. Shine a flashlight behind the panel. You will see a module with a label on it which is the RAP module.
Step 5: Get the five-digit code. Read the five-digit code off the label, then snap all the panels back in place, lining up the tension clips with their locations in the body.
Step 6: Enter the default keypad code in the keypad.

Method 5 of 6: Use the MyFord function

Newer Ford Explorers may use a touchscreen display system known as MyFord Touch. It controls comfort and convenience systems including SecuriCode.
Step 1: Press the "Menu" button. With the ignition on and the doors closed, press the “Menu” button at the top of the screen.
Step 2: Press the “Vehicle” button. This appears on the left side of the screen.
  • A menu comes up that includes the option “Door Keypad Code.”
Step 3: Select “Door Keypad Code” from the option list.
Step 4: Set your keypad code. Enter the default keypad code from your owner’s manual, then enter your new personalized five-digit keypad entry code.
  • It is now set.

Method 5 of 5: Contact your Ford dealership

If none of the options were successful in retrieving your default keyless keypad code, you will have to go to the Ford dealer to have a technician retrieve the code from the computer. The technician will use a diagnostic scanner to retrieve the code from the RAP or SJB module and provide it to you.
Typically, dealers charge a fee for retrieving keypad codes for customers. Ask ahead of time what the charge is for the service and be prepared with payment once the process has been completed.

The Most And Least Expensive Cars To Maintain

The most expensive thing most Americans own, after their house, is their car. On average, Americans spend 5% of their income on purchasing a car. Another 5% goes towards on-going maintenance and insurance costs.
But not every car costs the same to keep it running. And different cars have varying risks of leaving their drivers suddenly immobilized.
At YourMechanic, we have a massive dataset of the make and model of the cars we have serviced and the type of maintenance done. We decided to use our data to understand which cars break down the most and have the highest maintenance costs. We also looked into which types of maintenance are most common to certain cars.
First, we looked at which major brands cost the most to maintain over the first 10 years of a car’s life. We grouped all years of all models by brand to compute their average cost by brand. In order to estimate annual maintenance costs, we found the amount spent on every two oil changes (as oil changes are generally done every six months).
which brands cost the most to maintain
Luxury imports from Germany, such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz, along with domestic luxury brand Cadillac, are the most expensive. A Toyota is about $10,000 less expensive over 10 years, just in terms of maintenance.
Toyota is by far the most economical manufacturer. Scion and Lexus, the second and third most inexpensive brands, are both made by Toyota. Together, all three are 10% below the average cost.
Most domestic brands, like Ford and Dodge, are in the middle of the pack.
While luxury cars call for the most expensive maintenance, many budget vehicles rank relatively high. Kia, an entry-level brand, surprises with maintenance costs 1.3 times the average. In this case, sticker prices don't represent maintenance costs.
Knowing the relative maintenance costs of brands can be informative, but it’s also important to consider how car costs change with age. This chart looks at the median annual cost of maintenance across all brands.
how do car costs change with age
Maintenance costs increase as the car ages. A stable, consistent increase of $150 per year in costs exists for years 1 through 10. After that, there is a distinct jump between 11 and 12 years of age. After age 13, costs plateau around $2,000 per year. This is likely because people disown their cars if maintenance costs are higher than their cars’ worth.
Even within brands, not all cars are created equal. How do specific models compare directly to one another?
We drilled down by splitting up all cars by model to look at 10 year maintenance costs.
which car models cost the most to maintain
The 20 priciest car models in term of maintenance cost all require, at a minimum, a staggering $11,000 to maintain over 10 years. These estimates include expensive one-off costs, like a transmission rebuild, that skew the mean higher.
According to our data, Chrysler's Sebring is the most expensive car to maintain, which is likely why Chrysler revamped it in 2010. German imports (such as BMW’s 328i and Mercedes-Benz’ E350) along with many manufacturers’ luxury or full-sized models (such as the Audi A4 Quattro) are quite expensive as well.
Now we know which cars are money pits. So which vehicles are a thrifty, reliable choice?
which car models have the lowest maintenance cost
Toyota and other Asian imports are the least expensive cars to maintain, with the Prius living up to its well-known reputation for reliability. Along with many Toyota models, Kia’s Soul and Honda’s Fit hold close to Prius’s low-cost lead. Toyota’s Tacoma and Highlander are also on the low-cost leaderboard, even though the list is dominated by compact and mid-sized sedans. Toyota completely avoids the the most expensive models list.
So what, specifically, makes some brands more expensive than others? Some brands have a higher incidence of routine maintenance. But some cars tend to break down in the same way time and again.
We looked at which brands have maintenance requirements that occur unusually often for that particular brand. For each brand and issue, we compared the frequency to the average across all the cars we serviced.
unusually common car issues
Mercury is the brand that suffered most chronically from a design flaw; in this case, it had fuel pump issues (Ford Motor Company discontinued Mercury entirely in 2011).
We can see some issues cross from brand to brand within the same manufacturer. For example, Dodge and Chrysler, which are both part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) conglomerate, can’t seem to get their exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves working correctly. Their EGRs need to be fixed at roughly 20 times the national average.
But there’s one problem customers care more about than any other: which cars will just refuse to start?
We answer this question in the below chart, which limits the comparison to cars 10 years old or less.
brands most likely not to start
Although this could be a reflection of some owners' diligence just as much as the cars' build quality, the results of this list are quite damning: 3 of the top 5 brands were discontinued in the last several years.
In addition to the now-defunct brands, the premium segment (such as Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, and BMW) is represented in this list. Notably absent are many of the brands from the least expensive list: Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai.
But the brand doesn’t reveal everything about a car. We dove into the models that don’t start with the greatest frequency.
models most likely not to start
The worst cars failed to start 26 times as often as average cars, perhaps explaining why some of these models got the axe: the Hyundai Tiburon, Hummer H3, and Chrysler Sebring (all in the top 10) were discontinued. Some premium models make it into the shameful list as well, including BMWs and several Mercedes-Benz models.
For as long as cars have existed, Americans have debated car ownership and the questions of cost and reliability. This data reveals which companies live up to their reputation for reliability (Toyota), which brands sacrifice reliability for prestige (BMW and Mercedes-Benz), and which models deserved to be discontinued (the Hummer 3).
Still, car maintenance is about much more than the average cost. Factors such as how well a car is maintained, how often it is driven, where it is driven, and how it is driven all affect maintenance costs. Your mileage may vary.


Saturday, September 3, 2016

How To Buy A New Car and Avoid Scams

Using our advice and tools, you'll get a great deal that is still more than fair for the dealership. If you aren't prepared then prepare to get ripped off, it's that simple. People have no problem taking weeks to plan a vacation, but don't spend a few hours doing research before they buy a $30,000 car. You will be able to save a ton of money if you follow our advice.

The Best Price Doesn't Mean You Got a Good Deal

A good deal means that you were treated fairly and the dealership made a reasonable profit. The most important thing you will read here on is to make sure that you don't just focus on the final price. Dealers will play the "Cash Flow Shell Game" so they can rip you off while making you think you are getting a good deal. An example:
  • They give you a very low price
  • Finance manager sneaks in fees
  • The dealer undervalues your trade-in
  • Your loan APR is increased
The buyer in this example thought they were getting a good deal because of the low price, but they actually got ripped off. We will explain all of the tricks to look out for and teach you how to avoid becoming a victim. To save the most money make sure you read the whole site. Don't just read half and think you have all the facts.
Begin by getting the lowest price using services like TrueCar, CarClearanceDeals andEdmunds. Don't stop there, if you miss one valuable topic on it can cost you thousands of dollars. Make sure not to be a "monthly payment buyer" and only look at what your payment will be - that is the worst thing you can do. Doing this or becoming a "trade-in buyer" is exactly what the dealer wants and you will play right into their hand. Once this happens you will get ripped off, I guarantee it!

When is the best time to buy a car?

There are two "best times" to buy. The end of December is a good time. Everyone is out buying XMAS gifts, leaving dealer lots void of customers, motivating them to cut prices and break year end sales records. Another good time to buy is July through October as dealerships sell off cars at lower prices to clear space for the new models.

All Prep Work Can be Done from Your PC, Tablet or Smart Phone

The last time I bought a new vehicle I was able to do all my homework without leaving my house. Back in the "old days" you would waste hours at many dealerships. Luckily the internet was invented so now you don't have leave the comfort of your couch. There are many great sites that allow you to relax, research and get quotes. Once you have determined the dealer with the best price, you take all of your research to them and calmly negotiate the best deal.
cars in a row
Exclusive to visitors of our site, try the Car Buying Service. It gives you special friends and family pricing, leverages volume buying power of large companies, employers, or membership groups. Choose your car and configure options online. You will get an instant price quote from a local dealer in the network. If you don't enjoy haggling, you'll love our car buying service.

Invoice Prices, Rebates and Incentives

As you follow this guide you will find that there are a few critical pieces of information that you will need to make sure you are getting a great deal. They are invoice price, rebates and incentives. We will cover these in more detail later but you should know that when talking about rebates and incentives there are some that are well advertised and some that are "secret" between the manufacturer and the dealer.
The most important thing to remember about the invoice price is that it is not the amount the dealer paid for the car. We will show you how to calculate what the dealer actually paid later in this guide.

What are secret incentives?

Secret factory to dealer incentives can be $1,000-$6,000 in addition to known rebates! Because of these secret incentives, if you buy a car at invoice, the dealer earns thousands more. You should haggle over this incentive, as many dealers willingly give up all or part of this incentive, making your cost lower.
If you want the most accurate, complete and up to date data for these three important items, I'd recommend buying the data as part of the FightingChance package. They will also make somebody available to talk to if you have questions about anything that comes up as you go through the purchase process.

Competition Gets You the Best Deal

Enter the dealership armed with "The Folder" that I will talk about in Chapter 3. Once they see that you are prepared it will work to your advantage. The deal will now proceed on your terms, not theirs. Don't enter a dealership without having multiple price quotes or you'll overpay by thousands. Commissioned salespeople fear "The Folder" because they know you did your homework. They rely on uneducated car buyers who don't do any research before they go shopping.
Top Recommended Car Price Quote Sites
TrueCar takes the haggle and hassle out of new car buying. Using their service you will get a Guaranteed Savings Certificate that will lock your price. This approach is perfect if you don't like dealing with all the normal negotiating hassles.
Get a Hassle Free Price from searches clearance pricing from their network of dealers to get you the cheapest price. Use their simple form to select the make and model and start saving. Remember to get quotes from the maximum number of dealers to give you the upper hand.
Get a Quote from offers the largest dealer network, offering you better choices when buying a car. Edmunds allows you to select dealers within 50 miles of your zip code and avoid dealers that you don't want to deal with.
Get A Free Price Quote From gives you free, no-obligation quotes from up to 3 dealers. Just select your make, model, color and options. Getting quotes from multiple dealers pressures dealers to give you a discount.
Get a Quote from lists your purchase price online instantly with better prices than dealers and cool 360° views. As you check off options, the screen shows invoice price, MSRP and your low CarsDirect price.
Get A Free Price Quote From CarsDirect
The Car Buying Service lets you get a guaranteed price quote without leaving your house. This exclusive program leverages volume buying power of large companies, employers and membership groups to get you a low price on a new car.
Get Started with the Car Buying Service
Autobytel has 20,000 dealers, they give you free no hassle low price quotes, list car prices and dealer cost.
Get a Quote From Autobytel
California PlateRoadster Concierge Service for California Residents will get you a great price and handle everything for you. They will deliver your car to your home. The service is only available in California.
Buy a Car Using Roadster

Use Competition for All Aspects of the Deal

Competition also works to get you the best rate on your loan. The dealer is not the only one that can finance your car, online lenders are available. Once approved you will have a check in hand and know your interest rate before you even set foot in the dealership. You can use your low rate to negotiate with the dealer or use your online financing if they won't match or beat the online rate. We will cover this topic in more detail in our chapter on auto loans. Remember, price is only one component of a complete deal.
TrueCar gives you a great baseline on pricing. Check the curve to see how your quotes stack up to what other have paid. If the TrueCar price is better, print out the Guaranteed Savings Certificate and head to the dealership for a hassle free deal. Remember, you still have to pay attention to the other aspects of the deal that we discuss.
screen shot of truecar

Warning About Car Dealership Advertising

The number one goal of any car dealer is to get you in the door. If you aren't there they can't pull any tricks or scams on you. They hire the best advertising and marketing companies to come up with ads to get you there.
Optical Illusion
Advertisers spends millions in psychological wording research to trick you. Take a look a the image to the right. You thought it said "I love Paris in the Springtime" right? Wrong! See the extra "the"? It really says "I love Paris in the the Springtime." Your brain tricked you. Advertisers rely on your brain to trick you so they don't have to lie.
Pay very careful attention to the fine print when it comes to advertising. When you see a TV commercial it is impossible to read it unless you are watching on a DVR and you can pause it. I don't know why it is legal for them to put these legal statements in such a small font and displayed for such a short time that no human can possibly read it.
When an ad says 1.9% APR, look for the "*". The fine print will say "with approved credit only" or "qualified buyers only." The 1.9% reels you in. You must have perfect credit to get the 1.9% rate. Most people will not qualify. Other scams you may hear:
  • "We'll Get You Out Of Your Current Lease No Matter How Much You Owe!"
  • "We'll Pay Off Your Loan No Matter How Much You Owe!"
  • "We'll Give You $4,000 For Any Trade-In!"
  • "Don't Make A $5,000 Mistake!"
  • "No Reasonable Offer Will Be Refused!" (Except yours, because it's unreasonable)
In the examples above, the dealer is not doing you any favors, they want you to buy a car from them at full MSRP. They also want your trade-in so they can give you $4,000 below market value and resell it for a higher price. Sometimes an ad can make you think that trading in a car relieves you of your loan or lease obligation. It does not!
This important fact gets many buyers into trouble. You are actually taking on increased debt when you thought you were dropping one debt for another. They lied to you in their ad, they are not doing you any favors. They are piling on more debt. It's a very clever trick, but now you're onto them. Next time you hear those ads, you'll know what they're up to. The ads should be worded "We'll get you out of your current car, then roll what you owe plus penalties into your new car purchase so you can pay off 2 cars!"
Don't trade in a car you owe money on. Aside from adding to your debt, you are inviting other problems. Since the dealer doesn't care about your finances, it is possible that they don't pay the bank on time and this can lead to penalties for you.

How Car Dealers Profit From New Car Purchases

You think new car dealers have just one way to coax money out of you when car buying? Thank you for playing. Some new car dealers convince you to spend so much, you didn't know you were taken for a ride! Car buyers who brag of high trade in value were asleep at the wheel leaving money on the table in other parts of the deal.
  1. Offers you $3,000 to $4,000 below market price for your trade-in
  2. The new car purchase price when buying a car
  3. Marking up the rate they give you for new car financing
  4. Environmental package extras and new car extended warranties
The dealership is always trying to maximize their profit. Of course they should make a fair profit on the deal but they shouldn't rip you off. They trick you into a bad deal using what I call the "Car Dealer Cash Flow Shell Game™"

How The Car Dealer Cash Flow Shell Game™ Works

Let me teach you how the game works. Cash spent buying a car pours into buckets. For the best deal you want the most for trade-ins, discounted MSRP, low APR, no extras and few fees. Here's what you and I want:
Selling Price
Interest Rate
Add Ons
- Insurance
- Rust Proof
- Sealant
- Prep
- Admin
Dealer's Profit
The car dealer has other plans. This is what the dealer wants:
Selling Price
Interest Rate
Add Ons
- Insurance
- Rust Proof
- Sealant
- Prep
- Admin
Dealer's Profit
The dealer low balls your trade-in, charges full MSRP, high APR on the auto loan, high profit extras, dealer prep and ad fees and ends up with a huge profit. If you have bad credit they'll lie and say that credit life insurance is required, get more profit and call you 2 weeks later to tell you financing fell through and you need to come up with $2,000 more. A similar abuse of the situation occurs if you're upside down on your current auto loan.
If they know you're a trade-in buyer, they give you what you want for your trade-in. But look what else they do. They jack up the car buying price to MSRP, pile on extras and fees. The amount of cash involved doesn't change, it gets shuffled around the buckets.
Selling Price
Interest Rate
Add Ons
- Insurance
- Rust Proof
- Sealant
- Prep
- Admin
Dealer's Profit
Here's a good one. They bait you with 0% or a low APR. But then they jack the price to MSRP, low ball your trade-in, pile on fees and dealer extras. Note again that their profit is still the same large amount.
Selling Price
Interest Rate
Add Ons
- Insurance
- Rust Proof
- Sealant
- Prep
- Admin
Dealer's Profit
The folks here at hope you had fun playing the Cash Flow Shell Game for buying a new car.
Dealers have perfected this system over decades. The odds are in their favor. Don't get me wrong, dealers have the right to be profitable. You should know how the game is played, so it can be played fairly and they can make a fair profit while you get a good deal.
In this guide I'll show you how to prevent losses in these areas. You have enemies to overcome including fear of the unknown. We'll turn that fear into a target rich environment of opportunities for a successful new car purchase.
Try to shop where salespeople are not on commission, but on a salary. They still want top dollar, they just don't have commission fever. Some no haggle dealers give good deals, while most do not.
You should shop in a competitive market. Make your offer as shown on this site, bounce it off all the car dealers and even "No Haggle" dealers will bite. Many "No Haggle" dealers have a "low" price on the windshield that you find out later included the rebate, so they actually charged you (MSRP - Rebate), which is no bargain. Dealing with a fleet manager can be helpful, since they are not on commission. If you make an appointment, show up, it's bad business if you don't. Good salespeople like an informed consumer because the process will be more efficient.
No matter how good the deal is that you negotiate with the salesperson it can always turn bad quickly in the "F&I" (Business) Office. Make sure to pay attention to everything in this guide so that you don't fall victim to this common occurrence.