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Been a Honda family for 30+ years and DW wants a new one. She is looking at a Pilot while I see a CRV, about 10G less. Will probably trade-in our one owner, well maintained, 2007 Odyssey with 108,000 miles.

My local dealer is having an 'invitation only' event this Saturday - get a 4' umbrella, a $15 gift card, chance to win a car, etc, etc. I detest the car buying dance and am looking for suggestions on a car buying service.

We are members of Costco and AAA (Trucar) so there are two choices. Anyone with real life experiences with these or others?

I'm tempted to try both - wonder if they would send us to the same dealer and who would give a better price?

Open the all suggestions...

George
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We had a good experience using Costco's auto buying program a few years ago getting a Subaru for my husband.
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Not every dealer is on the Costco program or Truecar. Truecar will have a bigger dealer network, but they charge the dealers $499 if you buy a car after being referred by them so keep that in mind...the "deal" will be limited because they still need to make that $499 somewhere. Costco is not free for the dealers either.
If you really detest the process and don't want to negotiate, either of these referral services will get you a very good deal, but not necessarily the best. And they limit your choice of dealer so if for instance you have a preferred dealer that is not in their network you are on your own.
Your 2007 with 108k miles will have very limited value to a new car dealer. They will buy it of course, but only with the expectation they will send it straight to auction and their offer will reflect that.
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consider getting a Galves.com 7 day (or less) access license. Put in the VIN on your 2007. This will likely be closer to what the dealer will offer you for trade in than KBB, in most areas of the country (you will avoid a potential nasty surprise at the dealer).

I use them all. I check with dealer if they 'offer a Costco price', I use truecar, and I heavily research on Edmunds.

I also try to negotiate via email / phone wherever possible--inevitably, you will have to go to dealer, but I try to put that off until a close to a fully itemized deal is in an email as I can get
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Before you pull that trigger....

The CRV has been having a gas-in-the-oil issue for several years and the internet thinks it isn’t fixed yet. Recall 2017,18 fix still not working. It’s the 1.6 Turbo.

http://m.carcomplaints.com/Honda/CR-V/2019/engine/engine.sht...

We were about to buy a CRV earlier this year and it made us stop and consider waiting.

Just saying.
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We are members of Costco and AAA (Trucar) so there are two choices. Anyone with real life experiences with these or others?

I'm tempted to try both - wonder if they would send us to the same dealer and who would give a better price?


I know this is tough advice to take especially if you don't like the process, but if you have a local dealer you have any relationship with...either previous car purchases or service history..and just go to their website directly, pick a vehicle and request a price quote. This is what they call an organic lead. These leads close much better, they don't have to pay for them and if you engage with the internet team with questions or even make an appointment you will go right to the top of their priority list and get lots of attention. I know typically you may not want attention from marketers but in this case you are in the market for a car so attention is good...on your terms. DO NOT put your info into the Costco or TrueCar system.

Once you get a little bit further in the process, pick a vehicle and start to negotiate, tell the manager that you have access to Costco and know about TrueCar, but have not submitted a lead to them. Ask for that pricing. They should be able to validate the price to your satisfaction so you don't even need to get the price from TrueCar, which will ultimately cost them $499 and they are well aware of that. You may even be able to get a better deal than Truecar since the dealer is saving the referral. There has to be a certain level of trust between both parties though because you could at any time, even after you drive off the lot, log onto TrueCar and they would be able to match your info with the dealer transactions they download every month and charge the dealer the fee.
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Thanks for that advice, Todd. When my daughter was buying a vehicle a year ago, we negotiated for a long time. We left to look at other manufacturer's for a similar vehicle. When she decided she wanted the first vehicle, we went through Costco which uses the same dealer. Costco saved a significant amount of money which is probably a reflection on my negotiation skill. Now I know in the future that if I mention I have access to Costco pricing, I may be able to get to that price or better quickly.

PSU
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if I mention I have access to Costco pricing, I may be able to get to that price or better quickly.

PSU


Sometimes Costco does in fact provide additional benefits even the dealer can't provide over and above pricing such as a $500 Costco gift card, but these offers are not widespread and generally negotiated as part of a manufacturer incentive to provide the Costco member the gift card. The car buying process has become incredibly translucent with the internet, but it is still a long way from transparent.
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I will test drive at the dealer and decide exactly what I want.

Then go home.

Go on google maps, type in Honda, find every dealer in a 100 mile radius, look at the websites, call, get an out-the-door price on the car. Tell them the decision is Friday (3-4 days away)

Buy from the cheapest.

I’ll drive 100 miles for $1,000 bucks.
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I will test drive at the dealer and decide exactly what I want.

Then go home.

Go on google maps, type in Honda, find every dealer in a 100 mile radius, look at the websites, call, get an out-the-door price on the car. Tell them the decision is Friday (3-4 days away)

Buy from the cheapest.

I’ll drive 100 miles for $1,000 bucks.


It's a good plan in theory, but tough to get any kind of consistent results or the response you are really looking for because every dealer has a slightly different process for this. The hardest part will be getting them to take you seriously without being in front of them. It will certainly work for a few, but even then I wouldn't be confident you are getting the "best" price from a phone call.

There used to be a "Fax Method" for doing this that was even in the FAQ on this board years ago.
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Here is a current Costco offer. This is a manufacturer offer so it would be available at any dealer unless they declined to participate (which is unlikely), but local dealers often work with the Costco program and offer their own discounts. For the former (manufacturer) in this case you would be unlikely to do better on your own. The Volvo Employee Pricing is nothing special...anyone could negotiate a similar price...but the other incentives are above and beyond the programs offered to the dealer so you would need to use Costco to get the $1000 or $3000 and the $100 gift card. This is likely even better than the TrueCar price

A local Costco deal is pricing agreed upon by the dealer and Costco and does not have manufacturer money behind it beyond what is available to anyone else.


VOLVO LIMITED-TIME SAVINGS

May 1, 2019 - July 1, 2019
Purchase or lease an eligible, new 2019 Volvo model to receive:1


Volvo Employee Pricing


Costco member incentives:

?
$1,000 incentive on S60, S90, V60, V90, V90 Cross Country, XC60 and XC90

?
$3,000 incentive on S60 T6 R-Design and S60 T6 Inscription


Volvo publicly available incentives for which you qualify


Plus, a $100 Costco Cash Card after completing a Costco Auto Program survey
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And here is an offer on a Ridgeline that would get you a $500 Costco gift card buying through the program. The dealer would not be able to give you this $500 in the deal because it is paid to Costco by the manufacturer, not the dealer.

Receive an exclusive incentive on Honda Ridgeline

Costco members who purchase or lease a new 2018 or 2019 Honda Ridgeline through July 8, 2019, are eligible to receive a $500 Costco Cash Card.2


Register to receive a certificate with your unique promotion code to use at any Honda dealership of your choice.
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Before you pull that trigger....

The CRV has been having a gas-in-the-oil issue for several years and the internet thinks it isn’t fixed yet. Recall 2017,18 fix still not working. It’s the 1.6 Turbo.

http://m.carcomplaints.com/Honda/CR-V/2019/engine/engine.sht......

We were about to buy a CRV earlier this year and it made us stop and consider waiting.

Just saying.


Thanks for saying, good info.

George
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I know this is tough advice to take especially if you don't like the process, but if you have a local dealer you have any relationship with...either previous car purchases or service history..

Unfortunately I do not have that relationship as the dealership changed hands between the 4th and 5th car purchase. Bought the 2007 Odyssey by dealing with their Internet person but my negotiating skills are probably nonexistent and that is why I do not like the process.

Thank you for your insight and guidance however, Costco's program look's like the best route for me at this time.

George
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I've read a lot of good things about http://www.automatchconsulting.com/

The guy who does the work, Tom McParland, is a regular contributor to the Jalopnik automotive enthusiast website.

xtn
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geocarw: We are members of Costco...


We have bought a Honda Accord and a Subaru Outback through the Costco program and highly recommend it. In fact, I don't think we'll ever buy another vehicle without using their program. Great price, no pressure, and the dealership honors any available offers in addition to the Costco arranged pricing. Sometimes Costco provides additional incentives in the form of cash back cards for specific makes and/or models. I believe they have relationships with most dealerships... Honda for sure. Once you complete an online form, a local dealership will contact you by phone and email to arrange your visit. Almost makes car buying enjoyable.
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We had a good experience using Costco's auto buying program a few years ago getting a Subaru for my husband.

Thanks for the feedback.

George
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We have bought a Honda Accord and a Subaru Outback through the Costco program and highly recommend it. In fact, I don't think we'll ever buy another vehicle without using their program. Great price, no pressure...

Thanks for the feedback.

George
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Update

DW and I bought a 2019 CR-V a couple of days ago and thanks to the folks on this thread for their comments, ideas and suggestions especially the following:

kmart00 I also try to negotiate via email / phone wherever possible--inevitably, you will have to go to dealer, but I try to put that off until a close to a fully itemized deal is in an email as I can get

StockGoddess The warning CRV has been having a gas-in-the-oil issue... bought one anyway;-) and ...find every dealer... look at the websites...

And special thanks to ToddTruby I know this is tough advice to take especially if you don't like the process, but if you have a local dealer you have any relationship with...either previous car purchases or service history...and just go to their website directly, pick a vehicle and request a price quote... and Once you get a little bit further in the process, pick a vehicle and start to negotiate, tell the manager that you have access to Costco and know about TruCar, but have not submitted a lead to them... and more.

This is what I did...

At the Honda website; used the Honda Build and Price tool to design the car we wanted. Also locate dealers nearby and links to their websites.

At the Edmunds, Trucar and Costco auto websites did the build process to get an Invoice price and their suggested 'fair' price. Costco does not give a fair or suggested price.

At each dealer's website, searched inventory for the exact car we wanted, clicked link for "Selling Price" then click link to get Internet Price. All responses gave their Internet price with an * - read - does not include dealer installed items. The price difference was $413 for 3 dealers.

Called Costco and had a 30 minute discussion on exactly how the program worked and requested a referral. Called the dealer and discovered the Costco price he had to honor was $448 more than his Internet bid, the lowest bid.

So now what to do - realized my local dealer had not responded to my request so I called and asked. To my surprise it was $1,573 less than any other bid. Made an appointment for 6:30pm and found out what that * means - lifetime car wash, worry-free this & that, etc, plus Window Tint $250 and Clear Bra $1,000??? I said I did not want any of that stuff. About 10:30pm, I'm p.o.ed, blood pressure up and I walked by the 'managers' talking at a desk and said "I'm going to the restroom and then I'm out of here, call me tomorrow with what you decide.

In the end we got the car we wanted. We paid for the mud flaps, door guards and door handle guards and nothing else and it was $1,553 less than the Costco price. It was after 11pm when we left with the car.

Do you see why I detest the car buying process? Last time I did this was October 29, 2007 just 4 months and 4 days short of 12 years ago.

George
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It was after 11pm when we left with the car.

It seems to me that dealers never value a customer's time.

PSU
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It seems to me that dealers never value a customer's time.

They certainly do. They understand that they can profit from trying to waste it.

GeeB
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In the end we got the car we wanted. We paid for the mud flaps, door guards and door handle guards and nothing else and it was $1,553 less than the Costco price. It was after 11pm when we left with the car...Do you see why I detest the car buying process?

It's always your choice to put up with whatever.
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In the end we got the car we wanted. We paid for the mud flaps, door guards and door handle guards and nothing else and it was $1,553 less than the Costco price. It was after 11pm when we left with the car.

Do you see why I detest the car buying process? Last time I did this was October 29, 2007 just 4 months and 4 days short of 12 years ago.


Just a general commentary, not really directed at the OP, but I believe as much as people hate the 'process' they hate even more the thought of not getting a better deal than the "next guy"

This is why most dealers work this way and why brands like Saturn who tried to change to a one price retail model instead of different price for every deal (aka how they came to be known as dealers).

Certainly the dealers encourage the behavior and they make a lot of money doing so. They also (generally) provide a lot of added value and require a huge investment in capital and inventory and deserve to be rewarded for their risk.

But if most or even many customers did not truly prefer this type of process when buying a car, it would change...they don't and it won't.
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This is why most dealers work this way and why brands like Saturn who tried to change to a one price retail model instead of different price for every deal (aka how they came to be known as dealers).

Certainly the dealers encourage the behavior and they make a lot of money doing so. They also (generally) provide a lot of added value and require a huge investment in capital and inventory and deserve to be rewarded for their risk.

But if most or even many customers did not truly prefer this type of process when buying a car, it would change...they don't and it won't.


That certainly is the way it has been. Yet, Tesla is trying a different approach to attack the phenomenon. It seems to be gaining more penetration than Saturn was able to and a least causing a partial market shift.

I can see a number of possible reasons why it can work.

1. The love affair with autos is waning. More and more people are seeing their cars as appliances and treating the buying experience as such.

2. The business model for service will need to change making the dealership method of selling cars less profitable.

3. Online purchasing increases pricing transparency moving the market toward uniform pricing.

4. The product is unique enough that the current rules do not apply.

Please don't read into my position that I believe that Tesla has mastered service with the remote service concept. Mechanical service is indeed the least developed link in the Tesla business model. But I must say that online updates are cutting edge.

But I do think that Tesla's model is challenging the status quo. It shouldn't be dismissed without careful consideration.

GeeB
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Please don't read into my position that I believe that Tesla has mastered service with the remote service concept. Mechanical service is indeed the least developed link in the Tesla business model. But I must say that online updates are cutting edge.

But I do think that Tesla's model is challenging the status quo. It shouldn't be dismissed without careful consideration.


All good points. I agree at some point it will change. I mean just in the last 10 years it has changed dramatically with the internet and what appears to be transaction transparency. But it is still very, very far from really being transparent.

I still believe that the biggest factor preventing change is the consumer's desire. Following closely is the dealer's desire to hold onto the status quo or very close to that.

Tesla is challenging that but the current way is so entrenched in so many wealthy and influential people's the efforts they will go to to protect is are practically limitless. Tesla is a niche product as it is, but the are also limited in their ability to sell and market their product directly to consumers in many states due to laws protecting new car dealers. There are many states where even a manufacturer is unable to get rid of a bad or undesirable dealer unless they are convicted of a felony.
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Todd's last paragraph speaks volumes both about the challenge Tesla faces and points out how amazing the phenomenon's success really is. The scope of disruption that Tesla's business model has the potential to cause is broad. The major players include at least the legacy manufacturers, the dealer network, the petroleum industry and the fuel distribution retailing. Not just one giant but a legion.

I often wonder what the convenience store franchisers are dreaming about as their paradigm if they do not have fuel as their draw.

GeeB
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Todd's last paragraph speaks volumes both about the challenge Tesla faces and points out how amazing the phenomenon's success really is. The scope of disruption that Tesla's business model has the potential to cause is broad. The major players include at least the legacy manufacturers, the dealer network, the petroleum industry and the fuel distribution retailing. Not just one giant but a legion.

Is Tesla's success due to selling an EV car or is it their method of selling a car? In other words, would Tesla be just as successful if it was using its business model to sell an ICE car?

PSU
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PSU, Tesla's method of selling cars is enmeshed in web of state laws that regulate auto dealerships. Some prohibit a manufacturer from selling at retail to anyone. Others do not allow a manufacturer who has previously franchised dealerships to engage in retail. Some states allow showrooms but absolutely no transactions and some limit the number of outlets permitted. There are likely 50 differing varieties of regulation.

So Tesla is able to sell cars directly at least in part because they are a new manufacturer who has never had dealers. IMO it is unlikely that a new manufacturer selling traditional ICE vehicles could emerge. Though that is not impossible it leads me to believe that your question as posed is so hypothetical that it's a least beyond my pay grade to answer. On the EV side word of mouth is an important component of Tesla's marketing strategy including offering incentives for documented referrals.

We should acknowledge that online sales are gaining some traction in the used vehicle market with companies like Carvana. I can't imagine taking the risk to go through the process of purchasing a used car without driving and examining the exact car I was about to buy.

As I understand history, Henry Ford initiated the franchise dealer model to spread the financial risk in developing his start up company. It freed his company from holding responsibility for the cost of completed inventory. And the cost of retail outlets. Retail outlets were more essential in Ford's developing days than they are with Tesla because the internet did not exist and because 10s and 20s ICE vehicles were more service intensive than a Tesla.

Tesla bears will point out that internet sales and the current service practice are Tesla's most vulnerable points for failure. I have had only one small trim adjustment experience with Tesla service and that was done in my driveway and was quite smooth. I do live within 30 miles of a Tesla service center.

Tesla has shown ambivalence about the showroom aspect of their sales model but I think that is due to optimism toward the online part rather than reliance upon the need for showrooms.

We personally would not have confidence to pull the trigger on our Model 3 without multiple test drives at a show room. But we are Boomers, not the target demographic for buying cars on line. I do expect that the show rooms will be able to disappear but not quite yet.

In the interest of full disclosure: I have owned a Model 3 RWD LR purchased in 12/18 and hold a small position of Tesla shares.

GeeB
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Is Tesla's success due to selling an EV car or is it their method of selling a car? In other words, would Tesla be just as successful if it was using its business model to sell an ICE car?

Tesla's ability to influence the business model is BECAUSE they have a unique product that no one else offers. If mainstream automakers had a product to compete Tesla would actually be at a disadvantage in today's market.

Because of what consumers want when buying a car. And I don't mean they want the frustration and time. They want to feel like they have some control or influence on getting the best or better deal.
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