With the exact car and monthly payment he wanted in mind, Tim Stevens set out to buy it at the best deal possible in today’s buyer’s market. What he didn’t expect though were a few bumps along the way to new car ownership. What Tim experienced is what a lot of buyers also go through.
Tim has a wife and two younger kids and decided that he wanted a new car in February. He went online to sites like Edmunds.com to get some information about prices and different packages available. He also was trying to figure out if it would be financially better to buy new or used. Tim had his heart set on a specific vehicle and he wouldn’t even consider a different one.
“There was only one car I wanted to buy and that’s a 2008 Dodge Charger,” Tim says.
With his vehicle selection narrowed down to only one, in March, Tim started to go to dealerships. He had a 2002 Chevrolet Impala he wanted to trade-in. Tim knew going in that he was upside-down on his Impala loan. This means that he owes more on the car than what it is currently worth.
A lot of car buyers are in this situation right now, especially if they have a big SUV or truck they want to use as a trade-in. In these instances, the dealer will just roll-over the remaining balance on the trade-in vehicle to the new loan. Then, they will subtract the value of the trade-in, or the amount of money they are going to give you to buy your trade-in from you.
So Tim went to the closest Dodge dealership to his house on a Friday.
“This proved to be a mistake because it was a smaller dealership and they didn’t have as many banks to use for financing,” Tim says. “Since it was smaller, I thought I’d get more one-on-one interaction.”
After a month of research, Tim opted to buy new instead of buying a used model.
“I knew I had to get a new Charger because the incentives at the time were better than if I would have bought used,” Tim says. “They were offering $4,500 worth of incentives on the Charger at the time. I also knew that I didn’t want to pay more monthly than the $455 I was currently paying and I didn’t want to get a longer financing term.”
Tim told the salesperson at the first Dodge dealership he went to exactly what he wanted. Tim wanted a black, 2008, automatic, V6 Dodge Charger.
“The options like a sunroof and upgraded sound system didn’t matter because I would have changed it out anyways,” Tim says.
This Dodge dealer had exactly what he wanted in stock, so they immediately sent Tim to the finance manager’s office. After running Tim’s credit, they asked him to put more money down and get a co-signer for the loan.
“I was absolutely unwilling to get a co-signer and I told them that I didn’t want to pay any more than what I was paying now,” Tim says. “They told me to go to work and in the meantime, they would work on getting me financing. It was a wash-out with them. They said they’d call me at 2 p.m. and they didn’t. I called them and they said they were still working on it.”
Saturday morning, Tim went back on the Internet to try and find other financing options. He filled out forms for auto loan quotes.
That same day, Tim went to the second Dodge dealership, a much larger one, to try again to get the Dodge Charger at the price he wanted.
Since Tim had a trade-in, he gave the dealer his keys so they could appraise it while he was in the finance manager’s office. This Dodge dealer had the one he wanted in stock so they ran Tim’s credit. They were able to get him financing for the monthly payment and time he wanted, but the interest rate was 14%.
“I told them to give me back my keys and I walked out,” Tim says. “As I was walking out, they told me to wait because they were still waiting to hear back from another bank. They tried to get me to buy a Dodge Caliber instead. If I drove through my neighborhood in a Dodge Caliber, I would get laughed out of town.”
“I didn’t wait and I became very hostile with the finance manager. I was very emotional because they were jerking my chain and I hate getting my chain jerked. I probably can’t go back to that dealer!”
The same Saturday, Tim tried a third Dodge dealer. The reason he went there is because a sales rep from one of the forms he filled out on the Internet contacted him.
“I went in telling them exactly what I wanted and what the other two dealerships had told me,” Tim says. “They had the car in stock, but they wanted more money down to get me to the payment I wanted. So after three tries, I went home with my pride in shambles, defeated, befuddled and confused.”
The next week, Tim started getting packages in the mail from companies like Capital One Finance and Road Loans.
“They asked for copies of several things,” Tim says. “They needed copies of bills in my name, my social security card, driver’s license, apartment lease and paycheck stubs. It took four or five days for them to get back to me. They came back with a 17% interest rate over 72 months. Obviously, that was a no for me.”
“After four attempts, I gave up,” Tim says. “They ran my credit about six or more times in four places and at the time, I didn’t know it hurt my credit score.”
“So for now, I will keep driving the Impala,” Tim says. “I decided to rent a new house instead, which right now is a bigger priority.”
“I kind of knew a lot of the bumps I hit would happen,” he says. “I should have tried to secure financing through a credit union first. I knew what I wanted for a car and monthly payment. I’m stubborn. I had my mind set.”
“It’s a numbers game. It has to go one way or the other and I didn’t want to change my criteria. So right now, I will wait to buy my new car unless someone can get me where I want to be.”
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