Motoring Adventures in Car Buying


Code Monkey
Staff member
After 15 years of driving my 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee across 240,000 miles it was time for a change. It could survive for a few more years, and it will, but it was time to get something newer.

Apparently things are a bit different since the last time I bought a car. :coffee:

Buying cars in the past I am used to the negotiation dance that would take place between the buyer and the salesman. With the salesman I would be able to negotiate a price, negotiate what extras I could get thrown into the deal, and he (or she) would act as the main point of contact with the dealership. Except for working out with the loan officer the specifics of the financing, everything else was done through the salesman. Not anymore it would seem. Today it seems that the role of the salesman is more or less a concierge to guide the buyer through the process of buying a car.

Thanks to the internet I had no need to even talk to the salesman until I had narrowed down which exact vehicles I was interested. Sites like allowed me to find out who had the vehicles I was interested in and the pricing. Pictures, and often videos, of the cars are abundant and the need for walking around the lot looking at different cars wasn't needed at all. The VIN number is now freely available on the car listing sites so I was able to use to get the history of the vehicles before even seeing them in person. No more placing trust in the salesman telling you that the vehicle is in perfect shape that was only driven by a little old lady on Sundays, the history of the vehicle including when & where it was serviced was instantly available. Even most of the dealers own web sites include free CarFax reports and/or Auto Check reports. Thanks to fan sites and forums dedicated to particular brands, Jeep in my case, I was able find out what features were or weren't available on a particular vehicle I was looking at and I was able to speak directly with owners to get their real-world experience and their views on the quality of the vehicles. Essentially by the time I stepped onto the dealer lot I was at the point where I was ready to talk numbers.

After telling the salesman what vehicles I was interested in seeing in person, and indicating that I was already familiar with them, he handed over the keys to them, put on some plates, and I was free to take them out for a drive. He wouldn't be along for the drive, when I was done he only asked that I let him know when I was back. Talk about trust! It was good though because driving a vehicle on your own is a bit different from driving a vehicle and having a salesman talking endlessly next to you. I narrowed my choice down to two vehicles so I brought my wife back on a second visit to get her opinions & input and the choice was made, time to negotiate.

But... the salesman doesn't negotiate the price apparently. No, when it comes to talking about the price of the vehicle it was time to go talk to the finance manager. Now the finance manager doesn't care what the salesman has said or indicated, all he knows and is concerned about is the profit margin on the sale. So what about throwing some extras in, like an extended warranty? No, no can do, the finance manager doesn't have anything to do with that, for stuff like that I'd have to go see the warranty manager and work out a price with him. So I work out a price for the actual vehicle with the finance manager and am handed back to the salesman who then has to go to his sales manager. It is the sales manager, it seems, who runs the credit reports and gets the interest rates. Those numbers might change though if I elect to get a warranty. OK, so we start the paperwork and arrange for me to come in after the weekend. In the meantime I talk to the warranty manager and see what my options are and pricing.

Back to the dealer a few days later to pick up the vehicle and, whoops, all the paperwork has to be redone because I opted to roll an extended warranty into the financing. About 30 minutes later the salesman says we are ready to finish up so back to the warranty manager. The warranty manager then goes over the warranty and proceeds to do all of the paperwork and walk me through the document signing to finalize the sale. Wait, wouldn't be that something the finance manager would be doing? Or the sales manager? :cautious: After signing more document to buy a car then it did to buy a house the warranty manager takes me back to the salesman. Finally we're done, yay, I can leave! The salesman walks me out the door and says to make sure that I give him a call if I have any questions/problems and, hey, if I refer any other customers his way I can get a pre-paid cash card. Wait... what exactly did he do again as opposed to all the research I did myself on the internet? :thinking:

Here's the new "Kevin Mobile", a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee.


Oh, and the old Kevin Mobile? That will be put to good use by giving it to a family member that could use a nice 4x4 to get them through a few more Pennsylvania winters. Their own vehicle was recently a victim of an icy road that caused them spin out and end up in a ditch; they were fine but the car was totaled by the insurance company. By giving them my old 4x4 they can use it until they've saved up for the car they really want, or until my old 4x4 literally falls apart. Whichever comes first :LOL:


An Old Friend
Nice story!
I usually buy old cars from individual people. I like having title in hand and since I was a mechanic for 30 years I'm not one to get dupped into a lemon. The car that might drive me to break my tradition would be the 69 GTO.
If I were to finance any car it would probably be a Mini Cooper (Just love those little guys).
My dream car is a 68 Caddilac Hearse customized party wagon on a 4x4 chassis pulling a custom casket trailer converted to a ice chest & kegger.

For Reference, Think This...

On This chassis with bigger tires...




Maybe Someday...


Code Monkey
Staff member
If I were to finance any car it would probably be a Mini Cooper (Just love those little guys).
OK, I have to admit, I never would've guessed a Mini for you! I really like the new Mini models, especially the Mini Cooper Countryman with the 4WD, but my problem is my size.... I'm 6'3" and built like an NFL linebacker. Me trying to get in & out of a Mini is like watching the clowns at a circus pile out of an old VW Bug. :LOL: When it came time for car shopping I was going back & forth between looking at used Grand Cherokee models or a new Cherokee (the new smaller "Cherokee" that just came out) and in the end it was a lot cheaper for me to go with the user Grand Cherokee while getting a huge amount of cabin space. The new Cherokee models are nice, and I would've loved the Trailhawk model, but I would've been cramped inside.

My dream car is a 68 Caddilac Hearse customized party wagon on a 4x4 chassis pulling a custom casket trailer converted to a ice chest & kegger.
:rock: Have you ever caught the show "Counting Cars" on cable? The owner shares the same taste in cars and has had Elvira on with her Caddy from her old TV show.