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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Okay you've got Element fever and you want a new one - which at the time of this post is a 2006 (see my previous thread on 05 vs 06 pros and cons which applies to any year-end purchase decision). Here's my proven strategy on how to get your best price. Think of this as a periodic post to help you get the best deal. Remember, car dealers sell dozens if not hundreds of cars each month. YOU buy ONE every few years. Who do you think has the upper hand and advantage in this picture?

To begin, AVOID going to the circus atmosphere of the dealership as an "up" (a customer about to be pounced on when he innocently walks on to the lot) except to make your decisions on exactly what you want. In fact if you must go, do this at a dealer you are sure you won't buy from if possible. I like to do it at the high priced margin dealerships that would never meet my price, just to get back at them for being rippers. They think I'm a stroke - a time waster that will never buy, and because of their policy of making too much on each vehicle (imho), they are right. They'd call me a stroke, but I call them a rip. :D Again, don't go cold into a dealership except to decide what you want.

Once you are positive what you want, my strategy then is to use the FAX BLAST METHOD. You simply fax the Sales Managers of as many Honda dealerships as you can and YOU TELL THEM exactly how much you are willing to pay - it is most important that YOU SET THE PRICE and not waste time fishing for their best price or a quote, also specify the exact color and model you want and make it clear you are ready to buy NOW. You also include the following wording: "I am ready to buy TODAY! Please don't waste your time or mine trying to bump me on the price. We both know you could probably eventually sell one of these to someone else for more than I am willing to pay, but why not sell BOTH of us and roll another unit today?" Some of this is car dealer lingo so use those exact words in the last part. The important point here is that you don't fax, email or call around for quotes. Quotes will always be too high and you risk getting into ego based power struggles with the person giving you their price, which can mean that someone that might have met your price if you were just civil, calm and stated one time what you are willing to pay and stuck to it, will get emotional watching his profits get cut down and down and just refuse to sell you anything at all! Again, you state to them exactly what you are willing to pay. YOU must control the pricing! If you're shopping around by attempting to get a dealer's best quote, you will usually end up paying more than you have to and you will likely have gone through lots of back and forth frustration! Why put yourself through that?

By popular request, I've added what your fax or email should say:
Good morning (or afternoon or evening), it's a wonderful day to sell some vehicles! I'm a buyer for a 2008 Honda Element EX AWD, blah blah blah (exact model, color, transmission option, etc). My research shows me your dealer invoice price on this vehicle including destination is $20,xxx.xx. I am ready to buy one today at $19,xxx.xx plus tax and license. If you would like to move another Element please call me at (your phone number). i am ready to buy TODAY! Please don't waste your time or mine trying to bump me on the price. We both know that you could probably eventually sell one of these to someone else for more than I am willing to pay, but why not sell BOTH of us and roll another unit today? Sincerely, Smart Buyer (phone number and or email address again)
Sometimes you can deal with fleet and internet people and get a comparable deal by email or on the phone but remember sales managers can do house deals (no commissions to anyone working there) and of course they make the ultimate decision on how little profit is enough, based on what their ownership has mandated. So, why not go direct to the source? Remember if you try doing this over the phone or by email that it is still important that YOU tell them the exact price you want to pay. DON'T ask them to give you their best price! If they tell you they can't sell it that low, which they usually do, just say, "Well, I'm ready to buy one TODAY. Here's my phone number if you decide you want to sell me one for this price. We both know that you could probably find a customer to pay more, but why not sell BOTH of us and roll another unit?"

Eventually a dealer somewhere will meet your price if there is a profit in it and the supply is not outweighed by the demand. How much should you try for? Well, I believe $300 under their total dealer invoice price (not msrp!) including destination is a fair deal but I always try for $500 under - if there are incentives (money back to the dealer from Honda - add that amount in). It will be a little tougher to get this with the first few shipments of a new model year or for a brand new, first year model of an in demand vehicle (the old supply and demand equation) but once all the dealers are plentifully stocked up it is definitely doable! Remember too that though we are excited about the E, to the sales manager, fleet and internet manager it's just another unit he is paid to move off the lot and make a profit on. Plus, they have dozens of other Honda models and the E is not their best seller. Avoid showing excited emotions about your purchase until you are driving off the lot. If they sense you are hopelessly smitten, you will pay for it at some point in the transaction! Also, never mention you have a trade-in until you've got a firm price commitment on the new vehicle. Trading almost always means you will get less than you could if you sold it yourself but I understand that some people just don't want to hassle with it. I've sold lots of cars on eBay, Auto Trader or Cars.com with good results but I've also traded in a few too. When I did, I never mentioned my trade until I had a firm deal at my price on the new vehicle. Early in the transaction if they asked if I would be trading, I've just mentioned I would probably be selling it myself. Just an fyi: Car dealerships make way more profit on used vehicles than new ones!

One more tip: Carefully read over http://www.carbuyingtips.com for discussions on the pitfalls of buying a new car. BEWARE when you are signing the papers in the "lie-nance" manager's office!! That's when all your diligent efforts to secure your great deal can come crashing down in a few moments! My personal philosophy is don't buy anything extra, ever - though I wouldn't quibble over mud guards and wheel locks for less than a hundred bucks! Even Honda brand extended warranties can usually be had for less online, though i would never get one of these myself, mostly because i never keep a vehicle for longer than three years.

A few final points: DEALER FEES. In their never ending, creative way to pad their profits, some dealers have what they call "documentation" (or some other made up name) fees as high as $300 or more dollars. NO! I think that up to $50 might be fair but anything over that and it's time to find another dealer unless they agree not to charge them - which I've seen them do lots of time. I would also be okay with paying from $50 to $100 extra if they have to do a dealer trade (depending on the distance) and have to go pick it up at another dealer's store for you. Always beware of transit damage by the way! Don't assume because it is new that it's not had damage. This can happen on trucks or trains during transit or during dealer trades. I always look it over closely when I take delivery and even ask, "Has this vehicle had any transit damage?"

GOOD LUCK and happy motoring in your new E!

Click here to read my 2006 EXP buying experience, which I got for $500 under dealer invoice the first few weeks it came out.

Read this thread too! Very helpful!

PSS - I reluctantly parted with my EX-P on August 19, 2006 - ten months to the day from when I bought it. I sold it for $600 under what I paid for it (minus my extras) - which reinforces the old adage that you make your money on something when you BUY it:
http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=26294
I did however buy my THIRD E recently (pictured in my sig) and will ALWAYS be in da club! ;-)
 

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We used this method when we bought our VW Jetta a few years ago - faxed to about 8 dealers within the distance we were willing to drive, said exactly what we wanted, and informed them that we'd contacted multiple dealerships and would buy from whomever gave us the best price for what we wanted. (I like that better than giving a number off the bat - if you give your "bottom line" off the bat you can't wiggle under it, and you can bet that they will try to bargain above it - even with faxes).

We faxed back and forth for a while with the dealership we ended up buying from - which irritated them. It's difficult for them to feel you out without person to person contact. But once we'd established that this dealer was most reasonable, had what we wanted, etc., we began to phone and really all went quite well.
 

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joeBoxer said:
my personal philosophy is don't buy anything extra, ever! even extended warranties can be had for less online, though i would never get one of these myself.
why?

i was thinking of buying one myself...is it just that the likelihood of spending $1,000 on repairs in the next 5/yrs is not that great? I guess Honda is reliable (I’ve had 2 GM trucks since I turned 16, 7 years ago, so $1k in repairs doesn’t seem outlandish)...but if something huge happens, i could not afford a big bill (I’m a grad student)...although I can afford a financed 6yr/100,000 $0 deduct. extended warranty...
 

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nathan said:
why?

i was thinking of buying one myself...is it just that the likelihood of spending $1,000 on repairs in the next 5/yrs is not that great? I guess Honda is reliable (I’ve had 2 GM trucks since I turned 16, 7 years ago, so $1k in repairs doesn’t seem outlandish)...but if something huge happens, i could not afford a big bill (I’m a grad student)...although I can afford a financed 6yr/100,000 $0 deduct. extended warranty...
He meant "don't buy anything extra from the dealer".

All the accessories can be found online for cheaper, and even extended warranty can be purchased online (hondawarrantyinfo.com).
 

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johnqh said:
He meant "don't buy anything extra from the dealer".

All the accessories can be found online for cheaper, and even extended warranty can be purchased online (hondawarrantyinfo.com).
i still think he meant he wouldnt specifically buy an extended warranty online either...perhaps you're right tho...
 

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nathan said:
i still think he meant he wouldnt specifically buy an extended warranty online either...perhaps you're right tho...
well, whether to buy the extended warranty is an individual decision. my opinion is everything has a price which people are willing to pay.

if the 8/120k warranty is available for $100, i am sure even joeboxer would jump on it. ;)

so, go online, find the best price, and then decide yourself whether it is worth it.
 

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Let's not turn this into a "warranty vs. no warranty" thread. If you want to know about warranties, search. The subject has beed discussed in length.

Nice advice joeboxer. I didn't bargain real hard on my E but next time I certainly will.

MikeyG
 

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Discussion Starter #8
re: Extended Warranties. ONLY if you are CERTAIN you will keep your vehicle the entire time of your warranty extension period AND if you shop around and buy it after the sale to assure you get the best price. I believe that Consumers Reports did a study and eventually came out on the side of passing on extended warranties. Search around on Google and the carbuyingtips.com site to read the pros and cons.

Personally I would never get one because up til now I've never kept a vehicle longer than three years and 36k miles - which of course has given me lots of experience buying new vehicles. Even the great E I have now will probably be replaced by another E down the road.
 

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You can shop for an extended warranty after your purchase but if you make a reasonable offer most dealer will take it.

The nice thing about getting it at the dealer is that you can roll it into your payments if you do not have the clams to shellout to purchase it elsewhere. You do pay for this somewhat.

Educate yourself... know what the warranty is worth... lets face it, the dealer is there to make $. By purchasing it there you roll it into the loan and control your cost and they make a few (reasonable) dollars. Just do not let them step on you in the process.

Good luck to all.
HUTMO
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Hutmo said:
You can shop for an extended warranty after your purchase but if you make a reasonable offer most dealer will take it. The nice thing about getting it at the dealer is that you can roll it into your payments if you do not have the clams to shellout to purchase it elsewhere. You do pay for this somewhat. Educate yourself... know what the warranty is worth... lets face it, the dealer is there to make $. By purchasing it there you roll it into the loan and control your cost and they make a few (reasonable) dollars. Just do not let them step on you in the process.
HUTMO
good point about being able to roll it into your payments but you also then are paying interest on the warranty. this will usually only work if you know before hand the best price you can get on a HONDACARE warranty (otherwise they will say they are not the same and try and get you that way). there are a few dealers online that sell Honda warrantys at a discount AND if you print out and take their quote with you when you are signing the papers, then I would agree that most dealers probably would match it. if not, don't buy it from them. at some point being able to roll the price into your payment won't be worth it if you are paying tons more.
 

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Since Joeboxer's post mentioned "you want a 06" in his first sentense, this whole discussion about extended warranty is even less relavent.

The 06 has 5 year powertrain warranty (bumper to bumper is still 3 year), so it is less likely that you find the need for the extended one.

Also, read the warranty booklet carefully. The coverages for different parts are different depending on the state.

going back the original topic of purchasing, i want to add one point: when it is time to make the down payment after everything else is negociated, take out your cash-back credit card. it costs the dealer 3% (even higher for AMEX) to process the card, that translates to $100 for a $3000 down payment. They will not like it. Use this to negociate some free accessories.
 

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Johnqh

That's a new one for me..
The Credit card trick...
I'll Try that out..
My luck they'll call my bluff and I'll be driving home
my New Element..!!!

But hey that is what I'm there for......

Just waiting to see the 06 painted panels in person...

So I will be trying out some of these idea's
So keep the suggestions coming....

Ron D
 

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Some dealers won't take credit cards because of the 3% fees or will only do so much per day. The last vehicle I purchased would not take it for the full amount, and since I don't keep my checkbook on me (and never thought I'd need it, since I use my credit card for everything) they let me take the car but I had to come back on Monday with a check. They only do up to $1000 on a card, and they won't do split transactions either.

It made no sense to me, since obviously they take more than $1000 in the _Service_ department and would accept a credit card there.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
it's simple really. the margin in the service dept is HUGE. on new car sales they sometime only make 3%.
 

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My fiancee and I went to a dealership yesterday to look at the Kiwi Green in the full sunlight. While we were walking around looking at some of the used E's, a salesman came bopping along to chat with us.

I have been reading up, particularly this very thread I am posting in, and I have to say that the advice given here is ACCURATE. I have never felt so well-armed going into a dealership. I already knew interest rates and where I'm getting my fianancing, when I am going to buy, what I am going to buy, and I had just a few basic questions about the E. The sad part about it was that I know more about the E than that poor salesman.

Thanks so much for all the advice posted. When we go in a few weeks to get my new E, I'll be armed to the teeth and ready for anything, all thanks to you folks!
 

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thanks for all the great advice. I followed much of it, got several great quotes and am putting a small deposit down tomorrow (by credit card of course! ) so they can locate the one I want- What a difference from the last time I bought a vehicle! keep your fingers crossed they can find my Kiwi 4WD LX 5SP out there in the wilds of New England...

RI Red
 

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Discussion Starter #17
i'm glad it was helpful and congrats on apparently getting your new E soon, but i get at least a little concerned when i read, "i got a lot of great quotes" when one of the main points i suggest is that YOU TELL THEM the price you want to pay in order to stay in control of the pricing.

as i pointed out earlier, USUALLY when you ask for quotes you end up paying more and at the least you will have to engage in lots more dickering and unpleasant negotiations. you can avoid that hassle but stating what you will pay, from the beginning and staying in control of the price.
 

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joeBoxer said:
i'm glad it was helpful and congrats on apparently getting your new E soon, but i get at least a little concerned when i read, "i got a lot of great quotes" when one of the main points i suggest is that YOU TELL THEM the price you want to pay in order to stay in control of the pricing.

as i pointed out earlier, USUALLY when you ask for quotes you end up paying more and at the least you will have to engage in lots more dickering and unpleasant negotiations. you can avoid that hassle but stating what you will pay, from the beginning and staying in control of the price.

actually the viable quotes I got were at or under the one I worked up using your advice and the new car buying guide spreadsheet...but this was after several e mails back and forth, from dealers that seem like they have actual Internet sales departments. They were really pretty good. Only one dealer seemed unable to get something relatively useful to talk about via the internet.

RI Red
 

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I got my 06 4WD-EX-P AT in Kiwi Green for 20,895. plus tax and lic. We had some trouble with the 1st dealer and walked out. The 2nd dealer had us in and out in less than one hour! The fax/e-mail blast really works here in Los Angeles!

I rated the dealerships on YELP a San Francisco based web rating service. PG-13 language was used for one of them so I won't repost them here. hahahaha
http://jaychan.yelp.com
 

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But .. But ... but Joe this is ONE Of the many emails that I get back when I follow the plan, this one is from Autoway Honda

"I regret to inform you that we cannot entertain your offer at this time.
We do appreciate the opportunity.

Best wishes,

Gabe Kovacs"


K
 
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