Car buying advice - Honda Fit Sport

I call upon the collected wisdom of QT3! Please guide my actions so I appear to not be a complete newb to the evil car salesman.

So, the story so far: My wife and I just got a fantastically cute dog, and after having lived for a long time in Boston without a car, we’ve decided to take the plunge and buy sometime to get our pup around in. We’ve been using zipcar for the last few years, but now we seem to be using a car too often for it to be economical.

I’ve looked at a few options so far:

Buy a used car through carmax. They have a nice fit sport with 9K miles for $15K + tax/title/etc. Total price for the car would be about $16.5K (there’s a transport fee to get the car from where it is to nearby so I can get it that adds $299.) The good thing about carmax is that I wouldn’t have to haggle. The bad is that I might be able to get a better deal if I was an awesome haggler - but neither my wife nor I am skilled in the fine art.

Buy through a dealer. I went to our closest dealer today, and got a “walk off the lot” price of 17.8K. This supposedly includes tax/title/etc. I got a huge talk about how the fit isn’t marked up much, so they can’t knock anything off. Having cash on hand (we plan to buy the entire car outright) doesn’t make a difference to them, and they didn’t seem to have any other discounts/etc. However, they say “Hey, just make us an offer, we might take it.”, which means “you’re paying too much if you pay what we ask, but we’re not going to tell you what’s reasonable. Let the games begin!”

Buy used through a 3rd party. All the prices here are competitive with carmax, or are worse. I assume they want me to haggle it down by some amount, but I have no idea what that amount really is…

I’m planning on getting quotes for “off the lot” prices from other dealers to set my expectations. What else should I do? Is carmax ok, or should I really try and do the dealer? Is it worth paying the extra 1.25K-1.5K for the car to be new instead of used? I actually like the 2007 fit better than the 2009…

Thanks for any advice, masterful mind of QT3.

You really don’t have to be an awesome haggler right now. You just have to be willing to buy a car.

Watch this video. Do what it says. Works really well.

We just bought a Mazda5 about a month ago and I followed the advice in the video fairly closely. I got the names of the 15 closest dealers and started calling them up.

I said I want to buy a Mazda5 in one of these three colors today and I have financing set up and I’m calling all the area dealers to get the best price. I really didn’t get hassles from people…everybody was eager to give me a good deal.

In my experience with buying a lot of cars over the years, Honda is very very difficult to deal/haggle with. On the other hand, they have finally had a losing quarter so maybe that will change. A lot of this happens because Honda has the lowest inventory of all the major manufacturers which means that they don’t usually need to move inventory to save money.

I don’t like buying used cars because reliability is number one for me, and you don’t know how a used car has been driven and maintained. Other people will only buy used cars. It’s an individual thing I guess.

Funny, I did see that video last night, and that’s why I’m contacting dealers all this week to get “off the lot” prices.

Seriously, why do tiny cars cost so much money these days? For 16 grand, I’d get a nice Audi A4 Estate and not a shopping cart!

A certified used vehicle can save you thousands of dollars and would probably be a good choice. A certified 2006 or 2007 model will probably even have some warranty left, and the dealerships usually give you a bit of a warranty as well.

Going with a manual transmission for the Fit looks like it would save you $800 dollars… Having driven my friend’s 2007 standard (manual transmission) Fit, I can tell you it’s a very peppy car, as well as economical.

Check Kelly Blue Book used car prices to see what a dealer should be offering, and try to get them to lower the price to that point as far as possible. A dealer telling you that the price has already been shaved and they can’t go any lower is feeding you bullshit, because the number one rule of the dealer is to treat every single customer as if they’re a club-toting moron… and they’re right a majority of the time when it comes to cars.

$17.8k seems wildly overpriced for the Fit, but MA has higher taxes than NC so I’m guessing there’s a bit of bloat that’s included in the price. It’s possible that you can find a cheaper buy in the states surrounding MA.

As linked above, that video pretty much wraps up the technique perfectly. I would add that if you do find what appears to be a good deal, or a car you really really want, so not show them that you are excited. Show them that you are skeptical at every step of the way, but at the same time you don’t want to look like a “tire kicker” that’s never going to buy the car. Make that salesman realize that you are not going to be interested in paying thousands of dollars out the ass on top of the invoice price.

The video also mentions extras and it’s right. Fancy sound systems, head units, alloy wheels, and all that bullshit is cheaper outside of the dealership. A car should only be bought with a couple of basic stock options… air conditioning and power windows. That’s it.

Assuming you’re talking about a an '07 or newer, this will never happen in the US.

How about '05?


You’re buying a car so you can drive your dog around?

Given I can’t teleport him from Boston to the Cape to take him to the beach where my wife’s parents live, yeah, we’re buying a car just to drive the dog around. He told me to, and I MUST OBEY.

The other issue is that in the US, Audis aren’t cheap to have repaired, whereas anyone and everyone can fix a Honda and do it inexpensively. The Honda will also retain value much longer than the Audi, which might be a consideration for a lot of people.

And has Audi fixed the horrendous quality issues that they had throughout the 80s and early 90s? I know that I would be very nervous relying on a high-mileage Audi, whereas the Honda would never make me think twice.

I have never purchased a car from Carmax so can’t speak to the quality of the cars or their after-sales service but I have spoken with them on two seperate occasions while buying a car and am convinced that their ‘no negotiation’ thing is just a method for them to extract cash from you faster and not waste time having you reduce their margins. Any benefits to the customer are imagined.

Buying a used car is just fine if that’s what you want. There’s never a guarantee that a new car will be trouble free (though it will obviously have a full warrenty). While bying used certainly introduces risk you can use stuff like carfax reports and the vehicle’s service history to boost your confidence in it. Above all, if in douibt, walk away.

We drive in a city for 90% of our driving needs, and we want something small, easy to park, with good fuel efficiency and high reliability. If money was no object, I’d have an BMW M3. The fit actually is quite roomy inside, and can carry all the crap we desire to carry. I don’t care about going super fast, off the line numbers, etc. I’ll save that for my midlife crisis…:)

Car to drive the dog around, house on the beach… You’re in the target demographic for a bigass Dodge RAM, and not a teenyweeny Fit!

Audis are awesome. I’ve had less problems with VWAG cars than with any Toyota, Benz or BMW I’ve owned.

And speaking of Honda, the only thing I can tell you is that a friend of mine has a '03 Civic VTI he bought new, and that thing is rattling, the engine has been smoking for years, the dashboard plastics are all scratched… And for the money it cost, it’s overpriced. It has no TC, no proper aircon, seats feel like camping seats (and this is supposed to be the back-then performance model), steering is oversensitive, the alarm stopped working after a few months from buying it and the Honda dealer wasn’t able to fix it…

And speaking of repairing, I bought a windshield for an Opel Astra G I used to have (I think that’s a Saturn in the US) for about €250. My friend’s Honda has a chip in the windshield he got from a truck, and the quote from Honda was €600.

Apart from that, I want to marry the Civic for it’s awesome engine sound! I actually made him some piping to accomodate his open air cleaner inside the front bumber. Sounds like a real car! Shame it has zero torque, though.

I was looking at possibly getting a new car recently (I decided not too though) and was initially considering the Fit. I got the same thing from the dealer, that they couldn’t reduce the price much. However the Civic they were much more eager to make a deal on. Right off the bat the salesman offered $2500 off and it was putting the Civic in around the same price range as the Fit. You might want to consider looking at the Civic, it’s considerably more car and might only be a couple thousand more.

Actually, from the current lineup of BMWs, I’d rather take the awesome 135 coupé.

Off topic, cos I’m a nerd, but the G wasn’t sold in the US. The H is though, and as you’ve noted it’s badged as a Saturn.

The G was a great car.

Yeah, it was ok, but ultimately I swapped it for a Toyota MR2. It felt too much like a rental car to me. No character. I had the 2.0 16V model, btw, and it was quite fast for only having 136 horses. My friend’s Civic wasn’t much faster than the Astra when we did a bit of a race on the motorway. In the twisty stuff, the Astra was actually faster, as is to be expected with it having a bit more torque. I’d get a G again, as they’re dirt cheap right now. You just have to find one without a broken exhaust manifold, without worn 2nd gear synchro, and a board computer/radio that hasn’t got 80% of broken pixels.

Wasn’t there an American (and much better looking) version of the G Coupé Turbo?

I used to have a pretty nice Calibra Turbo. I can tell you more about it if you want :)