First published on 20 May 2011. Updated on 29 Jun 2012.
For many gay men buying a new car is like experimenting with a woman.
It's an experience that may only come around once in a lifetime and as curious as we might be about the mechanics of the transaction, we would ultimately like it over and done with as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Unfortunately cars salesmen have other ideas and like to lace the ordeal with a minefield of trappings that can see you getting shafted - and not in the way we like.
My recent car buying experience proved this theory to be true, however throwing some spirit fingers into a few Google searches on the topic before the big day armed me with a few tips that proved to be extremely valuable for the showdown.
Once you have decided what car you and Rob Lowe will be driving through Sydney in, research the be-Jesus out of it. Read every review, rant and rave about the model so that you walk into the dealer knowing as much about the car as they do. Be sure to casually drop in a few statistics about the car when you're speaking with the dealer so they realise you didn't come off the last Liza tour bus, but rather totally schooled up on the car of your dreams. This gives you an instant level playing field.
Ink Jet power
Print off as many online price quotations as you can find and bring them to the table. These will come in handy when you sit down to actually nut down the final price.
State your business
Car sales men have a perverse six sense, and can pick up on a whiff of indecision faster than Whitney can do five lines between numbers. It's vital to remain cool, calm and cocky. You both want to be the top in this relationship so don't so much as bend over to tie your shoelace or it's over. Tell the dealer that you are at the stage of deciding between this car and a similar model by another manufacturer and it's all about to come down to one thing - the best price.
Bend them over
No matter what anyone tells you, everything is negotiable. A recommended retail price of $15990 is just that, recommended. You should be able to knock a minimum of $1000 off this tag but aim for about $1800 off and work from there. You will have to pull the ultimate Gaga inspired poker face to pull it off, but pulling off is something we as a people do remarkable well so go for broke.
So you have talked prices and have now decided upon an agreed amount. The dealer will tell you that you're killing him with this price. Allow him his Academy Award winning performance and reply with "I still think you could have done better' which immediately sticks his martyrdom where it belongs.
The 3 rule checklist
Write down the following three points, print them out and take them to the table. Run through each one of the following points and tick them off with the dealer verbally to begin with and then in written form throughout the contract. Do not sign anything until these points are noted in your sales contract.
1. Does the ‘Drive Away' price include the following?
a) stamp duty
c) CTP insurance
d) dealer delivery
It should include all of these points, which means you pay nothing more than the agreed price of the car. Not a brass razoo.
2) What type of warranty comes with the car?
Is it parts and labour? And which dealerships will honour this warranty over the next three years? Don't get locked into the one dealer as it could have turned into a brothel in three years. Ideally you should be able to take the car to a number of dealers to get serviced so that it's convenient for you.
3) The contract should state that the car is brand new.
If they don't have the stock on the showroom floor they will need to order it in.
At this point the dealer will add a written component in the contract that states ‘delivery within 7 to 10 days'. People have been stung here before and waited up to six months for a car. I don't think so!
The only way to ensure this does not happen to you is to get the dealer to include the following statement into the clause "This contract is based on the above mentioned car being delivered within 7 to 10 days or the sale is void without penalty and the refund is returned in full by the 11th day of this contract at the latest."
Once all is agreed upon, be sure to leave no more than a $500 deposit if the car is under $30,000. Don't feel at all uncomfortable about calling the dealer ship a few time before the cars due date, to check on its progress.
Yes, it seems that buying a new car should be a wonderful experience, but unfortunately thanks to the way many dealerships are run, the experience has become one that requires you to be wise to every trick in the car-buying book.