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Used Cars/buying a car long distance


Hi, I live in Shreveport, La. and I've found a
2006 Subaru Outback in Dallas, TX that a
used car dealer has listed for $9,997. I went
to Edmunds , Kelly blue book, and NADA
guides, and got an average total trade in
value of $6,887. I Googled this dealer trying
to find customer reviews and try and
determine what his reputation is and
yellowpages , yelp, etc. have "glowing"
reviews praising them and when you read
these reviews its obvious that most of the
reviews had to have originated from the
dealer themselves. Of the very few negative
reviews the customers said that the dealer
doesn't come off the sticker price; doesn't
haggle. Besides asking what would be the
best way to negotiate the price down closer
to the middle of his sticker price and my
average wholesale, or trade-in figure, and, if
we did meet at a mutual figure, how do I
secure the vehicle until I come to dallas to
test drive and have it inspectoed by a
mechanic? If I give the dealer a small
deposit before I leave Shreveport and make
the purchase contingent on the outcome of
the inspection and satisfaction with the test
drive, will I be able to get my deposit back if
I'm not satisfied with the vehicle? I'll be
paying cash and I'll have to take a
greyhound bus to Dallas and then a taxi to
the dealers lot because I dont have a car or
anyone to drive me there. I wont indulge
these things until if/when we agree on a
figure. I know the carfax and autocheck
reports are only as good as what was
reported but the carfax for this particular car
has the best service history of all of the cars
I showed an interest in. Please forgive me for
this lengthy post but I'm at a huge
disadvantage being without a ride and I want
to be able to buy the car the same day I get
there. I thank you your advice with this.

Hi Patrick,

I appreciate the time and effort you put into your question… I'm sorry I didn't get back to you with the answer sooner but I have been traveling this past week.

It's funny you should mention that reviews sounded as though they were written by the dealer this is a topic that was being discussed in a trade journal I recently read warning dealers that the attorney general's in various states are starting to crack down on fake reviews calling them unfair trade practices and suing dealers who did it.

I have never met a dealer wasn't willing to negotiate something in a deal, however I have met dealers who use pricing strategies for their online sales that are extremely aggressive in order to make their phone ring and get rid of cars. What I would do is call the dealer's Internet department (which is the department most notorious for giving cars away for little or no profit) tell them you are interested in the vehicle and would like to make an offer. If they are asking 9995 and you would like to buy it for 8500 then you offer 7500. Don't feel bad when they turn down your offer the whole idea behind making a lowball offer like that is to adjust their thinking and not because you think they will actually sell the car that cheap. Usually the Internet manager will tell you you make your offer that they are one price only store or not and if you are talking about something like a new Scion … Then there dealer agreement forbids them from negotiating the price at all. If the dealer is willing to negotiate the price to a point where you are comfortable and able to feel like you have paid a fair price…. Then don't buy it. Thank you for this time and tell him that's more than you are willing to pay for that car. Dealers make mistakes when they purchased vehicles just like everybody else and sometimes we buy a car when we get back to the store we discover it needs a lot of expensive repairs we hadn't anticipated and we find ourselves buried in some of our cars as a result… He may be saying no because of his mistake not yours.

If you are able to come to a meeting of the minds on the price with a dealer outside your local area then tell him you want to put a deposit down on the vehicle to hold it until you can get there take delivery. Given credit card and offer him more than $500. Then ask him to memorialize your agreement by faxing or e-mailing you a purchase order with the information on it signed by him and tell him you will sign it on your end and send it back. If you don't have a signed purchase order then you haven't really thought anything yet and if somebody were to walk in the next day before picked it up was willing to pay more than you are paying some dealers would forget about you and sell the car for more. On the purchase order make sure you write…

”Subject to vehicle being as described and satisfactory test drive”

Which will leave you although wiggle room in the world should you change your mind. You should also not hesitate to ask the Internet manager to take as many pictures as you need of every part of car you are interested in seeing you don't have to settle for the pictures On the dealer's website only

I hope this information helps if you have any follow-up questions feel free to ask away. My personal e-mail which goes directly to my cell phone is I am with you on this until you are completely satisfied and are able to confidently give me perfect 10’s on my ratings and maximum bonus points!!

Thank you for the question it's a good one!

The Car Guy

Used Cars

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Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. CHECK OUT MY WEBSITE AT


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Experts360, Atheneum Partners, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

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Willamette University - Salem Oregon BA Economics Willamette University Graduate School of Business - Econometrics Statistics

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