Buying a new car is so traumatic

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Buying a new car is so traumatic

Seven years is about the most you should expect to keep a car because cars are made to fall apart to help generate more profits for the automobile industry. They don’t make them to last any more. There’s just too much money at stake for the auto industry CEOs and robber barons. I spent weeks looking for a car and found one I liked, but went through hell at one dealership, Hawkinson, finally finding total satisfaction at another dealership, Zeigler. I’m glad I’m finally through it.

By Ray Hanania

Ray HananiaI hate buying a new car, but I don’t have much choice.

They are outrageously expensive and the dealerships put so much effort into finding ways to profit off of your ignorance that it’s painful to experience.

My wife and I walked into several dealerships this past week to check out a few cars. The one I have is passing 7 years and I figure I should get rid of it before something happens.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a “foreign made” or “American made” car because all cars are both, these days. It used to be simple. It could be a really American made Chevrolet, rather than a foreign made Toyota. These days, it’s not so clear.

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Cars are not made to last long. Cars are made to make the manufacturers a lot of money. Why else are the CEOs of the automotive companies among the nation’s richest people?

The pearl white Nissan Murano I fell in love with at Hawkinson, was yanked from me as I was sitting down trying to buy it from the salesman. Test drove. Found it (way in the back), and had my own car evaluated for a trade-in. But it still didn’t matter. Fortunately Zeigler was able to help me salvage my sanity. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

There are three things you have to keep in mind when buying a car. The dealer prices are high because they expect you to negotiate them down. So, even if the sticker price says one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s the bottom line.

But those three factors are important. First, how much are you hoping to spend on a car? Second, how much of that will be cash and how much will be a loan? And most importantly of all, how much do you expect on your trade-in, if, like most people you have a car you want to unload.

Sure, you can sell the car to someone in the public and make money by charging more. That’s what the dealership is going to do. But for you, it’s tougher. They send their trade-ins to a wholesaler that auctions them off to buyers who run smaller lots.

The first thing the dealership will do once you pick a car you like is offer you a price.  Make sure it includes ALL of the costs like the taxes you will pay and other fees that might exist.

Tell them you want that total cost, something they will hesitate to offer. Write it down when you talk because when they say a car costs so much, later you might find that doesn’t include certain fees you thought were included.

Take your time to figure out what it will really cost you, after the trade in.

Dealerships offer either cash back credits ($500 to $10,000), or you can get an interest-free loan.

I like the interest-free loans, myself. But I don’t like the way they have been keeping the monthly payment down under $500 by extending the length of the loan. It’s a lot like the misleading price of gasoline.

It used to be that there was only a 10-cent spread between the three different versions of gasoline grade (regular, unleaded and premium unleaded). Last year, the gasoline companies raised the spread to 20 cents and when no one complained, they raised the spread to 30 cents.

That’s what happens when the public “bleats” like sheep instead screaming like taxpayers who work hard and care about that money they earn.

Another problem to worry about is your credit rating. Tell the salesman not to check your credit rating until AFTER you decide to buy the car. If the dealership makes a check, it will “ding” your credit rating and bring it down. You might go to four dealerships and your credit rating will drop even more

Never mind the costs of cars these days. You want a decent car with some of the neat accessories? $50,000!

Honestly, I wish there was a better way to buy a new car.

It’s so nerve racking. I feel like I have to be wearing football gear readying for the final five yard push to the goal line.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Share your experience and email him at rghanania@gmail.com.)

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

Click here to listen to Ray's Political Podcast. 

Hanania's columns are archived on his personal website at RayHanania.com. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at rghanania@gmail.com.
Ray Hanania

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