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Old 04-08-2013, 09:41 AM   #21
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We just bought a new car and used USAA auto buying service. I can't say it helped us get a lower price, but it was helpful getting the first price quote from the dealers.

I was very disappointed this year with all the dealers we interacted with. In a sure sign business is good for them, they were very much not upfront at all with fees and charges.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:58 AM   #22
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I was happy with the price I paid three years ago, considering that I was getting a big SUV (Toyota Venza) with all the bells and whistles instead of the more economical car (Toyota Solara) that I had had previously.

Still, I suspect that prices have increased quite a bit in the past three years. I bought my Toyota Venza at the height of the Toyota safety scandals. In retrospect, I am sure the dealer was hurting for sales and that probably helped the price. I just told him I would pay $x total out the door, including TT&L and anything else but not a penny more for anything, so any fees were included in that amount.

I still love my Venza, and I feel certain it will last longer than the ten years my Solara lasted. I am still getting used to all the electronics capabilities, most of which I will probably never use.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:59 AM   #23
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You did not say what size or class of car you were wanting....

But, if it comes with a manual on the base, it is not one of the larger models... none of them come with manuals...


Most of the smaller cars have a class just above the base... it does cost a bit more, but not out of line... an automatic tranny cost $1500 or so... and a few other bells and whistles and you can have a $3000 increase from base to the next level... not 50%...

But if you go from base to one with the nav package, backup camera, etc. etc. you can get up that high...

There are many good cars out there with auto in the low 20s... you do not have to get to the 30s if you do not want...
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:09 AM   #24
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I do read CR, along with other auto mag's. But overall I'm NOT a big fan of Consumer Distorts for car issues.

I rely on JD Power's for reliability/dependability data since it's a random sample adhering to survey industry ethics stds, vs CR's flawed method of annual sampling of its own subscriber (not reader) base. I also read True Delta's reliability data, but it's too new for me to feel comfortable with.

Why pay CR $10 (or anything?) for auto cost "info" that's largely useless &/or available on line for free? Dealer "cost" figures are often wrong since local/regional automaker incentives (inc sales target bonuses, rebates, etc.) often change-even on a weekly basis at times. Do you really think automakers & dealers notify CR immediately on changes in their internal incentive programs? And in reality this info is typically irrelevant to what YOU can buy a specific car for. Dealers can command premiums for hot-selling models, and may accept below "cost" (after all incentives/rebates) for slow-sellers sitting on their lot. In my experience (inc talking with good car-savvy friends who bought cars), Edmunds provides more relevant (& timely) actual regional selling price data- and at no cost.

Also found CR can be quite biased, almost bizarre at times, in their eval opinions. DW & I have owned many vehicles over the yrs & our experiences have often been at sharp odds with CR's impressions. The lower-rated car has often been our big fav to live with over the yrs. What YOU consider important in a vehicle they may not even notice, and vice-versa.

Bottom line is to take your time, do your homework, and make the best deal on the car that's best for YOU. Don't let the dealers pressure you, and do not be afraid to walk out of the showroom if you don't a deal you feel good about. Believe me, they will always let you back in
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:10 AM   #25
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I can feel your pain. But, I will say that you do get a lot more for your money, especially in safety and since 2012, fuel economy. And please consider fuel economy if you plan to drive quite a bit.

I bought a mid-sized car (Camry, Accord, type vehicles) earlier this year. This is still a competitive area of the market so prices are usually well below 30K unless you want the six cylinder engine with all the electronic gadgets on the dash. In my case I chose to spend about $2000 more to get the hybrid model. All I can say is that it routinely gives me about 40 mpg compared to my older mid sized car which averaged about 26. Since I believe gasoline will be much nearer $5 a gallon range over the life of this vehicle (rather than the $3 a gallon range than is current) I should get that money back within 5 years. I usually keep a car for at least 10 years.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:30 AM   #26
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.....Also, Fits are like clown cars, in that they hold a ton of stuff.
Ha! I like the clown car analogy. My friends all thought my Fit was a tiny car, and not good for much, UNTIL I showed them how much it can hold - now I am on their speed dial when they need to pick up anything large.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:48 AM   #27
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My first reactions was . . . what did you expect after 18 yrs? On the one hand there is the increase in car prices over all that time along with the change in standard features. On the other hand there is the increase in your salary over that time. They are two completely different things. If you are basing the amount you want to spend on a % of your salary then you are shopping based on what you can afford. My general impression is that (of course) car prices have increased but the value for what you spend is as good or better than what you would get a couple of decades ago.

Information about dealer costs, operating costs, and safety are more easily available these days. I have always used the buyer service at my credit union. I've never, in 35 yrs, haggled with a dealer and I've always felt I paid a fair price. The cars I purchase are in the $20-30k price range and I keep them anywhere from 10-15 yrs. I am currently driving and loving my Prius.

We also have a local buyer/seller lot called the Buggy Bank. Private owners display their cars at a lot and pay a monthly fee. Buyers can schedule time with the lot attendant to test drive the cars and bring the cars to their mechanic for inspection. We sold one of our cars through the Buggy Bank and my father-in-law has purchased cars from there too. It's a nice way to buy used.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:57 AM   #28
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Consumer Reports also has a car-buying service. I don't know how it compares to Costco's though. CR will also send you (for ~$10) the dealer's actual cost for a new car and the individual options so that puts you in a better bargaining position.

Like many here we also keep vehicles "forever" until either reliability or parts availability become issues. We've been stung in the past with used cars so we buy new when replacement time comes. The last time we bought new vehicles was 11 years ago and those replaced vehicles that were 18 and 14 years old.

I used the Consumer Reports service when I bought my 2010 Toyota Camry SE in August of 2009. I was pleased with the information they provided, and would use the service again. The longest we've kept any car was the 16 years wife & I kept her 1990 Honda Accord. We traded it in for a 2007 Toyota Camry in 2006, which we still have. However, that car is probably going to be sold or traded for a new truck for myself. Once I retire later this year, I'll need something to pull a boat (also gonna purchase) with. I'll need SOMETHING to do all day (lol) and fishing's my biggest hobby.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:00 AM   #29
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Seems to me the prices have gone up a good bit in past 10 years, I recently traded in a Nissan 4wd pickup that I paid about 32k for 8 about years ago for a similarly equipped Toyota that was listed at well over 41k. Neither were "top of the line" but both were well equipped.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:29 PM   #30
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Hmmmmm...I found this with Google search, from Seeking Alpha in case anyone wants to find the accompanying article.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:41 PM   #31
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Is that raw data on car prices or adjusted hedonically? And does it factor in any change in the basket-of-goods composition represented by new car purchases?
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:45 PM   #32
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Hmmmmm...I found this with Google search, from Seeking Alpha in case anyone wants to find the accompanying article.
Good point!

I had a rule of thumb, when I was in my teens and early twenties, while just starting out in life. An inexpensive new car such as a VW bug was always about twice what I had saved no matter how much I had accumulated. Not wanting to borrow for a car, I rode the bus.

That is no longer the case, thank goodness! I do think, as you point out, that cars have not gone up in price as much as the CPI, which to me means that they are much more affordable these days.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:53 PM   #33
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Hmmmmm...I found this with Google search, from Seeking Alpha in case anyone wants to find the accompanying article.
+1 on this. In looking at what my 13 year old car (honda civic) would cost now vs when I bought it new way back then, it is only a couple thousand dollars more for the fairly basic model I bought (automatic transmission and that's about it). Except the fairly basic model now has all kinds of bells and whistles mine didn't have. Like something in addition to an am/fm radio (didn't even come with a tape deck...)
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:56 PM   #34
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O.K. first of all I do like nice cars. (My LBYM problem child.) But I do keep them. Replaced one of our two 12 year old vehicles in February. Was able to get more features and actually pay less than I did 12 years ago. Only sacrifice is that it is a little smaller (which I wanted). Went from a 2002 Escalade to a 2013 Cadillac SRX. (Love it by the way.)

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Old 04-08-2013, 12:57 PM   #35
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Good point!

I had a rule of thumb, when I was in my teens and early twenties, while just starting out in life. An inexpensive new car such as a VW bug was always about twice what I had saved no matter how much I had accumulated. Not wanting to borrow for a car, I rode the bus.

That is no longer the case, thank goodness! I do think, as you point out, that cars have not gone up in price as much as the CPI, which to me means that they are much more affordable these days.
+1

Not to mention the other part of that, which is now, older and with more income and assets, we look at somewhat more expensive options compared with the ultra-inexpensive models most of us looked at years ago.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:18 PM   #36
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Hmmmmm...I found this with Google search, from Seeking Alpha in case anyone wants to find the accompanying article.
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Is that raw data on car prices or adjusted hedonically? And does it factor in any change in the basket-of-goods composition represented by new car purchases?

In looking at the data again, there's no way that's raw data on new car prices, since they've gone up more than 3x since 1955. The average price of a new car today is ~30k, says the National Assn of Auto Dealers. In 1955, a typical car cost less than 3k.


My guess is that number in your graph represents the CPI component for new cars, which will have been adjusted hedonically as well as proportionately based on its representation in the 'typical' basket of goods.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:19 PM   #37
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Also new car prices being flat-to-down since 1995 would pass no ones sniff test.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:25 PM   #38
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The source is BLS so it probably has hedonic adjustments. Of course, so does the total CPI number, so it is still apples to apples. Auto CPI below total average CPI seems perfectly reasonable to me. Many of the autos being sold today weren't even available 30 or more years ago.
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Old 04-08-2013, 01:25 PM   #39
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I love cars too. Cars and motorcycles have been my downfall over the years and I try not to dwell on how much I've spent on them.

A private party car (I always search Craigslist for For Sale by Owner) that's 2 to 5 years old is usually a good buy. Most dealerships or garages will check out a car for you for short money.

The base model Honda Accord, Nissan Altima and Mazda 6 come pretty nicely equipped for around $20K.
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Old 04-08-2013, 02:00 PM   #40
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My 2003 Honda Accord EX sedan had an original sticker price of $22,385. I can buy a 2014 Honda Accord has a sticker price of $24,605. That's over $2000 more than 11 years ago. But what do I get in the 2014 that my 2003 does NOT have?

CVT transmission
Vehicle Stability Assist
Brake Assist (hill assist)
Rear backup camera
Blind spot monitoring
Low tire pressure warning
More horsepower
More torque
Higher gas mileage
Longer wheelbase
More trunk space
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