Monday, December 5, 2011

Buying a Certified Used Vehicle - Part 2

The saga of the car purchase by my darlin' little daughter continued over the last few days and reached a new resolution today. And you thought it ended last Thursday when she signed the papers.  Wrong.  Much to our surprise on Friday when we picked up the car from our trusted mechanic after he had done a thorough inspection of the car, he let us know that it had been involved in some minor repairs and had probably been in a fender bender of some sort.

How did he know this?  Well in bright sun light you could see that the front right bumper had been repainted.  It was an excellent paint job, but the color/texture was just slightly different from the rest of the vehicle.  You could see that the hood had been removed and reinstalled by the slight impression of where the nuts were initially tightened down on all the bolts that secured the hood to the body.  Some of the non-structural screws (pretty much redundant ones) were missing as seen from when the car was up on the rack.  The computer initially showed an error on electrical system of power steering column on the initial computer scan.  Another error showed on the power to the window controls in the drivers door.  Follow up more detailed computer readings showed nothing wrong, but the initial report showed something was potentially problematic.  There were several minor chips in the windshield.  A cup holder in the back seat was broken.

All in all these are relatively minor problems, but still, the car was not in the condition it was presented as being in at the time of purchase.  This meant that although we got it for a good price the initial starting point at which it was priced was $1500 to $2000 higher than standard price (per Edmunds or Kelly blue book) should have been priced.

I apparently raised my daughter to be one tough cookie when it comes to negotiation skills.  In fact I remember using the phrase, "This is not negotiable!" fairly often in discussions when she was still in the lower grades of elementary school.  Saturday a.m. we took the car back to the dealer and said we were returning it because of the condition.  No ifs, ands or buts.  We did not accept a loaner.  We thought they might lower the price then and there, but they asked for time until this morning, Monday, to find other options for us.  We agreed.    They had our trade in, the down payment, and the purchased car over the weekend, so the ball was firmly in our court.  We were being reasonable and we were the ones being inconvenienced.

Today, after a tiny bit of my daughter staying firm on her expectations and rejecting cars similar to the one returned, that were not what she wanted, the dealer offered a model that was a year newer, the next model up that has many upgraded features as standard features, and had a sticker price that was $5,000 higher than the sticker of the model she had returned, and had half as many miles as the returned vehicle.  They agreed to have the paperwork for the new car done later in the afternoon when she could return for the same price so she could come in, sign, and be out the door in 10 minutes.

The dealer was pleased that my daughter was pleasant and allowed them to right the mistake.  What could have been bad PR for them turned out to be an opportunity for them to get some very good PR from a satisfied customer.

She picked the car up this afternoon.  

The first car was a 2008 Jetta SE with a few upgrades.   The car she came away with today is a 2009 Jetta, Wolfsburg edition.  The $80 inspection fee we paid the mechanic to check out the car was the best investment we have every made. The moral of the story?  Have a mechanic inspect your vehicle as soon as possible after purchase (before if possible,) and do not hesitate to continue the negotiation after the day of purchase if something is discovered.  You do have three days to return almost any major purchase. 

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease," as the old adage says. 

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