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Old 03-21-2014, 12:43 PM
 
Location: NY/LA
4,562 posts, read 4,042,467 times
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Does anyone have any experience on using a car-buying consultant for a new car purchase/lease? We're planning on purchasing/leasing one (possibly two) new cars in the next 12 months and I'm not looking forward to interacting with dealers. I've seen a couple of places advertising for car consulting services where they will help you pick out a make and model (if you're undecided), negotiate with multiple dealers to get you the best price for the car, and then also help you figure out what extended warranties, pre-paid maintenance, etc. are worth it.

I've seen some consultants that are supposedly free to the buyer (I assume they get a commission from whichever dealership you end up buying from). I've also seen some consultants that charge a flat rate to the buyer (ex. $500 for "full-service"). In theory, even when the buyer pays out of pocket, these consultants know all of the dealerships' tricks and will negotiate far more in savings than it would cost the buyer to purchase the consultant's services. It also saves the buyer a lot of time and headache of going around contacting multiple dealers.

Has anyone heard of or used these types of services before?
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:07 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,719 posts, read 29,183,023 times
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Why would a consultant paid by the dealer work in your best interests?

This is just not that difficult. Learn how to:

- use car shopping sites such as Edmunds
- read Consumer Reports advice
- say no when offered anything you don't want.
- if you don't know much about the process or cars take a knowledgeable friend. Buy him/her lunch
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:22 PM
 
Location: NY/LA
4,562 posts, read 4,042,467 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoffdano View Post
Why would a consultant paid by the dealer work in your best interests?

This is just not that difficult. Learn how to:

- use car shopping sites such as Edmunds
- read Consumer Reports advice
- say no when offered anything you don't want.
- if you don't know much about the process or cars take a knowledgeable friend. Buy him/her lunch
Have you used one and found that to be the case? For me, I'm interested in a consultant for the same reason why some people hire other people to do their taxes, write their wills, redo their kitchen cabinets or landscape their yard. Some people would do all of that by themselves, others just have no interest in it. Usually, a professional can do it better.
  • I don't want to spend my nights and weekends chasing down several dealers. I'd rather spend that time with my wife and toddler.
  • I'm not interested in learning the intricacies of how dealers try to pull one over on customers.
  • Even if I were to read up, there's no substitute for experience.

I agree that the consultant paid by the dealer sounds suspect. I'm leaning towards finding a flat-fee consultant, but wanted to see if anyone has had any experience with either setup.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:27 PM
 
8,729 posts, read 6,668,978 times
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Seriously? A car buying consultant? lol
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Riverside Ca
22,155 posts, read 29,704,230 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Zero View Post
Have you used one and found that to be the case? For me, I'm interested in a consultant for the same reason why some people hire other people to do their taxes, write their wills, redo their kitchen cabinets or landscape their yard. Some people would do all of that by themselves, others just have no interest in it. Usually, a professional can do it better.
  • I don't want to spend my nights and weekends chasing down several dealers. I'd rather spend that time with my wife and toddler.
  • I'm not interested in learning the intricacies of how dealers try to pull one over on customers.
  • Even if I were to read up, there's no substitute for experience.

I agree that the consultant paid by the dealer sounds suspect. I'm leaning towards finding a flat-fee consultant, but wanted to see if anyone has had any experience with either setup.
Usually people hire others to do things for them because they either don't want to, can't, too lazy, too busy, too scared, too whatever to do it themselves. Nothing wrong with that. Some can do others can't. There is no shame in it. Hey I don't do my own taxes. Why? Because I used the same tax guy for 20 some years and I like to have my taxes done right. If I did them it would be a Crayola and connect a dot drawing submitted to IRS.

I have nor would I ever use a car consultant. I simply do my own research, contact the fleet sales and tell the manager I'm looking for x vehicle with xyz options color etc and I have a set price I don't go over.
If spending $500 is worth it to you to have someone else do the negotiating for you because your time with your wife and child is worth more than that then go use a consultant.
But you can simply do some research and say I'm only willing to spend x amount on x vehicle. If the dealer drags their feet I believe there is nothing holding you back from simply getting up walking out and driving away.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:00 PM
 
Location: NY/LA
4,562 posts, read 4,042,467 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrician4you View Post
Usually people hire others to do things for them because they either don't want to, can't, too lazy, too busy, too scared, too whatever to do it themselves. Nothing wrong with that. Some can do others can't. There is no shame in it. Hey I don't do my own taxes. Why? Because I used the same tax guy for 20 some years and I like to have my taxes done right. If I did them it would be a Crayola and connect a dot drawing submitted to IRS.

I have nor would I ever use a car consultant. I simply do my own research, contact the fleet sales and tell the manager I'm looking for x vehicle with xyz options color etc and I have a set price I don't go over.
If spending $500 is worth it to you to have someone else do the negotiating for you because your time with your wife and child is worth more than that then go use a consultant.
But you can simply do some research and say I'm only willing to spend x amount on x vehicle. If the dealer drags their feet I believe there is nothing holding you back from simply getting up walking out and driving away.
Thanks for understanding. I realized that asking this question would be like asking about hiring a landscaper at the local botanical conservatory ("why hire a landscaper when you can read a 500-page encyclopedia on north american flora and do it yourself"), but I was hoping that this would be the best place to potentially find someone with knowledge about the topic, maybe even get a reply from an actual car-buying consultant about how it works.

From several of the accounts that I've read online, it sounds like even if you know what you want and how much you want to pay, almost all dealers are still going to try to play games: try to get you into a car you don't want to buy with options you don't need, try to upsell you, try to soak you with a financing agreement. And then everytime you counter, they'll make you wait for half an hour or longer while they "talk to their manager". I have the feeling that if I were to simply get up and walk out on any dealer that tried this, I'd be walking out of every dealership in LA and Orange County. There are better ways to spend that time.

While details haven't been announced, right now we're leaning towards next year's Volvo XC90 (or something similar). Since we expect MSRP to be anywhere from $40k - $60+k, we figure a consultant might be able to save us a lot more than the $500 fee.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:05 PM
 
1,963 posts, read 5,300,489 times
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my friend's dad has used a few auto consultants over the years, and according to him, it's hit or miss. Basically, the more expensive the model, the more incentive they have to search out & find the exact car with color & options you want. For his wife's CLS they scoured 3 states for the color she was craving, yet when it came to replace his X5 with a more reliable (but cheaper) Acura MDX they took 2 weeks to get back to him with quotes with nary an apology. Definitely try Costco's auto buying service first.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:15 PM
 
Location: NY/LA
4,562 posts, read 4,042,467 times
Reputation: 3909
Quote:
Originally Posted by smokingGun View Post
my friend's dad has used a few auto consultants over the years, and according to him, it's hit or miss. Basically, the more expensive the model, the more incentive they have to search out & find the exact car with color & options you want. For his wife's CLS they scoured 3 states for the color she was craving, yet when it came to replace his X5 with a more reliable (but cheaper) Acura MDX they took 2 weeks to get back to him with quotes with nary an apology. Definitely try Costco's auto buying service first.
Thanks for the reply. Did he use the same auto consultant both times? Do you know whether the consultant was paid by the buyer or the dealer?

I hadn't thought about Costco, it looks like it's a negotiation-free experience, which is nice. Is the pricing pretty competitive?
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:34 PM
 
Location: Kirkland, WA (Metro Seattle)
5,959 posts, read 5,302,303 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Zero View Post
Does anyone have any experience on using a car-buying consultant for a new car purchase/lease?

Has anyone heard of or used these types of services before?
If a "consultant" is working for a dealer, they're in cahoots presumably. Or a group of dealers. Or a finance company, or group of finance companies. I'd watch out for that, there are always slicksters out there thinking they're smarter than everyone else with "deals" like that. And, they reel in enough fish to make it worthwhile for themselves, I guess.

Reminds me of the "insurance quote" aggregation sites still floating around, that are in cahoots with a pool of several dozen or fewer companies. Then you walk down the street in your home town to a company outside that pool, and receive a quote 15% less than the site's best deal anyway. Right. Been-there/done-that.

Much like the dealer's four square, you can bet if something is "free" or "a good deal" in one quadrant, they'll get you on another.

As an MBA, I could see kick starting such a business and flat-feeing about $500 or so. Basically management consulting for consumers, with a standard package and ala cart options over and above.

Not surprised someone has monetized this business model. I've done the same, informally, on motorcycle purchases for others in the past. Though I work for pizza and other gimmes, not money.

Personally, I'd look closely at the bona fides of such an agent, if s/he is truly independent, weigh the cost of my time and financial knowledge vs. theirs, and go from there.

As to whether or not you should utilize such a service, ultimately it's a fairly simple equation:

* if your time and expertise is cheaper and better, respectively, don't pay. If opposite, do.
* Objective being for you to derive >$500 value (savings to you) from each deal, obviously.
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Old 03-21-2014, 02:38 PM
 
Location: Santa Rosa
486 posts, read 782,065 times
Reputation: 497
There are a lot of no haggle services like Truecar, Ameican Express or Costco or even Edmunds.
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