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Should I buy another (used) Mazda MPV?

I am an MPV owner -- a reasonably happy one. My 2001 MPV LX ran well with few repairs...until this year. But now it is 10 years old, 103K on the odometer, and has had some predictable problems -- rust in the rear wheel wells, the usual rotted out rear heating hose, a few rust spots on the hood, etc. I bought it used in 2005, with 27K on the odometer, for $10,500. I feel I got my money's worth! (Though I would have been happier if it had run better until 120K.) It recently PASSED Ohio E-check.

However: I've had problems finding a good used replacement van. Prices seem to be way WAY up -- this time 'round, so many vans are not available. NO more Freestar/Windstars, no more MPVs, no more of the old style Nissan Quest. The vans that are plentiful (Odyssey, Sienna) are crazy-[non-permissible content removed] expensive.

It is very hard to find a Mazda MPV anymore with under 90,000 miles, which makes no sense for me with 103,000. BUT I miraculously just located one, about 40 miles away -- a clean looking 2006 (last year) LX with only 52,000.

PROBLEM: the dealership (Mazda, unfortunately) thinks this is worth....$15,000. This is $3000 over KBB, and $5000 over Edmunds TMV.

So I wrote them....offered $10K (Edmunds TMV) and got back a flurry of increasingly rude and abrasive dealership calls. They are grossly insulted by my offer. They "have a lot more than that IN the car" (*they bought it last month at an auto auction; unlike they paid over $7K, probably less). I will be wasting my time by test driving it if I think I can low ball them! Don't even bother to drive out!

This is typical of how my car negotiations have been going this year. (I'm no kid and I've bought a dozen cars in my life; 2011 is the WORST car buying experience I've had since I was in my mid-20s, and that was pure inexperience. Something has gone seriously cuckoo with dealers and prices; anyone who knows the secret behind this, for gods sake tell me what it is!!!!).

I'm not a "lowballer", but I know this vehicle cold. I looked at them NEW in 2002 (but bought a used Nissan Quest). I looked again in 2005 but bought a used one instead of new, despite some killer deals and financing. Then again in 2007 -- a few of the leftover 2006s were around then, at very good pricing. So I know what they sold for new -- LX model -- about $19,999. The MPV was always heavily discounted, because it was not a good seller (which is why it is no longer manufactured).

I know the down side of this, and the upside; my familiarity with it makes me want another one. One last one, lol.

But $15,000 is nuts. I've had horrible luck all summer trying to find a new (used) minivan -- they used to be the armpit of cars, something only moms and nerds drove. Suddenly dealers are acting like they are hot stuff. I used to have a choice of numerous, nice vehicles. Now I have to look daily to try and find one or two decent affordable vans online. And prices seem to have increased in a crazy way -- like 30% (at least, asking prices are up 30%).

The last Mazda I saw, a couple months back, was a 2006 LX but with 70K and too much rust and dings for me. I also wanted lower mileage, so I passed on it. But it was only $9700, which was about right for that year, and they were willing to negotiate. 18K less miles doesn't seem like it would add up to another FIVE GRAND on the same vehicle, plus this current one lacks a tow package the other had.

My question then: how to proceed? I am LOUSY, maybe the worst in the world, at negotiating these things. Yesterday, I lost a nice Kia van because offered $500 (yes, hundred) under asking price -- the dealer went ballistic on me for not accepting his full sticker price -- on a dirty car with scratches, that I could not test drive because it had not been serviced! That's how bad it is. Or how bad I MYSELF am at negotiating!

Someone, please take mercy on me and tell me A. what I am doing wrong and B. how to do it right and C. how to get a fair Edmunds TMV price on a used vehicle without making salesmen try to hit me with a tire iron.

For the record: I don't have to trade in my old car. I don't owe anything on it. I have cash for the new purchase. My credit score is over 800. I'm really a nice person! not aggressive or surly! I have purchased 10-12 cars in my life, and 4 of those were minivans. I know my stuff (research, prices, Edmunds, KBB, car reviews, etc.).

Lastly: YES I have TRIED walking out. That technique does not work, at least not in my region. Not once, in a dozen transactions, has ANYONE ever followed me or called me back, when I walked out of a negotiation that had stalled.

Comments

  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    I believe because of the ecomomy, the demand for new cars is down, making the demand for used cars up. That said, MPV's have never been a popular van, so persistence should pay off in trying to find one at a good price.

    We've owned our MPV since new in 2004, it's been a great van. Problems with the ignition coils, fan control module, and IAC valve, but I haven't read anything about the 2006 model having these problems.

    Sounds like you're doing everything right negotiation wise to me. Do your research, stick to your price, walk when necessary. Maybe these salesmen think you are too nice a person , and try to intimidate you? Most good ones will try to work with you when they see you are a serious buyer.

    Sounds like you've just had bad luck in running into the wrong dealerships and salesmen. Keep trying though, you'll find a good one.

    You could always try negotiating thru emails, but in my experiences this is rarely succesful. Most dealerships will do or say anything to get your feet inside their dealership. ;)
  • Most Mazda owners I have spoken with are similarly happy with their purchase! Looks like I will be buying a 2nd Mazda (2006) to replace my 2001; found ONE after looking all summer. (That is -- found one with only 50K, rather than the typical 80K-120K.)

    I managed to bargain the 15,000 down but NOT anywhere close to Edmunds TMV. I continue to have and express on this forum concerns that Edmunds TMV does not reflect real-world pricing. Perhaps it is out of date! They don't say WHEN they compiled these sales figures or tax receipts. TMV lists things like a 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (49K) at $11K when dealers are asking $17! (seriously; look it up!) and a 2005 Ford Freestar (41K) at $8500 (!) when the dealers are asking $11K.

    Anyhow: that was the competition. Couldn't locate the Hyundai Entourage I really wanted (not that anyone would sell me anyways) and can't afford the Toyota, and the Mazda seemed like better quality than the Ford.

    One other factor: if we were talking in 2006, there were many choices in the moderate price minivan market -- Pontiac Montana, Mazda MPV, Ford Freestar, old style Nissan Quest, Mercury Villager, Chevy Venture -- ALL ARE GONE NOW. And next year, Kia is discontinuing the Sedona after '12.

    So if you want a minivan in the future, it's the older used models OR paying almost $40K for an Odyssey or Sienna. That will make the minivan not the vehicle of young families but the vehicle of the very wealthy. Who else will be able to make a $1000 car payment for a new one?

    Lastly, I was surprised so few Mazda MPVs are around. They seemed popular enough back in the day. Or maybe people are keeping them! They seem to hold up better than average, despite some known problems (you mention a few). Our problems on the old one were the rusting rear wheel wells and that darned leaking rear heater hose (really annoying!). Some spots of rust on the hood front as well. But mechanically, it runs extremely well and should go well over 120K for a new owner.

    This '06 is (obviously) my last one, so I hope it works out as well as the first, which has been a dependable vehicle.

    I agree that the car companies have created this problem -- making new cars unaffordable and forcing people into used cars, thus drying up the supply! The "unaffordable" issue is a big one -- again look at those vans available in 2006. They were pretty basic by today's standards. If you insist that every minivan must have power sliding doors and liftgates, rear cameras and nav systems, DVD players and leather upholstery, then that is going to end up one expensive vehicle -- beyond what ordinary families can afford.

    In '06 you could get a nice new minivan for around $20-22K. Today there is literally nothing anywhere near that pricepoint -- MAYBE a totally stripped Kia Sedona base model. Next year, there won't even be that.

    And if you need some space in back, what else are your alternatives? An SUV? We found shopping that a modest SUV (Kia Sorrento or Mitsubishi Outlander) not only runs $3000-4000 more than a basic minivan BUT has either the same or WORSE gas mileage.

    I'm not ready to be scrunched back into some little Sedan or hatchback, but honestly -- the choices are narrowing while the prices are exploding. Bad news for consumers.
  • jipsterjipster Posts: 5,345
    One thing I've noticed in reading other discussions here, is that dealer mark-up is exceedingly high on used cars. A car a dealership buys for $10,000, they will likely ask $15,000. If they put about $500 in the car, new brakes or tires, then you may be able to bargain them down to around $12,500. Usually they will mark them high, and then give you a big discount so you feel as though you are getting a great bargain.

    I've also read Edmunds TMV is often not accurate. That's why I'd probably try to use multiple sources in determing what a car is worth (Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book, N.A.D.A, Craigs list etc)

    With tax and all fees our MPV was $22k. Just bought new BF Goodrich Advantage tires... rides like new and is super smooth.

    I don't see many for sale either, rarely see one at the Mazda dealership I have our van serviced at.
  • Yes, I agree with you! The dealer markup on used cars is extraordinary; I don't think your average used car buyer understands the "system" or how the car you trade-in for maybe $6000 ends up on the dealer's lot for $13,999.

    The profit on a moderate-price new vehicle is often $500-750; can be even less on an entry level vehicle. But some 5-6 year old used model will yield a dealer profit in the $4000 range! The real money is in used cars; most people don't get this. They think the money is in the shiny new cars (it isn't, though the financing is very lucrative for the dealership).

    I don't know where you read about Edmunds TMV being inaccurate; I came here initially because I heard it was extremely accurate AND realistic -- on both ends, reflecting real world selling prices at dealers AND realistic values on trades and private sales. But I've heard so much contradictory, I know less now than when I started out. Even people working at this site will say "don't take it literally" or "compare local ASKING prices, not TMV". If so, what the heck is the purpose of Edmunds TMV?

    I mean that seriously. I know KBB and NADA exist for insurance valuation (when my van was totaled a couple years ago, I got exactly KBB on it) and so banks can lend a bit more than a car is worth (a dealer wouldn't want a sale quashed because the bank said the car is worth less than he sold it for!). And KBB and NADA are many thousands of dollars higher than TMV.

    Craigslist is more problematical because it is mostly private sales OR dealers selling low-end high mileage vehicles -- sometimes dubiously (like a small dealer selling out of his home, or a parking lot, and pretending it is his own car). Some are outright fakes; I was dinged by a guy saying he was selling his older Toyota Sienna for....$5000. Turns out he lives in "North Dakota". All I had to do was send him $5000 and he'd ship the Sienna to me for free! Yeah right! Total scam.

    I'm glad you were happy with your '04 MPV. The pricing sounds exactly right -- I saw these a couple of times promoted at $19,999 (LX) when new, and with tax, that would be pretty close to $22K. That was a great deal IMHO! Wish there was anything like that around NOW. Most vans today run over $35K! I honestly don't see how most families can afford that.

    I'm hoping this new '06 will work out well for us -- it wasn't precisely what I was hoping to buy, but it was there and not as badly overpriced as some, and we were very happy with our '01 for a long time. Cars don't last forever, not in our climate! If we get 5 years out this one, I'll feel it was money reasonably well spent (I hope, fingers crossed).

    I don't see many at dealers, though I see a fair number on the road. Mazda is a much smaller brand than Toyota or Honda or even Kia, and MPV has been discontinued for 5 years now. Actually I think not seeing too many for sale reflects how many are still in use! 90% of the used ones I see are very high mileage -- 130K, etc. (I've never taken any car up that high, but it must be possible!)

    Thanks for your comments.
  • I am a car salesman. I am not sure what region you are in. Your experiences are extreme. I have been in the business 19 years and have encountered similar situation maybe a dozen times.

    There are instance where a particular car is in high demand or times when a dealer put too much money on a particular trade to sale an age vehicle in inventory. I am not sure in your example why a dealer would try to sell a car $3-5000 over book value. (Make sure to use retail value and not trade in value or even private value.)

    In this economy, no dealer is willling to lose your business unless the customer is just being reasonable. An unreasonable customer is really NOT a customer to begin with so the dealer has nothing to lose.

    I am confident that not all dealers or salesman in your area are like that. If you find a decent deal, give them a chance to earn your business. I think that there are plenty of honest hard working salesmen out there. The few rotten apple ruins it for car salemen. In tough economy, customer services need to be A-1. We realize that the customer can buy a car from anybody down and road so we need to deliver the good and services.

    I sell Toyota. Honda and Toyota are more expensives because they are better in the long term in term of reliability and resale value.

    Hope you find a good deal in whatever you ended up buying.
  • I am not sure where you got the idea of dealer making $4000 profit from. The day of making that kind of profit is long gone. In the early 1990 when I first start selling cars, year, there were time we make that kind for profit and my comission would be in the $700-$800 range for that kind of profit.

    Now, the demand for used is very high, that is true. The dealer ended up buying a lot of used car from the auctions just to have cars to sell. Guess what, thousand of dealers want the same thing and ended paying more that $1000-1500 over what a car is worth, just to get the car to sell on their lot. Those that don't pay don't have cars to sell. In return, the car ended up selling for slight more that book value, especially Edmunds. Edmunds is always low by comparison.

    Customer who wants to buy use edmunds...hence the low price. "Edmunds say it is only worth this much and I should pay only this price"......then go buy the car from edmunds. You can't because edmunds don't sell cars.

    Dealers use black book that come out everyweek after that weekly auctions so it is more accurately reflect the market. Most sales and ad now are internet based so price are much more competitive.

    New car are always loser in profit. New car bring customers to the dealer. New car sometimes bring in trades in. New car finance interest rate make dealer zero profit.

    Used cars make money...not as much as people think.

    Services and parts make money and anchor most dealer.

    Now you know...whether you believe me or not.
  • Obviously I can only report on the "buyer side" of this. I am not a dealer or salesman. (However, years back, my uncle owned a small used car lot so I did have a bit of "insider info" on he ran things and what he believed about buyers and sellers.)

    I CAN tell you that I am careful and honest person -- I certainly know the difference between "dealer retail" and "trade-in" and "private party". I think Edmunds especially makes those distinctions VERY clear.

    I have seen literally dozens of cars listed for $3000-6000 over book value, and listed some obvious ones that would be easy to verify. In fact, assuming Edmunds TMV is true (which some here dispute) then almost every vehicle I saw was at least a couple grand over Edmunds TMV.

    Dealers are VERY happy to get rid of an informed customer. They want a customer who has no idea of the real value of a vehicle, and just wants a monthly payment, and will believe anything the seller says ("this is a great deal!"). I'm sorry; maybe you were the rare honest dealer. I have not found that in my area (NE Ohio).

    I've had dealers let me walk away, when our numbers were literally $200 apart. I've had them refuse to reduce a price $500 on a $14,000 vehicle. I have heard the old canard about "we're a one price store!" a thousand times -- though it says nothing about this on their ads or website.

    They DO want to lose the business of smart informed customers, because a gullible dupe is coming right behind him, and that's who they want to sell to.

    If ANYONE EVER treated me decently and fairly -- say, showed me the auction price, plus work they put in, plus a reasonable profit -- and dealt UP FROM THAT, and I knew I had a fair deal (in line with TMV) then I'd not only go back for all my car buying needs, but send friends and family. However, this has NEVER happened to me.

    Space here does permit all the ways I've been lied to and cheated and deceived, let alone some of my family and friends.

    If you want the bad apples punished so the good dealers and salesman are not tarnished by their behaviors -- work aggressively for consumer laws that outlaw ridiculous "document fees" of hundreds of dollars, and which give full transparency to pricing from start to finish.

    I think Toyota is a very fine car. My in-laws own 2 Priuses they are very happy with. My sister in law drives a Sienna. However, for the AVERAGE AMERICAN in this down economy, sadly even if they were ten times better than other cars, I could never afford them.

    There is a great mystique around Toyota (and Honda) that I think is overblown. Not that they are bad -- they aren't, they are very good cars -- but they are not miraculous creations that never break or need maintenance. I know people who literally believe if they buy a Toyota, they will never have to perform ordinary maintenance, like an oil change.
  • I was using an average, and also some specific examples I cited -- that 2005 Toyota Sienna I saw listed at $18K, but the Edmunds.com TMV on that vehicle was $11,040.

    Obviously it is a range and different for each car. I imagine a tiny subcompact Chevy Aveo is not marked up as much as a cool Toyota SUV or Prius. I'd say the $4000 is probably about right for the mid-priced used minivans I have seen.

    You can see this simply from the TMV trade-in value vs the TMV dealer retail -- like $2400 trade-in that becomes miraculously an $11,000 selling price. That's $7600! Hello! even considering the dealer puts in some repairs, detailing, advertising, some share of the price of the lot and store, that is a HUGE markup over 400%.

    Of course the salesman and manager are being paid by getting a neat-o $250 (or way more in some markets) "document fee" that can't possibly be rolled into the asking price. Imagine ANY OTHER industry which does business this way!

    I do agree that TODAY there is a shortage of good used cars -- the economy is down, people are not buying new, people hang onto their old cars, Cash For Clunkers took cars off the market, the Japan Tsunami and so on -- and prices are higher than usual.

    If Edmunds is "always low", they should correct this. I did question on one of these forums if Edmunds was correct -- if it is accurate -- what its methodology is -- is it up-to-date? -- all reasonable questions! yet I got answers all over the place. Even people who WORK HERE will not vouch for TMV accuracy.

    The black book, as far as I know, is about auction prices. I assume it is accurate. However, it is not available to buyers because it is an expensive subscription service. So we are out of luck.

    It is reasonable that BUYERS want the lowest price they can get and SELLERS want the highest, hence sellers often quote Kelly Blue Book, which is a very inflated value.

    That is why wanted ACCURACY -- not an absurdly low price nobody would honor -- not an inflated price -- just pure accuracy. But I did not get that here. I am saddened by that. I really thought Edmunds TMV was the way to go.

    I never said Edmunds was "the seller". That's ridiculous. They are a SERVICE which CLAIMS to track sales prices very intricately -- for every zip code -- on thousands of purchases. Either they are reflecting truth, or they are bogus. I'm not sure there are any other options!

    I do know that new cars are not a very big profit center in themselves -- only a few hundred each on most deals. Some desirable cars (Prius) may bring a lot more, but average cars just a few hundred. The money as you say is in trade-ins -- also in lucrative financing and leases -- add-ons like fabric treatments and warrantees.

    I was offered $1500 by the dealer on my used car (2001 Mazda MPV); it's very nice condition for its age, only minor flaws. In searching for comparable, I see similar vehicles listed at dealerships from $5995 to $7995 and UP. Assuming the dealer puts $500 into tweaking the car, and sells it for $5000 (the low end), he has made $3000.

    Now -- I am not saying he does not have costs like advertising, rent, salaries, utilities, mechanics. But his profit on THAT used trade-in will be $3000 -- plus of course, the holy $250 "document fee".

    Of course the service department is undoubtedly profitable as well. But if that's all you wanted, you could run a high-end repair shop -- not a dealership.

    I still say: the money is in used car sales.
  • I have a 2005 MPV with 66,000 miles; original owner in excellent condition. Our family has expanded and unfortunately I need a larger van. So, I'm actually selling my beloved MPV. It's silver, has power sliding doors and a roof rack -- I think that covers the "extras". We're asking $8,000. If anyone is interested, please contact me at maxwellsmommy@gmail.com. Located in Virginia.
  • Hi vaminivanmama,

    Did you ever sell your Mazda? What did you end up buying? I prefer the Town & Country or Dodge Grand Caravan myself.

    I have a 2000 T & C with over 213,000 miles (I put on about 100,000) of those myself) and still going strong.
  • These cars suck! Read all the posts. I have had all the problems listed. Idle control valve, pcv valve, heater not working, etc.

    All started with running a little rough when first started. Auxiliary fan wouldn't shut off. No big deal. Replaced problematic valves, thermostat control, coils, wires, plugs. Same problem shortly thereafter. Took to dealer, told blown head gasket. Had this done for $3k. Got vehicle back and heater still didn't work. Started to run rough less than 24 hours after. Dealer is now telling me it is a cracked head gasket. There is a problem with the design of these engines. Good luck to all, my suggestion would be to get rid of any MPV. There is a real good reason why Mazda discontinued the vehicle. Mine is a 2005 with 70k. When we bought it, there was less than 30k on it. Over the last 6 years, we've only driven the damn thing 5-6k/year. Does that say enough? Had something wrong with it the whole time.
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