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Recent widow trying to figure out what car to buy/lease without getting ripped off

MedavinciMedavinci CTMember Posts: 1
edited November 2018 in General
I have been trying to figure out what car to buy since my husband unexpectedly passed away 10 mos ago. He always leased Lexus cars (past 20 yrs). The leases were in his name. I am still in shock and survival mode. Lexus let me finish paying off the last six payments, then I had to decide whether to buy the 2015 RX350 out right for just short of $29,000 (it only had 11,000 miles on it but it had a lot of issues...three dead batteries over 4 years, alignment issues, and right before they took it back, it started leaking water through the interior lights creating a mold smell in the car!). I went back to the dealer we always bought fromlast July, but there are new people working there. The salesman (33 who left a corp job to sell cars and still lives at home with his parents) kept me there six hours. I was exhausted and not thinking clearly. I explained we can’t afford what we used to right now. He put me in a Lexus NX 300 sport, and wanted me to be in a 60 mo loan, almost $500 plus a month with 6700 down. I told him he was nuts. He said “we can always change the numbers.” Foolishly I gave him $2500 down, bec I liked the car. It had much better lumbar support than my RX did. As soon as I left (930 at night), I knew I made the wrong decision. I called and emailed him to cancel the transaction the very same night, bec I was in NO position to afford this. I didn’t hear back from him or the sleazy finance mgr despite me calling and continuously emailing both of them. After two weeks went by, I threatened to call the GM and my credit card company. The salesman TEXTED me and said “are you really going to do this to me after all the time I spent with you? That’s ok but my feelings are hurt, and I’ll lose the commission but I forgive you.” I was dumbfounded. I told him to credit my account immediately, and he said he couldn’t. I told him I was coming into see the GM, and I would probably keep my car. The salesman and finance mgr ganged up on me and told me the GM was not available. They brought me into an office said we’ll help you purchase your car and do the paperwork for you. It will cost $800, and we can get you an extended warranty for $4000 (that you can always cancel). I told them I could do the paperwork myself for $65, bec I already had the paperwork from the leasing company, and they should be ashamed of themselves for how they were trying to rip me off. They still wouldn’t refund my money. It took the credit card company two months to get it back. This dealership is voted number one in my state. I’m scared to Yelp them, bec they were so intimidating.

This experience terrified me to go to any other dealerships. I’ve had to rent a car twice now, bec I have no mobility. In these past 10 mos I’ve had to deal with cancer, our home foreclosing and appealing my husband’s life insurance. I don’t trust my decision making. I decided I only want an SUV that is safe, affordable, reliable(!) and most importantly comfortable, bec I have a lower back injury (the Subaru Outback reviews say they have the worst seats if you have back problems, and many people have had to have the lumbar support taken out). I need navigation, blind spot monitoring, a rear view camera and moon roof (bec I’m claustrophobic). I’d prefer a white car (sounds silly but my daughter and I have been through so much tragedy of late, I can’t bear to get back into a dark car - my Lexus was dark gray with a black interior and I hated it).

I thought a Kia Sportage, Sorento, Subaru Outback, Honda CR-V might be some good choices (I’m truly open to suggestions), but I don’t want a car that will break down. I didn’t consider Toyota bec the IIHS crash test for the RAV4 was only “Acceptable” on the passenger side (don’t know how own it made it to the top rated cars on IIHS). I also left out Mazda CX models and Nissan Rogue, because many consumers said they broke down a lot. I’d like to safely go on a road trip without that worry. I also don’t know whether to buy or lease. I’m also skeptical of pre-owned or CPO, as the prices are so high and financing is outrageous - example: one Lexus dealer in my area was selling my 2015 RX350 for $33,500 with an 80 mo lease at 7.89% financing! Who would ever consider that?) I’m also not sure if 0% financing or money back is better, or paying some cash and partially financing the rest would help. I have excellent credit.

My daughter and I have researched the IIHS website, Edmunds and KBB (I don’t have a subscription to Consumer Reports, but if it will help, I’ll get one). We made excel charts with different cars and models, but then wound up deep in the abyss once we’ve selected a model, and found out there were sub-versions of each “model.” Who knew? Car buying was never my thing. It’s exhausting, and we eventually gave up.

I have to buy a car within the next week as that is when we must leave our home of 27 yrs. I have a rental right now (a Kia Sportage which isn’t bad except for the mileage...Ive had to fill up twice and haven’t even gone far). I’ve rented only twice since July for just a week at a time. This ine is due back Weds (I may have to extend). I’m frightened to death to make this big decision, while I have so many other major crises to deal with as well. I’m afraid I’ll be scammed or make the wrong choice, because I’m just not thinking clearly.

I’d like to test drive the cars, but the dealerships in my area have mixed reviews, and I don’t want to be pressured or have them keep me there six hours again. I’m mindful I need to choose a dealership with a good service depot as well. Otherwise, I’d try to get prices on line if I was positive about the car I wanted. If the dealer doesn’t have a light car & light interior, would it be smart to contact a dealer out of state or would that cost a lot more to have it transported? Many of the places IVe looked at online don’t have the color or model with the upgrades I want. I can’t find any that include them in the standard features.

I apologize if I sound frazzled and ignorant about all this but I’m so stressed out.

Thank you.

Comments

  • HarrythemonkeyHarrythemonkey Midwest Member Posts: 3
    Can your daughter go test drive cars with you ? Remember, no one is keeping you st the dealership when you are there. You are allowed to leave anytime. They may make you feel like you’re being cornered in but you’re not. You’d be taking a very safe bet on a rav4 or crv. 
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 212,174
    Let me call in some reinforcements; regular posters who can help with the selection and the buying / leasing process.

    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and let us know! Post a pic of your new purchase or lease!


    MODERATOR

    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R / 2014 MINI Countryman S ALL4

  • 28firefighter28firefighter Seattle, WAMember Posts: 8,806
    Sorry to hear of all your troubles. A few preliminary questions, if I may....

    (1) What is your budget?  Both upfront and monthly limitations. 

    (2) You mention your home is being foreclosed. How is your credit being impacted? This is going to be an important driver of how we guide you. 

    (3) How many miles per year do you drive?
    2022 Tesla Model Y Performance, 2022 Hyundai Elantra N
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoModerator Posts: 212,174

    Sorry to hear of all your troubles. A few preliminary questions, if I may....

    (1) What is your budget?  Both upfront and monthly limitations. 

    (2) You mention your home is being foreclosed. How is your credit being impacted? This is going to be an important driver of how we guide you. 

    (3) How many miles per year do you drive?

    (3) The 2015 RX had 11,000 miles on it, so I'm guessing it's not a lot of miles per year.

    Edmunds Price Checker
    Edmunds Lease Calculator
    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and let us know! Post a pic of your new purchase or lease!


    MODERATOR

    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6R / 2014 MINI Countryman S ALL4

  • 28firefighter28firefighter Seattle, WAMember Posts: 8,806
    Michaell said:
    Sorry to hear of all your troubles. A few preliminary questions, if I may....

    (1) What is your budget?  Both upfront and monthly limitations. 

    (2) You mention your home is being foreclosed. How is your credit being impacted? This is going to be an important driver of how we guide you. 

    (3) How many miles per year do you drive?
    (3) The 2015 RX had 11,000 miles on it, so I'm guessing it's not a lot of miles per year.
    Good catch, thanks @michaell
    2022 Tesla Model Y Performance, 2022 Hyundai Elantra N
  • qbrozenqbrozen incurable addictMember Posts: 31,618
    You need to be very firm ane decisive when you go test driving. AS SOON as you arrive, you declare you are merely there to test drive and WILL NOT be buying today. Say it over and over everytime they ask you questions: "I am not buying today." Don't even let them make an offer..Once you pinpoint the right vehicle, you can do the negotiations via email.

     Do you have a carmax type of place nearby? Could be one of your best bets for test driving multiple vehicles in one stop. Of course , you'll want to be sure what you drive there is still the current model (in other words, a 2019 isn't a redesign after you test drove a 2018).

    '94 Pajero 2.8TD, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '21 WRX, '20 S90 T6, '92 Nissan Gloria 3.0; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel. 65-car history and counting! '97 Suzuki R Wagon, '97 Alto Works, and '97 Pajero Mini on the way; Wagoneer L on order; and in queue for Lucid Air Pure, Blazer EV, and Fisker Ocean.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Member Posts: 6,096

    Can your daughter go test drive cars with you ? Remember, no one is keeping you st the dealership when you are there. You are allowed to leave anytime. They may make you feel like you’re being cornered in but you’re not. You’d be taking a very safe bet on a rav4 or crv. 

    I agree that if possible you should bring a trusted person with you when leasing or buying a vehicle.
    2018 Acura TLX 2.4 Tech 4WS (mine), 2018 Honda CR-V EX AWD (wife's)
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTMember Posts: 15,637
    I sent a PM, but definitely want to echo what the others are saying. Have you looked at a VW Tiguan?

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2022 Highlander XLE AWD, 2022 Wrangler Sahara 4Xe

  • pensfan83pensfan83 PennsylvaniaMember Posts: 2,323
    In addition to what is above do not reward bad behavior. If you are unhappy with a dealership at any time for any reason you are under no obligation to complete the sale. You have all the power in a transaction like this because you can leave the table at any time and owe no explanation.

    There are several SUV/CUV's that can lease quite well, relative to their MSRP, that we can point you toward but your budget would need to be known as well as whether you would want a lease. Personally given everything else that you're dealing with I would consider a lease; you put minimal mileage on your vehicle and assuming you have a 36 month lease, you would have peace of mind unexpected repairs are covered under a factory warranty the entire time you have the vehicle.

    Lastly if you are disenchanted enough with the car buying process you want no parts of it you may want to consider hiring a broker to handle the process for you. However keep in mind they can charge anywhere from $300-$500 with many requiring an upfront retainer fee. That's ultimately your call but if you decide it's worth your money and their time there are several brokers some of us know from another message board that are both reputable and good at their job.
    1997 Honda Prelude Base - 2020 Acura RDX A-Spec SH-AWD - 2021 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off Road DC - 2006 BMW 330Ci ZHP
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 46,941
    first, so sorry for your lose and everything you have had to go through. It can be stressful to deal with a major purchase even under normal circumstances.

    I hope that you finally resolved the issues with that deal, and have all your money back. Their commissions are not your concern, and their business practices are awful.

    Not sure how the house situation will impact your credit and what not, which makes a difference in terms of getting a loan or the best lease terms. But assuming that your credit rating is OK, in your current situation, I think a normal lease is probably the best way to go. New car, minimal cash outlay, and affordable payments. In 3 years, can decide if buying to keep long term makes sense.

    I would stay away from the expensive brands. Lexus is nice, but going to be pricey. A car like a CRV should be a bit more affordable (an EX has what you require, an EX-L is a little fancier version). And Mazdas are great. If you like the seats, a CX5 can be had with all the features you want at a good price. Same for a Ford Escape. Solid cars, and economical. If you want something a bit nicer, Lincoln makes a small SUV version of the Escape, and there are pretty good deals on those too.

    Definitely find someone experienced with dealerships and the buying process to go with you looking. First step is to sit in all your choices, see what feels good. Then drive the ones that make the short list. Only once you know what you want should you worry about numbers. If your "buddy" if good at the haggling part, even better.

    There are some buying services (true car) or online apps (Honcker) that are useful to get prices, and potentially set up the whole deal without ever going into the dealer. If nothing else, that gives you a good target range.

    Good luck with it all. Please let us know how it works out for you.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD , 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Ecoboost FWD.

  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 46,941
    nyccarguy said:

    I sent a PM, but definitely want to echo what the others are saying. Have you looked at a VW Tiguan?

    from my poking around, they don't lease well. But, very nice cars.

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD , 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Ecoboost FWD.

  • 28firefighter28firefighter Seattle, WAMember Posts: 8,806
    The base Tiguan S leases OK in certain localities. I don't think NY/NJ/CT is one of them.

    Anyway, I'd echo @qbrozen's suggestion to try and leverage CarMax. Many of us enthusiasts like to drive cars there because they generally have a nice assortment of late model cars and the sales model is low pressure and no-commission, so you don't need to feel bad about taking a car for a test drive.

    I, too, would highly recommend spending the money for a broker once you have settled on what you want and what your budget is. That way, all you need to do is fill out the credit application, show up, and pick up your car. In many cases, the savings will more than cover the additional fee for the broker not to mention the time and energy you'd need to invest. I've had several family members in the northeast take this approach and it was very successful. They also saved a bundle.

    You also mentioned that you want to buy from a dealer with a good service center. I think most of us would agree that today, that should be less of a concern than it used to be. You can safely buy a new car from any dealership in the country and take it to any other franchise dealership for service and warranty work. It isn't uncommon for some dealers to have great new car sales divisions and awful service departments (and vice versa), so buy where you feel comfortable and take it for service where you feel comfortable, even if they are different.

    Let us know how we can help.
    2022 Tesla Model Y Performance, 2022 Hyundai Elantra N
  • boomchekboomchek Vancouver, BC, CanadaMember Posts: 5,516
    Research the cars you might be interested in online. Visit manufacturer websites, build and price them online, play around with lease and finance payments options online (dealer's offers and discounts won't be too far off manufacturer retail prices online).

    Make a short list of vehicles that fit your budget and appeal to you based on your research.

    Visit a few dealers for said cars and sit in them, test drive them, ask about availability and leave.

    Once you're done test driving the vehicles, make another shorter list, and focus on those vehicles only. At this point you should have 1 to 3 vehicles you're really interested in.

    You can negotiate by email or if you received good service from the dealers and sales people you visited, go back and see them. Make sure you're familiar with current manufacturer offers and rebates as some dealers might not want to "give" those to you if you miss them or don't mention them. Depending on the make and model and time of the year, rebates and discounts may vary.

    You can pay sticker price minus rebates and a small discount and have a purchase completed within 15 minutes. Or if you want to negotiate with the dealer for every single last dollar, it could turn into a multi hour excercise. But ensure you're familiar with margins and markup on said model so you're not trying to negotiate an impossible deal. Obviously more expensive brands will have higher markup and lower end brands or models will have smaller markups.

    Like others mentioned, getting a few email quotes on cars you shortlisted to buy will help you determine a specific model's margin and average discount before you go in to finalize the deal.

    Also as others mentioned, going in with a friend or family member when test driving cars also helps get a second opinion, but ensure you are going to buy what's right for you. I work in the car business and seen a few times where a friend or family member of the car buyer would talk them out of an honestly good deal or steer them towards something they don't want to buy.

    The bottom line is if you like the car, and it's in your budget, and you feel good about the purchase experience go ahead and do it. If you're unsure about anything you're free to walk away.

    Only leave a deposit if you're 100% sure you're making the right decision.

    If unsure then walk away and rethink it.

    Hope this helps!



    2016 Audi A7 3.0T S Line, 2021 Subaru WRX

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZMember Posts: 5,349
    Lots of good information & suggestions here. It'd be nice if the OP updated her progress.
    '08 Acura TSX, '17 Subaru Forester
  • thebeanthebean Parts UnknownMember Posts: 1,184
    The amount of instructions about how to proceed may be overwhelming to her. I think about my wife trying to navigate this process and I'm sure she would have a very hard time with this.
    2015 Honda Accord EX, 2019 Honda HR-V EX
  • stickguystickguy Member Posts: 46,941
    without me, my wife would probably drive her current car forever. Or I guess, get my son to do it (not that he will save her much money!)

    2020 Acura RDX tech SH-AWD , 2022 Ford Maverick Lariat Ecoboost FWD.

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