“Even those of us who are good at it, hate it.” That’s what one Gildshire reader had to say about the process of buying a new car. We agree. There’s a car that catches your eye. You perform due diligence in terms of ratings, reviews, and word-of-mouth ownership opinions. Check the bank account and your budget. Good to go from a financial standpoint. Head out for the most-stressful 4.5 hours of your life. “What can I do to put you in this, (slightly more expensive car,) today?” “Dealer prep, documentation fee (Whatever that is. Isn’t everything in the cloud today?) and window etching (Were our last windows etched? I never noticed.) All of these things raise the price of that car “but (wink) don’t worry about that. I’ll work on it.” Why does buying a new car have to feel like tooth extraction without nitrous?
More and more, folks like you are asking that question and doing something about it. There are new ways of buying a new car that bypass the smiling man in the wide tie. Gildshire compiled a few of the better non-traditional ways of buying a new car.
That’s right, the same place you go to buy a hot dog and a Pepsi for a buck and a half, and the best vanilla ice cream on the planet have folks that will negotiate a car purchase for you.
Since January 2014, over a million bargain hot dog shoppers have purchased a car or truck through the Costco Auto Program. It allows members to compare vehicles, calculate the monthly payment, and secure a discount at a participating (and usually local or near-local) dealership.
What we’ve heard about the Costco program: The savings are pretty good. No, you won’t get the kind of deal that makes a car salesman’s eyes bleed, but the Costco way brings your stress level down from a 10 to a 5.5. This is a non-traditional way of buying a new car that is kind of like the old way of buying a new car.
Now you can buy a car the same way you buy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Pick a used (they don’t yet offer brand-new) car from over 10,000 in Carvana’s inventory, select financing, and complete the paperwork, all online. The vehicles receive a 150-point mechanical and safety inspection, and you receive a free CarFax report.
What we’ve heard about Carvana: This is for people who are over the dealership scene. Prices are low, but they aren’t super-duper low. What do we mean about buying a car like a Reese’s? If you go to a Carvana vending tower to pick up your car, you select it with a giant coin in a giant slot. Or, they can deliver your new-to-you vehicle to your house or place of business.
Much like Carvana, Houston-based Vroom will sell you a car from their inventory. Unlike Carvana, they charge a flat fee of $499 to ship your car to you. Other than that, the process is nearly identical.
What we’ve heard about Vroom: Online ratings rank Vroom a ways below Carvana, but the company is diligently attempting to satisfy valid complaints through a responsive customer service team. Price-wise, Vroom may be a somewhat better deal than Carvana, but Carvana enjoys a slightly better reputation from users.
Let’s talk about the things you can do with an app on your phone. You can play Candy Crush, check the weather, tweet, and buy a car. Yes, with the “Fair” app (owned by TrueCar), the entire car purchasing transaction can take place on your cell. For a “startup payment” (give or take a thousand bucks) you pick out a car and pick it up at the dealership.
Tired of your car? Bored with your ride? Take it back and pick out another one, albeit with another startup fee.
Unlike some of the other alternate-lease companies, Fair offers full coverage insurance for about $100 a month. That’s a pretty good deal as well.
Unfortunately, online reviews of the process with Fair are spotty, at best. For every three reviews saying “great experience”; there’s one that says “the car was a mess” or “customer service was rude and unresponsive.” Personally, I need more than a 75% positive on the feedback scorecard before I would seriously consider a transaction. But, we’ll keep track of Fair and see if things improve.
At the end of the day, what are Gildshire’s thoughts? We would give it a go with, in order, Carvana, Costco, Vroom, and Fair. But alternative ways of buying a new car (new to you, that is) are popping up like meal kits. Also, like meal kits, the offerings are getting better all the time. Keep an eye on these, and others. The man in the wide tie is watching them, as well.