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How To Buy A New Car – Part 2 of 3

Due to expanding family, we decided to purchase a new vehicle that can

That left us with Chevrolet Equinox vs. Subaru Outback. We really wanted to give Chevy a chance to support our US car manufacturer but we just could not find enough “Nox” to make financial sense. Almost all dealers wanted $750 or above their invoice pricing for their existing (and limited) stock. I suppose we could have custom ordered one, but the delivery date was not guaranteed and we really wanted to take advantage of the 2009 IRS Car Sales Tax deduction.

Step 3 – Our Buying Strategy

If you can, time your purchase during:

  1. Month end (last weekend of the month or few days before the month ends)
  2. Quarter end (standard quarter months are March, June, September, December)
  3. Model Year-End (usually September/October is when car manufacturers put out their new models)
  4. Maintain flexibility on the color/option variables
  5. Find out when the car was delivered to the lot (many times it’s difficult to find this info)

Step 4 – Before contacting dealers

After deciding on the Subaru Outback, we went to manufacturer site and chose our required options:

  • 2010 Subaru Outback
  • 4 cylinder, Premium
  • CVT transmission
  • All Weather package
  • All Weather floor mats

Now the fun began. Knowing our minimum specs, we identified all Subaru dealers within 150 miles radius (Yes, 150 miles is quite a hike, but at minimum, if you liked your local dealer but a dealer 100 miles had the car you wanted, you can always ask them to do a “dealer swap” without you traveling out there).

We first looked at their Subaru Outback inventory via their web sites and made copious note of how many Outbacks they had in their inventory. Then I made a simple Excel spreadsheet to keep track of dealer info, inventory level, person I spoke with, etc. (get it here – if you don’t have Microsoft Excel 2007, you can always use or Google Docs which both are freely available)

Here is my “calling script” I used when contacting dealers:

(Plan on calling within 15 minutes of their opening time)

Me: Hello. Can I please speak with your general sales manager?

Dealer: May I ask who is calling and what is this in reference to?

Me: My name is John Doe and I would like to speak to him about a vehicle purchase?

General manager: Hello. How can I help you?

Me: Hello. My name is John Doe and I plan on purchasing a 2010 Subaru Outback this week. To whom am I speaking with?

General manager: Hi. My name is Ken Smith. How can I help you?

Me: I am specifically interested in an Outback Premium model with all weather package. I know the model is very popular right now so I am calling multiple dealers to see who will give me their price. However, I do understand that dealers also need to make money so I am looking for a fair price.

General manager: What prices have you’ve been given?

Me: Well, I am currently looking to buy one at $500 under invoice. More discount means that we will buy a car from you that much quicker. To make it fair to you for your discount, I am willing to be flexible on the color as well as options on the car (We did not like White or Sky Blue so our script was “as long as it isn’t white or sky blue). This way, if you have a car that was just delivered, you can sell me that car to make more on the “holdback” and “floor plan” costs.

At this point, you can go into more detail about their inventory and get some prices.

Step 5 – Contacting dealers

Using the script above, I called 18 dealers in the NJ/NY/PA Subaru dealers. Many did not want to offer a $500 discount. Some offered $300 under invoice, $0 or even $400 above invoice prices. Many of those quotes were from dealers with limited inventory. As Zig Ziggler once said, “If you can dream it, then you can achieve it.”!

When comparing prices, it is very important to do apple-to-apple comparisons. There was one particular local dealer with plenty of stock that

By the way, when comparing dealer quotes, make sure to obtain or confirm the following (these are included in the aforementioned spreadsheet):

  • Selling price (confirm that destination charge is included in this price)
  • DMV plate transfer fee
  • DMV new plate fee
  • Dealer documentation fee
  • Sales tax
  • Any other taxes
  • Any other dealer fees (prep, vin etching) – NEVER PAY FOR THESE!!

Step 6 – And the Winner is….

Full Disclosure: I have absolutely not obtained any benefits by mentioning this dealer in my website. Yes, because our experience was good, I recommend you at least check them out. No, I do not get any fees or commissions of any sort nor did I did not get extra discounts, free tires, maintenance plans, etc. My purchase price and everything we bought was negotiated well before this article was published. Besides, they don’t know that I am publishing their info!

Becker Subaru, Allentown, PA!

Why did they get my business? Well, Ken (general sales manager) and Mike M (sales person) were easy to deal with and they apparently sell lots of Subarus as they normally have more than 20+ Outbacks at any given time. They did make couple of snafus which I will describe later, but overall, we were very happy with our purchase:

  • 2010 Subaru Outback, 4 cylinder, Premium, CVT
  • All Weather package with moon roof (Option Code “06”)
  • Convenience and Protection Group 1B – Wheel arch moldings, splash guards, rear bumper cover (Option code “LN8”)
  • All Weather floor mats (Option Code “B0A”)
  • Partial Zero Emission or PZEV -required in PA,NJ,NY
  • Destination Charge
  • MSRP: $28,437
  • Invoice: $26,586
  • Selling Price: $25,826
  • Discount (under invoice): -$760
  • Doc fee: $120
  • PA Transit fee: $5
  • PA Tire Tax: $5

Now I am aware that a person on Edmunds stated that he or she bought an Outback with moonroof for $25,500. Not knowing which region and what options were included in the car, etc., I think I paid a fair price for such a nice wagon.

Because the car was going to be registered in NJ, I did not have to pay the NJ sales tax at Becker Subaru.

  • NJ Sales Tax (7%): $1807.92
  • NJ DMV Title fee: $60
  • NJ DMV Registration (plate transfer) fee: $24
  • TOTAL: $27,847.92

Step 7a – Pitfalls to watch out for (at the dealership)

  1. Certified vs. person check: When I asked if I needed to bring a certified check, I was informed that I could just bring in the personal check. DON’T! That means the dealer will hold the MSO (Manufacturer Source of Origin) until the check clears. You need to obtain for the title issued by your state. You don’t want to make multiple, long trips!
  2. Manufacturer Source of Origin Certificate: Don’t leave the dealership without it!
  3. Application for Certificate of Ownership for New Vehicle: the dealer must complete this form and give it to you (you in turn give it to NJ DMV).

Because I had to make another 2 hour round trip to the dealer in Pennsylvania, Becker Subaru discounted the Subaru Gold Plan (7 year/100K, $100 deductible) for $1,000 (dealer cost) + 6% PA tax ($60) as well as free “Pass Key” (key replacement program) membership for free for 2 years.

Step 7 – Pitfalls to watch out for (at the DMV)

  1. Paying Sales Tax: You need the MSO before you can pay the sales tax and get your title!
  2. Registration / Plate transfer: if you are transferring from your existing car, the information on your current registration must match your new registration. For example, my wife was the only person on the Honda title, meaning the registration was in her name only. Because our Subaru was purchased under both of our names, we both had to go to the DMV to transfer the registration. Yes, it is a hassle, but new plates go for $270. Registration transfers are $24.
  3. Auto Insurance: Call your insurance carrier to add or swap out the car
  4. Inspection Sticker/Decal (part 1): Pennsylvania issues annual inspection stickers, even on new cars. New Jersey has a “new car” sticker that lasts 4 years. When paying the sales tax at the DMV, ask for a yellow card (SS-22A R8/03) titled “Inspection Decal Replacement for New Vehicle Purchased Out of State”. There is no fee, but you do have to go to your local NJ DMV inspection center to get one applied to your car (you don’t have to wait in the inspection line but just confirm with your local inspector). You have to do it within 14 days of the yellow card issue date or you will need to get your new car inspected as if it was a used one!
  5. Inspection Sticker/Decal (part 2): BEFORE YOU GO, make sure to have the following
    1. New DMV Registration (it MUST say “TRANSFER” on it; not “DUPLICATE”) for Subaru!
    2. Insurance Declaration page for your old car (as you will not have the new auto insurance card for Subaru yet)
    3. Your Driver’s license.
  6. Inspection (part 3): After 4 years are up, make sure your car does not get on that “dyno”! Subaru Outback is an AWD or all-time-all-wheel-drive so it is exempted from this test!

Step 8 – Go out and enjoy your new Subaru Outback!