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Car buying... ugh!

This is a venting post.

It's definite: I need to get a new car. I hoped to get another 25,000 miles out of my 18-year-old Subaru, but that's not going to happen.

I hate, hate, hate the car-buying process. I'm a lousy negotiator. The dealers are experienced and aggressive. The financial issues are complicated. If this were a computer I'd be in good shape, but the business practices surrounding car purchases are byzantine and designed to take advantage of inexperienced consumers like me. Just thinking about it makes me wonder if spending $5000 per year to keep my old car running would be better than dealing with the purchase of a new car.

My bank is a good one, and they offer a car-buying service that's supposed to reduce the hassle of car shopping. I pick the car, they have a list of dealers, they get prices from the dealers, I get a "certificate" that says if I buy from that dealer I get a discounted auto loan rate. All of this works up to the point where the certificates are supposed to have the price; all of them say "Dealer will provide price." This means the dealers want to sink their salesmanship claws into me, instead of giving me a price to look at.

Hidden within all of this are the additional fees (dealer, state, federal) and taxes. When I look at a number, I can't tell what the real price is, so I can figure out if I can afford the loan payments. I'm shown a dummy price, probably because I'm a dummy.

Eighteen years ago, when I purchased the car I currently own, there was none of this. Internet car pricing was comparatively new, and dealers didn't pull the kinds of tricks they do now. I shopped for a car via a web site (autobytel), the dealer emailed me the price, and that was it. Now dealers have transferred their sales tactics to the internet and I'm not sure what I'm looking at.

I'm feeling irritated and put-upon. That's not a good emotional state for someone involved in this kind of transaction.

There's no solution, I suppose, except to calm down, do my research, and hope I don't have any more medical emergencies for the next five years.

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