Auto Buying Programs, Rebates & Incentives | Car Questions Answered

Information about Auto Buying Programs, Rebates and Incentives

Are Auto Buying Programs Really Worth It?

The Internet's been around a long time but it's really making a big change in the automotive industry over the last three to five years. And one of the biggest ones has been auto buying programs. People ask me all the time are auto buying programs worth it. What I'm talking about are things like Costco, TrueCar, Edmonds Price Promise, Kelley Blue Book's true costs to own or Kelley Blue Book's fair market value. Are these good indicators? I'm a huge fan of them. For one, to be a part of them typically if you are a participating dealer you've had two proven that you have good customer service scores with your manufacturer, you have to agree to the pricing with those organizations, those pricing organizations. So really it's a great way to know that you're getting a great deal on a car. 

Would You Used an Auto Buying Program?

For example I live here in Boise, my sister lives in Des Moines, Iowa and she was interested in getting a Honda Odyssey, a great van, but it doesn't make any sense. I can get a deal for her on a car but by the time I would ship it from Boise to Des Moines, there's no real savings to be had. So I gave her the same advice I'd give anybody here. A Costco auto buying program or True Car, find the dealer that's in your area, that works with these organizations. You already know what car you want, she wanted the Odyssey, just go get it. 

Now someone may be able to negotiate with a thousand dealers across the country and find some lower price after hours and hours and hours spending time, but they may not end up actually with the car they want and fall for different tricks along the way. Those programs, the Costco Auto Buying Program I think there's a quarter million cars a year, you do one or two every three to five years. Just be done with it in five minutes, get the car you want, that way you know the deal is the deal you want. I love them. I certainly would do it if I didn't work for a car company tomorrow and I needed a car, the first thing I would do is use one of these auto buying programs.

What Kinds of Auto Buying Programs are Out There?

Now there's a lot of different ones out there, but typically for example like Costco, they represent like I believe Pen Fed and three or four others. True Car is really big, they back USAA, AAA and a bunch of others. So they all kind of funnel through one or two different sources. It's just a great way to know you didn't overpay on a car and it just takes the stress out of the situation. 

What Should I Expect at the Dealership When Using an Auto Buying Program?

That being said, if you go through one of those auto buying programs and you show up at the store, I wouldn't set the expectation that you're going to do better. We deal with that all the time and that's the piece I don't understand as a dealer. If we show you the Costco's best price and we show you True Car's best price and AAA's best price and the Super VIP Program's best price, it's the best price. Don't expect to get two or three thousand dollars less than that. There's hardly that much markup in a car, so just look for the car that's right for your family. An auto buying program is a great way to get it or just a dealer you trust, in any case there's certainly a good way to go. 

How do Manufacturer Rebates and Incentives Work?

The new car industry, especially, is full of rebates and incentives. Virtually every commercial you'll see is going to talk about some kind of either rebate or incentive. It can be very challenging to figure all this stuff out. I even know at dealers each month I have to do training. A good friend of mine is a GM at a Chevy store and every month they meet to discuss how those rebates and stuff will work. 

How do I Find Out if There Are Any Available Rebates on a Car?

The best way for you to find out what's available on a car that you might be interested in is the manufacturer website. So if you're interested in a Ford, you want to know what rebates you might want to qualify for. Look at the Ford website, drill down to models. Now don't just assume that you understand exactly how it works. The reason I bring that up is it might be certain F-150s and certain packages get a rebate and other ones don't. So be careful you don't fall in love with, will say the F-150 Titanium package that has XYZ on it, that you know is the perfect car for you but it's actually a slightly different trim that gets the rebate. Just spend the time, read through and then look at dealer reviews before you visit the site. It's really tough because at our store we try to work with our customers, we want to help you get through the process. So if you start with a dealer that represents a brand you like, that has a really great score, you know like a for 4.5 or 4.6 stars on Google and on Facebook, they want to help you find the best rebates on your vehicle. 

Are Rebates Always Good, Or Do They Have Downfalls?

Okay, now not every manufacturer have them and personally I'm not in love with them, right. If they're giving someone a five or ten thousand dollar rebate on a car today, everybody who owned that car before today just took a five or ten thousand dollar hit on their vehicle and depreciation on new vehicles is one of the hardest things to battle. So really pay attention to what you're getting into and typically the biggest rebates and deals are on cars that are not selling very well. So it's without saying, that car's future value will be compromised so just make sure the deal you get today is not your heartache tomorrow. Okay, so make sure your getting the car that works out best for you, that is actually the best deal, not a rebate.

How do Incentives Work? And Are They Something I Should Take Advantage of?

So incentives are very similar. Now they typically change you know month to month, whether it's a finance incentive or some kind of giveaway. I guess buyer beware. If the incentive has anything to do with not a car, like if the incentive is buy a car get a TV, ok I like getting a TV. But be careful because really in a situation like that you are now over financing a vehicle for something that's not related. Any incentive that's worth its weight is going to be an incentive related to the car. Whether it's an interest rate like zero or one point nine percent, a finance package, or a warranty; something related to a vehicle, you want to stick with something like that. Not something that's like a trip or something non car related, because I promise it's built into the price of that vehicle. You'll be upside down on the car and trust me, the TV isn't gonna be worth it and you're just better off buying a TV. 
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