When you're shopping for a car, the experience you have at a dealership can make all the difference. At Edmunds.com, Senior Editor Matt Jones is setting out to highlight dealerships that make car shopping easy and enjoyable.
When it comes right down to it, a car dealership is often more than just a local business, trying to make money. It is an integral part of a community. And just as the car purchasing process is evolving beyond the old stereotypes, many dealerships are going above and beyond just moving metal. Many are looking to improve their communities and enrich customer experiences. Here is a list of just some of the dealers that are doing unexpected things.
Mastria Nissan: Free Tires and Community Commitment
Long-term car ownership comes with upkeep cost, and Mastria Nissan is Raynham, Massachusetts, has found a way to help reduce those costs for its customers. The dealership offers its customers free tire replacement with its Tires for Life program. A customer who purchases a new or used vehicle from Mastria Nissan is automatically entered into the program. When the tires on a vehicle purchased at Mastria Nissan wear down, the dealership replaces them with new ones, at no charge to the customer.
All the customer has to do is follow the factory recommended maintenance service and have the work done at Mastria. The tires must be rotated every 6,000 miles and aligned annually. When the tires wear down to a specified tread depth, they will be replaced, up to $175 per tire.
The Mastria Group also is a longtime donor and supporter of community programs, including a local no-kill dog rescue called Blue Dog Shelter, which cares for unwanted and unprotected animals and eventually places abandoned dogs in adoptive homes. The Mastria Group also sponsors the Raynham Police Drug Awareness Program and local youth sports, and teams with a local elementary school's PTA to fund classroom activities and purchase supplies.
Friendly Honda: Local Discounts and Ding Fixes
Customers who buy a car at this dealership in Poughkeepsie, New York, automatically become members of the My Friendly Rewards program. It gets buyers discounts at local businesses including restaurants, a yoga studio and a salon.
Friendly Honda also offers "free first ding" repair. In the first year of ownership, if a new vehicle gets a ding, Friendly Honda will repair it free of charge, as long as the ding doesn't require paint.
In addition, all used vehicles come with a minimum of a six-month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty, regardless of brand, even if the factory warranty has already expired.
Cabe Toyota Scion: Free Maintenance Bonuses
Shoppers who buy new Toyota cars and trucks all get the brand's Toyota Care, a no-cost maintenance plan for two years or 25,000 miles. But Cabe Toyota Scion in Long Beach, California, betters that offer by giving its new car buyers free oil changes for five years, or up to 60,000 miles. Sweetening the deal, the dealership offers free loaner cars for services other than oil changes. New car buyers can bring in their cars for free washes anytime they like.
The 30,000- and 35,000-mile factory recommended services also are free from Cabe Toyota Scion to its customers, provided all previous Toyota Care work was done there.
Audi Hawaii: The Art of Charity
People often say that cars are works of art, but Audi Hawaii, based in Honolulu, put a spin on that idea by transforming its showroom into an art show for a good cause.
Audi Hawaii is no stranger to community involvement: Every other Sunday, it opens its car wash bays to local high school fundraisers, providing the equipment, soap and water free of charge.
So it was open to an interesting idea that came its way. Brazilian artist Daniel Ellwanger was looking for a way to showcase his art and raise funds for the VLOK (Friends of Lombok) foundation, whose goal is to help build a hospital in Lombok, Indonesia. An extended visit to the country inspired Ellwanger to work with the foundation.
He reached out to a friend, the niece of the dealership's owner, to ask about a venue for the fundraiser. Audi Hawaii's general sales manager, Joe Nagar, and the rest of the management staff thought it was a great cause and were eager to help with the one-night event.
Kraft Nissan: A Lifetime Warranty and a Commitment to Charities
This dealership in Tallahassee, Florida, offers a lifetime powertrain warranty on all new and most of the pre-owned vehicles it sells. This powertrain warranty is good at participating dealers and licensed repair shops across the United States and Canada, and comes at no additional cost to the buyer. Everything the factory powertrain warranty covers also is covered by this lifetime warranty. To qualify for the program, new vehicles and used cars that are five years old or newer and which have fewer than 50,000 miles must have factory-recommended services performed — but work doesn't need to be done at Kraft Nissan.
In addition to these perks to customers, Kraft is also giving back. In October 2013, Kraft donated $100 for every car sold on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th of the month to the car buyer's choice of four charities: Living Well, the Sacred Heart Foundation, the American Cancer Society or Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Also that month, Kraft donated a portion of the cost of every oil change done at its service center to the charity of the customer's choosing. To show its dedication to fighting breast cancer, Kraft painted pink ribbons and messages of strength, faith and hope on the showroom windows. And it topped that off by hosting an old-fashioned bake sale to raise money for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.
It's More Than Just Selling Cars
Whether it's providing car buyers with unexpected extras like free maintenance or fundraising efforts for a local community cause, there's real evidence that for many dealers, there's more to life than selling cars.
Joe Nagar, the general sales manager of Audi Hawaii might have put it best. "We believe in being available to our friends and neighbors when they have special needs," he says. "Without our community, we would not exist."
To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit Edmunds.com's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.