Car Buying Articles

Which Car Buying Service Is Best for You?

From Concierges to New Online Services


  • Car Dealership Picture

    Car Dealership Picture

    If you choose to use a car buying service, you won't need to go to the dealership for anything except the test-drive. | March 22, 2011

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If you decide to get an expert's help when you're buying your next car, you still might need help choosing the right service for your needs. You might consider using a car-buying concierge, AutoNation Direct's car-buying service or the car-buying services offered by AAA and discount clubs such as Costco. And finally, if you decide on a more traditional approach, you could use a car broker.

Here are quick descriptions of what the services offer:

Car concierges work for either a flat fee or a percent of what they save you on the purchase price of the car. A car concierge will advise you on your choice of vehicles, negotiate the best price, review the contract and arrange to have the vehicle delivered to your home or office, where contracts are signed. While car concierges charge an upfront fee, they promise to negotiate a low price that yields net savings for the buyer.

AutoNation Direct is a free service that taps into a network of 200 AutoNation outlets across the country. Buyers work with a car-buying consultant who advises what new or used car to buy, locates the car from AutoNation's inventory, arranges test-drives at the dealership, gives a price for a trade-in and concludes the entire transaction at the buyer's home or office. While the service is free, the prices might not be the very lowest. However, the buyer gets expert consultation and a choice of cars from a large inventory.

Club car buying services, such as those offered by Costco and AAA, are free to members and promise improved pricing. The services usually point buyers to a representative at a designated dealership who provides upfront pricing. Club car buying services seem to work well for commonly available cars. Beyond that, personalized service will be limited.

Car brokers are paid by the dealer, so it is a free service for the car buyer. The broker will find the vehicle, negotiate a price and have the car delivered. Sometimes, however, the broker will also get a fee from the dealer, which raises the question of whether he negotiated the very best price for the buyer. Furthermore, the broker might only buy from dealerships with whom he has relationships, so the choice of vehicles is limited.

All of these services are beneficial for car shoppers whose time is tight. They all locate the cars and do the negotiating, which is the step most consumers hate. All the services offer a certain level of protection, keeping an unprepared car buyer from being thrown into the wheeling-and-dealing car buying arena, where buyers can lose money on the trade-in, financing and the purchase of unneeded aftermarket products — or a combination of all three.

Comments

  • autobuyerdr autobuyerdr Posts:

    A 'good deal' is a relative thing - a noun preceded by a particular subjective adjective. Any number of dangers exist for a buyer/consumer leading his or her auto retail pursuit based strictly upon price negotiation. One specific danger is clearly, "you get what you pay for". A product or service has a distinctive value, and the idea that competitive pricing can be avoided looms well for scammers and tricksters. Second, discounting is but a single component of a good deal. Ask any consumer who bought a car for a great price and wound up in the service garage paying the difference and then some what they think about the great price in the end. A good deal has to meet many other parameters than just a big discount. Third, a consumer and a consultant are the "must have" participants in the car buying process. Any online buying service, any concierge service, any brokerage or what have you would be hard pressed to replace 'the handshake' necessary to transact auto retail business. This being said, the relationship between the buyer and the seller becomes an important aspect of a good deal, too! As an auto retail expert, I know Auto Retail Future (the evolution from physical dealer businesses to support physical consumer communities to mostly virtual dealer businesses to support mostly virtual consumer communities) will hinge heavily on the value of connecting consultants and consumers in this space. As for the best deals, they will work themselves out. After all, each car deal must stand on its own merit - especially in Preowned consumer auto retail transactions (the fastest growing segment of the industry).

  • autobuyerdr autobuyerdr Posts:

    A 'good deal' is a relative thing - a noun preceded by a particular subjective adjective. Any number of dangers exist for a buyer/consumer leading his or her auto retail pursuit based strictly upon price negotiation. One specific danger is clearly, "you get what you pay for". A product or service has a distinctive value, and the idea that competitive pricing can be avoided looms well for scammers and tricksters. Second, discounting is but a single component of a good deal. Ask any consumer who bought a car for a great price and wound up in the service garage paying the difference and then some what they think about the great price in the end. A good deal has to meet many other parameters than just a big discount. Third, a consumer and a consultant are the "must have" participants in the car buying process. Any online buying service, any concierge service, any brokerage or what have you would be hard pressed to replace 'the handshake' necessary to transact auto retail business. This being said, the relationship between the buyer and the seller becomes an important aspect of a good deal, too! As an auto retail expert, I know Auto Retail Future (the evolution from physical dealer businesses to support physical consumer communities to mostly virtual dealer businesses to support mostly virtual consumer communities) will hinge heavily on the value of connecting consultants and consumers in this space. As for the best deals, they will work themselves out. After all, each car deal must stand on its own merit - especially in Preowned consumer auto retail transactions (the fastest growing segment of the industry).

  • printerman1 printerman1 Posts:

    car buying service? really??. you need to know what your habits for driving are, check the lemon aid guide, remember they are SALESmen/girls, they are SELLING you a car. They are NOT your friends. Do your research. Ask people who drive similar cars you like.

  • bharper766 bharper766 Posts:

    How hipocritical is it of Edmunds.com to create a "Premier Dealer" program to recommend to consumers car dealers they should consider when purchasing a new or used vehicle and NOT disclose to the consumer that these dealers pay Edmunds.com to be considered one of these dealers? I have been a fan of Edmunds.com personally for over 15 years and have always respected their integrity as a consumer advocate website. But to me this violates that very integrity from which their integrity was built. There are quality car dealers, with employees who work their tails off daily to take home a living to their families, that are approached by Edmunds.com sales associates to pay them to be considered a "premier dealer" and the program does not disclose to the consumer that ONLY dealers who PAY Edmunds.com monthly can become a part of this program. Come on Edmunds.com! Full disclosure to consumers or you are no better than those you have been critical of over the years.

  • To bharper766... We value your feedback and don’t in any way mean to deceive. We’ve tested the “Premier Dealer” presentation on our site with consumers, and most identify that those are dealers that are paying Edmunds to be highlighted on the site. Since “Premier Dealers” provide us with inventory content and offer a desired service to our customers (free price quotes, chat, etc.), we don’t put an advertisement label wherever dealers are listed. We have a team of folks across the country who are working with the “Premier Dealers” to share with them insights and best practices on how to best serve Edmunds shoppers. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our service and do whatever it takes to help customers find the car that meets their every need. We will keep your comments in mind. You can find more information about our business practices published in our FAQs: http://www.edmunds.com/about/faqs.html

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