It started in February, 1969. My dad took me out to the Winter Nationals, and I saw the drag races for the first time; it was all over. My love affair with cars had begun. It’s lasted this long, and it’s showing no sign of waning. The faster, the better. I ended up getting into the automotive business when I was a young man. About 16, I got into the tire business. I was in the tire business for 30 years, when I sold Best Value Tire, which is in Huntington Beach. Then, I went to work selling cars with Danny. Danny was one of my customers. He brought me in and showed me the ropes of the car business. A lot of you know Danny, some of you newer members don’t. He’s the one that I took over for when he moved out of the state.
That’s a little bit about how I got into the car business. Ironically, I kind of got back into the tire business. I’m working two businesses: My car business and my tire business. I opened up in [inaudible: 01:25]; it’s right next to the auction, so it works really nice to check out cars and service cars that I buy for customers. With that, I want to start talking a little bit about the industry in general, because it is tough out there right now.
The last couple years, new car sales have been down. They’re starting to show some numbers now, but the quality used cars just aren’t there. The danger of buying a $5,000 car right now, you might as well buy a lottery ticket. Mike, I think, can second that. When things get tough, what’s the first thing they quit doing? Their maintenance. They stretch it out until they have to. Even some of the higher-mile cars there, you got to be very, very careful. When you’re going through that quagmire, you really need someone you can trust to check the car out to make sure it is what it says it is.
I do new and used. If you are looking for a new car, what I do is look for the best deal through my dealers, which are high- volume dealers that move a lot of cars. Typically, my fee is covered with the flooring money that they have because they’re moving a lot of cars. Flooring money is money set aside to pay the interest on that car while it sits on the lot. If it sits on the lot too long, they’re losing money, and you’re not going to get the deal.
When you go to a dealer, you are at a tremendous disadvantage. Some people love to negotiate car deals; they like it. They like going to the dealership. They like the whole experience. There’s only a few of those; most everyone else doesn’t. They have a lot of tricks to try and get all your information before they even let you drive the car. They want to have a credit app and all of that filled out before they get you in the car. With me, that’s not the case. If you’re interested in a vehicle, I go out, price that vehicle. If you want to drive it, I’ll set up a test drive. You’ll meet me at the dealership. You won’t have to talk to a salesman; the pricing has already been established. It’s typically the low deal that you’re going to get if you walked in there and spent half the day grinding on them, that’s where you’re going to be with me upfront.
When you go to buy the car, they deliver it to my office, not the dealership. You spend half hour or 40 minutes signing the paperwork. We go through all the buttons, make sure you know everything works, and you are on your way. You’re not being pushed for any add-on warranties; that’s really a hustle. When you’re at a dealership, and they want to sell you an extended warranty on a new car, you say, “Are you out of your mind? You got the factory warranty right now.” Buy that after the warranty’s expired, if at all, because most of these new cars now, I think the whole warranty thing is way overblown, but some people like that blanket of security. If you want that, I offer it, but I say, “Buy it after the factory warranty has expired.”
When you’re buying a new car, you have to decide whether, “Do I want to lease or do I want to buy?” My answer is, if you know the miles that you’re going to be driving on a consistent basis and you’d like to drive a new car every 3 years, leasing is a nice alternative. Where people get into trouble with leasing is they know I’m going to drive 15,000 miles this year, but all of a sudden their job changes, or their story changes, and they start putting 25,000 miles a year on it, and now you’re forced into buying that car for payment; gross mileage overage. There’s a few hooks too, as far as when you go to turn the thing in, you have to have a certain amount of tread on the tires. Some brands like to lease it for a period, they know about 30,000 where the tires are dust. You have to put new tires on for it when you turn it in, or they charge you their overage. I know ways around that. That’s why you use me instead of just going to the dealer and believing what they say.
If you’re going to buy, factory financing, hands-down, is the best way to go, unless you’re buying a truck; they are putting the real low financing on the cars they want to sell: The higher- profit, smaller engine, high fuel-efficient cars typically get the 0.9% the 1.9%. We use all the factory programs if that’s the best deal. Sometimes, you’re better off to go to a credit union. If they don’t take the financing deal, there’s usually a rebate in either/or. You might take their financing and take the rebate, and really drop your buying cost considerably.
Any questions on new cars, call me before you go shopping. Once you go into the dealership, typically, it takes you at best ½ day to buy a car; at best. Sometimes 8 hours, and that’s by design. They want to drag it out, wear you down, and get you to agree to some of the extras after you’ve agreed on a price; that’s just the way they operate.
Talking a little bit about used cars: The used car market has really changed for what we’re seeing. Good used cars are still out there. Typically, they’re in the high-end range; the BMW’s, Mercedes. Those are primarily leased anyway, so there’s a lot of good lease returns coming back; good supply. That’s when you get the best price. With some of the other brands, you really got to be cautious. There are some rental car agencies that turn their fleets, and sometimes, that’s not a bad option. If I’m buying that at auction, I will check it out before we buy it: Run the Carfax, look at the car, make sure it’s a good car. You could buy a late model car with usually around 30,000 miles on it at a pretty good price, and they have a lot of inventory. The more inventory the better price you get if you’re going to go to auction.
Some of the used car dealerships have gotten kind of desperate. The supply of cars getting thinner, so they are trying to sell higher-mileage cars for more money. The market is really kind of in tough shape. Something else I do is I sell your car for you. Selling a car can be kind of dangerous: People coming to your house, they know where you live. I can do it on a consignment basis, either taking it to auction or selling it for you. I typically would keep the car at the shop if someone calls and wants to see it; my tire shop, there 8:00 to 5:00. They come in; I make a copy of their license and insurance, make sure if they’re going to road test the car that I have their keys and their information. It’s a much safer way to sell a car.
If I go to auction, there’s a couple of ways to do it. There’s an online vehicle exchange where I post it, and it goes out nationwide. If you have an older, high-mileage car, probably go to auction and just do a live auction and be done with it. If you have something that’s a little bit unique, you’ll get a little more money for it, and you’ll market it to a much wider audience with the [inaudible: 09:22].
One car I have that’s taking in this afternoon, that’s an absolute gem for anyone looking for it. It’s a ’09 Lincoln MKZ. You want to look that up on the internet. This is a beautiful car. I sold it to the customer new. He had passed away, and his family is selling the car. It’s got 11,000 miles on it: $21,000. It was a $38,000 new car. It is perfect. Anyone looking for something in that price range, it is spectacular. I’ll have it on my website by the weekend.
With that, I’d just like to open it up if there’s any questions. Everyone has a car question.
When you’re talking about you carry the factory financing, you help people . . .
We use their financing.
You use their financing?
You could help the person apply for factory financing.
I do everything, yeah. Basically, I would email you a credit app. Then I would send that back into them, have everything setup, the paperwork all setup. When you come into my office to buy a car, you’re going to sign all the documents in order, done.
What are the best small SUVs out there for gas mileage?
A lot of it depends on how you’re going to use it. When you’re talking about smaller SUV’s, gas mileage is all about size; moving the mass. If you’re talking about a Highlander, RAV-4, there’s a couple different sizes of SUVs. If you’re going to tow, you might want a rear-wheel drive, like a Toyota 4Runner. It depends on how you’re going to use it as to which one may be the best. They’re all pretty good. Most new cars today are built pretty well. If you’re going to use it with a specific application . . .
Just for around town and small trips.
I like the Highlander, if you want a little bit more room. Smaller, you’ve got the RAV-4, the Honda CRV. Each of those also has their Lexus, have the high-ends too. It depends what you want to spend and how many goodies you want on it.
There you go. That’s not bad, yeah. That’s a pretty nice little ride [inaudible: 11:45].
The Highlander’s on a car chassis.
Yeah. I guess that’s it. All right. Thank you.
Just call Mike Maxwell at (714) 925-3472 or email him at email@example.com