96 S Waverly Rd Holland, MI 49423 616-546-3000

Good Price does not equal Good Deal

I recently had a customer in my showroom that was looking at one of my vehicles. They mentioned they wanted to look at another vehicle at a different dealership because it was $1,000 less than mine. It was marked Good Price on both Autotrader and Cargurus.com. I asked what the Carfax history report looked like and they admitted they did not know. I told them that often vehicles that are priced less than they should be usually have a major reason why.  We looked it up and found out that the Carfax showed 2 accidents and 4 owners. I mentioned that no two vehicle conditions are the same and what can appear to be 2 vehicles that look exactly the same on paper(miles, options, yr) can really be vastly different based on condition.  Just the fact that the carfax showed 4 owners and two accidents already told me that my 1 owner and no accident vehicle was certainly worth the $1,000 price difference. I told them that the other vehicle was probably average or slightly below average in condition and may also need mechanical issues handles.  They were still hopeful and wanted to go see it before making a decision. Several days later they came back and we talked about the other dealer's vehicle. They told me it was indeed in rough condition. Both bumpers looked horrible with scuffs, scratches and deformed plastic. Tires were needing replacing and it clearly smelled foul inside......not smoke but very bad. The other dealership recently got the vehicle and bought it at an auction that is know for selling below average condition vehicles. Since it was so recent I was actually able to see what it sold for at the auction.  That dealer paid $3,000 less for it than I paid for mine. Mine had a condition rating of Above Average and theirs was rated Below Average. Even though they bought it for significantly less they were still trying to sell it for a premium price.  Most dealers are only concerned about how cheap they can buy a vehicle and how much money they can sell it for. They usually skimp on important things like maintenance and repairs just so they can have a price advantage over another dealer. In reality that other vehicle should have been price $3,000 less than mine. Having a fair price on a vehicle that is in outstanding condition both physically and mechanically is MORE important than having a "Good Price" on something that is a huge mess and a complete waste of peoples time. The value of something is a lot more than just the price. You have to factor in so many other things(condition being the most important) that on paper it is hard to figure out.  Don't feel like you have to run out and see the cheapest vehicles on the interest....most of the time you will realize why it is priced the way it is. ALWAYS see the Carfax BEFORE visiting the dealer. It can usually save you time.

The real story on many of those Great Deals

Here is a perfect example of what looks like a "Great Deal" on paper but in reality is not only a horrible deal but one you would want to avoid and never ever consider buying.   Take a look at this vehicle.  It was being sold at a dealership in Grand Rapids.  It was listed on Cargurus.com as a Great Deal.  It had many people that "saved" it as one of their favorites.  The problem is that it really is a vehicle with some serious issues.   On Cargurus.com they really don't ever show you the history report.  They tell you they use AutoCheck History Reports but they don't show you any of the data.  You have to pay for it.  Autocheck also misses quite a bit of stuff that Carfax does not.  In this example Autocheck said there were no issues.   Now take a look at the Carfax and see if this is something you would buy.
What the Carfax is showing is pretty bad. Most people want to buy a nice One Owner vehicle.  This Yukon has had 4 owners. People hate buying vehicles that have been in an Accident.  This vehicles has had 2 - one with Airbags deployed.  Both seem pretty bad.  Buying a vehicle that spent its life in Canada is not a good thing. Buying a vehicle that spent time as a Rental Car is also not a good thing.  This Yukon has BOTH.  Another thing that is very bad is Mileage Inconsistency or Odometer Rollback.  Carfax show a potential issue with this as well.  If all of this was not bad enough, the vehicle has some huge mechanical issues. It needed major repairs just to be road worthy.  Many people spent their time going and looking at this vehicle because it was listed as a great price.  They all walked away from it because it looked bad and drove bad.  They didn't even get to see the Carfax with all of the other issues.  After a couple of months the dealer lowered the price and fixed some of the obvious issues but left many others. The vehicle sat and sat with everyone looking that came to look at it running for the door.  The vehicle sat on the lot for over 400 days.  
Just because a site like Cargurus.com tells you something is a Great Deal and priced $2,528 below market price does not mean it is so.  This vehicle would have still been a horrible deal for someone even if it were priced $5,000 lower.  No one should ever consider buying a vehicle like this.  It checks off almost every Red Flag and could not get any worse.  Sites like this are not doing consumers any favors.  In fact they are making it worse.  Buyers are filtering out vehicles that say Fair Deal or Good Deal and only focusing on the ones that say Great Deal.  If they visit the dealer and assume the Carfax is fine or never ask to see it they could be buying a vehicle with major issues and spending thousands more than they should.  Dealers want to be shown on these site as deals but in order to show up like that they have to NOT spend extra money of vehicles.  Many times they won't service or repair issues that should be done before a customer walks in the door.  They also buy vehicles that may have a few blemishes, smell like smoke or are missing lots of popular options. Those vehicles are cheaper to buy and would show up as Deals compared to another vehicle that was in above average condition, serviced/repaired with no issues and ready for a new buyer. Dealers are reluctant to spend money to make the vehicle nice because all of those things raise the price and they might lose their Deal listing.  Unfortunately the only way to know if you are getting a deal or not takes lots of research and legwork.  You will have to see and drive many of the same types of vehicle.  You will have to note condition, history report, options and many other factors that go into the real price Value.