I Don’t Get Car Dealer Math

Really, I don’t understand car dealer math. Okay, here’s the situation:

The Vette on the day I bought it. I kind of miss it but it was time for it to go.

I wanted to talk about this before now but didn’t have a chance. Back in mid-summer my wife and I were kinda, sorta looking to replace the Corvette. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that car. But I’ve reached a point in my life where comfort, convenience and practicality is more important to me than a street legal race car with 500+ horsepower, a top speed pushing 200 mph, and an exhaust system that sets off car alarms when I drive through quiet neighborhoods. Oh, and I couldn’t drive it in the winter so it sat parked for at least 4 months of the year. So back in July we decided to finally stop putting it off and do it, trade the Vette off on something more comfortable and more useful, and that we could drive in the winter.

I wanted a Rav4. At first. My wife has a 2013 Rav and we like it a lot. It’s up to about 140,000 miles now and we’ve had absolutely zero problems with it. But… The Rav4 is no longer a nice vehicle. The ones I saw were far, far from nice. I hated the interior of the new Rav. Everything about the Rav felt, well, cheap and badly thought out, like they just glued a bunch of stuff together without any thought to ergonomics or driver convenience.

And, of course, there was the fact that we couldn’t actually drive one to see what it was like in actual use. The dealer only had one in stock, still not ready to drive, and if we even wanted to test drive it they demanded we put down a $500 deposit. Screw that nonsense.

To make a long story a bit less long, I ended up focusing on a Buick Envision Avenir at the local GM dealer in Chilton. It was really, really nice, Buick’s version of a luxury crossover vehicle. Emphasis on luxury. Fine leather everywhere, superb build quality, fit and finish was absolutely excellent. All the controls were in the right place. It had a five star safety rating. The ‘infotainment’ thingie was integrated into the dash, with a subtle curve to it to keep it aimed at the driver. It just – felt right, if you know what I mean.

So, the price they had on the Buick was pushing $50,000. According to Kelly Blue Book and other sources on the internet my Vette was worth $30,000 – $35,000 on a trade in. I figured it would be at the lower end of that because the Vette wasn’t exactly pristine. I’d walloped that car hard through the mountains in Wyoming and Montana on multiple trips, ran it over salt covered roads in the midwest, and used it to haul bags of mulch. And it showed.

So, here’s the bit I don’t get, the math. I told them to write up an offer on the Buick, trading the Vette on it. Now, real world math says that $50,000 – $35,000 = $15,000. So I was figuring I’d have to shell out about $15K on top of the Vette if I wanted the Buick. But…

Well, the salesman left me sitting in the office and went off somewhere to do something. Then he showed up again and went into the office of the owner of the dealership. I could see them in there through the office windows, looking at computers, scribbling stuff on notepads. Finally he came back and…

With taxes, fees, misc. charges, special weather proof coatings, a bumper to bumper warranty for 3 years that even covers the interior fabrics, I’d have to pay $6,000 on top of the Vette for the Buick. So apparently 50,000 – 35,000 = 6,000???

First they’d knocked about six grand off the price of the Buick for — reasons. They gave me way more for the Vette than all the sources on the internet said it was worth. There were other discounts and special deals and I don’t know what all else. They tried to explain it all to me but about five minutes into the explanation my eyes kind of glazed over and I just said never mind and wrote them a check and went home with the Buick.

Like I said, I don’t understand how car dealer math actually works. I suspect imaginary numbers are involved. And, perhaps, pixies or elves or something.

Author: grouchyfarmer

Yes, I'm a former farmer. Sort of. I'm also an amateur radio operator, amateur astronomer, gardener, maker of furniture, photographer.

6 thoughts on “I Don’t Get Car Dealer Math”

    1. I’m sure there was something going on behind the scenes that would explain all of this if I knew what it was. It’s possible the estimates for my car’s value were too low, that the dealer had some kind of incentive deal going with Buick if they sold X number of cars and they badly needed to sell one more.

      I have to admit that I like these guys. This is the third or fourth car I’ve bought from them in the last few years and their service department is excellent. They’re a small town dealer but their prices are generally as good or are even a bit better than the big mega dealers.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Just so long as it comes out on your side… I too once loved Toyota, and I don’t know what happened, but I don’t go there now, either. Beware, I caution you, of the next stage in ‘sensible vehicle advancement’ (a wifely skill) which will have you driving around (like me) in a Hyundai A10….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like Hyundai quite a lot. I had an Accent back in the day. It got about 40 miles per gallon, was comfortable to drive. And it was a remarkably safe car as we found out the hard way when a massive pickup truck rear ended my son when he was driving it. Truck was doing about 70 mph. Entire back end of the car was utterly destroyed but the passenger compartment was virtually untouched. He was uninjured except for some sprained muscles. So when I say I like Hyundai, I really mean it.

      I’m not sure what happened with Toyota but to me they seem to have lost some of the quality they were once known for.

      I’m not sure the Buick is really sensible. I’m an old farm boy and whenever I get into this thing I feel out of place. It’s too fancy, too many gadgets. I also suspect the thing is smarter than I am.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Speaking of cars … 😉

    I bought a used 2004 Honda Pilot (driven by the dealership shop manager) in January 2005. I drove it regularly during the first several years, but not so much in recent years, The total mileage currently sits at 55,145. Outside of regular oil changes, maintenance checkups, and a couple of comparatively minor repairs, it’s still going strong. And I’m so very grateful for that because at this stage of life’s game, I’m in no position to take on payments — and definitely unable to purchase a car outright!

    And really, in many ways that’s a good thing because I have no desire to drive some of the “technologically advanced” vehicles on the market now. This isn’t to say I’m against technology, but I tend to think it’s a bit of overkill in today’s automobiles.

    Anyway — hope you enjoy your Buick for many years to come. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wanted to avoid car loans also which is why I decided to do the trade now before my old car decreased in value much more than it already had.

      Some of those Hondas just keep going, and going, and going. It’s a far cry from the ‘bad old days’ when you were lucky to get 100,000 miles on a car, if that. We had an Oldsmobile we paid about $7,000 for with almost 100K miles on it, ran it up to about 225,000 miles, then gave it to a friend who put another 50,000 on it before they ran it into a tree.

      As far as technology goes, I’m a firm believer in KISS (Keep It Simple). But that’s almost impossible to do with modern cars. They come loaded with computers and gadgets whether you want them or not. In my opinion all those extra goodies are just more things that can go wrong

      Liked by 2 people

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