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Hi-

Somewhat naive here and I will admit it. I have always bought used cars from private parties (via Craigslist, etc) but am now considering a low-mileage RTL-E from a dealer as there is a substantial savings vs "new". I have no real idea what the process looks like. Is the dealership's promise that repair is in good order enough? I've generally taken used cars to independent mechanics for an inspection at my cost and been happy enough with that. I'm assuming that a 2018 with warrantee is not going to have major issues (and I wouldn't have the skills to detect them if it did).

Another wrinkle is that I don't live all the close to dealers with these in stock. There is one about a 3 hour drive away, and Carmax can have some moved for a fee from other cities. If these are safe bets, I'd be happy to do it. With the Carmax route, do you just take the same leap of faith assuming it is in fine shape and guaranteed, pay the delivery, and accept? Or do you pause for some inspection?

So how does one even go about buying a pre-owned car at a dealer? Do a test drive, look it over, and call it done? Do I need more diligence than that?

Thanks!
 

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I'd independently run the VIN through the NHTSA and/or Honda Owner's website to verify that there are no open recalls (can do that on a smartphone).

If you've got a local Honda dealer you plan to use, I'd visit the service writer's desk, explain what you're up to, and ask if he'd be willing to take your call with a VIN and give you a rundown on the Honda database history on a vehicle you are about to purchase. If he's willing, I would reserve that call for cases where you've already inspected and driven yourself and decided you are very likely to buy absent some last minute 'flag'.

I'd definitely do a thorough and careful inspection (to heck with the impatient salesperson). Any used vehicle, no matter how few miles, could have accident damage / repair, could have been abused, could be missing OEM parts (familiarize yourself with everything that should be in the spare-tire kit, for example). I would personally not rely solely upon any seller representation or a 'clean Carfax'.

Scrutinize paint and body panels in full-sun and in a shaded (preferably indoor) setting from multiple angles and take your time. There's threads here where even new buyers expressed dissatisfaction and remorse after only a few days upon finally taking a close look at their metallic/pearl paint from the factory - don't be that guy.

IOW, 'Trust but verify' whenever possible is my suggestion - the selling dealer and even 'carfax' may be truly ignorant of issues even under the best of circumstances. You can rely on warranties perhaps but it's always best to ID issues up front rather than have to hassle with warranty claims after you drive off the lot IMO.

IMO It's prudent that you've had the habit of using independent (presumably trusted) mechanics for pre-purchase inspections (few folks do these days). I don't have a suggestion for how to do that easily when shopping remote from home, but if you doubt your ability to detect / assess repaired damage, I'd find a way.

I'm an optimist and try to find the best in everyone, but I'm also a realist who understands 'business'. The number one goal and obligation of a car salesman is to make the sale. Even those of the highest integrity may not undertake the same due diligence insofar as ensuring the vehicle is 'as represented to them', and therefore as 'they represent it to you', as you might like. Some of lesser integrity may be quite willing (and incited) to make a 'sale today' even knowing you'll likely have to hassle with coming back to get things fixed under 'warranty' (but hey, the car is at least sold then).

Most of all I'd work to remember that cars, even 2018 Ridgelines, are commodities and another one will come along. Resist temptation to compromise your 'due diligence' in response to a high-pressure salesman.

One man's opinion.
 

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Most of all I'd work to remember that cars, even 2018 Ridgelines, are commodities and another one will come along. Resist temptation to compromise your 'due diligence' in response to a high-pressure salesman.

One man's opinion.
So very true, @CentexG2 !! I have shopped CarMax before and it always seemed like their vehicles were never up to the standard I expect when shopping for even a used vehicle. They seemed to have scraped wheels, torn leather, and /or worn carpet, even when a fairly new model. That's not to say they don't have any immaculate trade-ins, but I have never seen one.

Always have the vehicle inspected by an independent shop - never accept anything the selling dealer tells you without verification.

Good luck on your quest.
 

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I was able to talk the dealership down to $35k on a brand new 2019 RTL-E today with 17 miles on it and the local Carmax has one on the lot with 15k miles for $36,500.

I personally hate Carmax and used car dealerships because I think they are predatory.

If you have to go that route I'd use Yelp to find a local mechanic as one of the earlier posters stated.

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, everyone! This should be an exciting endeavor but is actually unpleasant and stressful. I'm really curious about "talk the dealership down to $35k on a brand new 2019...".

That seems pretty crazy!

To spin the question slightly differently, when buying brand new (which I have never done), does one then have full-faith in the vehicle aside from the visual inspection and test drive? Could I simply email a whole bunch of dealers in the region and say "I'll come in next Saturday and buy a new 2019 RTL-E for $35k" and see if anyone bites?
 

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Could I simply email a whole bunch of dealers in the region and say "I'll come in next Saturday and buy a new 2019 RTL-E for $35k" and see if anyone bites?
Yes you can. The worse thing that can happen is no dealer will accept your offer. I'm not a good negotiator but the salesperson isn't looking to fight fair, it's usually the buyer that wants to negotiate fairly. The salesperson feels no obligation. Make no mistake, the salesperson usually has experience in manipulating the buyer. That's how they make their living.
 

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I would start with TrueCar or if your bank has it get a quote from them before you even go to a dealership.

You also need to get pre-approved for a loan and know exactly what your budget is and be prepared to walk away from any deal that doesn't fit your numbers.

A huge thing to consider is to have enough cash in the bank to pay the taxes directly and don't let them add it to the loan. Demand a separate form to calculate the tax and pay it before the loan is processed.

Be very leery of any extra warranty or maintenance plan offerings. If you know how to do routine maintenance yourself then just turn everything down but if you don't own tools or know the difference between a 10mm socket and a dipstick then let someone else do the work.

Realize upfront that truck tires are more expensive than car tires so make sure you can save $25 to $50 a month in a separate account to afford a new set every 40-60k miles. Depending on where you live and how you drive I would set aside at least $1,200.

Once you have a budget and a plan use the online service and start communicating with the dealers. Tell them you prefer email or text communication that way you get everything in writing. As necessary share that you have a better offer.

In closing I despise car dealerships because it feels like negotiating with terrorists. So I treat it as a conflict where every conversation I remind them that I don't need them and I am willing to walk out the door and never look back.

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A huge thing to consider is to have enough cash in the bank to pay the taxes directly and don't let them add it to the loan. Demand a separate form to calculate the tax and pay it before the loan is processed.
I financed a total of $7,000 on my Ridgeline and payed that off in two months. But I don't understand your comment of paying cash for taxes. Taxes are part of the purchase price in many states. What is the rational behind not financing taxes? You could always increase the down payment too.
 

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I would start with TrueCar or if your bank has it get a quote from them before you even go to a dealership.

You also need to get pre-approved for a loan and know exactly what your budget is and be prepared to walk away from any deal that doesn't fit your numbers.

A huge thing to consider is to have enough cash in the bank to pay the taxes directly and don't let them add it to the loan. Demand a separate form to calculate the tax and pay it before the loan is processed.

Be very leery of any extra warranty or maintenance plan offerings. If you know how to do routine maintenance yourself then just turn everything down but if you don't own tools or know the difference between a 10mm socket and a dipstick then let someone else do the work.

Realize upfront that truck tires are more expensive than car tires so make sure you can save $25 to $50 a month in a separate account to afford a new set every 40-60k miles. Depending on where you live and how you drive I would set aside at least $1,200.

Once you have a budget and a plan use the online service and start communicating with the dealers. Tell them you prefer email or text communication that way you get everything in writing. As necessary share that you have a better offer.

In closing I despise car dealerships because it feels like negotiating with terrorists. So I treat it as a conflict where every conversation I remind them that I don't need them and I am willing to walk out the door and never look back.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk
Almost everything you said is good info....except the negotiating with terrorist part. Still have to judge each person individually. If someone treats me with respect on the lot, I will move heaven and earth to get them a decent price, plus it moves things along quicker to move on to the next deal, I would rather make 5 minimum $$ commissions in a week than two big "paychecks" where I had to grind and had confrontation. But some sales folk thrive on that. Try to (I guess through gut instinct) and online reviews, find out if a dealership deserves your business in the first place. I will just add, the last client of mine that came in looking for a fight immediately left money on the table when they purchased. Their contentious approach made me less inclined to get them the best deal I could.

That being said...I work with enough people that fit the profile of what society says "car sales reps" are...that I can't completely disagree with the suggestions above. I would say start nice, and if there is a hint of tomfoolery, then present your hard face.

Also...never walk in to a dealership and say "Who wants to sell a car today?" very loudly. That will only attract new guys who are going to parrot what their sales manager tells them to say verbatim or the guys you are trying to avoid. Experienced sales folk run away from people who say that (or similar) walking in the door like a plague...mostly because there is a tendency for those folk to not actually buy a car that day because no matter how much bending over is done, it is never quite good enough, and it is a form of "dance puppets" that people with self respect avoid...and I assume people would rather deal with someone that has self respect.
You might think dealing with an "experienced" sales rep is the last thing you want because they have their jedi mind tricks....but in reality, if someone has been doing it long term (more than 5 years) it is because they get a lot of repeat and referral business. They see sales opportunities as a long term repeat business situation and they want to give you a reason to come back again the next time you or a family member shops.
 

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On another note - do Ridgeline owners take better care of their vehicles than Tacoma or Colorado owners? From my limited search for a used Ridgeline, I am not sure.
 

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The issue you’re likely seeing is these were lease turn-ins and the items you’re describing are acceptable wear and tear for most leases, so no one bothers to fix them.

To your other question, I’ve never looked for data to confirm, but have always suspected that one of the reasons Honda’s have the reputation for longevity that they do is there’s something about the long-term Honda owners that is almost sycophantic, and I imagine our love for Honda’s translates to more willingness to pay for preventive maintenance and cosmetic repairs that others.

Oh, and that trunk area gets marred up pretty easily if used for anything like tools, jacks, etc.
 

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Please, try to temper your enthusiasm for this deal of the century. I guess Certified Pre-Owned means something entirely different at this dealership.

RTL-T.PNG
 
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