Jeep #4 – Day 1 and Day 3

This post, being written on Day 5, has two parts:

  • part A explains a very important dealer trick to watch out for if you plan to buy a new car and are all happy about the sales price you confirmed via e-mail and includes bonus background information (to give you that story feeling); part A excludes details about my e-mail exchanges and attempts to recoup the destination fee (I am waiting to hear back from the General Manager)
  • part B explains what happened when I got home and why I am worried #4 is a lemon

Part A

The General Sales Manager explained to me “everybody does it.” So beware!

[I would like to point out that I refrained from replying to him by quoting my mother and most mothers of the world with “if everybody was going to jump off a bridge, would you jump, too?”] You have to pick your battles, and I knew my battle was not here and I would have to escalate the issue to his manager and possibly the BBB. So I was saving my breath.

An aside about me:  I learn by doing, which means I learn by messing up and making mistakes, and often losing money. (I’d rather lose my money than my soul.)

Background:  I have been car shopping for a year and a half. The past six months, car shopping has been my hobby. I did not think I would buy another Jeep. Well, at first I did. I planned to go out and buy another Jeep Grand Cherokee, because I loved Jeep #3 (and Jeep #2). But when I test drove the JGC in 2014, all the electronics overwhelmed me. Plus, I did not like what they were giving me for my trade. I thought the quality of the interior materials was cheap and the whole thing was too expensive.

[what I would learn:  that quality of materials on every make and model I shopped has eroded in the past 11.5 years since I had shopped for a car.]

So six months ago, I began my research. I test drove Acura RDX, Nissan Murano, Ford Edge and Escape, Toyota Prius, Subaru Outback, Volvo XC60, and Honda CR-V. My estimated dealership (not always the same dealership for each manufacturer) visit count is as follows:

  • Acura, three times (Pohanka, 3x).
  • Nissan, five times (Chantilly 2x, Dulles  3x).
  • Ford, twice (Fairfax 1x, Chantilly 1x).
  • Honda, twice (Pohanka 2x).
  • Toyota, once (on accident — it was a Honda dealer at one time, Leesburg 1x)
  • Subaru, four times (Springfield 2x, Dulles 1x, Herndon 1x, Fairfax 1x).
  • Volvo, six times (Fairfax 2x, Dulles 3x, Falls Church 1x).
  • Jeep, eight times (Fair Oaks 2x, Leesburg 3x, Fredericksburg 1x, Manassas 1x, Fairfax 1x).

I do not want to add up those numbers or the hours I spent per visit or the emotional expense or the loss in value on my trade while I wasted away in indecision. Yes, at some point I had to acknowledge that I was spending too much time and energy on this Buy a New Car project. As usual, I make my discoveries Too Late.

The research started with me looking Jeep Grand Cherokees and ended with me buying Jeep #4, which I was not expecting. I was sure it was going to be the Outback, but 6 cylinders pretty much have to be special ordered. I came close to buying one last month, but I walked away because the dealer would not give me the full Costco discount. This is another thing I learned:  sometimes the dealer will make it seem like they are giving you more money for your trade, but really they had additional play in the selling price, and you had not used it all, so they moved some over to the trade-in pot. So if your discount is really big, they go low on your trade-in value, or they lower the discount and go higher on your trade. Salespersons will ask you questions to determine what matters to you, so focus first on how much you want to pay for your car.

Jeep managed to get me with the huge Savings Discount! And by this point, I was tired and worn down. I wanted the car purchase to be done with already. So I signed the papers.

The trick:  If you look at the window sticker, the destination fee is included in MSRP. When the sales manager works up your “sales” price numbers, they add it back in. Then they back pedal and say “If you pay MSRP, destination is included; but if you get the sale price, destination is not included. Meaning, you don’t really get the sale price.

I knew something was wrong with the numbers, but I couldn’t put it into words. My instinct was to get up and walk out. But this other instinct was saying, no, be done with this already. The numbers are close enough.

Warning to car buyers:  take your calculator; take your time; if you sense something is off with their fancy price worksheets, it probably is; walk away until you can figure out what.

Part B

I come home with my overpriced new car with the destination fee added back in and begin to swap out the cheap floor mats with all-weather mats from Costco. I discover that the carpeting under the driver’s side floor mat is soaking wet.

I call the dealer and find out the “water specialist” comes every Wednesday. So I set up an appointment. Meanwhile, I research (Google) what could possibly cause a wet floor on the driver’s side. That is when I learned about the class action suit:

See for legal documentation related to Miller et al v. CHRYSLER GROUP LLC Case No. 3:12-cv-00760 has information related to Cox et al v. CHRYSLER GROUP LLC Case No. 3:14-cv-07573 (must register and pay to read documents)

Apparently leaky sunroofs have been an issue on Jeep and Chrysler vehicles since 2008. Following are articles and posts on class action lawsuits, lemon law claims, and testimonies from owners:

Two days after buying Jeep #4, it goes to the dealer for service. The water specialist finds that the front left sunroof drain tube is crimped. He fixes it, does a water test to be sure. I pick up the car and go home. And then I proceed to run outside every five minutes to see if any snow or ice has melted and gotten inside the vehicle.

I’m not happy; therefore, I blog.

I am inpatient and want to know now, not next week or next year, if #4 is a lemon; therefore, I blog.

I also thought this would be a good way to keep track of issues in case #4 is a lemon and I have to ask the dealership or manufacturer to buy the car back.

(I’m not sure anything else could get me to blog. But now that I’m here…who knows what I will post.)

My salesman says “Everything is going to be just fine.” Since I bought the car on his 65th birthday, I told him that I wanted him to call me every year on his birthday and say “I told you so.” It is my hope that the story will end like that. But until March 2, 2016,

…this story is to be continued…

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? —Matthew 6:27


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