Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Blizzak WS-70 One Year Later - Blowout

Last year I bought myself a set of Bridgestone Blizzak WS-70's, detailed here: New Tires.

Friday I had the misfortune of hitting a giant pothole and totally destroying my drivers side front tire.  I knew Costco had roadhazard warranty on their tires so I figured I would bring it in to see what they could do for me.  When I saw the tire I couldn't believe how much the tread was worn on it, it was basically worn out.  I'd say I got less than 20,000 km out of the tire and it had been rotated from the previous winter.  I did put them on a little early in October but still the wear was really severe for a winter and a half.  The other front was also quite worn but the rear tires seemed have a good amount of tread remaining.

I showed up at Costco and the guy told me with only 4/32 left I could only get about a 30% discount towards the new tire but they also provided free installation and balancing.  The tires new were $229.  Although I was disappointed with the wear on the tires the discount made it worth my while to get two new Blizzaks.  I was going to switch to Michelin X-Ice but they didn't have any available.  I'm not sure if I will be keeping the Optima much more than another year so with two new winter tires I should be good through next winter.

Without any discount the two new tires would be about $560 but they gave me almost $80 off per tire (even though I had only ruined one tire) and free installation and balancing.  The total came to just under $340 which I thought was pretty good.  It will take two weeks for them to get in so I am praying for minimal snow between now and then.  On front I have one mostly worn and one decent winter tire with an all season and one decent winter tire on back.... not exactly an optimal tire set up but it beats driving around on a dummy tire.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

We get a new vehicle - The Conclusion!

Right after we finished up at Ford dealership #1 I called Ford dealership #2.  I told them I was looking for an F-150 FX4 and noticed they had a few in their online inventory.  I could also see they had an Ecoboost model available with a sunroof.  They had one shortbox model but when I asked about it they told me it was sold.

I told the guy outright that we would be buying something shortly so he should give me his best price, I wouldn't be haggling back and forth and already had a good deal in place from Ford dealership #1.  He asked me what price they quoted me and I gave him a figure very close to that, he said he would get back to me shortly and was confident he could do better.  Sure enough an hour or so later an email showed up and he beat the other price by exactly $1,000.  The model he quoted us on was white with a sunroof and Ecoboost but no naviation or tailgate step which the other one had.  This one was around $1,000 more than the one from dealership #1 but it has the better engine choice, sunroof and the color my better half liked the best.

Everything was looking up, we had a better price on a better vehicle, now all we had left was the dreaded trade in.  The salesperson had the used car manager take a look at the Mazda.... meanwhile he espoused the virtues of maintenance plans and rim warranties.... all of which we politely declined.... even after he explained how they were selling it at cost! I made a point of asking how much an oil change was and when they were required at the service desk beforehand.  I figured we would pay $240 for four oil changes while the maintenance package was $495 for two years, so I'm not sure how they calculate cost.

About ten minutes later the salesguy came back, I could tell he was going to deliver bad news..... but it was worse than I thought.  They were offering $5,500 for the Mazda.  Now lets put this in perspective, if you go to Canadian Black Book it gives you an estimated trade value ranging from 10,500 to 12,000.  There was about $1,000 worth of damage on the vehicle so we were expecting something around $9,000 to $10,000.  Ford dealership #1 had offered $8,600, which was co-incidentally just enough to pay off the vehicle.  I was not happy.

At this point my face must have turned an angry shade or purple, salesguy knew he had lost me.  There was a minute of uncomfortable silence.... then he said something like, where does that leave us.  I told him that leaves us buying the F-150 at dealership #1 and there was no way I was buying their truck with such a ridiculous trade offer.  He apologised for the offer and told us he could get us a better deal if he called around to some wholesalers in town.  In retrospect I think this was all a sales ploy on their part.  Before the lowball offer I wouldn't tell him what dealership #1 had offered but I was only too happy to share (with some minor exaggeration) once I was enraged.   He could blame the evil used car manager and make it seem much better if he came back with a better offer.

In any event we left the dealership telling the salesguy to call us if he could significantly improve the trade offer.  And what do you know...... one hour or so later my phone rang, and guess what his new trade offer was.... $9,000.  The same amount I told him dealership #1 had offered.  Since I had been put in such a foul mood I told him we would think about it but to see if he could do any better.  An hour later my phone rang again, he was offering $9,500.... a full $4,000 more than the original offer.   We thought this was fair all things considered.  Then he asked me for a down payment of $500 to hold the vehicle, I told him I wasn't interested because you never know what might happen and I just don't trust car salespeople in general.  He said it was their policy, again I told him he wasn't getting it.  He said he would go talk to the manager.  Then he called back and said if we came in early the next day it wouldn't be required, I told him that would be fine.

The next day we went in signed all the required paperwork, declined all extras (I warned them up front not to try to sell us any of it) and drove away in our beautiful new F-150 FX4 with luxury package and moonroof for right around $400 bi-weekly.  The MSRP on this baby was over $60k with tax so we got a LOT of truck for the money.  The finance person was very nice, even sharing stories of also declining extras on his wife's new car (which was a Kia he said, I found it ironic).

Next post will detail the new ride and all of its features.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

We get a new vehicle Part 4 - Ford F-150

We were never really Ford people, I once had a Focus which was a fine little car but nothing special.  My better half liked the look of the F150 FX4 however so I figured I would check them out.  If you go to the website and spec one out with a luxury package which adds several nice things such as heated and cooled seats it comes out somewhere close to $55,000 plus tax before rebates.

Luckily they were offering $9,250 in rebates at 3.49% financing over five years.  All in this vehicle was about $1,000 per month... a bit out of our price range.  But the good thing about dealing with Ford is that they always offer additional discounts due at least in part due to the fact that there are two dealerships within one KM of each other on the same street.  You can easily play one off against the other.

So I headed off to dealership #1, from the online inventory I could see they had a nice black FX4 in stock with the luxury package but no sunroof.  Also, it had the 5L engine instead of the 3.5 L Ecoboost which is supposed to be better on gas and has a higher towing capacity, I was hoping for the Ecoboost.  I told the salesguy we wanted their absolutely best price because we would be buying something within the week.  I think the sooner you tell them you are buying something the better offer you get, at least at some dealerships, others won't budge.  Around town many dealerships have the advantage of a monopoly so getting any kind of deal at say Subaru or BMW is hopeless.

The MSRP on the vehicle was in the $55,000 range, he came back with an extra $4,784 off the vehicle over and above the $9,250 in discounts already being offered plus we were eligible for a $1,000 Costco discount bringing it down to $45,000 on the road, as they like to say, after tax.  All in all we were now very interested in this vehicle, and the salesperson was very nice which always helps.

So we told him we were interested but would be checking at the other dealership down the street to make sure they didn't have a better offer on the same vehicle.  He assured us they would not beat the price and asked us not to let them know what price we were getting to see if they would match it without knowing.  Of course I would be letting the other guys know exactly what the offer was from dealership #1 in hopes they would be very anxious to beat it.

In the next post comes the conclusion.....

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Penny Kia - Service Time.....

So I am now over 48,000 km and close to two years so I called in to book my next service check which would cost about $300.  If you follow the link above you will see that I had some trouble with my last service visit so the sales manager told me the next visit would be on them.  Of course I was curious to see if they would cover my full visit or not.  As expected the answer was NOT.  They offered to take $60 off the $289 visit, the price of a regular oil change.... an expensive regular oil change.

One of the items in the 2 year visit is replacement of the cabin air filter (at least I think it is and will confirm tomorrow).  As luck had it I just replaced mine three days ago at a total cost of under $20.  So if this is included I will ask them to remove it from my check up tomorrow.  They may take off $20 or something at which point I will ask how much they sell the filters for retail, which I already know is about $50.  Either way it spells fun for me at the dealership tomorrow.

The service advisor told me it takes about 3 hours to do this two year inspection, I'd like to sit and watch except I don't want to take a 1/2 day off work.  I totally understand the dealership wants to make money off after sales service but it's just the way they go about it that irks me.

I really wonder if any car dealership understands what the average (somewhat demanding) customer wants these days.  Maybe I am just being difficult.......

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We get a new vehicle Part 3 - Dodge RAM

Ram Logo

This is going to be a short segment.

My better half liked the look of the Dodge Ram so I figure I would check it out.  The Outdoorsman model looked nice and had some added amenities but it was only available in the Hemi.  They were offering $8,500 off most models but you had to go to a really high model level to get things like heated seats and backup camera.  I was hoping to get the V6 but there were hardly any models available.

When I dropped by he had the guys dig out (we had a lot of snow at the time) an SXT model (which was V6) but after waiting about 15 minutes they still never made it back so I left and said for them to call me if they got it down.  Five minutes after I left he called to say they had the truck, by that time I was at Ford looking at an F-150.  After I was finished at Ford I went back to Dodge to check out the Ram since they spent so much time digging it out for me.  Unfortunately the salesperson was busy with another customer but he gave me the keys to check it out.... at that point he had lost the sale.  The Ram looked ok, but had none of the creature comforts we were looking for.  The salesperson may have been able to keep us on the hook a bit longer but since he was tied up his chance was lost.  The salesperson did offer to install heated seats and a backup camera in the SXT model level but it just didn't seem right.

Our quest continued for a nicely optioned, reasonably priced, good looking pick-up truck.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We get a new vehicle Part 2 - GMC Sierra

Once we decided we were going to get a truck it was my job to make sure we got the best deal. My better half was saying she liked the Sierra and Ram so I figured I would start there.  The GM site was as horrible as ever, it is very difficult to determine what one model of truck has over another and the whole layout just seems poor compared to other car building sites.

Eventually I found a decent set up in a V6 Sierra and sent off an email to GM.  They came back with a similarly equipped V8, which is probably  a much better seller than the V6.  Rather than give me a nicely detailed price which I had asked for on the phone, they sent me a scribbled down $906 a month for five years at 2.99%.  This was for a nicely equipped short box, extended cab Sierra with heated seats and remote everything.  My biggest beef at this point was that I asked for detailed pricing and all I got was a monthly payment.  In that payment there were fun things like Global-I theft deterrent, locking wheel nuts, tire warranty and 2 year oil change package.

Let me make one point clear..... all that stuff is a rip off.... DO NOT BUY IT.

I went back to ask if they had any double cab V6's and he said they did have one they could install heated seats in for $450.  The list price of that truck was $46,000 and it would be on the road for $819 a month with about $7,000 in discounts.  It was too late for them,...... I had a bad taste in my mouth the minute I read Global-I..... I can't believe they sell that crap, even worse, some people probably buy it and don't even know they bought it.  Also, they didn't listen to my request for detailed pricing up front.

So, the next stop was the Dodge Ram

Sunday, January 12, 2014

We get a new vehicle Part 1

So it all started to ramp up about a week ago.  For some time my better half has been saying she would like to get a truck.  We were thinking maybe in a year or two when her current vehicle was paid off we might do something.  But then a couple of things happened to create the perfect storm for truck buying.

As she was driving to my parents house a couple weeks ago another driver swerved out around a parked car and to avoid a head on collision on the slippery roads she drove into a snow bank.  As a result the front bumper cover and guard cracked and bent back under her front wheel.  The other driver just kept on going..... what a total jerk, he was driving a beige corolla of all things to top it off.  She says if she had a truck he wouldn't have been so aggressive and if he was she would just have run him over.

Circumstance number two is this horrible winter we have been having so far. We have the most snow ever on the ground as of the end of December, it seems like it snowed for the entire month of December.  With a truck snow banks are just minor speed bumps.

Circumstance number three are widespread power outages over the past week that are very disconcerting.... and what better vehicle to have during an Armageddon type situation than a big honkin' pick-up truck.

There are also other reasons like being able to carry around large items, bring our snow blower around and towing for a possible trailer in our future.

So my goal became clear at the beginning of last week..... go find her a nice pick-up at a reasonable price..... this was a challenge I welcomed!