As Jalopnik’s resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing how states’ reopening will impact car deals, expensive dealer installed tow-hitches, and whether to fix or trade
First up, now that the country is starting to re-open will the car deals get better or worse?
My state is starting to re-open and now I’m in the market for a new car. I noticed that last month Mazda was offering $1000 customer cash and the 0% APR financing, but this month I can only get the 0%. Did I miss out? Do you think the influx of buyers will cool off the deals?
As I covered in a previous post, automakers are slowly starting to dial back some of the heavy rebate and financing offers designed to spur car sales when the market crashed. While there are still good offers to take advantage of, I do think people expecting fire sales on new cars are going to be disappointed for the reasons you suggest. As more buyers pour into the market, the key thing to remember is that vehicle supply has not been increasing. Dealers might be looking at a situation where they have more customers but not more cars, this could tip the supply and demand advantage back in favor of the dealerships. You should still be able to score a good price, but it may take a bit more work to do so.
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Next up, what is the alternative for a dealer-installed tow hitch?
I was buying a CPO Volvo XC90 and wanted to but a tow-hitch receiver on the back for one of those mounted bike racks. I’m not towing anything so I don’t need any wiring, but the Volvo dealer quoted me like $1300 to have this installed! Are there any cheaper alternatives?
The installation of a tow hitch can vary from brand to brand, depending on how the automaker has configured that rear bumper area. In some cases, it’s not the part itself but the time and labor involved. A quick search reveals that you can get the hitch for under $150 for a current-generation XC90, but it does say that that this is a labor-intensive install. I would imagine an aftermarket shop that has experience with these things can probably save you some money without having to pay the dealer labor rates.
And finally, at what point is it better to keep fixing a car or trade it in?
I have an 09 Impala that was handed down to me after I graduated college in 2014. It now has almost 125k miles on it and is starting to cost more in repair bills. I recently dropped around $2k after taking it in for a brake job and receiving a laundry list of other repairs.
Although I’ve spent more on repairs recently, they should all be relatively long term fixes. New tires and brakes, spark plugs and wires, and battery along with routine maintenance.
I’m torn. I’ve been told this is the best time to get rid of the car (fully repaired), but my frugal side thinks I can get another year or two of zero car payments out of it.
It seems like most of the repairs are standard wear items and not signs of a car that is going to keep bleeding your wallet. It seems likely you can get some more time out of your Impala. You are correct that you don’t want to wait until your car is no longer functional to get a replacement as that may put you in a situation where you have to act fast and may not get the best deal. However, in these uncertain economic times, not having a car payment might be better than any discount.
Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at email@example.com!