Recently in Car Category
During our Vegas 2008 trip we got two different rental cars. They were both basically identical however based on the GM Epsilon platform. Two words I would initially use to describe this particular cars is sloppy and mushy. I can only compare to the cars I have owned, but it was like night and day when I got back in my Accord at home. The other odd thing with both cars is they only had key entry on the driver side door. Also I couldn't find a away to unlock or lock all doors using the key. It was very annoying to get Kelly and I into the car. It might be better with a fob for entry but the rental places didn't give us one. It is amazing to see the difference between these cars and an Accord. People wonder why Honda and Toyota sell so many more cars than GM, just drive one.
The idea is that you have a gasoline engine that does nothing more than work as a generator for the electric motor. As a result the gas engine works at optimum efficency at all times. This allows for gas mileage as high as 60 MPG or higher. The other feature the Volt has is that it can be plugged in and run for 40 miles between charges without using the gasoline engine at all. This is truly the future of cars. It isn't totally getting rid of the gasoline engine, but just making it much more efficient
One of the knocks often used against the hybrid models is the extra cost. I thought I would look at it and figure out how much really. This is Honda's Accord pricing but I think it is representative of others. The one thing to note is that often the hybrid model is simply an already high end model with the hybrid addition. The pricing below I got from the non hybrid price list and the hybrid price list.
I-4 2007 Honda Accord EX-L with Navigation - $27050
V-6 2007 Honda Accord EX-L with Navigation - $29400
Hybrid 2007 Honda Accord with Navigation - $33090
There are a few other options added in the upsell versions but mostly it is the difference in engines. The switch from 4 cylinder to 6 is $2350 and then to go to a hybrid is another $3690. Some would argue that I simply paid $6040 to get roughly the same or potentially worse mileage than I would have gotten with a 4 cylinder. However there is 87 more HP and 72 more torque, which for someone coming down from a V8 is needed.
Will I recoup $6000 in gas savings over a 4 cylinder engine over the life of the vehicle. probably not. Will I enjoy I enjoy driving more than I would otherwise, oh yeah.
As I detailed in my previous post I was interested in buying a new Honda Accord 2007 Hybrid. I sent quote requests to several Honda Internet dealers in my area. In the end two had identical pricing and I decided to go with the one that was within walking distance of my house. I told the salesman Keith Kirn that I would be in Saturday morning. I showed up a few minutes after 10 AM. I had hoped for a quick process since all the pricing details had already be determined. We started going over the various details. I had forgotten to ask for wheel locks so those were added. We then went through mountains of details regarding my info and my car I was potentially trading in.
About 90 minutes into the process someone went to appraise my car. As far as I could tell they spent about 5 minutes looking at the car. I had taken the car to CarMax to get appraised as well. The CarMax process is a little more involved. CarMax offered 12,000 for the car, which is sort of sad considering it is a little over 4 year old Lexus GS430. I guess the 111,000+ miles hurt the value a bit. When I started the online contact with Keith I mentioned I was hoping to get 13,000 for trade. After the cursory glance he came back. He said they couldn't do 13,000 and asked if less would be ok. I said just give me the number, it was 12,800 which I was more than happy with. At that point I said ok and we started the full processing.
It was at this point that Keith mentioned they didn't actually have the car I wanted. Needless to say this didn't make me too happy. I think he could tell this. He immediately went to see if they could get it. First he said in a day or two. Then left again and came back and said maybe tonight. He went to check once more and realized that they did actually have one on the lot. At this point he said they would start prepping it for me.
We then went into full paperwork mode. Mountains of paperwork, not as much as buying a house but still. This went on for another 30-45 minutes. I finally went in to see the "finance guy". Since I already had a loan from USAA I was figuring this would be easy. He first tried to sell me a loan, but I quickly shut him up with my rate thankfully. Then he offered up their "post sale" options list, it was a sad photo copied list. It looked like something that had been stretched and shrank and copied way too many times, and then had hand written notes on it. It was standard things like poly-coating, rust protector, wheel warranty and an extended warranty. The only one I was slightly interested in was the extended warranty, which is offered and backed by Honda. I had looked online prior to going in at the Honda Care Source web site which lists prices from many dealers. The prices online were up to 40% less than what Heritage offered. When I mentioned this and asked for a lower price the guy went off. He started ranting about how other dealers outside of Maryland aren't required to be bonded. He said this meant that if he dealer went bankrupt that no one would honor the warranty. Now remember I am talking about a Honda Care warranty, offered and backed by Honda not some other third party. At this point I mentioned that it is sold by Honda so does that mean he is talking about Honda going out of business? He seemed to get flustered and we basically got into a shouting match since his arguments weren't even logical. I then went back to his earlier statement about MD dealers, and he had to admit that (even by his flawed logic) it would be ok to get it from another MD dealer. I said thanks and moved on. I then realized I needed my bank routing number for the USAA pre-approved check. I didn't have it with me. I had to go get it.
I was going to take my old car home and get it. Apparently they took my tags off already though. At this point they said my new car was almost ready. I was just going to walk home, but as earlier they were trying to do anything they could to keep me from leaving, even after I said yes and signed paperwork. Finally at about 2 PM my car was ready. Keith showed me a few things but for the most part I knew more about the car then he did. He took the picture you see above of me. I went home and brought back the completed check.
The process could have been faster and smoother. I am happy I got the pricing out of the way to begin with. I could have done without the heavy sell from the finance guy though. If you want a good price I recommend this method for sure. It saved me several thousand off MSRP.
I am looking at buying a new 2007 Honda Accord Hybrid. I started by getting a pre-approved loan from USAA since at the time they had better rates than NFCU where I do most of my banking. One of the benefits USAA provides is a service that will negotiate a new car price for you. You give them the model and details and they do the price debate and get everything setup for you. It is supposed to take 72 hours. I called last night to begin the process. First, they told me it would take up to a week, I said fine. Second, once they found out what I wanted they indicated there was no negotiating on that model and more broadly hybrids in general. Ok so much for that.
Next I went to Honda's web site to work on it. On Honda's site I was able to configure the car as I wanted and then request a quote from an Internet Certified Dealer. The one downside is the page is setup to only allow you to send the request to one dealer. Luckily I could just hit the back button and choose another one. I figured I would see what I could get from them all and try to play them against each other a bit.
I sent requests to the following dealers at about 6:30 PM Thursday, I will keep a log of contacts:
Heritage Honda - This dealer has the benefit of being within walking distance of my house. I got an automated response almost instantly. Then the following morning I got an email at 9:22 AM. This email was very detailed on pricing and fees, I was very pleased with pricing. Sent a follow-up at 10:06 AM asking for quote with my dealer installed options. About 1 PM I got a follow-up quote with all the options, again a very competitive price. Currently by far the leader. They were the winner and I set up a time on Saturday to go in and finalize. More on that later.
Schaefer & Strohminger Honda - I got what I think is an automated response about 20 minutes after initial contact. A few minutes later I got another email that seemed automated. At 10:30 AM I got an email asking for me to call him to get pricing details. Since I am trying to do this the "Internet" way I asked him to email me details. He responded again about 15 minutes later with the price on a similar model but not the one I asked for and it was quite a bit more than Heritage. I then emailed him Heritage's quote at about noon to see if he could get closer to it. A few minutes later he wrote back saying if I order one he can get that price but not otherwise. I got an email from them on Tuesday saying thanks for contacting us. Then on Thursday a more personalized follow-up and I let them know I bought already.
Northwest Honda - The first email I received was a real email asking me for further info. In this case the question was wrong though since they asked the trim level. The problem being there is no trim level on the hybrid Accord. I wrote them back this morning at 7:16 AM and have yet to hear back as of 1 PM. At 2:43 PM got a response with a base price that is exactly the same as Heritage. I sent back the total price quote to see what they can do at 3:00 PM. At about 3:15 PM they wrote me back with the same final price. They would have been my second choice, losing only on location. They contacted me again as a follow-up on Monday and I let them know I already purchased from Heritage.
Anderson Honda - As of 1 PM on Friday I have gotten nothing beyond the initial automated response from this dealer. I went to this dealer in person in May when I was also looking at the Accord hybrid. At this point unless they can beat Heritage's price I doubt I will be working with them. I finally heard from Anderson on Monday, the price was about $500 more than the other dealers. I wrote them back and said I already bought.
Almost every year for the last decade or so I have gone to DC auto show. It always had an interesting quirk of being the last auto show of the season prior to the Detroit Auto Show. This meant that often cars weren't shown since they were being released a week later. This year it moved to after the Detroit show so it should have been better.
I didn't get to the DC one so I went to the Baltimore one which was about 2 weeks later. The Baltimore show is similar to the DC if a bit smaller. The problem with both shows is that they are mainly staffed by local dealers. This means that they pretty much don't know anything beyond what cars are on the floor and sometimes not even that.
I went to the show to see basically 3 cars. First was the Honda Accord Hybrid that I am interested in. It was announced about a week ago, but was not at the show and they couldn't tell me when they would have any at dealerships. The second car I wanted to see was the Lexus GS450h Hybrid. This car has been previewed but not officially launched. It was also not there and the Lexus people had no info on it. The third car I wanted see was one a co-worker was interested in was the Nissan Maxima with rear bucket seats. As you can probably guess it also wasn't there.
This show was pretty much a bust for me. Luckily thanks to AAA I got in for free; otherwise it wouldn't have really been a waste.
Last night about 5:30 PM Lindsay called me and said they were going to replace both the front and rear seals, but I wouldn't need an entire new transmission. They said last night the car would be done Friday. Then today at 10:30 AM they called and said it is ready. Apparently they weren't busy this morning and fit it in. I guess I will go get my car back and head up North tonight.
Ok so when last we left our intrepid hero (that's me) his car was left in Chantilly in hopes of rapid repair. Today's journey began at 10:45 AM. I got a call from Mike my helpful service dude. He said API the provider of my extended warranty had rejected the claim. Pohanka had diagnosed the problem as a faulty front seal and as a result wanted to replace the transmission. I called API to try to get their side of the story. They said they wanted further diagnostics to prove that it needed a new transmission and further they would prefer a rebuilt or used transmission. Pohanka said they don't do rebuilt transmissions only new, which I must say I would also prefer. The two options API suggested were to take it to an Aamco shop or to go to the dealership that I originally got it from and who sold me the warranty. I wasn't too enthused about the Aamco option so I started by calling Lindsay where I got the car and who has done all the major work on the car including the 90K checkup recently. I explained the situation to Lindsay and they thought most likely they could just replace the front seal. Lindsay wanted to look at to make sure of course and they thought they could deal with warranty company.
At this point I had to get my car from Chantilly to Alexandria and I of course couldn't drive it. I left work at about 11:30 AM and headed home to grab a few things. I then headed down to Chantilly from home about noon. On my way at about 1 PM I called AAA to get my car towed from Chantilly to Alexandria. Luckily I have a Plus account that allows for up to 100 miles of towing. I got to Pohanka close to 1:30 PM. I had to of course turn in my Pohanka loaner and hope to get one from Lindsay. The tow truck showed about 2:30 PM. He hooked me up and then said he had to pick up an explorer. We went to get the explorer in Fairfax. He had originally planned to take me off the flatbed to tow and put the explorer up. He figured out he could tow it though so he just but it on the rear skids. The owner of the explorer took about 30 min to show. We then towed the explorer to the auto shop in Manchester Lakes. After that we headed over to the Lindsay Lexus Service Center. We got there about 4:30 PM. I checked in my car and got a loaner. This time it is a Chevy Trailblazer. I left Lindsay at 5:00 PM.
After I left Lindsay I got stuck in some really nasty traffic. It took me 2 hours to go this 1 mile from Quaker Lane to Telegraph on Duke St. To give some idea I stopped for gas and got a Subway sub at gas station. While I was doing those two things the truck in front of me didn't make it the length of the gas station. It took me a total of 3.5+ hours to get home to finish off the day. It was so much fun.
The worst part is Lindsay may find they same thing and get same result from API tomorrow. At that point I will probably go ballistic since the dealership talked me out of Lexus extended warranty and into API one. Updates will come as needed.
Today I went down to hang out with Karen and watch a movie. I had a couple or errands to run before the movie so I went to pick her up about 11:30. She came out and said "your car is smoking". I was like nah it is just steam or something. I have great faith in my car's internal diagnostics they often seem to be even over protective. We left and headed to the first errand. Every time we stopped at a light the smoke returned, which seemed bad. I pulled over and we couldn't figure out what it was. We started driving again and then shortly stopped again. This time I immediately looked under car and could see the smoke was coming from exhaust and there was a liquid dripping rapidly and pooling on ground. I moved car back and saw that the liquid was red. Called Roger first as he is the most knowledgeable car nut on my speed dial. He said it is most likely transmission fluid. This is bad especially considering the speed it was leaking out. Luckily I was within a few miles of Pohanka Lexus. Even more luckily their service department is open 7 days a week 6-11. They set me up with a loaner RX330. They called while I was at movie and said I would need a new transmission. I have an extended warranty until 100,000 miles and they are double checking that I am covered tomorrow. Most likely I again will be driving a loaner RX330 to my parents for Thanksgiving. Karen pointed out that it could have been much worse if it had happened on way home later this week, I still could have lived without this complication. We even made to the movie on time after all this drama.