Why Is Buying a Car Such a Bad Experience?

Every few years, we replace one of our three vehicles (we own 2, lease 1).

Every few years, I am reminded as to what a miserable experience car shopping is.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Car prices seem to be completely random. The experience is fraught with sharks, liars, and weasels. Too many sales people fall between boiler room stock jockeys and high pressure insurance salesman.

There are, of course, notable exceptions.

We leased an Infiniti G35x (from Christine in Connecticut). Got a very fair quote via email, and she configured the car as we liked. We got the color combo we asked for. The price was exactly as we discussed. (she even threw in the technology package, as it was on the lot in the right car color combo).  When that lease comes up next year, I will very likely consider another car from her, perhaps an FX35 to replace the wagon that is going out east to my M-in-L’s home. That 10 years old Chrysler will become the beach car, and I don’t care if it gets filthy or becomes a rust bucket. Its not worth anything to sell, so I am going to run it into the ground (or sand, as the case may be).

The last time we looked at cars, Mrs. BP’s tastes ran to conservative, reasonable vehicles. I was the one who wanted something more fun (i.e., M3 or the 335i). Mrs. BP is the “practical” person in the marriage. So I was quite surprised when she said she does not want another car that was — in her words — another “boring pod.”  She said “Let’s get something fun this time.”

OK, I am never one to waste a good mid-life crisis. I show the missus a number of fun cars — -3, Z, and 5 series  BMWs (she doesn’t like the looks or dashboard); The Audi’s bore her; the MBs have no manual stick option in the US (but the E coupe in Germany does). The VW CC was also eliminated for the same auto-only reason.

On a lark, I showed her the 370 Z Roadster, and her response was “Order it with a 6 speed.” So I go NissanUSA, configure the car, and “Request a quote.”

In response, I get a bombarded with email from 4 local dealers, none of whom seem willing to give me a quote by email. (The car comes out next month). Pitches for all sorts of crap — but no quote. Notye that the “Request a quote” is on their website.

Car sales have plummeted, and none of these guys seems to want to do simple things to sell me a car.

Can anyone out there explain to me: Why must this be such an ordeal?


Retail Sales — including autos — are out Wednesday morning at 8:30am.

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