Go SHOPPING on Vacation in Indian Rocks Beach, FL

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Ugh. Car shopping.

I can’t decide which part I like less…

  • Sorting through all the different makes, models, and options to find the right one or…
  • Negotiating with a car dealer or private seller.

Maybe we share the same feelings.
This series will attempt to be as transparent as possible about the process I’ve been through when buying a used car.

I will document much of my research, thoughts, and decisions but will focus on the process of this two month “event” from start to finish.

There’s so much that seems hidden and and withheld. Even online.
Wouldn’t it be nice if people could buy and sell cars like insurance appraisers?
They come in after a wreck, total your car and give you what your car is worth. What it’s actually worth.

  • forget investment bias
  • forget memories of road trips
  • forget inflated self-indulgent delusions of value

The car I’m replacing is a 2000 Honda Odyssey.

Here are the carfacts.
Currently it has about 200,000 miles
It’s been in a wreck. The passenger sliding door has been replaced
There are some minor, wear and tear engine issues
The transmission has was rebuilt about 10,000 miles ago and it shifts like butter.

I got it for a great deal and I’m the second owner. This is my family’s road trip car. It has seen the eastern seaboard from the Florida Keys, to Boston, and many places in between.

I began my search on Consumerreports.org. The place where any right-minded car shopper goes first.

Visiting Dealers

Today, I'm visiting two used car dealships.

The Coggin dealer, Isreal, has been very attentive and since first contact, he has bent over backwards in email. Offering to deliver the car if it's paid and also finding other similar cars for me to review online.

While I like the attention, the prices at the Coggin dealer are quite a bit higher than at Driver's Mart. Kyle has been very helpful too. I've found essentially the same car so I believe price will win.

Driver's Mart
1970 State Road 436.
Winter Park, FL 32792

Coggin Honda of Orlando
11051 S Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32837

After visiting Coggin Honda Orlando, I was nothing less than disappointed. Last night I spoke to a sales guy about a specific car and was given specific answers.
“Is the car there?”
Yes, I was told.

I didn’t want the car warmed up or moved because I wanted to inspect the car cold so I drove over to Orlando the next morning.

Of course, the car was no longer available.

The sales manager was polite but I was still miffed.

Car lots Day 2.

Today, I'm visiting Honda dealer in Sarasota, FL

I've started a conversation last night (at 1 a.m.) online with a chat. It was a little helpful. The represnetative was good however I got the feeling the reason they were there was to qualify me. This was subtle, but accurate. They asked me questions that they would need answered, are you paying cash or financing? But when I asked if the car was available, they couldn’t answer. I also asked if a Carfax or Autocheck was available. Again, they couldn’t answer.

After going online to autotrader.com I found a carfax.

Wilde Honda Sarasota
7333 S Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231

Used Car Negotiation

I will be recording both conversations and include the transcript of the sales process here.

We will see how it goes.


At Wilde Honda, I was treated with more respect. (and the car was there)

Bob Gregory was my salesman.

He was respectful and didn’t go through the motions of turning on the lights to show me things that didn’t matter. Instead, he let me inspect the car on my own, without interference. This was welcome. He treated me like a person and not a sale.

*Note: I am under no obligation to write about this from any source, I am just trying to help make the process of buying a used car less painful.

Upon inspection of the car I found some shoddy paint on the bumper which heightened my awareness. I couldn’t find any other damage… But I’m no mechanic or auto body guy. Still, I thought it was a good deal on a good car so I put some money down to hold it.

My wife and I had a date that night so I couldn’t take the time to complete the process that evening.

The crappy touch-up paint and my inexperience gnawed at me for the rest of the weekend.
I contacted a client, John Hackett, who is Diminished Value Auto Appraiser, http://www.diminishedvalueappraiserflorida.com He told me that all car repair parts are bought from a central database so he could look up and see if anything had been purchased for this car. It was clean.

When I wen to pick up the car, I first, took it to an independent auto body shop down the road.

South Trail Auto Body Inc.
6040 S Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34231
(941) 925-2296

Dale helped me out. He was fantastic.
Here’s a map to find them.

and here’s their Yelp page

They looked over this car throughly and found nothing out of place and suggested that the mark on the bumper, and another paint issue I didn’t see, was typically from a garage door. There was nothing to worry about.

Back to the car lot

Time to talk about a trade in.

Back to the car lot

Time to talk about a trade in.

In Florida, you save about $400 if you can transfer your tag from your old car to a new one. The car I was trading in wasn’t worth much but I knew that going in. It was also a working 4,000 lb. vehicle with an engine, seats, and shelter. It was worth something.

I looked on Kelly Bluebook, Edmunds.com, ebay.com, and craigslist.org for people selling cars similar to mine. Bob asked me to make a price so I made a fair guess.

Negotiations for a used car can go very smoothly when you do your homework and keep your expectations fair for both parties. Yes, I wanted the best price I could get on the car I was buying and the car I was selling but negations work when both parties have something to gain.

Car buying negotiation tip

The resale price for the car is irrelevant.

What you need to know is what the dealer paid for the car. You can find some number that’s almost relevant if you look at the trade in value of the car you want car on kbb.com (Kelly Bluebook) or other car value service. Be sure to get the value of a trade in that’s in “good” condition. It may be in “excellent” condition now but they probably found a reason to lower it to “good” at most.


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