Purchasing a used VW Cabrio with a online vs. sticker price discrepancy
July 5, 2009 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I am interested in purchasing a used VW Cabrio which is listed (recently) online at ~$7800, while checking out the car this morning on the lot, it has a sales price of ~$9400. I am hoping to communicate with the dealer today, but am unsure how to proceed with this price discrepancy noted, and in general. Please help, thank you.
posted by strangelove to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you considered going home, sending an e-mail inquiry to the dealer saying, "I am interested in this VW Cabrio you have listed for $7800. Is it still available at that price?" If they say yes, go to the dealer with the e-mail printed out, and if it still has the $9800 tag, let them know that they offered it to you for $7800 with the e-mail in hand.
posted by jayder at 8:19 AM on July 5, 2009

I agree with jayder... and when you go in, I wouldn't let them think for a second that you would be willing to pay a penny over the $7800 price. As a matter of fact, I would find something wrong with it and ask for a discount. Tell them your budget was $6500 and offer them $6800.

If they tell you the online listing was an error, tell them you're not interested and walk out. Chances are they'll come back to you and try to negotiate the price down. I would tell them the car was listed as $7800, there's no way you will pay more than that.

Good luck.
posted by kdern at 8:32 AM on July 5, 2009

The discrepancy is merely a clue about how much they are willing to sell it for. The tag on the lot is meaningless. I agree with kdern, $6500 might be a good place to start. Do document the online price somehow and bring it with you to the dealer.
posted by werkzeuger at 9:11 AM on July 5, 2009

Just take a hardcopy of the web ad with you. The price on the windshield and the price on the interweb is not the real price. The real price is what you end up paying. Test drive it and if everything seems ok, offer 10% or more less than the web price.

There is a reason used car dealers have a nefarious reputation. It's earned. All they want to do is move cars quickly, but they have myriad ways of separating you from your money if you're not careful. Be mindful of the bait and switch. Everything is a ruse. But if you can't live without that car, then go get it.
posted by valentinepig at 9:20 AM on July 5, 2009

Does the VIN in the online ad match the VIN on the car on the lot? Sometimes dealers have more than one of the same car.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:27 AM on July 5, 2009

In my experience, it's not uncommon to have a different price listed online or in an ad than is posted on the car itself. Just about every used car I've bought from a dealer has been like this. Consider the online listed price as your starting point for negotiations. Offer less, and see what the dealer will take.
posted by The Deej at 9:44 AM on July 5, 2009

It's an "online special," or at least that's what they'll tell you once you mention that you saw the online listing and its price, and it's "your lucky day." They'd be happy to sell it at the higher price to someone who hadn't seen the online listing.

There's really no such thing as a price tag on a used car.
posted by sageleaf at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2009

Yeah, $7800 is high for a Cabrio. It'd have to be an '02 in stunningly perfect condition with under 50k miles. Don't pay more than $7k for it, no matter how much you like it.
Make sure the cooling system is in perfect condition, too. That VW 2.0l engine has a common fail point in their cooling system whereby a plastic flange on the driver's side of the cylinder head develops a leak. Look for pink crusty build up on the driver's side cylinder head and pooling on top of the transmission. (Also, if the coolant is green instead of pink, that's a sign the car has been improperly cared for. VW takes pink G12 coolant, strictly.)
Do quick check on the motor mounts, too. If it's an auto, open the hood, put your foot firmly on the brake and put it in drive and goose the gas. The front motor mount on that 2.0 can be weak and you'll see the engine thrash around if it's failed or weak.
Go over the convertable top with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure there's no glass or seals seperating. Check that the top isn't discolored or torn in any way, also.

The salesman shouldn't have any problem with you bringing a trusted mechanic to help you examine the car. Those three points should help you knock down the price to something reasonable, between 6 and 7 grand.
posted by Jon-o at 10:57 AM on July 5, 2009 [4 favorites]

I'd suspect one of a few things:

-Salvage title? (this means that it was in an accident so significant that an insurance company deemed it a total loss. No matter what the dealer tells you about how the damage was minor, only cosmetic or only to the sound system do not purchase a car with a salvage title. I don't know much about cars, but my mechanic and my family members who work on cars go into hysterics whenever people mention buying salvage title cars. If you MUST buy a salvage title car, pay no more than 50-75% of the kbb price for the vehicle.)

-High miles for its age? We recently purchased a car that is less than three years old that had more than 100k miles on it. That really reduced the sale price a lot.

-Formerly leased car? This could go hand in hand with the high miles.

-Sold at auction? This could go hand in hand with a formerly leased car with high miles. Get a Carfax report and check out how many owners it has had.

To sum up: be suspicious, be careful, but be aware that you can get a good deal out there. Go out right away and check it out, but be prepared to walk if everything doesn't smell right.
posted by arnicae at 12:28 PM on July 5, 2009

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