New used car - or just buyer's regret?
March 25, 2011 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Buying new car. Dealer has to bring car in from another lot. Everything looked kosher except they made me sign a purchase order and a very small deposit...

The purchase order copy, I just noticed, says the car has 500 miles on it. I won't see the car until tomorrow.

Am I totally SOL? I would want this car more if I didn't feel like they pulled one over me and didn't mention that this new car had miles on it already (4 times more than what driving the car from lot x to my lot would put on).

Am I stuck with this car and dealer even if I haven't yet laid eyes on it?
posted by ttyn to Shopping (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Financing through dealer at 0% if it makes any difference. Haven't signed anything like finance paperwork, just the purchase order.
posted by ttyn at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2011

My brand new car that had never even been test driven and they had to bring it off the back of the lot had something like 460 miles on it. I remember discussing with friends at the time why this would be and never coming up with an answer, but I don't think it actually means it's "used"
posted by brainmouse at 2:24 PM on March 25, 2011

Exactly 500 miles? Sounds like a round number sort of placeholder so you know you are not getting a car with zero or single digits. Your deposit shows your good faith.
posted by fixedgear at 2:24 PM on March 25, 2011

I can't speak to the legal issues, but is it possible they write down 500 miles for any purchase order involving a dealership transfer? They might just use that number to cover themselves rather than trying to calculate the exact mileage a car will have upon arrival.
posted by Diggins at 2:25 PM on March 25, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's not exactly 500... It's a random 500+ number.
posted by ttyn at 2:27 PM on March 25, 2011

Remember, too, that other people may have taken it for test drives, and/or employees of the dealership may have used it around town.

If in doubt, ask them to explain why the car has 500+ miles on it if it is "new", and what the definition of "new" is. My wild ass guess is that these are incidental miles accumulated either in transport, test drives, and/or employee use, but that the car has never been registered in someone's name, which is why it is still considered new.
posted by mosk at 2:30 PM on March 25, 2011 [3 favorites]

I would guess that your car has been test driven a number of times. When I bought my new car it came with only 14 km on it.
posted by axismundi at 2:32 PM on March 25, 2011

A) You haven't actually bought the car until you've paid for it. Deposit or not the car doesn't leave the dealership until you sign the financing and final purchase contract. So you could still walk away and maybe lose your deposit. The deposit is there to show weed out the people who are not serious about buying the car.

B) If not mistaken, all (or most) new cars get tested before leaving the factory. It might not be 500 miles but they put them on a dynamometer and give them a test drive.

I wouldn't worry about 500 miles. Especially if you didn't see the actual odometer yourself. Just call up the dealership and ask them the exact mileage for the car. If you don't like their answer, you can make a fuss and use it as an excuse to back out of the deal.
posted by eatcake at 2:40 PM on March 25, 2011

I was looking at Scions last month, and two separate dealerships suggested I take a car home and drive it for 24 hours to see if I liked it. Apparently this is pretty common now.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:47 PM on March 25, 2011

I just typed my VIN into and it says there are two records. Would this be standard for new cars?
posted by ttyn at 2:55 PM on March 25, 2011

From the Carfax site:

Possible listing source: Car dealerships
Possible listing reasons: Vehicles offered for sale, Odometer readings

Possible listing source: Import/export companies
Possible listing reasons: Vehicle transfers and locations, Compliance dates

I don't think presence of Carfax records, without knowing what the records actually say, is indicative of being ripped off on buying a new car. It could be something sketchy, though. No real way to say without knowing the nature of the records.

Can you ask the dealer about the mileage?
posted by asciident at 3:22 PM on March 25, 2011

asciident, I will ask him but I'm fairly nervous since I did sign the bloody purchase order with the mileage on it.

The carfax report lists the following:
Vehicle offered for sale

No recalls open for repair
posted by ttyn at 3:27 PM on March 25, 2011

New cars don't get 500 miles of testing. The two new cars I've bought had 17 miles and 11 miles on them. It isn't like starting a new checking account with check #400. When the odometer is installed, it is at zero and any miles on it are miles that it has driven, in some fashion or other (like dyno testing).

In car sales, a "new" car is one that hasn't ever been sold to an end user. A car with 8000 miles on it that the dealers used to run parts in could still be considered "new".

If there is something fishy about it, don't buy it.

I just typed my VIN into and it says there are two records. Would this be standard for new cars?

Depends on what Carfax registers as a record. Could be transfers between dealerships. Might not be.
posted by gjc at 3:27 PM on March 25, 2011

Okay. Those are really benign Carfax records from a really reasonably short period of time, and I wouldn't worry about them at all. But gjc has a point in that really brand-spanking-new cars do not receive 500+ miles of factory testing. My mother just bought herself a brand new car that had, I think, all of 12 miles on it.

500 sounds like transfers, test drives, etc. You aren't on the hook for more than maybe the deposit if they're pulling one on you, but you're absolutely entitled to know why the car has 500 miles on it.
posted by asciident at 3:32 PM on March 25, 2011

I just bought a Brand New Jeep. It had 11 kms on it. 500kms is a bunch of test drives, used as a demonstrator, staff taking it home at night, etc. That's a lot of use by drivers of unknown skill and care. Engines have break-in periods, I'd want to break my own engine in, thanks very much.

It might well be a placeholder number, as suggested, and it might arrive with some reasonable lower usage amount, less than 100 miles surely. I'd discuss this carefully and thoroughly with the salesperson involved. Whether you then want to back out of the deal would depend on the veracity of the explanation, and how you are treated.

If you want to walk from the deal, whether you get your deposit back or not depends on multiple variables, especially the wording of the "bill of sale", and the specific laws where you are. No dealership wants to jeopardize a new car sale, if you are unsatisfied with their answers or attitude then you need to start negotiations again for a new car. Chances are that they will bend over backward to keep that you as a customer. If things go pear-shaped and you decide you want nothing further to do with then consider stopping payment on the transaction and escalating your concerns to the manufacturer.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:05 PM on March 25, 2011

Most new cars have between 5-25 miles on them, from test drives, transfers from one dealership to another, etc. Even a car with the temporary "dealer plates" can still potentially be sold as new, even with thousands of miles on it.

If this is a sports car, I would walk away. I had a couple friends in college that worked at car dealerships washing cars, and they would also move new cars from the dealership at one end of town to the dealership across town. In the Mustangs and Corvettes, they and all the other guys that worked at the dealerships would tear the shit out of those cars on the highway, accelerating hard, squealing tires, and hitting well over 100mph, in general driving the car really, really hard.

That is no longer a used car. 500 miles is more than a bit excessive for a car being sold as "new", unless they're willing to seriously move down on the price. And I mean thousands. Hell, when you buy it and drive it off the lot it loses almost half its value, so if they really want to sell you this car, they'll be willing to move.

Having said all that, as others have mentioned, "500" may just be a placeholder and they're shooting high. I'm a copier salesman, and all of our copiers are "used", if you want to use the strictest definition. We unbox them, put them together, load 'em up with supplies and get them adjusted and calibrated. On a copier with lots of options, it can take a hundred copies just to get all the trays, duplex, finisher etc all perfectly aligned. Once that is done, we do a comprehensive function test to make sure everything works properly. So by the time it hits a customer's office, a "brand new" copier will often have several hundred copies on it. I generally start the contracts at 1,000 copies for just this reason. I'm not going to hold up the paperwork until that final moment that the machine is rolled into the client's office, so i shoot high and just start billing them from 1,000 copies onward.

Hopefully, that's all this is, a paperwork placeholder. But you should absolutely look at the odometer (make sure it's the real odometer, not the trip) yourself before you sign anything more.
posted by xedrik at 4:18 PM on March 25, 2011

Funny coincidence. I was just at my Jeep dealer, getting it's first "official" oil change. This is for warranty purposes. The first required oil change is at 10,000 kms but I still had it changed at the dealership at 1000 kms. Why? Because any tiny imperfections in the inner engine surfaces will be going through their highest wear cycle at the very beginning of the engine's life. For $30, getting those minuscule shavings out of the engine immediately is a fabulous investment. I then had it changed again at 5000 km at a national chain, as I was on a long-distance trip, really pushing the edge of the capability of the machine. When I go to sell this vehicle, and the conversation about maintenance comes up, I will be able to show the prospective buyer that I did everything possible to prolong the life of the vehicle, including 3 oil changes where only only was actually "required".

Anyway, big digression. So, standing and talking to my salesmen Bill while waiting for my courtesy car, I brought your situation up, as we had to get my Jeep transferred from another dealer, as well. Just then, a flat-deck tow-truck arrived with a brand new truck on it. Pointing at it, as they started unloading the said, "THAT's how we transfer new vehicles around here, anyway. Yours came from Kelowna. ( 400 km away). No way are we putting a brand new truck on the highway with a 19 year old behind the wheel. "
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:12 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

PareidoliaticBoy, what an awesome and unfortunately depressing (for me) answer.

Thanks everybody. Will go see my "new" car tomorrow and see what happens.
posted by ttyn at 7:36 PM on March 25, 2011

One optimistic story for you--I bought a car last year with about 500 miles on it. It had to come from two states away because Subaru doesn't seem to make enough cars. It WAS driven to my dealer's lot and they swore they paid highly responsible retiree types to drive the cars around. It was in perfect condition on arrival and I don't believe I was misled in any way. So it's certainly normal practice in some places and for some situations.
posted by parkerjackson at 7:39 PM on March 25, 2011

Yeah, just remember that while any of these scenarios is possible, you are the customer, and satisfying your needs is the only thing that counts here. If getting the car that you want to the place that it is needed requires that someone drives it 400kms, then you should have been informed.

As for the idea that retired pensioners should be transporting vehicles that they're unfamiliar with across state linnes, well ... I suppose it's a business model ... but not not one that anyone with any sense would ever develop.

Hell, if all that's involved is a waiting period to get the car you want, then they should lend you this one what with it's heavy usage already anyway, until a new one can arrive. You actually have all the power here. Don't forget that. Seriously.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:01 PM on March 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lot of dealers have encouraged me to take a car home for a weekend, even a whole week. It wouldn't take very long to rack up 500 miles on a demo car, but even so, the car is only a few months old.

With that many miles it's bound to have sone cosmetic damage that you could use to your advantage if you really don't want the car. Realistically, though, the car only has a few weeks of normal driving on it, and if it is in good shape does it really matter? The plus side of a car like this is less "new car smell" which is a collection of gasses thatcare not very good for some people.

If you want the car they may write up an extension to the warranties, but this could probably only be used at that dealership and not backed by the manufacture. The most you'll probably be able to negotiate is a detail job ( which they should do anyway) and maybe a couple of free oil changes.

I'd you don't feel right about it they should probable be able to apply your deposit to a new car that you'll have to wait for.
posted by Yorrick at 12:58 AM on March 26, 2011

Update to anyone interested: car was transported with the miles for trip plus about 30 additional miles. Totally reasonable and not what I was afraid of. No clue why bill of sale yesterday had 500+. Driving off with 170 miles.

Thanks for all of your answers!
posted by ttyn at 9:36 AM on March 26, 2011

YAY. Seat covers and floor mats are a great investment to keep things new, BTW. As mentioned, its not a bad idea to do early oil change before the required first interval. Between 500 km to 1000 km, or so.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:32 PM on March 26, 2011

Yeah, seconding the recommendations here for an oil change at 1000mi and another at 3000mi. Your brand new engine is worth the relatively small expense. And do try to adhere to the suggested speed limits during the "break-in" period for the engine. Congrats on a brand new car! \(^_^)/
posted by xedrik at 4:05 PM on April 2, 2011

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