Fitting time for a Fit?
June 21, 2016 9:31 AM   Subscribe

It's been a while since I've had to do business with a car dealership. Are they likely to run sales or have incentives just before the new model comes out? Are they likely to be substantial?

My beloved but 12 year old MINI Cooper S is about ready to go be someone's project or parts car. I'm planning on picking up a Honda Fit - it's only a bit longer than the Cooper but has 4 doors and I love the cargo capacity on it. The 2017 models aren't out yet, but presumably will be late this summer. Is it generally worth it to try and time things to try and get a 2016 as they're trying to make room for the 2017's? Last I heard, the Fit was selling reasonably well, so I don't know if they're likely to have enough trouble making room that there will be much in the way of incentives/discounts/etc. (I'm particularly thinking of one of the higher end trims, the EX-L without navigation, so I'm not sure how likely they are to run out of those before other trims.)

My current car is still running, so I have the leisure of time, but I don't want to bother waiting if I'm likely to get about the same price or a different trim level or something.
posted by rmd1023 to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I heard that you have a better chance of getting a deal at the end of each month, and especially at the end of the year as salespeople hustle to meet their EOM and EOY quotas.
Don't know how true this is though.

Google "Best time to buy a car", and I'm sure you'll get a ton of insight!

Good luck and happy driving!
posted by bitteroldman at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2016

Similar question on /r/askcarsales from last year.
posted by JoeZydeco at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2016

Buying a high-demand Japanese car is not like buying a low-demand American/European car. The dealer is going to sell every single car it gets, for very close to the sticker price. There's no real point in negotiating or waiting for a sale -- the most you'll save is a couple hundred bucks. Just buy it now and don't overthink it.
posted by miyabo at 10:00 AM on June 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

My dad worked for car dealerships, and always gave the following advice:

Best time of the year to buy: October. Best time of the month to buy: last week of the month.

Send emails to all the dealerships in your area (+ a reasonable road trip) with your specifications and get quotes. They all have an internet manager now.

When I purchased a Fit, there was not a lot of movement on the car price. Kelly Blue Book will give you a good sense if that's still true.

Focus your haggling on the trade value and interest rate. Get pre-certified with your bank. Don't mention that or cash until you feel you've gotten the most value out of your trade. Let them think they can make up difference in financing.
posted by politikitty at 10:08 AM on June 21, 2016 [5 favorites]

I just bought a (purple!) 2016 Fit EX-L last month and I love it! Apparently, according to the dealerships I contacted, the purple EX-Ls were rare, and they thought they should command a price premium for that reason -- but I disagreed.

My advice to anyone buying a car, especially if you have the luxury of time, is not to pay any heed to the dealerships' "sales" and bullshit, but to go on Consumer Reports and the Auto Club website to find out what the car ought to cost you, and be willing to keep walking away until you find a dealership willing to make that deal. You can do this by email or phone. True, most salesmen will refuse to negotiate by email or phone -- OK, don't buy from them! -- but some will, and then you'll get your price. The "Internet Sales Manager" is usually the person willing to deal this way.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:09 AM on June 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

When I bought a Mazda 5 at the end of the model year, it was marked down a couple thousand $$ from the sticker.

When we bought my wife a Prius, the dealer explained that discounts varied month to month depending on what segment of the market was hot. That could depend on externals, like gas prices, as much as model year. I think that although Toyota and Honda have small changes year-to-year, pricing is driven more by the 3 to 5 year major re-design.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:24 AM on June 21, 2016

I just bought a 2016 Honda Fit EX-L with navigation. My story in a nutshell....

First, finding the car: I also wanted an EX-L without navigation but that was a lot harder to find, especially since I was a little picky about color. After quite a bit of research, I determined that at least in the NYC area there's not a lot of inventory, so not a lot of choice.

When I found an EX-L in a color I liked I decided it was OK to spend a little more for the navigation since I couldn't find an EX-L without it.

Second, price: In terms of price, the 2016's seem to be selling for MSRP in this area. I basically did the deal over the phone, brought a cashier's check to the dealer and drove away within an hour with a new car a minimal time dealing with car sales tactics.

Now I have to sell my 2009 Fit on CL, but the upgrade was very much worth the $ and hassle. It's really a great car and I wish you luck in finding the one you want.
posted by 6thsense at 10:25 AM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

How To Buy A Car Without Interacting With A Human. (Bonus: The Toast.)
posted by Lyn Never at 10:25 AM on June 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

We got a Fit a couple of years ago, and a friend got hers a couple years before that, and both times, they were in enough demand that neither of us had much negotiating room. We got a slight discount because we settled for automatic instead of manual, but it wasn't much. I'm sorry I don't remember exactly when we bought ours, but it was right around the time that the next years' models were coming out.

Ours was an emergency situation where we had less than 24 hours to buy a car, but our friend bought hers at her leisure, and still paid about the same.

I don't know if the demand has changed significantly since then, but I kind of doubt it. They're pretty great little cars.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:26 AM on June 21, 2016

The email method is even easier when it's a no-haggle or high-demand car. Go do your research so you know what it's very likely going to go for, send out your emails with a lowball offer, see what they come back with.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:55 AM on June 21, 2016

Yeah, it doesn't sound like time of year is going to have a big impact on you. Since you want to buy a certain new car at a certain trim level, I'd do this:

1. Email every Honda dealership within a reasonable drive and say "Hi I'm rmd, and I'm going to purchase a Honda Fit in the EX-L trim without navigation within the next week. I'm not fussy about color. Please give me your lowest out-the-door, pre-tax cash price."

2. Ignore phone calls; everybody's going to want to call you. You may even want to say you'll ignore phone calls in your emails.

3. Pocket the cheapest bid, then email everyone else and say "Hi, I've received other quotes, and you're in X place. If you can do better I'll buy it from you."

4. Repeat this process until you have a solid low bid; you may want to circulate it to others to see if they can beat a specific number in the 2nd or 3rd round of this process.

5. If you have a dealer you like or that is particularly close to you, call them and say "I'm going to go buy this car from this dealer from this price, but if you'll match I'll buy it from you today" and see what they say.

6. If you see a piece of paper with a higher pre-tax number than the bid you got, walk.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:26 AM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

cebailey's advice is great. Pretty similar to The Toast, linked above.
posted by danceswithlight at 11:39 AM on June 21, 2016

Thanks for the responses so far!

I actually ended up sending info to some of the local dealers kind of by accident. (I was poking around on and there wasn't a "confirm that we're doing this" interstitial on the 'contact local dealers' thing where I totally expected there to be one). Most of the dealers did well with my "HI I'M NOT LOOKING FOR REALZ YET DON'T TALK TO ME", thank god. And I was smart enough not to use my regular email address (I have a throwaway gmail account for stuff like this). I've got what look like some good prices (and are in line with the "what people are paying around you"), so I'm asking around among my friends for recommendations for dealers to seek or avoid.

Speaking of which, any mefites in the Boston area with Honda dealer opinions, let me know here or via memail.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:46 AM on June 21, 2016

We decided we wanted a Fit sometime in early September 2015 and by that point, there were no 2014 or 2015 models anywhere in Colorado. We had to wait for the 2016 and finally got a hold of one in November. They told us that they were changing manufacturing plants or something and the supply was going to be lower than usual for awhile, so not sure if that's still a factor. Another thing to think about: we went through a very reputable auto dealer, who got us the car as soon as he was able to grab one. We didn't hear from the dealership (where I had also left my information) until a month after we were driving the car.
posted by LKWorking at 1:15 PM on June 21, 2016

FWIW, we found that Costco's Auto Program got us a no-haggle just-over-invoice -- and at the low end of the truecar ' "what people are paying" range -- price on a new Civic. The Costco website structures it as "we refer you to a dealer with a fixed Costco pricelist" flow, but we ended up picking the dealer (and car) that we liked and asking them for the Costco deal.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:08 PM on June 21, 2016

And it turns out the 4th of July sale/incentives are happening now, so I've put down a deposit on a Fit EX-L that I should be getting early next week (evidently "in inventory" actually means "on its way here, but promised to our dealership").

Thanks, Hive-mind!
posted by rmd1023 at 9:57 AM on June 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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