I recently had the "joy" of purchasing a new car. I use the word joy in quotes because it was the biggest hassle and I almost just kept the old car and was trying to figure out which mechanic I was going to love seeing every year for the next 5 or 6 years. Like the person you are going to marry, you need to make sure that your mechanic is 'the one,' after all their new boat or fancy tire machine might be all directly due to the issues you are having with your car.

So, back to the new car purchase. I found the least expensive all-wheel drive car that I could find, in a manual transmission, and when to the dealer to put an order in for it. I was told it would be about two months. No problem I'll wait.

What really happened when I went car shopping?


Ordering a new car was something I never thought was something a 'normal person' would do. It wasn't fancy, just no Subaru dealers had the car in stock, in a manual, so I had to order it. Yes, you do have to pay a deposit, but it is refundable if you don't like the car or just change your mind. The dealer calls me a month later to say, that they are no longer going to make the 2023's so, they rolled my order over to a 2024 and by the way it's not going to be a manual (2023 is the last for Subaru Impreza) and it will cost you $900 more. Ok, cancel that deal. But I didn't. More on that later.

Why should you never buy a car in Connecticut or New Jersey?

Women hand holding car key,remote control car system

Ok, let me be transparent, I have bought cars in both of these states, but had no idea at the time that I was paying a much higher "DOC fee" than I would have in New York State. I bought my 1996 Honda Civic in Connecticut and my 2007 Mini Cooper S, in New Jersey.

New York is one of the lowest-cost states for this 'DOC fee' thing. What is a DOC fee? The DOC fee is a documentation fee, it is the cost of processing all of your paperwork, not only through their dealership but also with a finance company and the paperwork with the DMV. New York's DOC fee max's out at $175.

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Can a dealer charge you more for not financing a car through them?

I had one dealership tell me that they were going to charge me $500 for not financing the car through them. I did a double-take on that one. I had gotten pre-approved by my bank so I knew exactly how much 'car and payment' I could afford each month. Pay that fee? I asked them if they were nuts. A few minutes later, that $500 fee was gone.

How many parts are there to a car deal?

Turns out there are three parts. The amount you are going to get for your trade-in, if you have one. You can always ask to get more for your trade-in. Say, your numbers are off my $300-$500, ask for more for your trade, or take money off the car. Will they, do it? You never know until you ask.  The second part of the deal is for the actual amount of the car with the accessories. Want the floor mats? Ask them to throw them in. They can always say no. I refused to purchase a car until one company (this was years ago) gave me a coffee mug that fit in the cup holders. It cost them nothing, and I felt like I won.

The third part of the deal is for the financing. They want you to finance with them. Save this part for last, if you have already a budget or are not going to finance with them. Let them think you are financing with them until the last minute. Also, don't sign anything that looks like a credit inquiry if you don't want to finance with them either.

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Be willing to walk away if the numbers don't line up when shopping.

I left a car dealership in Nyack, after spending three hours with them all because they wouldn't work with me for another $600. I understand this is a business, but I also was ready to go, knew what I wanted, had financed, and knew how much my trade was worth. Yep, $600. On the way out of there, I called another dealership, in Poughkeepsie, which had almost the exact same car in stock, talked to the salesperson on the phone, negotiated it all on the phone and was driving that new car off the lot in Poughkeepsie later that same day. Yes, the Nyack dealership reached out three days later to let me know they were now willing to do the numbers that I wanted. Too late, already bought the car.

So, what happened with the car I was going to order?

I did walk into the Subaru dealership and canceled the order. I also asked if they had a better idea as to when the car I ordered would arrive. They did. I was told the middle to end of May. Four months after I originally ordered it. Was it the dealership's fault, no, and I would consider working with them in the future. At this time, I guess it worked out the way it was supposed to. I am happy with all of it, except that now I have a monthly car payment.

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