I read this book with special interest, having recently bought a one-year-old Toyota from a local dealer. Just as Mark Marine, a Utah car dealer and credit specialist, describes, it is people like me, who have good credit, who stand to lose the most from such transactions. Naturally the Toyota dealer offered to finance the car for me. I was happy about getting an almost-new car with excellent mpg rating (34-39mpg) and even more thrilled at being able to drive it off the lot just an hour or so after driving my old gas-guzzling pick-up truck in, with a bundle of warranties and guarantees tucked in the glove compartment. I signed all the papers they thrust before me.
Later I reconsidered the deal I’d made with the Toyota finance folks. They would be automatically drafting the payment from my bank account on a date that was incompatible with my pay schedule. When I called and asked to have the draft date changed, I learned there was a charge of $12 to change the date. That got me thinking. I called my bank and went in for a chat.
Just as Mark Marine describes, my bank was slightly less thrilled with my new car. Yes, they would refinance my loan and cooperatively withdraw the loan amount twice a month to coincide with my pay periods. But they wouldn’t have lent me as much money initially as the Toyota finance company seemed eager to do, didn’t offer the same fancy warranty package, and were generally polite but skeptical about the deal I’d made with Toyota. They would have wanted me to borrow less on a less expensive, older car. Now I was stuck with the car, knowing I’d paid too much and that, in the end, I’d be paying the bank a little more for the privilege of refinancing.
Lucky for me, I didn’t lose much on the deal - but I’d learned a lesson. Feeling rather chagrined, I resolved that in the future I’d do exactly what Mark Marine advises when considering buying a car: go to the bank first, find out how much they’ll lend, trust them to put together the finance package, and buy a car that fits within their lending parameters. What it requires is more patience, a day or two between seeing and getting: time to reconsider. Not a bad thing.
MM puts it succinctly: “The car buying experience is designed to allow dealers to make up profits lost on bad-credit sales by overcharging and thus making bigger profits on good-credit sales” (italics MM’s). His advice: “It couldn’t be easier. Get pre-approved.” He asks you to remember that the nice salesperson who is being so helpful when you make up your mind to purchase is looking for a substantial commission that you will be paying as part of the dealer’s inflated price.
This useful and amusing book, illustrated with cartoons, will bring a rueful smile to your face as MM walks you through the maze of credit checks and credit “repair” (MM: “There is no such thing as credit repair”) and such murky areas as cosigning, add-ons, trade-ins, and 0% loans, all the lures that car dealers and others use to flim-flam nice people into doing regrettable things.
I got this book from an ad on craigslist, and it is available on Amazon. I’m making everybody in my family read it on the reasonable chance that it may save some innocent relative from making a major mistake, especially since, as Marine points out, it is we with good intentions who get kicked. My advice: if you’re going to buy a car, new, used, expensive or cheap, or if you really want to understand consumer credit, read Kick the Dealer before you sign anything.