Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hybrid Car Buying Tips at the dealership

Tips at the dealership

Persevere - be insistent - you want your hybrid!

With hybrids in such high demand, some dealers may want to try and steer you into another automobile they have on the lot if they don't have the hybrid you want in stock. Don't be afraid to say "no thanks" if a dealer doesn't have the hybrid you want.

Check for the cleanest technologies.

All hybrids are not built the same. If a less polluting model matters to you, demand it. In 2003, 57% of the US population was living in areas that did not meet federal public health guidelines for smog. Even under the new Tier 2 federal emissions standards, some vehicles can emit up to 13 times as much smog-forming pollution as the cleanest vehicles available. The Gen 1 Civic Hybrid is a case in point, as their California model is a Bin 2 yet they have produced only Bin 9 models - producing 14 times as much smog-forming pollution as Bin 2 models - for the rest of the country, and have, thus far, refused to release Bin 2 models. While Gen. 2 Civic Hybrid is all Bin 2, you should always ask to see the emissions ratings of the vehicle you are going to buy, both smog-forming and global warming.

Comparison shop, and don't be afraid to bargain.

You might have a longer trip to the dealer, but you may end up with a cleaner car. Dealers may have different cars on their lots with different features. Internet sales and comparisons are also a great way to compare. As hybrids become more prevalent, so, too do incentive deals on hybrids. If you are shopping for a hybrid model that has a conventional equivalent, and that model has an incentive, ask that incentive be applied to the hybrid model as well. Check our state hybrid incentives list to see if a state nearby has a tax credit or other incentive, then ask the dealer in your state if he can match that discount in order to get your business. If you are shopping for a Toyota, a vehicle that no longer qualifies for a federal tax credit, note the fact that other hybrids still qualify for a tax credit to the dealer (in other words, don’t be afraid to play one hybrid against another…). Remember to ask people for an "out the door" price that will consist of the taxes, tags, and options you've selected.

Prius: waiting lists and "non-specified" models--

Now that Toyota has increased Prius production, the waiting list issue is far less common, waiting lists still occur in some areas with more limited availability. According to the dealers we talked to, for a $500 reservation fee, you can "order" your Prius model and get on the waiting list for its production (the $500 goes into the total cost of the vehicle, but is non-refundable if you change your mind about purchasing it). This fee may vary, so be sure to ask more than one dealer. There you will choose your car's color and the package of options you want. The waiting list for your model to arrive has been up to 3 and 6 months. Toyota is also producing an increasing number of "non-specified" models that, of course, already have their color and options pre-determined. If you're not picky about color, you can call around and see if dealers in your area are getting in a model with the options you'd like.

Beware "Hybrid Gouging"

Unfortunately, some dealers seem to be trying to find out exactly how badly you want your hybrid. One Prius dealer we spoke with attempted to convince us that there was a $2,500 additional fee to take a "non-specified" model if we didn't first get on the waiting list. One call to another dealer proved this to be untrue. Only take, and pay for, what you are buying, and look to purchase a vehicle that has only the features you really want. And remember, there is usually more than one dealer in your area, so don't be afraid to comparison shop.

Buying Used?

All current hybrid models have 8 year/80,000 mile or 8 year/100,000 mile warranties on their battery. If you are buying from a private party, you may want to call the company and make sure that the warranty is fully transferable to you. If buying used from a dealership, make sure that they are still honoring the original vehicle warranty, or are offering a pre-owned vehicle warranty that sufficiently protects your investment.

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