FAIL – Trading-In the Sonata

During New Years last week, I attempted to get an appraisal on my Sonata to see if I would have the same luck I did with my Infiniti G37. Back in 2011, I was able to get about $1129.80 after trading-in the G37. This time around, I was hoping to break even. What I got was a much more disappointing result. Early in the month of December, I got an appraisal offer from my local Chevy dealer. Using an “automated system”, they offered me approximately $14500. The dealer then told me that they could “probably” bump it up to about $15000, but that is the best they could do. At that time, my payoff from Hyundai was about $19300. That figure was ridiculous because my Residual was supposed to be in the $16000 range. How do you go from $19300 down to $16000 with only 4 monthly payments at $362 per month??? My thinking was that Hyundai was adding sales taxes to that number and a possible “buyout” fee, which has become ever so popular these days (just look at your lease contract closely next time and you might see it. I saw mine on my Volt’s US Bank lease). If I took taxes into consideration (which I really shouldn’t have to pay on a trade-in) I get somewhere in the vicinity of $17000, which is closer to my residual, but still on the higher side. One has to wonder how Hyundai calculates their residual values. Personally, I blame the popularity of the car. Hyundai seems to have cranked out one too many of them and it’s starting to drive down resale values.

Moving on, I clearly didn’t want to pay nearly $5000 of negative equity so I went home, detailed my car, took it to CarMax and was offered $15500. The reason why CarMax offers a slightly better trade-in is mainly due to the fact that they go by Auction pricing instead of all the KBB nonsense.  Attached in this post are some of the “estimates” I got via the Edmunds and KBB websites. I also included my CarMax offer for your reference. The dealer offered me $14500-$15000. CarMax $15500, Edmunds estimated my trade-in (in good condition) to be $15947 and KBB thought my car was worth $14321. As you can see KBB gives you a good idea as to what the dealer would give you. Edmunds seems to overvalue your trade-in.

Overall, I think using online tools to estimate trade-in values can be hit and miss. It is always a good idea to get an actual offer so you know exactly how much your car is worth. However, I think based of this experience, it’s likely safe to anticipate your “real” trade-in offer to be somewhere between what KBB & Edmunds estimates your car is worth. Ideally, you probably want to have access to Manheim Auction information to get an idea as to how much your car fetches in the wholesale market.

So after all this craziness, I have decided to finish off my Sonata lease which matures in April. It’s an okay car. I still find it irritating to pump gas, but whatever. I won’t be visiting the gas station too much in the next three years so I will get over it. 🙂



Issues with website…

UPDATE: So a new theme has been applied to the site in order to fix some of display issues I encountered in the last couple weeks. Sorry for dragging my feet a bit on these. I came down with a pretty bad cold during Christmas and it’s taken about two weeks to recover from it. Please report any issues you find on the website. Thanks!

UPDATE: Apparently a plugin update completely destroyed the webpage theme so I am having to find a new one to replace it. The site will look a bit odd in the next 24-48 hours, but I hope to establish some consistency soon. Sorry everyone! Not exactly the best way to start 2014.

I wanted to let you guys know that I am aware of some issues with the website since Dec 19th. Lease rates page seems to work for some, but not for others. I apologize for his mess. Please note that I am working to address the issues. You will likely run into some weird things throughout the day as I work through some of the problems. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of an IT team or a test environment to play around with so your patience is greatly appreciate it.

Thank you!


Charging on 120V outlet...12 hrs!!!

My Next Ride – Chevy Volt

Special kudos to Leon S for finding the dealer that’s cutting some serious deals on the Volt this month. I went in without having to negotiate. Completely painless process. All paperwork was ready. Spent about 15 min signing papers. This is probably the easist lease I’ve ever done in the 12 years that I have been leasing cars. Here is how things shook out:

Leon S picked up his Volt and got a fantastic deal. I told him to have his dealer contact me following day. I inquired about a white Volt with only the safety package 1 and black cloth interior. The car was not on the lot but it was arriving next week. The offer was $500 due and $337 per month. The discount was a total of $6100. $3200 off MSRP, $2400 lease cash from US Bank and $500 lease conquest. I was at another dealership last weekend and was offered $774 due and $361 per month for a lesser vehicle (base model without safety package). I cross-shopped it with yet another dealership and the best they did was $1100 due and $335 per month. So here is were things get interesting…I was poking around the Volt’s website playing around with the car configurator. I noticed that the Volt look pretty sharp in red, but I was a turned off by the fact that the paint had a $1000 markup, so I didn’t consider it. However, while browsing through dealer inventory, I noticed that the dealer that Leon S used had a red one with leather and safety package 1 which is exactly what I was looking for. The price difference between the white one (that’s arriving next week) and this red one was only $605 bucks. So I had the dealer run some numbers and this is what I got back….$500 due at signing. $336 per month. $6500 discount ($3600 dealer discount, $2400 US bank lease cash and $500 lease conquest).  But wait! There’s more! $500 Costco Cash Card AND the $1500 state rebate. In-sane. I just couldn’t pass it up. So I rented a car one-way and drove 50+ miles out to get it Saturday morning.

So how do you calculate a lease for the Volt using the RWG Calculator?

MSRP $37625
Sale Price (after factoring all rebates) $31125
RES 39% + 7500 (federal rebate for EVs)
MF 0.00057 (1.37%)
Fees rolled in $1050 (total driveoff was $1550, but I wanted to roll in $1050 of it and only pay $500 at signing)
Monthly with 9% tax $336.58 per month.

The actual lease payment in the contract was $336.71. My estimate was within 13 cents of the actual payment. Pretty awesome if you ask me.

So far, I am enjoying the car. I think it’s a fantastic deal and I highly recommend it if you can live with it’s looks and size. My drive back from the dealership was about 59 miles. I used 0.9 gallons of gas (I was switching back and forth between full electric and gas) and I still had 15 miles in electric mode left. This year, I have been spending about about $213 per month on gas between my Sonata and the Pilot. For the coming year, I expect to easily cut that by half. My payments drop from $362 per month to $336 and I will have $2000 in my pocket in the next month.

I’m extremely pleased with this lease. Probably the best one I have ever done.

If you are a CA resident and are interested in a Volt, let me know and I will refer you.

My Next Ride – Part 1

Today I began my test drives. As you saw on my previous post, I have been looking at the following:

2014 Chevy Volt (quoted)
2014 Ford Fusion Titanium
2013 Infiniti G37 Journey Sedan (quoted)
2014 VW Passat TDI
2014 Honda Accord EXL V6
2014 Volvo S60 T5 Premium
2013 Lexus CT200h (quoted)
2013 VW GTI Wolfsburg
2014 VW Golf TDI

UPDATE: Shooting for the Volt. My first American car. Second one I’ve driven since my sister got a Pontiac Grand Prix back in 1992.

After driving the CT200h, I have decided to drop it off my list along with the GTI and the Golf. They are a tad too snug, making it tough to love. It’s not a bad car and it gets great gas mileage, but I am simply not convinced it’s worth $35k.

I will start out with my impression on the G37 and Q50 (yes, I check it out too). The G37 just felt natural to me. I felt so comfortable in it. Love the exhaust note, fit and finish. the console display does look a bit more “aged”, but to be honest, not a bit deal. Love the “rawness” of the G37. It really a well balanced sports sedan. Inventories seem to be VERY high in some dealerships so may not be tough to get what you want. I feel confident  that I can get a Journey for about 1st month + $350s with tax for 36-mo/12k per year.  The Q50 is great, it’s a more refined and roomier G. Quieter, so the “rawness and power” feel isn’t as noticeable. Still a very nice car, but I feel the infotainment console is a bit sluggish. Kind of like how MyTouch was when it was first introduced. In contrast, the Volt’s console is a bit simpler and responsive (more on that later). Overall, the G37 is my “nostagic” choice that could potentially be a keeper in the long run. I’m keeping this car as my “safe choice”.

Now, let’s talk about the Volt, shall we? There’s been a lot of confusing information floating around. I’m not saying it’s wrong. But I think that there are just a lot of assumptions being thrown around and it’s really rough to get a “skinny” on how things are truly done.

First off, the Volt’s numbers for Dec 2013 are: residual value 39% for 36mo/15k per year and MF .00057 via US Bank. Don’t bother with Ally. US Bank rates are better.

Second, $7500 federal credit  is applied to boost the residual value, making your lease more affordable. Whatever that 39% is, boost the residual dollars by $7500 and that’s the new residual value for the lease. I have been quoted 0.00091 as the MF. However, a friend of mine decided to pull the trigger on a Volt today and he got quoted .00057 thru US Bank. I’m thinking his is the base rate and mine is the “padded” one.

Third, state rebates. In the state of California, we get a $1500 rebate on the Volt. This is given via a check, which arrives about 6-8 weeks after you lease the vehicle. As of today, there is about $27 million dollars left in the program or about 48% of the entire pot.

Fourth, Costco Rebate. $500 Costco Cash after you lease a GM vehicle between now and Jan 2nd 2014. You need to have a “code” which you get via the Costco Auto program website. This is only for participating dealers. Check with Costco before you get the car from whichever dealer you are working with. Get the car, do a questionnaire and a rebate will be mailed to you afterwards.

Last, my target goal. I’m looking at a $37k MSRP model, 1st payment due. Approx $340-$350 a month with tax. 36mo/12k a year. Then I would get the $500 from Costco and $1500 state rebate, or an additional $55 per month in savings, making my effective cost around $285-$295 per month after all is said and done. Is this possible? I don’t see why not, my friend’s offer is $1550 at signing, $323 a month for a 36mo/15k lease.

As far as the car itself. I think it’s acceptable. It’s got plenty of torque. It’s smooth and being able to run 40 miles with out gas is great. In terms of interior quality and design, I think that it’s a bit “all over the place”. It’s not very cohesive and the infotainment system is kind of “all over the place” as well. There is such thing as too many options. I am computer guy and I use an Android phone. With that said, I found the Chevy’s computer system a bit too “feature rich”. The good news is that it wasn’t as sluggish as the MyTouch or the Q50s.

Overall, the Volt is really a tough deal to pass up due to the sheer amount of rebates available. It’s tough for me to give up $2000 on the table just like that, so unless something unexpected happens, you all should see some Volt pics on the Wall by month end.

What’s Going On – December 2013

I know it’s been a while since I posted a new message. Some of you are probably wondering if I went MIA again. It is safe to say that I’m still checking my messages and watching for website activity. If you have questions, feel free to ask them and I will do my best to answer them.


I have been in the mist of at least 10 concurrent projects at work, so it’s been tough to sit down and find time to write to you all. I haven’t had much time to car shop either which really sucks because I only have until month end to take care of things. The good news is that I made some progress today by sending off a few quote requests. With that in mind, let’s move into my next topic…

My Holiday Wishlist

So I went to the LA Auto Show last week with the family and spent a solid 3.5 hours there. My little girl tagged along and hung in there like a champ. Unlike past years, I didn’t take any pictures because having a stroller and family members tagging along really makes it tough to take photos. The good news is that there really wasn’t all that much new stuff. For those of you intrigued by the MBZ CLA, I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t all that impressed by it. The interior really disappointed me because it did not scream “Mercedes-Benz”. On the flip-side, I was really impressed by the Audi A3 sedan. Fit and finish was impressive. I can only imagine how the S3 variant drives…*drool*. Unfortunately for me, these cars are just WAY TOO SMALL. Very tight quarters. Maybe I’m just getting old (and large), but it’s not all that easy to get in and out of those cars now. Anyway, going back to the real point, this auto show was really an opportunity for me to check out vehicles on my “lease” list and hopefully get some feedback from the wife. Without any further delay, here’s what I’ve been working towards…

Top Choices (in order)

2014 Chevy Volt (quoted)
2014 Ford Fusion Titanium
2013 Infiniti G37 Journey Sedan (quoted)
2014 VW Passat TDI
2014 Honda Accord EXL V6
2014 Volvo S60 T5 Premium
2013 Lexus CT200h (quoted)
2013 VW GTI Wolfsburg
2014 VW Golf TDI

The hope here is to get a real low payment, most bang for the buck and lowest operating cost (in that order). Fuel efficiency would be nice since the Pilot isn’t exactly a gas-sipper, but not crucial since my commute is only about 10 miles each way.

VOLT Update

In any case, I got an initial offer for the Chevy Volt tonight that looks like this:

MSRP: $35, 156.00
Your Price: $31,156.00

Drive-Off: $774.06
Payment: 361.26 (includes sales tax of 9%)
Rate: 0.00091

$500 Costco Cash Card (This promotions is going on for many GM vehicles through early January 2014)

Dealer “forgot” to disclose the residual, but I’m not too worried about it. As I said, it’s an initial offer so I’m just going to bring down the hammer after I test drive the car. No sense getting into the nitty-gritty if I end up disliking the car, right?

Got my hands on it…58.245%, not too shabby. So the key now would be to obtain the full $9000 credits ($7500 FED + $1500 CA) and they can sell the car for MSRP for all I care.

Stay-tuned folks! It’s going to be a busy month of December 🙂

G37 Update

Got a quote for the G37 Journey $811 at signing, $375 a month tax included. 62% / .00084 at 36mo/12k. Looks like there’s a lot more wiggle room.

CT200h Update

Received the quote with no lease rate information, but I was able to estimate the possible numbers…$550 at signing, $395 per month tax included. Based on those payments and the assumption that the residual hasn’t changed much since Oct (61%), I calculated the MF being about .00033. I will get confirmation tomorrow.

S60 T5 Update

VOLVO December numbers are in so check them out! I didn’t get a quote yet, but they look good! I will ask for a quote next week. Check back for an updated.



October Volvo Numbers Are In

Volvo numbers have arrived. This is typically when I get them. I know it’s ideal, but like I always say, you should be shopping months ahead and be able to pull off a deal at any given time. Don’t shop last minute because you will typically get burned.

Wife wants me to eye the S60. If we can pull of a deal under $400 a month. This may be the ride we get next. We will see! Lots of options and I got until year end. I will report my findings once I get rolling with some quotes.




Cracking the BMW Lease Specials

As you are all well aware of, national lease promotions are used to reel you into the dealerships. However, the law has made it pretty clear that they need to disclose enough information in order for us to get a hint of what we should expect to pay. Last night, when I completed the Game Changer, I began testing it on different brands to see how accurate it was. I found that Honda and Acura discloses enough information in the fine print to get a VERY accurate residual and money factor calculator. Honda/Acura doesn’t seem to care when it comes to blurring the fine print. However, I found that BMW, Audi, Infiniti, Lexus, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz were not exactly very “upfront” with their disclosures. Toyota and Lexus are BAD! They won’t even provide the purchase option price or estimates of total payments. It’s like they pick those payment numbers out of thin air.

The good news is that I have been able to get a pretty good feel for how BMW discloses their info and how we can use it to calculate the Residual and Money Factor.
Lets take a look at the key information for the October promotion of the 2014 428i:

  • $439*/month for 36 months. $500 Loyalty Cash are included in payment.
  • $439 First months payment
  • $2,750 Down payment
  • $0 Security Deposit
  • $725 Acquisition fee
  • $3,914 Cash due at signing

Monthly Lease payments of $439.00 for 36 months based on MSRP of $43,625.00
Purchase option at lease end for $27,484.00 excludes taxes
blah, blah, blah…in excess of 30,000 miles

So what do we know about this deal?

  • Cap Reduction is $3914
  • $500 loyalty cash is available and being used as part of this promo (even though it may not apply to you)
  • 36mo/10k per year
  • $439 payment per month
  • No taxes are ever included in any of these estimates
  • MSRP $43625
  • Residual after 3yrs is $27484

Just as a reminder, we already know what the lease rates are on the 428i for October 2013: 60% at 36mo/15k, or 63% at 10k, 0.00125 base rate. It is posted on the BMW Lease Rates page.

The only key missing information here is the Net Cap Cost. We know the Cap Reduction (down payment) is $3914. We also know BMW will cover $500 of that in Loyalty Cash. That means to get to the $439 payment, we need about $3414 in cap reduction. We also know that there is absolutely no significant dealer contribution mentioned, so it’s safe to assume it’s either nil or nothing to write home about.

After looking into this further, there seems to be some dealer contribution that is minimal,  but significant enough to skew the numbers a bit.

Per @knight427 observation. We are proceeding with the assumption that you pay for the 1st month payment upfront. $2750 down is used as cap reduction in addition to the $500 loyalty cash.

You then get a cap reduction of $3250 off MSRP, putting you at $40375 NCC. Using the Game Changer, we get a MF of .00119. So how does that compare to the actual .00125 when it comes to payments? Using the RWG Lease Calculator, I get a $443 monthly payment using the .00125. On the flip side, if we use the .00119 rate, we get $439. A 4 dollar difference per month. Pretty close estimate.

I still feel this is a game-changer for us because it really gives us a realistic ballpark figure for what the MF & Residual should be.

Thanks again @knight427 for your wonderful insight. It really helps to have members participate in discussions like this!

We are getting close folks! Thoughts? Comments? Share it!