What’s Going On – December 2009

Welcome to the last month of the year! Generally, lease deals are pretty weak during the holiday season, with January and February not being any better. However, this month (and possibly the next few months) could be different thanks to a weak economy.  Now, without further ado, here are the topics for December.

Lease Rates and Promotions

As you know, lease rates don’t usually start popping up around the web until the 2nd week of each month, however, if you have been keeping up with lease rates like I have, you can start seeing some patterns. This month’s pattern is simple, since all lease promotions are carrying over through January 4th, 2010, you should expect the lease rates to remain the same until then as well. It may also be to your advantage to wait until the last couple weeks of this month since there might be a chance that some cash incentives may pop up in order to sweeten some of the holiday deals. I just checked out the VW website and noticed that the Sign Then Drive promotion was extended to January 4th as well (it was scheduled to end last night), so whatever deals you were seeing last month, should still apply this month. On another note, the $1500 lease cash on the Acura TSX V6 is a goner, so the deal I mentioned in the “Shopping for the Next Ride” post is probably gone too, same with Eric’s deal. The thing about cash rebates is that they come and go depending on what the banks are willing to do, so it is always a good idea to stay in touch with your dealer to see what comes in.

MB C300

Just a little FYI for those of you shopping for a MB C300 this month. About a week after my initial test drive, I got an offer at invoice, so my guess is that this ride should easily go below that. That does change things a bit, making the car a bit more enticing. Here’s an example of what I would be expecting on a 2010 C300 with COMMAND and 7-speed auto tranny if I were to get one right now.

MSRP $37,765
Invoice $35,183
Estimated Holdback $1132.95 (3% off MSRP)
Sale Price $34,683 or $500 below invoice
MF 0.00095
Residual 57% (12k miles per year)
Term 36 months
Estimated Inception Fees $2000
Monthly $418 before tax. $459 after (9.75% sales tax)

I’m sure you can milk more out of the holdback if you wait until the last couple days of December, but I think being able to split isn’t so bad (after all, they got a family to feed too). It is likely that the deals might be better down the road, specially during the summer. Another thing worth noting on the C-Class is that remaining 2009 models are probably getting a sizable discount right now. We’re talking 9-10k off MSRP, so that’s definitely worth looking into if you plan to buy.

LA Auto Show

The LA Auto Show begins this Friday, with a special preview Thursday night which costs a crap load of money. You can get a few bucks off the admission if you order your tickets online. I haven’t figured out which day to go yet, but it is starting to look like it might be Monday December 7th in the evening/night. I might also consider going this Sunday afternoon/night after my nieces choir recital. We’ll see how it plays out. So who else in the So Cal areal is going?

Transfer of Liability

If you recently traded in a vehicle, you probably signed a DMV form that transfers the liability from you to your dealer. Your copy should be a pink slip with your name, signature and the dealer information on it. GUARD IT WITH YOUR LIFE! Specially if you live in California. Here’s why…Last September, I got a parking ticket in the mail from the City of Pasadena. I thought to myself, “wait a second, I haven’t been in Pasadena in ages”. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that the car was my old Mazda3, which I traded in back in May of 2008. In order to prove that I longer had this car in my possession, I had to mail them a copy of this pink slip proving that I no longer had the car. In CA, even after the car is traded in, your name will remain on the registration until someone purchases the car and re-registers it. This means that if the car stays on the dealer lots and is driven around as a demo or loaner, you will remain liable unless you can prove you no longer have the vehicle. The worse case scenario here is that if there’s a fatal accident and that car is involved, you could be liable unless you can produce that little pink paper proving that the car is no longer in your possession. This is a drag in my opinion. I spoke to the finance guy over at Cerritos Infiniti about this and that is pretty much the explanation I got. I haven’t confirm this with the DMV yet, but I figure it’s worth noting now in case you had a trade-in recently. Remember to keep ALL your paperwork, for as long as you can.

Why Warranty Is Good

This is just me venting, but yesterday I took in my wife’s TSX to get an inspection, tire rotation, oil change and the mechanic discovered a leak on my struts. This costs about $400-$600 to replace, plus wheel alignment. Ouch. I have yet to confirm with the dealer, but I think this should be covered under the basic warranty. This car only has 31,100 miles, so it’s rather shocking that such a big problem came up. Nevertheless, I am thankful that I can probably take this to the dealer and have them take care of it.  More on that after I take it in for repairs. The real point of this topic is to outline the importance of leasing your car WITHIN your basic warranty period. If you are leasing a non-luxury vehicle beyond the 3 years or 36,000 miles, you better make sure you have a four-leaf clover or a rabbit’s foot. My advice is to avoid leasing beyond the basic warranty to avoid unnecessary costs. Be sure to pay attention your leasing and warranty terms or you could be out of a lot of money. Think about it, even cars as well-built as Acuras can have problems.