Earl Stewart is the owner and general manager of Earl Stewart Toyota in North Palm Beach. The dealership is located at 1215 N. Federal Highway in Lake Park. Visit www.earlstewarttoyota.com, call (561) 358-1474, fax (561) 658-0746 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below, you can read the Facebook exchange between me and a young widow from Arizona. She contacted me to help her buy a car. I chose to write this article about her request, because her fear of car buying is so typical, epidemic in the U.S.A. The annual Gallup poll on Ethics and Honesty in Professions, always lists car dealers last or next to last. Many people would prefer to experience a root canal at their dentist than buy a car from their dealer. Those victimized the most are the very young, elderly, less educated, overly trusting, and the English language impaired.
I chose to make this young woman's fear of car buying and my proposed solution the subject of this blog because it is so typical of so many, but who are afraid to speak out and ask for help. With her permission, I will follow up later with what actually happened when she followed my advice to use www.TrueCar.com to buy her car.
I've advocated this online buying service for several years. In full disclosure, I'm a TrueCar dealer, a member of TrueCar's national dealer council, and a stockholder in this company. TrueCar is the best, safest way for you to buy a car. When you buy from a TrueCar dealer, he is contractually obligated to follow strict ethical guidelines. The dealer quotes you his best price on the car of your choice, knowing that you are free to shop and compare that price with other dealers. TrueCar also monitors the prices of their dealers. They can accurately do so because a condition of TrueCar membership is that the dealer must allow TrueCar direct access to his financial data via his computer system. TrueCar knows what price he quoted you and what price they actually sold it to you for. TrueCar also knows what prices other dealers are selling cars for and whether these prices are low, average, or high. Not all TrueCar dealers abide by the rules, but, if they don't, TrueCar will drop them from their dealer network. TrueCar prints their phone number on the price certificate you receive from them, 888 TRUE CAR (888 878-3227). For Spanish, it is 888 256-5461.
This is my Facebook dialog with the young widow from Arizona:
Melinda Nina Wood Nelson: "Can I hire you to help me to lease a car :) I am a widow. My husband died Sept. 2001. I bought a brand new Ford Expedition off the show floor and paid over $40,000. I got taken because I had never bought a new car before. In the first week an elderly 82 yr. old man took out the passenger side in a Walmart parking lot. He had no insurance. The third year, a woman ran a red light and completely totaled the truck leaving the Vets office after doing an animal rescue and nearly killed me. Again, she was from Mexico and had no insurance. Doing my homework and research I fought with the insurance company and got a decent value to buy another vehicle but still lost tons of money on the lot value at purchase and went without a car for nearly 4 months (had to rent). In 2008 I bought a used 2003 Navigator from a dealership in Scottsdale. It was mechanically totaled in the second year, after $4,000 in repairs I traded it in to the same dealership for $11,000 in 2010 for a 2010 slightly used Chrysler 300 for $17,000. The total price I ended up paying for the 300 after my trade deduction was... $29,000 including interest at 14 percent. I still have this car and I am still paying it off at $360 a month and still owe almost $11,000. I needed a big SUV because I do animal rescue and have to have large kennels for transport so I bought a 2005 navigator less than a year ago in cash and paid over $250 to have it professionally inspected by a licensed mechanic and test driven. I was given the go ahead to buy the vehicle as 98 out of 100 perecnt mechanically sound. In less than a year I am now looking at a $4,300 repair bill to keep it running and with a/c with a very near future repair coming possible transmission. The Fletcher's mechanic recommended I Trade it in while it is still running and filled a/c fluid for cold air. My fear is getting taken at a dealership, yet again. I am all most out of money and sick of dealing with car issues and slimy criminal mechanics who charge too much and do not even do anything but make things worse. I have to date lost nearly $60,000 in car loss. I am a good, honest person who saves animals through my rescue. I need a lil karma from my Karma savings account :) Will you please help? I can pay you $100 an hour for up to 3 hours by phone (if a dealer can even finish a deal in that time...doubtful). What do you say...wanna be my gun for hire. To get a feel for who I am please go to my Facebook pages at, Starbarks Pet Rescue or my personal page, Melinda Nina Wood Nelson. Thank you for taking the time to read my very long message Sir. Have a great day.
Earl Stewart: Melinda, I won't accept payment but I would be happy to help you lease the car of your choice at a fair price. I suggest you go to www.TrueCar.com. Choose the exact car you want and you will be given three dealers with the best prices. Contact the dealer of your choice but don't sign anything until you call me, cell phone (561) 358-1474. I will advise you at no charge if it is a good deal and, if not advise you what to do.
Melinda Nina Wood Nelson: You are wonderful. Thank you, I will do that. It is hard to admit fault but I am honest and can admit my weakness...car buying
Earl Stewart: "Good morning, Melinda. You're very welcome and don't feel bad about admitting your difficulty buying a car. Most people have the same difficulty, and it's not your or their fault; it's the anachronistic, unethical and often illegal way most car dealers sell cars today. I would like to ask a favor of you. I write a weekly blog, advising car buyers just as I am advising you now. May I use our Facebook dialog in my blog, www.EarlStewartOnCars.com this week? If you prefer, I could redact your name. Please let me know this morning, if possible. Because your situation is so typical, I believe your real life story would greatly benefit many others. If you agree, we can follow up next week with how you fared followed my advice. Thanks very much. :)
Melinda Nina Wood Nelson: Yes, you may use my name and my message. I appreciate all you do for folks like me. Thank you :)
When I hear back from Melinda as to how her TrueCar purchase experience went, I will relate it to you in an upcoming column.