Why Dealers Use Rebates To Sell Cars

2013-Hyundai-ElantraHey Cool Car Fans,

Many of my clients contact me toward the end of the year wanting to take advantage of the end of the year rebates that manufacturers place on their vehicles.  Rebates serve a great purpose for the automobile industry and they typically come when the new line of vehicles are coming out for the following year.  A rebate really has to do with the fact that a vehicle has depreciated over the course of the year, so the manufacturer is trying to sell their remaining vehicles to get ready for the next model year.  You are really just getting a discount on the vehicle because of the depreciation that has taken place throughout the year.

However, rebates can be a great way to roll negative equity in a trade.  For example, if there is a $2,000 rebate on a vehicle and someone has $2,000 in negative equity, it could mean the difference between qualifying for a loan and not qualifying.  Many times rebates are also placed on vehicles that are available for lease and they will call it “lease cash” or some other type of incentive.  This additional money from the manufacturer can again be a fantastic way for someone to solve a nightmare that someone may find themselves in with their current vehicle.

I had a client who had this problem recently with their Mercedes Benz that needed a $5,000 repair.  Rather than paying for the repair on the vehicle, they traded out of it and took the hit on the trade value of their vehicle, so they had about $5,000 in negative equity.  They were able to lease a new Toyota Highlander because of the incentives that were on the vehicle and their payment on the new car only went up slightly from what they were paying for their older, broken Mercedes Benz.  In three years they will be able to start over, while driving a new Toyota that included two years of free maintenance, with a lease that was structured to fit the number of miles that they drove each year.

cpo_index_carThis is a great example that many people often overlook when they are in a difficult situation with their vehicle related to repairs. Why fix an old vehicle that you still owe money on when you could start over with a lease and drive a new vehicle under warranty that can even include free maintenance?  Too many people are “anti-lease” when they really don’t realize the benefits that leasing can often offer.  It all depends on the structure of the lease, the situation of the person and the incentives that are included in the overall package.  I recently did a lease like this for someone who was only paying about $450 in interest over three years on a $45,000 vehicle, where if they were to finance it they would have been paying more more than that in interest each year for five years.  Many manufacturers will also offer 0%, 1.9% or 2.9% financing options as well, so it’s important to look at all the offers available.

Rebates and incentives can be a fantastic tool that many people can take advantage of as we head toward the end of the year.  Many manufacturers like Honda and Subaru clear out of their 2013′s fast, but other manufacturers still have inventory that they have incentives on that you can leverage before year end.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy

The Amazing Chevy Volt

Hey Cool Car Fans,

ObamavoltThe Chevrolet Volt is sold as an amazing “electric car”, but it’s really just a hybrid vehicle like a Toyota Prius that has been around for years. Now before the die hard Volt fans start screaming that the Volt is totally different, let’s just look at the reality of how these two vehicles work.  The Volt and the Prius both allow you to plug them in before going for a drive and then you travel a certain distance on electricity before the batteries are exhausted.  Once you’ve run out of juice, the gasoline engine will kick in and you carry on like a familiar hybrid vehicle.

What’s the big difference between the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius then?  For one thing, the Chevy Volt uses a different battery pack than the Toyota Prius.  A standard non-plugin Prius has a 1.6 kW-hr, nickel-metal-hydride battery. The Volt’s battery is a whopping 10 times larger.  It’s a liquid-cooled, 16.0-kW-hr lithium-ion (chemistry by Argonne National Lab and fabrication by LG Chem).  This allows it to go up to 40 miles before the engine kicks in, which is pretty fantastic on a single charge before burning gasoline.  This allows many people to drive to work and back on virtually zero gasoline, which is the big rage about the Chevy Volt.

priusThe plugin Prius version uses a different battery that is manufactured by Panasonic for Toyota.  It is 73 percent smaller than the battery used in the Chevy Volt and it’s only a 4.4-kW-hr, actively air-cooled lithium-ion battery.  What’s the big deal between the two?  How about the price tag? I would say that is something pretty important to look at, wouldn’t you?  If you need to replace a battery pack in a Chevy Volt down the road, you’re maybe looking at about $6,000 and they spent another $4,000 on the battery pack structure and those are the costs that GM paid.  This is according to Bob Lutz, when he wrote about the vehicle in Forbes in September of 2012, after GM was accused of losing more than $40,000 per vehicle.   He stated that the raw battery is about $350 per kW-hr, which is more like $600 in reality when you start adding all the other costs associated with making the battery work, but who’s counting.  His article was funny though because he tried to claim that the cost of the vehicle was about the same as a Chevy Cruze, which it looks like a Chevy Cruze, but there isn’t a $10,000 battery pack in a Chevy Cruze.  It’s kind of like the difference between a duck and a goose.  “They both have wings, funny looking feet and seem to handle the cold water pretty good.”

chevyvolt12It was reported that GM had spent an estimated $89,000 per vehicle to produce the Volt and I’m not sure if anyone really knows what the real costs were in the Land of Oz.  The bottom line is that a ton of research and development, along with other manufacturing costs went into producing this vehicle.  What I do know is that if you ever need to replace the battery in the Prius, it’s about $2,500.  When I called a GM Dealer and asked what it costs to replace a battery in a Chevy Volt, I was told by the Service Department, “We have no idea, we haven’t had to replace one of those yet.”  I should have asked if he knew the difference between a duck and a goose.  I guess you could take that as good news and bad news.  It is good news that the battery is working, but bad news that you are driving blind.  If you ever do have to replace one that isn’t covered under their warranty – it could be very expensive.  I know that some of you are saying that it’s covered under the warranty, but you obviously have never gone into a dealership and had them tell you that “Oh yeah, that’s excluded for this reason.”, which I encounter several times a year. Forgive me if I have a slight distrust of automobile manufacturers and their warranty claims.

Which brings me to the question of whether or not the Chevy Volt is a vehicle that you should be looking to own?  I do mean own and not lease.

If the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz were to sing us a song about General Motors (The Wizard) and their Chevy Volt, it might sound something like this – “If ever there was a lease there was, a lease there was, because, because, because, because…because of the unknown things it does…” Yes, the Great and Powerful Oz has spoken that this is a vehicle you should be leasing and not looking to purchase anytime soon.

In my opinion, you do not want to own a Chevy Volt. Even if the State of Colorado is going to give you a tax credit to own one, unless you have money to burn, don’t do it.  If you do have money to burn and you really want to own one, please call me and I’ll be happy to sell you one for over retail, so that you can feel really good about owning one.  And I will feel really good about taking your money.  Seriously, you should never dream of buying this vehicle or it could turn into a nightmare down the road.  However, you should seriously consider leasing a Chevy Volt.  Right now you can lease a Chevy Volt for under $300 a month, which is totally crazy to drive a vehicle that costs an unknown large sum of money to produce.  There are people right now driving this vehicle for around $5,050 for two years that cost GM an unknown sum of money to manufacturer.

The problem though is that GM is an unpredictable company, a bit like The Wizard of Oz.  Which is why Bob Lutz can some out and say that they didn’t really lose $40,000 per vehicle because he doesn’t really know anymore than I do.  This is a company that needed $60 billion in Government assistance to keep going, so who knows if they will keep this vehicle and continue to service it long term.  After all, the Feds ordered them to kill Pontiac in order to get the money they needed and guess who got screwed on that deal?  The customers who purchased a Pontiac and watched their brand die, along with the equity they had in their vehicles.

pontiacI recently had a friend who owns a Saturn and needed a part for her vehicle and she has had it in the shop going on two weeks waiting for GM to find the part for her car that they discontinued. GM has disposed of Pontiac, Hummer, Oldsmobile, Saturn and these were complete lines of vehicles, that actually had profitable products with a large following of customers.  Why in the world would they continue to produce a vehicle that they are losing money on, each time they make a sale?  I could be wrong, but I don’t think they will keep this product long term unless sales really take off, so if you are thinking about the Chevy Volt, make sure you lease one.

Toyota on the other hand has been committed to and producing the Prius for years with a great track record for customer service and knowing that people are loyal to their brand.  They understand their hybrid customers much better than General Motors.  I wouldn’t think twice about recommending that my clients purchase a Toyota Prius and I have many clients who own the Toyota Prius and they have had great success with them.  I don’t dislike GM, but I don’t trust them when it comes to this particular vehicle.  If I were writing about the GMC Yukon, the Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, Corvette or Camaro that’s a completely different story, but the Chevy Volt is an oddball car for this car company.  It’s buyer beware, but it’s a fantastic vehicle to lease.

There are other hybrid vehicles on the market and they are becoming more popular, with quite a few more options that will be available in 2014. This technology will continue to get better, but be sure and look before you leap, know the company that you keep, as with any vehicle purchase.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy

2009 Tesla Roadster Video

Hey Cool Car Fans,


There are a number of great reviews and videos on the Tesla Roadster on Youtube, but I thought I would post this one on The Cool Car Guy Network for our visitors and Members to check out.  The Tesla Roadster was the first really cool electric car on the market.  It was only manufactured from 2008 to 2012 and then Tesla switched to a Sedan, the S Model.

The car is based on the Lotus Elise body style and I have to say that I was disappointed that they discontinued this vehicle because it’s a super cool ride, as you’ll see by watching the video. According to the U.S. EPA, the cool little Roadster could travel up to 244 miles or 393 km on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery pack and then you charge it up like your cell phone each night in your garage.  This fast sports car can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in 3.7 or 3.9 seconds depending on the model.


I always get a kick out of this with electric cars, but the the Roadster’s efficiency, as of September 2008, was reported as 120 mpg, which really made no sense because it runs on electricity.  The Roadster was the first production automobile to use lithium-ion battery cells, which was pretty cool.  It was also the first production BEV (all-electric) to travel more than 200 miles (320 km) per charge, which was revolutionary and Tesla sold out of these vehicles every year.

One other things that was really cool about this car was the way that it was sold.  Tesla has stores like Apple in high-end shopping malls, like Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, Colorado for example.  It’s right across from the Apple store, so they catch the techies as they leave one tech store to go see another tech product, which just happens to be an electric car.  The Roadster had a 2010 base price of US $109,000 in the United States.  However, financing was only done through Bank of America at the time and I’m honestly not sure who will finance a used one right now, but I’ll have to check into that and update this post or comment on it.

I10Roadster.3 have seen a few of these running through the Dealer Auctions and they still command a pretty penny.  The 2010 in this photo only has around 3,100 miles and it’s listed for about $75,000 through the dealer auction.  It’s a sweet ride though for the money.  Enjoy the video.



John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy

Why Can’t I Get Kelley Blue Book For My Trade

KelleyBlueBookHey Cool Car Fans,

I have people ask me all the time to get them Kelley Blue Book for their trade-in vehicle.  Some people get confused when I cannot get the NADA or Kelley Blue Book wholesale trade value for their vehicle.  I believe it’s because they have a misunderstanding of what Kelley Blue Book and NADA book values really are designed for.  Understanding the history of the Kelley Blue Book will help to see how this tool came into being and what it has become over the years.  I decided that I would write a quick post about this topic to educate my visitors about the subject.

In the early 1920s, there was an auto dealer named Les Kelley who sold a ton of vehicles through his very successful car dealership.  He created a list of cars that he wanted to buy from dealers and banks and he promised to pay a stated amount to any dealer or bank that would bring him one of the vehicles on his Kelley list.  Dealers would get people who would come into their office wanting to trade their vehicle and because Les was so good at estimating what a car was worth, the salesman would pull out Kelley’s list, see if the car was on it and then use it to make an offer on their vehicle.  His list eventually evolved into what became the Kelly Blue Book, which is an actual book, but more people go to KBB.com today.

However, Kelly Blue Book today doesn’t buy cars for what they say they’re worth anymore, like Les would do.  He wanted the vehicles for his used car inventory, so that he could turn a profit on selling them.  What they are actually doing today is just giving an “opinion” and they make it clear on their site that actual prices depend on market conditions, vehicle conditions and all kinds of other disclaimers that they have in their fine print.  This is because every vehicle is different and no two used cars are the same.

Think about it logically for a minute and take the emotion out of the equation.  You and your neighbor could own the same exact 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, but your neighbor may be letting her teenager son drive her Jeep.  The 17 year old is bouncing it off curbs periodically, taking it off-road with his buddies and your neighbor hardly ever changes the oil.  In the meantime, you baby your Jeep, it looks like the day it left the showroom floor and has 5,000 fewer miles, regular maintenance, every time a light bulb gets dim you change it.  Are these two vehicles both really worth the same?  According to Kelly Blue Book they are because they are the same year, make and model.

Many of the pricing guides, like The Black Book, Kelly Blue Book and NADA also pull auction data now as well.  I’ve stood in the lane at the Dealer Auctions right next to someone working for these “sources”, who will write down what vehicles are selling for at the auction.  They don’t take into consideration though that one vehicle may be a condition of 2.0 out of 5.0 and another may have a condition of 4.0 out of 5.0, so they are not exactly the same vehicle.  A vehicle may not have a clean CARFAX and might have been in an accident that isn’t disclosed in the dealer lane either.  They have to average all the vehicles to arrive at what they believe that one is worth for their book values.

When it’s time for you to sell your vehicle, you go into your local Dealership and the Used Car Manager looks up what your vehicle has been selling for at the dealer auctions.  He gives you a price for your vehicle based on the average of recent sales without considering the condition of your vehicle because he may have to sell it at the Dealer Auction himself in 30 to 60 days, if it doesn’t sell on his lot.  He is also going to subtract for if the tires are worn, the windshield needs to be replaced or there are other problems with the vehicle that need to be repaired, should he want to try to retail  your vehicle.

This is the reality of the automotive business, which is why Kelly Blue Book and NADA are vehicle guidelines.   The real purpose of these resources are so that banks and credit unions can loan money on a particular vehicle.  The banks need some way to know that the money they are loaning on a vehicle has collateral that can be taken back and sold to recover their investment, should the borrower default on the loan.  This is the real value of knowing the “book value” of a vehicle.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy

CARFAX Stories From The Front-Line


Hey Cool Car Fans,

2010C300A few years ago I wrote an article about the problems with CARFAX and how it’s not a fool proof system for checking out a vehicle.  The problem of course is that most people think that it’s Gospel and fail to thoroughly investigate a vehicle from multiple sources before purchasing or selling their vehicles.  Since I first wrote that article, I have been contacted by television station reporters, who have interviewed me as an expert and individuals telling me their horror stories and challenges, asking for advice.  I can’t post all of the emails that I have received over the years, but here are just a couple examples that will give you an idea of what it’s like to be a “seller” instead of a “buyer” with a third-party website service devaluing your vehicle.

In other words, CARFAX and other online car history reporting services can be great tool for buyers, but it can be a nightmare for sellers when the information provided is not correct. The two emails I’m showing here are mild compared to some of the stories I have received where people have lost thousands of dollars trying to sell their vehicles that reported wrong information or information after they have purchased their vehicles.

My own vehicle is a great case in point on how CARFAX can miss the boat and give people the wrong impression about a vehicle and its history.  I purchased a 2010 Mercedes C300 4Matic off the show room floor.  When I recently pulled the CARFAX to sell it, the vehicles history show that there were two owners.  This is because I originally leased it, but I bought out the lease.  There were not actually two owners of the vehicle, but really just one owner.  The CARFAX doesn’t know this though because it just sees that a lease was bought out.  It doesn’t tell the whole story, but only part of the story, so someone buying it would think that two people owned the vehicle based on the CARFAX report instead of one person.  You can see the report below.

CarfaxMBThe Dealer Didn’t Know About The Carfax Report At The Time Of Sale…

“Hey John,

I read your piece on incorrect Carfax reports.  I am dealing with them on an issue right now similar to what you described in the article- they are reporting “structural and frame damage.”  The report has this accident happening 13 days before I bought the car- clearly I wouldn’t have bought it if that were the case, and the Carfax was clean at this time.  I’ve owned it for over three years now and haven’t had a problem at all.  I took it to a local auto rebuild shop and they inspected every part of it and said there is absolutely no structural or frame damage whatsoever.

I emailed their data team and have talked with a few of their reps- they said there next step is to discuss the matter with whatever entity reported the structural issue in the first place.  I feel like because it was so long ago I’m going to get almost certainly screwed.  Have you had luck with getting something like this removed before? 

Any words or advice you can offer would be great.



I Don’t Need The Vehicle Anymore And Carfax Is Now Bad…

“Hey John,

I have a problem with my infinity G 35. It is a 2008 at 62,000 miles on it.

My company is putting me in a fleet vehicle and I need to sell this car is I will have no use for it. When I took it to the Infiniti dealership to see if there was any price they could offer I was informed the Carfax was not clean, that is it been in an accident.  They indicated that they were surprised at this and pulled another auto report auto check, another version of Carfax which showed it clean.  

They then took the car into the service area put it up on the blocks to show me that the screws all around the frame had not been changed and that the original frame had not been touched. I believe what they are saying about it never having been in a wreck that altered the frame. They indicated they were going to try to contact the Carfax people and changed Carfax but did not offer anything on the car.

I realize it going to an auto dealership is not the place to sell your car back, but I was shocked to learn about the Carfax situation. Do you have any advice for me on how to best sell a car that is in good shape 62,000 miles, and great working condition? Again I love the car, I just have no more use for it as a result of my companies changing the policy.




These situations are actually quite common.  Since I wrote the first article, CARFAX now has a “minor damage” report as well.  They used to just say “accident”, but many people still read “minor damage” and immediately think the vehicle is a lemon.  In other words, someone could have been bumped in a parking lot, had their bumper repainted and many people think the car is not worth what it should be anymore, which is ridiculous.

The fact is that Carfax is a third-party service and pulls information on vehicles, but it’s not 100% accurate.  It’s a tool to check out a vehicle and I always recommend that you check CARFAX and AutoCheck to compare the vehicle reports and have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic.  The second person’s situation shows that the vehicle is fine and the data happens to be incorrect at CARFAX.  I’m not saying CARFAX isn’t a good tool, but it’s not a fool proof service.  In fact, on their website they have the following disclaimer…

Indemnification. You agree to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless CARFAX and its affiliates and their respective directors, officers, employees, and agents from and against any and all claims, actions, demands, damages, costs, liabilities, losses, and expenses (including reasonable attorneys’ fees) arising out of your use of the Site or any information you obtain from the Site or its reports.

Much like Kelly Blue Book and other resources that have disclaimers for their services, CARFAX is just a tool to assist you in checking out a vehicle, but it can create a huge problem when people see information that they believe to be true.  It can greatly affect the price of a vehicle, when it’s accurate or when it’s not accurate and as you can see from the emails that I have received it can be very frustrating for the owner of a vehicle when the data is not accurate.


In the end, you need to trust, but verify the data when purchasing a used vehicle.  Sometimes you’re much better off just buying or leasing a new vehicle and keeping it for four or five years and letting someone else worry about buying used cars.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy


The Mechanic’s You Keep Can Cost You Dearly

Hey Cool Car Fans,

I’ve been meaning to discuss this topic for sometime now and figured that since I’ve been behind at writing articles for my visitors, I might as well take the time to talk about the 800 pound Gorilla in the room – mechanics!  If you’re an automotive mechanic let me first say that I really appreciate what you guys do and I wouldn’t want to turn a wrench everyday, but I also spend around $60,000 a year fixing vehicles, so I have a slightly different perspective than most people.  Over the past 8 years, I’ve spent close to $500,000 fixing cars and trucks, with a variety of mechanics, so I think I’m qualified to write about this particular topic.

Let me share with you a few stories though, so that you can get an idea of some of the things that I’ve had to deal with over the years as The Cool Car Guy and hopefully it’s entertaining as well as educational.

Lexus-ES-330-008I met an elderly woman a few years ago who had asked me to sell her vehicle for her.  She had her “favorite mechanic who always took care of her” that she used in Cherry Creek to service her Lexus ES 330 and she told me that her car needed nothing.  I still went ahead and had a safety inspection done on the vehicle, the oil changed and delivered it to another client of mine in good faith, since it only had 110,000 miles on the vehicle at the time.

It was only about two weeks later that I got a phone call from the Dad of the young guy who purchased the vehicle and he was irate that I had sold his son a lemon with the transmission having problems.  Needless to say, I was caught off guard, since I paid a mechanic to look at it and her “favorite mechanic” had done all the maintenance on the vehicle.

Well, I got the vehicle back and took it to a third mechanic, who I was using at the time as well, who specialized in transmissions and he was a very good mechanic.  He called me up and said, “John, did this lady ever change the oil or transmission fluid on this thing?  I don’t think she ever had the thing serviced!”  Now, keep in mind that she had showed me receipts from her service work, so the big question for me was if her “favorite mechanic” ever did anything to the vehicle or took the money and went on vacation.  It was my word against his, so I just paid to get the transmission fixed and the Dad agreed to pay for part of it too, so that his son would get a rebuilt transmission at a huge discount and it all worked out.  Once the engine had been cleaned out and the transmission had been properly rebuilt and put back together the vehicle ran great and the Dad actually called me about a year and half later to tell me how great that vehicle had been for his son.  The bottom line is that you always need to trust, but verify and make sure the work you’re paying for is actually being done.

I had a service center that I was working with a few years ago and sending quite a bit of business do the brakes on my personal 2007 Subaru WRX.  I had the tires done at the same time at a different company because the cost savings on the tires covered the brakes at the other place.   I often will get repair work done from multiple sources that I trust because you can sometimes cover the cost of getting some other work done by using multiple sources.  However, if it’s not done correctly it can be a nightmare too and be careful who is working on your vehicle.  Seriously, this one almost cost me my life and the life of another driver.  Here’s what happened.

I had my new set of tires put on and went to the second place the same day to get the brakes done.  What I didn’t know was that they had a new guy putting on the brakes and they didn’t have someone supervising what he was doing.  He wasn’t a Master Technician and was just starting as a technician.  It was a busy Saturday, which I’ve since learned to get my cars repaired during the week, on a Tuesday or Wednesday, if possible when they are not super busy.

Anyway, I’m driving down Highway 85 toward Castle Rock at about 60 mph and I get near the stoplight that is near Sedalia and I put on the brakes.  Suddenly my car pulls hard to the left into the oncoming traffic!  I immediately let up on the brake, cranked right on the steering wheel and downshifted (I was so glad I had a manual transmission) and then slowly applied the brakes as my heart was coming out of my throat.  The person in the other car coming toward me gave me the sign of the Evangelist because they saw their life flash before them.  I was thankful that I didn’t hit them.  I pulled into Sedalia and tried to figure out what was going on with my car.

Subaru-WRX-concept-new-york-auto-showI turned around and drove back to the shop that had put on the tires and told them what had happened and asked them to check out my brakes because I knew the guy there was experienced.  I didn’t want to have the other shop find something and try to cover it up.  The lead mechanic took me into the shop and showed me a clamp that had been left on my brake line by the rookie technician at the other store that he had used when he was bleeding the brakes.  I’m not sure why he even had used it.  He said, “I don’t know how he could put a tire back on and not see this clamp staring right at him.”  Crazy!  He asked if I wanted him to take pictures, etc., but it was an honest mistake that could have been deadly for me and someone else.  It wasn’t as if it was intentional or malicious and accidents happen, but thank God one didn’t happen for me.  I went back and explained to the Manager what had happened, the guy who worked on my car felt terrible and I’m sure he’ll never do that again.  When it comes to getting brakes done though, I make sure that the people who are doing it are experienced technicians after that experience.

2010MBC300FilterWe’ve all heard nightmares of the people who have gone in to get an oil change only to have the technician leave the drain plug out and blow a motor.  If you haven’t heard that story, just ask around or I’m sure you can find one on the Internet.  I have one that didn’t end that bad, but it was still a mishap by a mechanic that wasn’t paying attention.

Recently, I had my 2010 Mercedes C300 4Matic in for an oil change at a local shop that I’ve used for many years.  A few days later, my wife Becky called to tell me that there were oil spots on the garage floor, which was not normal.  I parked the car and noticed that the spots were sporadic in nature, unlike a drain plug, but I took it in to get it checked out at another shop.  As you’re probably catching on, unlike what most people do when they have a problem and take it back to the same shop that did the work, I take it somewhere else and pay for a quick diagnosis of the problem.  I’ve been doing this too long and I know that mechanics, just like anyone else are going to want to cover their butts, so I prefer to get an opinion from a third-party.  It turned out that they forgot to put a gasket on the oil filter, so the filter was spraying oil.  It didn’t do enough damage to cause problems, although it had gotten all over the engine that needed a good cleaning and the Serpentine Belt  had started to fray and was needing replacement as well, so just $167 later and my car was back on the road.

These are just a few of many stories that I have accumulated over the years, that illustrate the many situations that you can find yourself in depending on who is working on your vehicle.  It’s a good idea to get a second set of eyes on your vehicle whenever you get work done.  This is why I always pay for a Frame and Mechanical inspection when I purchase vehicles for clients at a Dealer Auction and then I get a second safety inspection and oil change done after the first inspection.  It costs a little more, but in the end it can save time and headaches.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy

The Insurance Industry’s Dirty Little Secret


Hey Cool Car Fans,

Each year I get calls from clients who have gotten in an accident and their car is getting repaired or totaled by the insurance company, but they have questions for me about getting a replacement vehicle.  However, what I’ve discovered is that the insurance company is more often than not pulling a fast one on them for replacement cost on their vehicle.  What people don’t realize is that insurance companies used to be able to do a scheme called “title washing” on vehicles, which means that they would take a vehicle that was a total loss and send it to another State to get registered and presto change’o it would have a clean title.

Wikipedia explains it like this…

“In North America, vehicle licenses are normally issued by individual provinces and states. Each operates under different regulations.

In some cases, the criteria to define a “total loss” vary – some base the cutoff amount on the nominal value of the vehicle in working condition, others look instead at the value of a working vehicle minus the value of a collision vehicle as scrap, salvage or parts. The percentage of the original value at which the “total loss” label is applied also varies.

These differences are sometimes exploited by schemes such as “title washing“, in which a vehicle branded as ‘junk’ in one jurisdiction is registered in another, moving from state to state until one state with slightly different regulations brands the same vehicle as ‘salvage’ but repairable. A vehicle with Arizona registration and a ‘salvage’ title for salt water damage would, for instance, represent a red flag as a vehicle possibly once affected by environmental conditions and events elsewhere such as Hurricane Katrina. Vehicles with salt water or hurricane flood damage often have severe corrosion and electrical problems which cannot be properly repaired, so are best avoided.”


This is much more difficult to do today with the introduction of CARFAX, AutoCheck and State Laws that have changed.  The rising costs of vehicles has created a situation where insurance companies are much more reluctant to total out a vehicle that has been damaged.  I had a neighbor a few years ago, who was in an accident with her Ford Explorer and the vehicle had over $24,000 in damage that the insurance company did in repairs instead of calling the vehicle a total loss.  When my neighbor came to me because the vehicle had major problems to trade it there was no way that I could get her near Market Value for her vehicle.

Who would want to buy a used Ford Explorer without a clean CARFAX and that had $24,000 in repairs?  So the insurance company got a great deal by not totaling out her vehicle for her, while my neighbor got screwed and lost thousands of dollars when she eventually traded her vehicle.  This happens more often than people realize and many States no longer will allow you to go back to the insurance company and ask for diminished value.  It’s nice that the Insurance Lobby has done such a great job getting our politicians to represent their best interest instead of the consumer.

Another example recently was a client of mine who had a Scion XA that was in an accident and in this case the insurance company did total out their vehicle.  There was a problem though because their nice little car that they had purchased new and barely drove only had 50,000 miles on the vehicle.  In order to replace it for the amount of money the insurance company had given them, they had to find one similar with 80,000 miles on it.  When they contacted me, I showed them that the insurance company had only gave them 5 cents a mile for the low mileage on their vehicle!  If you leased a vehicle and went over the miles you would pay anywhere from $.15 to $.25 per mile, which at 30,000 miles would cost you a minimum of $4,500 in depreciation at the low end.  The insurance company though made out on that deal and only paid them $1,500 for having a vehicle with low miles.


I had a client a few years ago who purchased a really nice loaded vehicle from me.  They ended up getting in an accident and the insurance company pulled a fast one on them and told them that it was worth less than what they owed on the vehicle.  There was absolutely no way that was possible and they only contacted me after they had already settled with their insurance company, so they were totally screwed over.  The insurance company didn’t include GAP insurance to pay off the loan and they had declined it when they purchased the vehicle from me, which I usually offer for a few hundred dollars at the time of the purchase.  However in this case, they should have been fine because of the value of the vehicle compared to their loan and the insurance adjuster had booked the vehicle out wrong and gave them trade value instead of retail value on the vehicle.

The insurance company shorted them and they ended up owing several thousand dollars after their “budget” insurance company refused to pay off their vehicle.  They were upset with me for their choice of a terrible insurance company as though I had ripped them off, when it was their insurance company!  I’m writing this article to let people know that you had better know whether or not you have GAP insurance on your insurance policy or what their idea of “replacement cost” is if you do need to replace your vehicle.  If your insurance company doesn’t offer it – find a new company that offers GAP or refinance your loan and add it onto your loan through the lender or a car dealership.  A few hundred dollars in your loan could save you thousands if your insurance company refuses to pay.

One more story that illustrates the benefits of having GAP insurance.  I have a great client who is a lawyer and I leased him a new Nissan Maxima a few years ago.  He was in an accident shortly after he had leased the vehicle.  He called me first and I reminded him that he had GAP insurance built into the lease to cover the cost of the vehicle and pay off the loan since the vehicle was seriously damaged.  I suggested he let his insurance company know this and that he didn’t want to have this vehicle going forward because of the damage and it was a new car.  That’s a benefit of leasing a vehicle by the way because had he owned it, he would have had a vehicle that was smacked for resale and it could have been a problem down the road.  Since he leased it, he could give it back to Nissan at the end of the lease period and walk away unscathed.  Anyway, he worked with his insurance agent and the vehicle ended up being totaled and he called me back and had me get him a new BMW.  That was pretty cool.


Just be sure you understand what kind of insurance you have because if you end up having to use it you can find yourself in deep water.  Also be aware that looks can be deceiving.  This photo of this 2009 BMW 6 series is of a vehicle that was rebuilt from a salvage title, which means the vehicle was totaled by the insurance company like the vehicles above.  An insurance company isn’t going to stroke a check for a vehicle and lose thousands of dollars, unless the vehicle was whacked.

The money you save on premiums for cut-rate insurance you could very quickly lose and then some and I see it more often than I would like.  It could be even a big name company, so know what they are doing before you have to use the insurance you are paying for.  This is one of the benefits of knowing this industry.  Also, not every manufacturer lease includes GAP insurance like they used to, so make sure you understand what you have in the way of insurance, financing and leasing structure, so that you don’t get burned.  If you don’t have GAP on your lease then check with your insurance agent how to cover a potential loss on a leased vehicle you have insured with them.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy


Should I Lease A Vehicle Or Buy A Vehicle In 2013?

red-queen-402x500SHOULD I LEASE A VEHICLE?

I get this question all the time from my clients about whether it makes sense to lease a vehicle or buy a used vehicle.  I decided to address this issue this week on CoolCarGuy.com and give the pro’s and con’s to both since there is so much misinformation on the Internet about this topic.  Especially, from the famous “financial guru’s” who for the most part know nothing about the automotive industry other than that they drive a personal vehicle themselves.  However, if you structure a lease wrong it can be a bit like Alice in Wonderland doing business with the Red Queen.

First of all, a lease is nothing more than a way to drive a vehicle for less money by paying for the “depreciation” that the leasing company believes is going to take place on the vehicle.  That’s it.  What does this mean?  It’s pretty simple actually.  When you drive a new or a used vehicle off of the lot, it immediately starts to depreciate.  This is the only industry that I know of where a “third-party” in the way of Kelly Blue Book, NADA or a number of other “experts” determines that your product is going down in value each month, but that can benefit you with a lease since you’re paying for that depreciation.

The computer I’m typing this on is a Toshiba laptop that I bought a few years ago and at the time it was “state of the art”, but today who knows what it’s worth.  It’s depreciated down to next to nothing, it’s like a paper weight on my desk, but I can’t pull up the “book value” of this computer model this month and see what it’s worth.  You can do that with an automobile though and it’s needed for banks to put a value on a vehicle they are going to loan money on.

The real reason why these automotive value based books exist is not so that you as a consumer can know what a car is worth.  You may think that’s the case, but they really exist for the banks and lending institutions.  It’s so that a bank, leasing company or credit union doesn’t get burned loaning money on a vehicle that they haven’t had a professional appraisal done on, like you have to have done when buying a home, a business or other types of real estate.

What does this have to do with leasing?  Everything!  There are a number of components involved to leasing a vehicle:

  1. The retail price.
  2. The capitalization cost
  3. The money factor
  4. The residual value.
  5. The miles per year.
  6. Your credit rating.

All of these factors come into play when leasing a vehicle and you have to watch out because you can get stung on a lease the same as you can on a purchase.


Miles are what cause a vehicle to depreciate the most, which is why you see so many vehicles advertised on television with a low payment showing the fine print at the bottom of the screen.  If you look closely you will discover that you have to put a huge chunk of change down on the lease they are advertising and then they are basing the payment on as little as 10,000 a year!  12,000 miles a year is usually the standard and some manufacturers and leasing companies even put 15,000 miles as the standard, but many of the ads are showing 10,000 miles a year for that really low monthly payment.  This is because if someone puts on 30,000 miles in three years, the car is worth more than if they put on 45,000 miles in three years.

Used Vehicles Leases:  The benefit of a lease is that you are only paying for the depreciation of the vehicle and not for the full amount of the car or truck you’re driving.  If you lease a low mileage vehicle that already has a great deal of depreciation that has taken place and may still be under warranty, you can really save some money depending on the vehicle and the lease structure.  I expect that at least 30 people will contact me this year about how to do a Used Vehicle Lease, since few people really know how to structure them and most dealerships won’t touch them.  A used vehicle lease can give you equity at the end of the lease term compared to a new vehicle lease and they are simple interest leases that also come with GAP insurance.

Manufacturer Leases:  There are some great manufacturer leases and there are some nightmares!  I recently looked at a lease for a client of a high-line SUV vehicle, which I won’t say what the company is here, but their lease was terrible.  The money factor was high, even though my client thought it was low and the residual was terrible.  I was able to structure a lease through a third-party leasing company for her new vehicle and save my client, get this, $5,750 over the three years she was leasing the vehicle.  That’s $159.72 a month over three years, which many people do not investigate what their total cost of leasing is for a vehicle.  The manufacturer still sold a new vehicle, but we structured it to favor my client, rather than the new car leasing company.  Keep in mind too that many new car leases are actually pushed through third-party banks anyway.

Auction Vehicles:  Each year I have quite a number of clients who contact me about having me find them a vehicle through the Dealer Auction.  Last year, I was able to get a number of great vehicles here in Colorado and around the country from Dealer Only Auctions and ship them in for my clients and save them thousands of dollars.  This can work great for certain vehicles that are selling for too much money in this market.  I recently saved a client thousands of dollars on a 2010 Mercedes-Benz ML350 that was still under the MB warranty with great options and miles.  This is something unique to The Cool Car Guy experience since most Auto Brokers and Car Dealers are not experienced in this type of service.  Auto Buying Agents do not have access to dealer auctions by the way, which is one difference between a Auto Buying Service and a Car Dealership.  They have to get the vehicle from a car dealer rather than going directly to the auctions for additional savings.

Financing, Special Financing And Refinancing:  Last year, I had several people contact me who had credit challenges. One client of mine filed bankruptcy two years ago and couldn’t get financed through VW, Nissan or a number of other dealerships.  I was able to lease him a brand new Toyota through a special program I knew about at a price that fit his budget.  He told me that he used to work in accounting for a dealership that worked with people with bad credit and he saw how bad these people got ripped off with super high interest rate loans.  It’s all about the structure and relationships and knowing how to do what others can’t do.

Camaro4Another client had found the car of his dreams on Craigslist and he couldn’t get the financing done on his own, while trying to buy it from a private party hundreds of miles away.  He asked me to assist him, so we marked the vehicle up to compensate me for my time and I arranged to have him pick the vehicle up at a dealership on the other side of Colorado, even though it was being sold by a Private Party.

The bottom line is that leases can be a great option for people, if they know what they are doing with the proper structure.  You can get burned with a lease as the experts often tell people, but that’s because people do not understand what they are getting into from the beginning.  If the residual is too high for the marketplace and they go over their miles they can really get burned, even though they have a lower payment during the lease term.  If the charge for miles is too high on the back-end they can get pounded as well, if they turn it back into the manufacturer.  I even know of manufacturer leases that will charge you for excess miles if you buy the vehicle out and most people are not aware of this scheme, so it’s always buyer beware when you purchase or lease a vehicle.  The automobile industry is fluid and what was the situation three years ago, may not be the same today.


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy


The Benefits Of A Used Vehicle Lease

One of the cool things that I can do as The Cool Car Guy is track down a really cool pre-owned car, truck or SUV and then assist my client in getting the vehicle on a long term or short term lease.  I recently did this for clients of mine who wanted to drive a manual transmission 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe and they were not sure if they wanted it for more than a couple of years.  A used vehicle lease was the perfect option!

2012MiniCoupe1I was able to track down a super cool black and red 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe, out of Portland, Oregon with only 3,900 original miles on it through the Dealer Auction.  By getting it through the Dealer Auction I was able to save some money on the price of the vehicle and structure a great lease for them.  The Mini Cooper Coupe they were able to get was similar to the one pictured here, only theirs was black on red with some really sweet red accented mirrors, instead of red and black.

We shipped it to Colorado and then structured a simple interest 24 month lease at 18,000 miles a year and with only $1,000 down, plus the first payment.  They were able to get a killer lease payment on a super cool little turbo-charged car.  At the end of the lease term, they can buy it out at a great price, turn it into a simple interest loan through the leasing company or drop the keys off with me to return it and get something else.  If you own a business, like they do, there can often be tax benefits to leasing over purchasing as well.

That’s The Cool Car Guy difference!  Try doing that at a typical car dealership.  It’s not going to happen.  The salesperson is going to try to sell you “what’s on the lot” or get you to lease a new vehicle for around 10,000 miles a year with a bunch of money down, instead of what you’re probably going to actually drive each year.  The reality is that it’s too much work for most dealers to do what I do for my clients and there isn’t enough money in the transaction to make it worth their time.  Not for me though – I get a kick out of it.  I know how to structure leases, use creative financing and get more money out of a vehicle for my clients than most guys, who try to do what I do.

USED VEHICLE LEASE ON A SECOND VEHICLE:  I can’t tell you how many parents contact me about tracking down a $5,000 vehicle for their son or daughter, who is has just started driving.  They often get frustrated when they discover that every other parent in America has the same idea and they have to pay way too much money for the “kid car”.  Is there another option for them?  I decided I would give a hypothetical example of how this can work for someone who needs another set of wheels, but has a limited budget.

2012SentraLet’s look at a 2012 Nissan Sentra with power windows, locks, a rear spoiler, steel wheels and a 2.0l motor that gets great gas mileage with about 30,000 miles on it.  Like the one on the right as an example.  A brand new 2012 Nissan Sentra had an MSRP of about $19,000, but with 30,000 miles on it, you can pick one up for around $15,000 to $15,500.

I grabbed one online with a photo from the dealer auction for this example to give people and idea of how a used vehicle lease works.  I figured the price would be $15,300 for the Capitalization Cost, plus the lease acquisition fee for a total of $16,095.  This is with nothing down, but the first payment, and you can see the base payment and full payment based on a 7.6% sales tax rate and 12,000 miles a year below based on several monthly term options.

The residual value is what you could buy the vehicle for at the end of the lease, so someone could have a very reasonable payment on a vehicle and buy it out at the end of the lease or even before than less than if they tried to find a similar vehicle in the marketplace.  You can see that someone could lease this vehicle with good credit (Colorado Residents Only) for as low as $198.84 a month plus sales tax.

Term Adjusted Cap Cost Residual Base Payment Sales Tax % Sales Tax Amount Total Payment
24 $16,095.00 $9,749.00 $299.31 7.60 $22.75 $322.06
30 $16,095.00 $8,958.00 $271.72 7.60 $20.65 $292.37
36 $16,095.00 $8,166.00 $253.00 7.60 $19.23 $272.23
42 $16,095.00 $7,549.00 $235.40 7.60 $17.89 $253.29
48 $16,095.00 $6,908.00 $222.45 7.60 $16.91 $239.36
54 $16,095.00 $6,441.00 $209.20 7.60 $15.90 $225.10
60 $16,095.00 $5,950.00 $198.84 7.60 $15.11 $213.95

I need to put in a legal disclaimer here for this lease calculation, even though this is just an example and I’m not selling this particular car.  This information is strictly for “informational and educational purposes only”, don’t call me on this particular vehicle please.  Here’s the disclaimer: All quoted lease payments and down payments are (1) Excluding sales tax, tag, title and registration fees, (2) With approved credit, (3) Subject to price correction, (4) Subject to vehicle availability, and (5) With down payment (cap reduction) and first payment due at lease signing. Offer ends 03-31-2013 and is available to Colorado residents only.

Now let me explain the benefits of this type of a lease.  First of all, there are vehicles that will lease for less than this and we would just have to run specific scenarios on each vehicle to see what makes sense, but a 5 year lease for example at 12,000 miles a year is going to get a kid through High School and College for around $200 a month, plus sales tax.  At the end of the lease, you have your $5,000 to $6,000 vehicle that everyone is looking for and at 12,000 miles a year times five years this vehicle would have 60,000 miles, plus the 30,000 initial miles for a total of around 90,000 miles on the vehicle.  You can sell it and cash out or buy the vehicle at the end of the lease and give it to the next kid in the family and have them drive it until the wheels fall off.  You can also just give it back to the leasing company and be done.  This vehicle lease has GAP insurance built in as well to protect you and the leasing company, if the vehicle were in an accident and totaled out by the insurance company.

The problem with a new vehicle lease compared to this is that the Residual at the end on a new car is often much higher than the marketplace, so you end up trying to buy it out early and you can get creamed, so your only option many times is to give the keys back to the dealer at the end.  I have seen that happen many times, where someone leases a new vehicle with a low payment, they decide to buy it out and they have to pay more than what they are selling for in the marketplace.  Their financial situation may change too in three years and then they can’t get financed, unless they go for a high interest rate.  This lease allows you to convert it to a conventional loan (subject to credit approval) at anytime during the lease with no penalties.  You’re getting to buy a vehicle, if you do select that option, that has much more depreciation that has taken place on the vehicle, so it’s what I like to call an “equity lease”.

I’ve done this for families many times over the years and it’s a cost effective way to solve an additional automobile problem for people without having to put out a great deal of cash upfront or have the expense of financing a newer vehicle over a long term.  Keep in mind that the example above was with just the first payment down, so you can keep the cash you were going to spend on a “beater” in the bank or put a little cash down to lower the payment even more.  I’m a big fan of the Used Vehicle Lease when structured properly with the right vehicle.  I’m shocked that more people don’t do these type of leases and my guess is that they just don’t know about them.  After all, most franchise dealers want to lease new vehicles, instead of pre-owned vehicles to people, so they can sell a low payment instead of looking at the complete package.

Cool Car Guy Rating: A Used Vehicle Lease Can Totally Rock!


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy

Manufacturers Are Finally Looking At Stick Shifts Again

0409p10-mini-stick-happensHey Cool Car Fans,

Get On The Stick!

Many of my readers are car enthusiasts and you know that I’ve always been a fan of driving a stick shift vehicle.  The driving experience is so much better than driving an automatic.  Yeah, I know I’ve had the car geeks tell me that an automatic transmission is faster at shifting now than a manual transmission.  Who cares!  It’s not just about speed, it’s about the experience of pushing down on the clutch, putting the vehicle into gear and controlling the transmission as you drive, instead of feeling like you’re in an airplane that is on automatic pilot.

Granted it’s much harder to text and drive, talk on the cell phone and drive or do other distracting things when driving a stick shift, which is why every teenager in America should be forced to drive a stick.  Now, I don’t want to be called a hypocrite since I’m not currently driving a stick shift in my 2010 Mercedes Benz C300 4Matic, but that’s not by choice.  Mercedes-Benz doesn’t offer that vehicle in a stick or I would drive a manual transmission.  What really shocked me was when BMW quit offering a stick for their 3 series and I have had a number of clients ask me to find them older 3 series just so they could drive a stick shift.


I understand that manufacturers have looked at the fact that only 10% of the population wants to drive a stick shift.  I get it, but that’s still millions of potential drivers and Mini is taking advantage of this, which is strange since they are owned by BMW that is moving away from the stick shift.  That’s when you know that they are really two different car companies, when the left hand is going in one direction and the right is going in another direction.  Again, it’s all about the experience!

Cadillac gets it with their new line of sports vehicles like the ATS that you can get in a stick.  Toyota Scion, Ford, Fiat and Mini all have strong sales of the stick shift, but more companies are doing away with the stick shift as an option in their new vehicles.  Driving schools don’t even offer it as an option anymore, which is crazy to me.  Everyone should learn how to drive a stick shift, it’s simply not American!  I can’t tell you how many people I meet each year who do not know how to drive a stick shift.  They wouldn’t be able to buy that classic VW Beetle and experience the fun of kicking it into gear or rolling down a hill to jump start it.

Instead, many of the people today are looking for an iPod connector instead of under the hood, let alone for a manual transmission and that’s really sad.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been saved from death by driving a manual transmission, which I really miss in my Mercedes-Benz.  How you ask?  Those who have had to downshift to avoid a hazard in the road, a stupid driver or to pound the gas for immediate acceleration to avoid being creamed by a Mac truck, you know what I’m talking about.  I’m sure you’ve had those days as well.   I think teenagers are the best candidates for driving a stick shift and contrary to the opinion of most parents, they are actually much safer than an automatic because they have to learn how to actually control the transmission that drives the vehicle.

I hope that more manufacturers bite the bullet and make an investment in the stick shift and it’s super cool to see that some of them are catering to the niche’ market.  This is a great article with more information on this topic that I recently read at Ad Age magazine.

Cool Car Guy Rating: Long Live The Stick!


John Boyd

Auto Consultant – John Boyd: The Cool Car Guy

John is an auto consultant with his license at a car dealership in Denver, Colorado. He can help you save time and money on any make or model, new or used, lease or purchase – nationwide! Call or email John about your next vehicle! jboyd@coolcarguy.com or Twitter @coolcarguy


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