Buffalo Car Shopping; Time Consuming, Frustrating and Next To Impossible
Long before we ever heard of COVID-19 or had any of the supply chain issues of the past fifteen months, buying a car wasn't what you might call a "fun" experience. Sure, if you were buying a brand new vehicle, GETTING the car was fun. If you were looking for a used car, like me (I can't bring myself to buy new), it's still exciting getting a new-to-you car, but having to go through the whole rigamarole of searching for what you want is much less fun. First, you have to find the right car, but turquoise paint? No thanks. This one has high miles; that one was a rental. The longer you look, the shorter your "must-have" list becomes, and the more you find yourself compromising.
Enter COVID-19 and the supply chain issues. First toilet paper, then certain food items, and the housing market. Don't even get me started on that. But here we are, halfway through the year, and supply chain issues are doing two things. 1 - Holding up tons of new cars from being delivered to the lots of West Herr, the Towne Auto Group, and Paddock. I mean, before all this, when was the last time you drove by the Paddock overflow lot on 290 (just off Delaware), and it was empty? Up to this point, I've never seen their lot even a little anemic, let alone empty. And 2 - Driving (no pun intended) up the prices of the used cars that are available. Oh, and much like the Buffalo real estate market, competition for the available vehicles is much more aggressive. The good news about the prices of used cars going up is that it means yours too. Your car is holding more of its value due to the lack of inventory.
I just went through this a week or so ago. Let me rephrase; I just finished the mind-numbing, often frustrating process a week or so ago. Finding a vehicle, you think you might want or might like is hard enough. Throw in the added competition for said vehicle, on top of the fact that used car prices have gone up with much less wiggle room to negotiate, and you've got the recipe for a weeks-long headache. It's like an endurance test - how much you're willing to compromise on what you want/what you're looking for vs. your patience. I have none of the second, and I'm not much for compromise either. As I'm always fond of saying, I've had patience. Now I'm tired of waiting.
Before I even started looking for a vehicle, I spent weeks considering what it was that I wanted. Then another couple of weeks looking for that car. I combed through dealer websites, set alerts for the latest inventory, and whatever I could to find my next car. Finally, after a few days, I expanded my search out of Buffalo and into Rochester. That's when I saw the car I wanted! It had everything I was looking for; low miles, remote starter, heated seats, and it wasn't turquoise or yellow or even that new color you see all over lately, "Cement Grey." It's the color of wet cement, and it's definitely not for me.
So, I called the dealer, made an appointment for the next day to drive over to Rochester for a test drive. I even told him that if the car drives OK and everything is mechanically sound, I intended to drive it off the lot. Fast forward to the next day; I'm just about to leave for Rochester when the dealership calls. They just sold the car I was going to test drive. I was pissed! I get its business, but I missed out on the car I wanted by 90 minutes?! I call shenanigans. Somebody get the broom!
Having a car sold out from under you isn't something that's only happened to me. I was talking with a co-worker about a Jeep he was going to buy in Syracuse. He, like me, was going to drive over the next day for a test drive and hopefully drive it home. When I relayed my story, he said he put a deposit down, just for that reason (I wonder why the salesperson in Rochester didn't ask me to do that?).
Second verse same as the first. Fast forward to the next day; my co-worker is just about to leave for Syracuse when he gets the call from the dealership. They sold the Jeep he was going to test drive. It turns out his deposit was only good for 24 hours, and as soon as it was 24 hours and one minute – they sold it. The used car market is super tough here in Buffalo.
Luckily, I was able to find the truck I wanted. Well, I did have to compromise a little. It didn’t have the spray in bed liner or the bigger wheels and tires I wanted. But I can get those things done on my own. The moral to the story? Car buying wasn’t fun to begin with. It’s much less fun these days. Good luck.