Jill Merriam Key Hyundai Blog

Car Buying Secrets: Tip #1 Know Your Credit before Visiting a Dealership

I think it’s true, everything you need to know you definitely learned in Kindergarten.  It’s just a matter of remembering it.   I am going to reveal the three simple ways to buy a car over the next week or so through little anecdotes that will make it more fun.   The first secret revealed is to understand your personal finances better than the car dealer does.

 My six year old, Brady, had his first lesson on budgeting last night.   I was putting him to bed and he said, “Mom, how much did our house cost?”  I was honest with him and told him the amount.  I then proceeded to explain to him that it was more money than we had so we had to borrow it from the bank.  I told him that we would be paying the bank back for the next 24 years, until his is 30 years old.   That’s why I have to go to work everyday at Key Hyundai.  But, we bought this house because it was in a great neighborhood and we knew we could afford the amount we pay each month.

I could see his wheels were turning and he wanted to know more.  So, he said, “mom, was the house cheap or weak?”  I wanted to laugh but I controlled myself.  I explained that both words meant and I explained that the house was medium priced. 

Afterwards, I realized that this was his first life lesson on money and budgeting.  Friends always ask me whether they are getting a good deal on a car.  I think it’s so sad that the whole car buying process has gotten over-complicated.  It’s not really that difficult.  The first thing you need to do before you buy a car is to understand your credit and the interest rate you qualify for.   Don’t let a car dealer have to explain your credit to you unless you know and trust that dealer.  You can go to  Transunion  and run your credit bureau for $14.95.    It’s well worth the money.  Once your armed with your credit score, go into your local bank and find out what auto rate you’ll qualify for.  Then, when you go to buy a car, you can present the dealer with that interest rate and see if they can meet or beat it.  Financing through the dealership may be a better option for you because it’s more convenient and the interest rates can be very competitive.  But, that should be your decision to make. 

I also understand that some people have had setbacks in life and may not be able to get traditional financing through a bank.  In that situation, the dealer really is your best option. But, you should still be armed with your credit report and understand where your issues are.   At Key Hyundai, we have relationships with banks that help people with bad credit.  And, in the State of CT, you can’t get crushed on the interest rates due to the usury laws that cap the maximum amount a bank can charge on an auto loan.

If you ever need no pressure advise, please feel free to reach out to me at jillcares@keycars.com or visit my consumer information website at http://jillforthepeople.com .  My name is Jill Merriam, I am the owner of Key Hyundai of Manchester, CT and Key Hyundai of Milford, CT and the Dealer for the People.

My Friend Allison Asks Should I Lease or Buy a Car?

My good friend Allison is in the market for a new car.  Her brother ran on tough times and she is giving him her Nissan Pathfinder.  She’s a really good person.  I know her because my son Brady has been in school with her son for the past three years. 

She is in the market for a small SUV.  I pretty much convinced her to buy a 2010 Hyundai Tucson but she really wanted to go see the Toyota Venza.  So, she schlepped off to a CT Toyota dealer today by herself.

Fastforward about six hours and I’ve gotten six frantic calls from her.  What’s most amazing is just how confusing the process is to her.  Now, Allison is a highly educated executive at a major Hartford company.  I mean, she is super smart, super well-respected and makes a ton of money.  And, all her inquiries were around the topic, “Am I getting a good deal?”  The CT Toyota dealer quoted her a payment of $412 a month for a three year lease. 

What I explained to her is a leasing is just the financing mechanism.  Whether you lease or buy a car, what you need to be comfortable with is the sales price of the car.  That is what is negotiable.  Almost everything else is non-negotiable. 

There are three components that go into calculating a lease payment.  I told Allison to get me all three components and we could figure out what the payment should be (plus any origination fees, doc fees and registration fees). 

The first component is the price of the car.  What you are paying for in a lease is the depreciation on the car from the time your lease begins to the time the lease ends.  The value of the car at the end of the lease is called the residual value (the second component).  That value is determined by a third party called ALG and is non-negotiable.  For example, everyone buying a 2011 Hyundai Sonata GLS with an MSRP of $25,000 receives the same residual value.  So, you are in essence, financing the price of the car when you lease it less what the car is worth at the end of the lease.  So, in order to shrink the value of that depreciation, the only thing you can do is pay less for the car.  That is the piece that is negotiable.

Finally, there is a money factor (a fancy term for an interest rate and component #3) applied to the amount of money you are borrowing (the depreciation).  That number is also dictated by the automotive manufacturer and is also non-negotiable.

By getting all the numbers, Allison was able to run the lease payment through an online calculator and realize that the Toyota dealer was “padding the payment” a bit so that when she said, “well, if you can get me under $400,” he could do that without having to lower the price any further.  As I told Allison, it’s not the worst sin I’ve ever seen, but it certainly wasn’t totally above board.

Anyways, I hope this post has helped to educate you on what to consider when leasing a car.  You should always feel free to ask the car dealer that you’re buying the car from for:

1.  The price of the car.

2.  The residual factor

3.  The money factor

4.  Any additional fees itemized for you.

My name is Jill Merriam.  I am the owner of Key Hyundai of Manchester, CT and Key Hyundai of Milford, CT and the Dealer for the People.

Car Dealers Favorite Dirty Tricks AGAIN

There was an article on MSN today talking about car dealers favorite dirty tricks.  I have to say, we car dealers are easy targets, but this article was really just repurposed junk from years of other articles written about the subject.   Even the readers’ comments at the bottom of the article bashed the content.

As tortured as I was reading it, I plodded through it.  And, I am actually glad that I did because I came upon one juicy little nugget.  Here is the paragraph:

“Female buyers are particularly important to dealers. According to data from Ward’s Auto, an automotive industry news and analysis firm, 85% of all purchase decisions are made or heavily influenced by women. But CNW Marketing Research reports that just 8% of U.S. dealerships are female-owned.”

I knew as the owner of Key Hyundai, with locations in Milford, CT and Manchester, CT, I was in the minority, but I didn’t realize just how few females own car dealerships.  In fact, I maybe the only female car dealer in CT.   So, that’s great, but what really is the benefit to a female buyer if a female owns the dealership?  I’ve really given this a lot of thought.  I’ve managed a lot of people throughout the years.  Before I got involved in the car business, I worked for a major investment bank and then I worked for Microsoft.  Heck, I even sat in review sessions with Bill Gates.  And, as a whole, I think women are more compassionate and empathetic.  I’ve been able to pass those sentiments down to our fabulous employees.  When people work for Key Hyundai, CT’s largest Hyundai dealer, they know that not only do they have to be proficient at what they do, but they have to be honest, ethical and compassionate. 

If you find this post and are looking for car buying advice, please feel free to reach out to me at jillcares@keycars.com  I am happy to offer advice to anyone at all, regardless of if you live in our CT Hyundai market or not.  My goal is to change the perception of the car industry by taking care of one customer at a time.

I got to visit the new plant in Alabama and all I can say is Wow!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xox5Ot1zkgw]So,  in celebration of Earth Day (or of my 41st birthday, which is April 28th), I wanted to write about my amazing trip to Montgomery, Alabama last week to visit the Hyundai plant.  I have to say, it completely blew me away.  First of all, the people that work there are so proud of their jobs.  The people in Montgomery in general are just nice.

Second, the factory workers actually take the time to explain all the things they’ve done to make the earth a better place.  In fact, they even have a written environmental policy.

Hyundai produces the Hyundai Sonata and the Hyundai Santa Fe at this plant.  They produce 1,200 vehicles a day!  The plant is an absolute modern marvel.  What really blew me away is that most of the stamping and the welding are done by robots.  It is absolutely mesmerizing to watch these robots work.  You should definitely take the time to watch the video above.  It will give you chills.

I came back to my dealership, Key Hyundai in CT, with such a pride about the product that we are representing.  I am so impressed with the workmanship of the 2011 Hyundai Sonata and the 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe.  I honestly can now say that I don’t know why someone would ever chose the Honda Accord or Toyota Camry over the Hyundai Sonata.  The quality of the Sonata is incomparable, it’s cheaper and it comes with America’s Best Warranty.  This car is a real game changer.

If you want more information on the Hyundai Sonata, or on Hyundai in general, please don’t hesitate to email me at jillcares@keycars.com.  I’m Jill Merriam, owner of Key Hyundai in Manchester, CT and Milford, CT and dealer for the people.