Over the past couple days I’ve read a bunch of blogs and stories about horrible experiences at car dealerships, while some amazing ones like Phantom car hire that offer the best rental services to all their customers. The most recent being this story about one guys experience at a Chevy dealership. Him and his wife went in to look at the new Malibu, found one on the showroom floor that they absolutely loved. It had all the options they were looking for, no more no less, the color they liked, it was perfect. So they started filling out the paperwork to put down a deposit, which they did, and were going to come back the next day to finalize the deal, but when they got there and started filing out the financial paperwork the manager came up and informed them that the sales person that sold the car to them didn’t realize that it had been sold the night before to someone else. There’s more to this story and I suggest you head over to the link above and check it out, but it’s things like this that make me appreciate my experience when buying my current car. So I figured they deserved a good write up as opposed to all of these dealership horror stories out there.
Evanston Subaru located in Evanston, IL has been the exact opposite of all these other stories I’ve read about recently. My first purchase from them was back in 2003 when I bought my first ever new car, it was a 21st birthday present to myself. I had already done all of my research online regarding different options and pricing, etc so I knew exactly what I wanted, a 2003 Midnight Black Subaru WRX 5-speed Manual. I didn’t want any of the extra options, just the base model (which is already pretty nice compared to my previous car). I would check every day online at different dealerships in the area to see what they had as far as pricing and most of them were in the $24k range, which I didn’t really want to spend. I told myself I could afford 20K+tax/title etc, but not much more.
January of 2003 I randomly checked the Evanston Subaru website from work and saw that they were offering an online special for the exact car I wanted, and for only $21,395! Sure it was a little more than what I wanted to spend, but it was exactly what I wanted and for less than $24k, I was sold. I immediately emailed the sales person in charge of internet sales and setup a meeting for that night. After work I picked up my dad and we headed down to Evanston. I had never bought used cars for sale from a dealership before so I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was extremely impressed. The sales person was extremely friendly, knew the ins and outs of the car was very helpful in answering all the questions I had. I was sold, I told him I’d take it and let’s sign the papers. I was so excited I didn’t even ask to test drive it, part of that was because I had never even driven a manual transmission car before and I didn’t want to look like an idiot. And in the end, I never ended up test driving it, I was that confident in it, as well as stupid (I have since changed my ways).
So we headed over to the finance department to work on financing to figure out how much this thing was going to cost me. The finance guy explained everything as simple as possible. He even drew out a chart of how the extended warranties work and what is included with the standard, etc, just so that we knew exactly what would be covered and what wouldn’t before we even considered the warranty. And there was absolutely no pressure to get the warranty, which I did anyways based on the reasons he explained. So financing was all set and while we were doing the paperwork they were in the back detailing the car and getting it ready to take home, but there was a problem. I really didn’t anticipate actually leaving with a car that night so I didn’t bring my checkbook with me. No problem, they said I could bring in a check for the down payment the next day, I just had to put a little bit down on a credit card, which was fine, I put $500 down on the credit card and that was it, we were done. My dad drove the car home and everything was good, until the next day.
Once the sun came up and I got a chance to actually look over the car in the daylight (it was night when I bought it) I noticed 2 dings/gouges in the body next to the rear windshield, ugh great. So I figured I was going into the dealership anyways to give them the check from my down payment, I might as well mention this and see what they say about it. The whole way there I thought they were going to turn me away and be like “Well you should have mentioned that before you drove the car off the lot, not our problem”, but I was wrong. As soon as I pointed out the spots, the owner of the dealership assured me that they would take care of it and immediately called their body shop. I left the car, they gave me a rental, and went home. The next day they called and said the car was done. They had repaired the dents and repainted that part of the car, you couldn’t even tell there was ever anything wrong. It was a little inconvenient to have to leave my new car with them the day after I bought it, but at least they hooked me up with a free rental and took care of it instantly. They could have easily just blamed it on something I did while driving it around for a day.
After that I never had to take the car in for any other repairs. I had free oil changes through the dealership so I used them for service and they were always prompt and professional, no issues what so ever. After 3 years I sold that car and moved on to an Infiniti G35, but have always regretted that decision as the WRX was a great car.
The Inifinti didn’t last very long as I realized it was a little expensive for my needs, so I went back down to an old Jeep Wrangler for a few years and then decided that as fun as it was, it wasn’t really practical for the high gas prices and the fact that it was freezing inside during the long Chicago winters, so it was time to go car shopping again. I had bought the Infiniti and the Jeep through private parties and it was kind of a pain in the ass. Actually the Infiniti was a pain in the ass, the Jeep was easy since it was cheap enough where I could just pay cash. I won’t get into the Infiniti / Harris Bank issues in this post, but I may get into it later since I’m still bitter about it.
So anyways, looking at a new car it was between a Mazda 3 and the Subaru Legacy. I didn’t want to buy a new car, but wanted something that was still a 2007-08 model (this was last august). Of course when I checked Evanston Subaru’s website, they had a Black 2008 Subaru Legacy for sale for pretty cheap. It was used and had a few more miles on it than I wanted, but I decided we should go take a look and then go look at the Mazda 3 since the dealerships are right near each other. Well needless to say we never made it to the Mazda dealership. Evanston Subaru once again amazed me. I was going to be trading in my 1999 Jeep Wrangler since I had bad experiences selling my 3 previous cars myself and just wanted to avoid that overall. I also had it in my mind that I didn’t want to be paying more than $300/mo for the new car, and so I wanted to apply for a bad-credit loan to buy it.
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It was a Saturday and me and the gf walked into Evanston Subaru and were immediately greeted by a younger guy who seemed very eager to help us. I told him that I had seen this Legacy on the website and was wondering if I could take a look and take it for a test drive. It was this guys very first day, he had literally been hired the day before and had no experience selling cars, but he was extremely knowledgeable about the Subarus. He even knew the different in ground clearance between models…. why, I don’t know, but he knew these things inside and out. Since he was new he had a more experienced salesman helping him out, which was comforting. So we went out to take a look at the car and it was pretty dirty from sitting outside on the lot so without hesitation they recommended we take it out for a test drive, see if we like it, and when we get back they will take it in the back and clean it up really quick while we talk other stuff… perfect. We took the car out and it drove beautifully.
So we got back to the dealership and they took it in the back and cleaned it up. While they were doing that the sales person was asking if I had a trade in and I told them yes, the Jeep that was parked outside. I had done my research on KBB before we went to the dealer and new that outright I could probably get $6-7k for my jeep if I sold it myself, trade in was around $5-5500. It was in good condition, had a few upgrades (nothing major), but it had a good amount of miles, and of course it was almost 10 years old, not to mention the soft top wasn’t in the greatest shape (those things suck after 10 years of wear and tear). So I was expecting the dealership to low-ball me, like I had always heard they do with trade-ins, maybe $4k, something around there. They took the Jeep into the back and washed it up and took a look. They finally brought the Legacy back out after getting cleaned up and I noticed there were a few rock chips and scratches in the car. I realized it was a used car and there were going to be a few issues, but there were some pretty bad door dings in the passenger side door. I mentioned them to the sales person and he went and talked to the owner, Rob Paddor (great guy by the way). He came out and joked around a bit, made small talk, took a look at the door dings and said no problem, they would fix them. He also said that he would knock another $250 off the price of the car for the trouble of having to bring the car back in when the dent guy was there, and on top of that they would try to buff out some of the scratches… well perfect, I didn’t even ask for any of that stuff, but it’s much appreciated.
We headed back inside to work numbers with the sales guy and see what they were going to offer me for my Jeep. Rob called the sales guy in and talked to him for a bit and he came back out and said that Rob was going to offer me $5k for my Jeep, which is what I had told them before that I was looking to get for it. Even the sales guy seemed surprised and said it must be because he’s in a good mood because it was his 50th birthday. So that was that, as long as financing all worked out, I was going to take the car.
The finance guy was the same guy that did the financing for me when I bought the WRX from them back in 2003 (the sales person is actually still there too, but he wasn’t in that day). He ran through everything the same way he did the first time, 5 years prior and exlained all of the warranty stuff, etc. And when it came down to it, we were able to work the numbers so that I’m paying $302/mo for less than 5 years. So I was happy. And to top it all off, as we went to get into the car to leave I noticed that there were literally 5 miles left on the tank of gas. At this point last summer, gas was still at almost $4/gal. in Chicago so I figured it couldn’t hurt to see if they would fill up the tank… no problem. Rob gave the new sales person the company credit card and told him to take us to the gas station and fill it up, which was another almost $60.
So all in all I’ve had a great experience buying cars from Rob Paddor and his staff at Evanston Subaru in Evanston, IL. They are extremely knowledgable, helpful and very friendly. So in light of all the horror stories I’ve been reading about people’s experiences at the dealership, I figured that these guys deserve a write up on their excellent service. So thanks again guys, you made my car buying experience simple and painless, I just hope if I ever buy a car anywhere else they can live up to the bar you guys have set.