My New Truck (2008 Chevy Silverado Crew Cab) Buying Experience

2008 Chevy Silverado Crew CabI’ve just emerged from the murky and bizarre world of the new vehicle shop-and-purchase experience. I am happy to claim 100% satisfaction with the final outcome, but most of my interaction with Austin new car dealerships and salespeople gets a thumbs down.

I’ve only bought 4 new vehicles in my life. I generally think new vehicles are a poor investment, but I also drove my previous 2001 Chevy Silverado (which I bought new in 2000) 130,000 miles and feel like, having only ever spent money for oil changes and new tires, it served me well and I got my money’s worth even though I bought it new.

That older 2001 Silverado has the rear swing extended cab doors though, which isn’t client friendly for getting in and out of the back seat, so I normally drive Sylvia’s minivan with clients. Lately it’s become a hassle trying to coordinate with Sylvia to swap out for the minivan when I have buyers. With gas prices the way they are and car dealers having a hard time selling trucks, this is an extremely good time to buy a new truck, for those of us who are going to drive one no matter what, so I made the decision to move up to a new crew cab 4 door truck. More about the great deal I got later.

I decided that a crew cab truck would be a good next vehicle. Something nice enough to drive clients in (like a Tahoe from the back seat forward) but which also works for hauling stuff and towing, which I need to do often enough to make a truck mandatory in my life.

That brings me to the process of buying a new vehicle. I do it in two steps. First, I go tire kicking and test driving and internet researching until I determine exactly what I want and exactly what I’m willing to pay. Second, I look for the dealer who has the vehicle I want and will sell it for the price I’m willing to pay. The research and test drive part is the most time consuming. I drove the Toyota, Ford, Dodge, GMC and Chevy trucks which is what brought me by necessity into contact with multiple dealerships and salespeople.

What would it be like if homes were sold like cars?
What sort of scripts would you hear when attending an open house or visiting a new home builder? Let’s take a look.

First of all, when you pull up in front of the open house, there would be 3 or 4 Realtors standing in the yard smoking. They would eye you like vultures as you search for a parking spot. When you step out of your vehicle, a Realtor would be standing 5ft from you, having just stamped out his cigarette under his shoe, and you would be greeted with a friendly ‘hello’ and a “what brings you here today?”

You’d say “I’m here to see the house” and the Realtor would say “great, come on over here (opposite direction of the house) to my desk.”

You’d say, “I just want to see the house”, but the Realtor would still try to get you to his desk to fill out some paperwork. If you refuse steadfastly, you’ll instead go see the house.

When you ask, “how much is the house including all the discounts and offers you are advertising, and what options or upgrades can you include?”, you’d be asked in return “if I can get you a price that will save you money are you ready to buy this house today?”

You’d say, “well, what price are you offering?” and the Realtor would again say, like a robot, “if I can get you a price that will save you money are you ready to buy this house today?”

You’d say “you’re advertising special discounts, I just want to know what the special price is and I want to get a feel for the home, but I’m not here to buy today. I’m just researching”. At that, the Realtor would take out a sales contract and say “well, let’s write it up for the price you want to pay and see what we can work out for you”. You’d say “Are you going to tell me the price or not?”

And so it went. Canned scripts, evasive lingo, and, as I’m sure the salespeople are trained to do, “ABC”, or Always Be Closing. Absent from most of the interaction was any consultative sales effort or any attempt to learn about my needs as a buyer or why I’m looking at crew cab trucks. It was, for the most part, all about trying to close the sale, write it up, and close it now.

Between two afternoons of test driving, eliminating candidate models, learning the specs, educating myself by reading reviews, reading user forums, etc., I eventually arrived at my mental place of full empowerment and readiness. I knew exactly what I wanted and I knew exactly what I was willing to pay.

I decided on a Chevy Silverado LT1 with the Texas Edition package (bigger engine, better tires, some other extras) that had to be a pre-Jan 22nd unit in order to qualify for the full $4500 factory rebates on top of the dealer discounts that are being heavily advertised. I also wanted leather seats but dropped that requirement because most trucks with factory leather have too many other upgrades and options that I don’t want or need. So I’ll add the leather after-market ($1,300) and come out ahead in doing so by not spending an extra $5,000 to get a leather equipped model with other upgrades.

I also wanted the LT1 (as apposed to LT2 or LTZ) because it has the front bench seats which offer a 6th passenger spot when hauling lots of kids and it leaves floor space front middle for my briefcase when riding with clients.

Finally, I determined, given the level of motivation of the dealerships and the vast number of trucks that would fit my needs, I should be able to buy the truck not only below dealer invoice price, but at or near the dealer “Triple Net”, which is the actual dealer bottom line cost after factoring in dealer cash, holdbacks and advertising. Most people think “Invoice” price is the dealer cost, it isn’t. It’s what they call “Triple Net” or “Net Net”.

So, the time consuming hard part was arriving at this level of knowledge and empowerment, feeling confident about the vehicle and options needed, and knowing what should be attainable from the dealer. I set my goal to get the truck at true dealer cost.

Next was simply an email to multiple dealers in the Austin area, saying basically, “I am going to buy a Silverado Crew LT1 Texas Edition, pre-Jan 22nd unit today from the dealer who responds with the best Out the Door price quote”.

That resulted in multiple return emails and lots of phone calls. Some with price quotes, others with canned “come on in and let’s talk”.

Capital Chevrolet was the most straight forward, no nonsense no their approach and pricing. They made a bottom line offer out of the gate and I didn’t even bother to haggle it down from there. Also, they had the best salesperson, John, when I visited (by “best”, I mean he wasn’t pushy or scripted and he actually was able to answer all my questions about the trucks and different options).

They gave me a straight bottom line price that I was happy with, which was $200 over dealer actual cost. I left $200 on the table so the salesperson would get something over his “mini”, which is the minimum salesperson commission (usually $50 or $100), and I let them charge me $50 in doc fees that I probably could have had removed had I asked. Also, they didn’t short me on the free full tank of gas which is an unspoken expected item, but which dealers are known to withhold in favor of a half or quarter tank if you drive too hard a bargain.

In other words, given an opportunity to act out of integrity, Capital Chevrolet acted in a straightforward an honest way through all my dealings with them, right up to and including my free full tank of gas!

If you need a Chevy truck, call Capital Chevrolet, ask for John and tell home Steve sent you. They treated me right. Call before June 2nd to get the $4500 in manufacturer rebates. They want to clear out the older stock and will make a sweet deal this week.

Posted by Steve
8 years ago
Steve

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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Austin - 8 years ago

I cannot believe you got an SUV. What a seriously short-sighted mistake.

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krocek - 8 years ago

Then are you going to be selling the 2001 privately? It doesn’t sound like you traded it in. I’ve always wondered if it’s ever worthwhile to do the trade-in or if it just adds another lever for them to pull to keep from getting the final purchase price as low as it could be.

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Tim - 8 years ago

Yeah, anyone who’s not using the internet to buy a car now is nuts. The Internet guys will almost always give you the best possible price because they sell cars so quickly and with so little effort.

That said, I have some friends who will not be happy until they’ve haggled with a salesperson. Even if it leaves them exasperated and with a more expensive car. Some people are wired differently I guess.

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Peter - 8 years ago

And if you’re comparing the car buying process to buying a house and using a realtor, the equivalent would be that the car salesperson says you have to pay a 6% commission no matter what because, after all, they possess a monopoly on the process. Thankfully, the DOJ is taking apart this monopoly and opening up the MLS so true capitalism can get back to work. Remember, the car dealerships tried to prevent the internet impact as well. What an amazing story – you use the internet to squeeze as much profit out of the car dealership as possible, and then are in a biz where you try to prevent home buyers from having all the facts.

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi Austin: I can’t function without a truck. It’s a requirement for my activities, as is a passenger vehicle. The crew solves both problems.

krocek: Yes, selling to 2001 privately. They were only able to offer me $4500, which is well below trade-in value. I’ll have it detailed and sell it to a construction worker I expect.

Tim: Yeah, it was the internet salesman who quoted my the price, but Capital was the only dealership that had rock bottom prices posted right on the windshields as well. Some are $8K off MSRP, most are $6K to $7K off MSRP. He was able to go lower than that even.

Peter: You’re comparing Apples to Oranges, much in the way people mistakenly compare the Travel Agent industry to real estate. I have no problem with buyers and sellers going it on their own if they choose to do so. I have no problem with Discount Realtors offering their services. Those who value full service can hire someone like us, those who want to try to save money can pursue doing so.

Back to the vehicle, the salespeople are thrilled to be moving these older units off the lot. They were very happy to sell me the vehicle at that price. It was a win/win.

Steve

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Garreth - 8 years ago

I don’t think cars are an investment at all. Not unless someone else is paying for you to own it, or you’re buying wholesale.

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Teddy - 8 years ago

A depreciating asset by definition is not an investment. Kind of like housing at the moment….

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi Garreth,

A vehicle is an investment if one thinks in terms of the opportunity cost of NOT having one, or the right one.

It’s also a depreciating asset, thus not an investment from a pure financial standpoint.

Steve

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anonymous - 8 years ago

Hey Steve,
I don’t think that Peter got it quite right, so I wanted to explore what he said. When you went looking for info in the forms of reviews, comparisons, invoice pricing, dealer holdbacks, ect. you were probably able to easily find it on the net, without paying anything, or maybe $10 for the incentive/holdback list from the gentleman in Florida. This is darn hard to do in Realestate, at least in Texas, when we are not a disclosure state for sales prices for homes. Thus, if you want to be very informed as a buyer, you are left without much choice but to hire a realtor. This might be changing, especially since the ABOR apparently is sharing sales data with the local counties. Now, I don’t think the counties are going to place this data online anytime soon, and its probably stale data, but this has the potential to help buyers that want to go it alone.

Also, its pretty darn hard to negotiate commission with a Realtor as a buyer or seller. Buyers will fair better, but they will be lucky to negotiate down to a 2% total commission for their Realtor. Sellers have it even worse, since they are “paying” both sides. If they try to use a flat fee lister, they very likely will be black-balled (remember the case from a year or two ago against the ABOR).

Realtors can be helpful, but they definately do have an entrenched business model that many agents probably won’t change readily.

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi Anonymous:

Again, comparing home sales to auto sales is Apples to Oranges.

Automobiles are homogeneous consumer products that are easy to compare and research. I can find reviews and opinions on the specific make and model I purchased and compare it to reviews of similar vehicles. I can obtain opinion and feedback from other people who have already bought and driven my exact make/model of vehicle.

This is not possible with homes under any circumstance. Once a make and model of auto is decided upon, it matters not from whom the purchase is made, they are all the same vehicle, and the procurement process takes literally an hour or two compared to 30 days for most homes.

Each home, on the other hand, has an individual owner/seller who’s negotiating behavior and bottom line is not easy to ascertain or predict, as it is with car dealers.

A purchaser cannot find other owners of “that” make and model of home to provide feedback and reviews. “That” home has not been independently tested and evaluated by Consumer Reports and auto trade journals. One cannot “test drive” a home – once you close, it’s yours. An auto can be returned and traded (in most cases within a week) if buyer’s remorse sets in.

So, even if all sales data on every home were to be openly provided to all prospective home buyers, it would matter not due to the uniqueness of each individual home and seller. The research methodology is not the same. It’s easy to see a lot of autos on your own. You cannot effectively see a lot of homes on your own without a Realtor and the cooperative Brokerage system.

The narrowing down of candidate purchases is not the same. The negotiating process is different. The procurement/closing is different. The risk level and commitment level is different. The financing process is different.

Buying an automobile is simply not comparable to locating, evaluating and purchasing a home. Parallels can be drawn, for sure, but the purchase of a home will never be like the purchase of a car, no matter how much data would become available to the home buyer.

Steve

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arz - 8 years ago

Just curious, why didn’t you even thought of a 2-3 year old truck that looks almost as new with low milage? I mean, any new car will lose a hafty 30-40% of its value in the first 3 years. Once pass that first 3 year, the next 3 year is the most cost effective period of the car (still low maintenance cost, slower depreciation).

Also, how come you never considered a Tacoma Quadcab which is about the same price but somewhat smaller and more fuel efficient?

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi ARZ,

The Chevy had the best back seat room. Toyota’s biggest cab had more room, but it felt too big to me driving it. I did look at smaller trucks. They are too small and the back seat too cramped for transporting clients in comfort.

Yes, a 2 year old truck would be the smartest buy from a financial standpoint. I did look into that, made a few calls and emails from Craigslist, but the purchase process is time consuming and frustrating as one has to contact each seller individually and make an appointment.

Buying used from a dealer was an option, but the savings on a two year old truck wasn’t enough to beat the clearance pricing available on new ones. Also, Chevy updated the truck in 2007, so a 2006 or older would be the older style and not have the most modern technology.

I also thought of keeping the old truck and buying a Honda Accord or something like that. But then I’d have a fourth vehicle (I have a 1996 Saturn I buzz around in on errands sometimes) and would still be stuck without a truck when I needed it unexpectedly.

In the end, I like trucks also. It’s the most versatile and useful vehicle for me personally. I’ll drive this one 8 years probably, maybe longer. Tomorrow I’d be moving some old desks with it. Monday I need to pick up a new shower door for a rental property. Later next week I’ll be driving buyers in it and they will be comfortable with plenty of room.

Steve

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arz - 8 years ago

It’s interesting to see how you made this choice while the general climate right now is most people are switching from full size SUV/truck to smaller ones due to high gas prices. Don’t take me wrong, it seems that Silverado and F150 are two of the few American made automobiles that hold some edge over their foreign competitors. Unfortunately, these slight advantages are not enough to save the big 3 from the current economic downturn.

What I am curious about is that this full size pickup is not going to be very comfortable ride in since it’s essentially a box on frame type especially for the passengers in the back seat. I wonder if they can feel comfortable after a long drive.

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi arz,

Well, at the risk of sounding out of step, the gas prices don’t really mean that much to me. I drive about 1300 miles a month in the truck. It gets 15 mpg so far (same as the old one). That’s 86 gallons of gas per month. At $4 vs. $3 per gallon, I’m paying an additional $86/mo. over last year.

Had I purchased a smaller car that gets 30 mpg, I’d be saving $43 per month. That’s not enough savings to forfeit the advantages of driving a truck.
Steve

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Brandon - 8 years ago

Actually I think the gas cost difference is much bigger than $43 per month. With 1300 miles per month at 15 mpg and $4 per gallon, your monthly gas cost is $346. At 30 mpg it would be $173, with $173 saved each month compared to the pickup. Of course this assumes that you would always drive the small car and never need to transport large cargo.

More realistically, it might have made sense to keep the old pickup for occasional cargo transportation, sold the 1996 Saturn, and bought an efficient new vehicle for driving clients around, maybe a hybrid Camry at 40 mpg with plenty of passenger space. With gas at $4 and still rising, the math looks more and more compelling each day. Not to mention that whole business about keeping the earth’s environment habitable for your children and grandchildren.

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Steve - 8 years ago

Hi Brandon,

You’re right about my math error. Comparing to a 30mpg vehicle, it costs me an additional $173/mo. to drive the ruck.

Steve

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Chris - 8 years ago

Wow, thought I was reading my own summary here for a moment. Just bought a 2008 crew cab LT1 Texas Edition yesterday. Had a 2000 extended cab LT with 138,000 miles and figured it was time to put her to rest. With the higher gas prices, seems they’re really wanting to move these new trucks. They knocked 2000 off the MSRP, then gave me 5000 in rebates. I wasn’t sure about doing a trade-in when they said they’d give me 4500, but then they went ahead and agreed to give me 5500 for the trade, which also saved me about 350 in sales tax. Figured at that point it wasn’t worth trying to sell it myself, since I’d probably not get much better than 6K.

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Jake - 8 years ago

I’m getting ready to purchase a new full-size truck and originally thought the invoice price was the bottom line. After reading your blog I tried to look up triple net prices online and found nothing. How could I find the triple net price for a 2008 Silverado?

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Steve - 8 years ago

Jake,

“Triple Net”, or “Net Net” were terms my dealer used. It can also be referred to as dealer “dead cost”, or dealer “true cost”.

I think the best price can be had by following my method outlined above.

Step 1) Get to a point of knowing exactly what you want to but.

Step 2) Make sure you know of all incentive, cash back, dealer cash back or other marketing specials that are available. In my case, it happened that trucks that had been delivered before Jan 22nd 2008 were receiving the $4,500 dealer cash back to buyer. Had I not known that, I could not have effectively asked for what I wanted.

Step 3) I don’t know if this is the very best way, but I submitted my request online through Edmunds for price quotes from multiple dealers. The internet sales people apparently have more authority to bargain than the guys on the lot.

Good luck,

Steve

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Steve - 8 years ago

PS – I forgot to tie up the story with the fact that I sold my used 2001 Chevy Silverado Z71 for $7,500 almost instantly by parking it at Buddies Corner store on Hwy 290 between Austin and Dripping Springs. As I suspected would happen, a construction worker bought it for cash. The trade-in offer was $4,500, so I came out $3,000 ahead, minus $129 detail expenses at the car wash.
Steve

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Riggzie - 7 years ago

I had a 1996 camaro v6 getting 20mpg no matter how hard or easy I drove it… with 200,245 miles, the car owes me nothing….

but this monday (10/20/08) the camaro broke for the 4th time in 6 months…
off to the stealerships as the wife is fed up with the car breaking down….

so I was torn… I wanted a silverado….
but I kept looking at a dark blue malibu ltz… sweet looking and costs the same as the silverado but 30mpg…

I sucked it up and bought a
2008 Silverado 1500 crew cab z-71 with the optional 5.3L

well I just drove about 130 miles…and gas is starting to go back up…. but the 1 station I know about was still lower so I filled up…

calculated 13.2mpg!!!! GAHHHH that is not good…. I didnt expect that…

yeah I got a $35,900 truck
dealer dropped msrp to $31,400
mess of rebates to get down to $25,497….

we told them drop the $497 and we will buy it.. no matter what we have always been able to get them to drop a small amount like that.. but not today… they wouldnt do it…

then $1100 in gm card rebates (never got it back up from the $3000 we used to buy our trailblazer)

so at $24,397 plus tax and tags…
the payment for a 72month loan is still pretty high…..and I hope that gas mileage gets better!!!!!

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Steve - 7 years ago

Riggzie,

Your mileage should go up, though I don’t know if the Z71 adds weight or not. At first, I got 14 or 15 mpg, but since it’s leveled out at about 16 or 17 mpg consistently, mostly city driving. My only highway trip yielded just 19 mpg, but I drove 75 and 80 most of the time.

And I just filled up yesterday in Austin for $2.47 a gallon!

Steve

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ken gray - 7 years ago

I just bought a 2009 silverado LT and I love it. I have always had a truck and always will. This is my 6th GM product. They will come back and go on to produce more fine trucks just like mine.

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Silverado hunting - 7 years ago

I am looking for a Crew Cab 4×4 silverado with a few options for the much shorter wife ( auto adjusting seats and peddles) remote start and heavy duty coolers ( i live and drive the Rocky Mtn’s)

the biggest issues i have been having is how to find a true value of the truck – any pointers ?

Thank you

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Aaron - 5 years ago

the Chevy truck has evolved a lot in few decades with major engine and performance changes. The interior have been upgraded a lot. A very good pickup truck of all time. The mpg is also very good as compared to other trucks. The 5.3 Engine yields a great performance

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