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Save Money When You Buy Your Next Car: Part One

As a former car salesman for over 17 years, I have had a lot of experience with buying and selling cars.  There are many factors involved in determining the actual car you buy, where you buy it, when you purchase it, and at what price you pay for it.

There are two basic vehicle purchase scenarios.  One, is the traditional route of going to an automobile dealership and dealing directly with the salesperson and, two, is the more and more popular method of buying “online” and basically, by-passing the sales person until it is deemed absolutely necessary to visit the showroom.

Let’s follow the traditional route for this article.  Many prospective buyers of this scenario come into the showroom to “look around” , ask a lot of questions, and ask for exact pricing.  At this point in the buying process, this consumer seems to have no idea what they are looking for, whether their selection will be a Toyota, Honda, Chevy, or Ford; whether it might be a used or new car, whether to choose a sedan or SUV, whether they have considered financing type, and when they want to buy the car.

I am mentioning all of this because all salespeople are paid almost entirely by commission, and since they are paid on commission, their income is based primarily, on how many units they sell each month.  Sales managers set monthly quotas for each salesperson.  Therefore, a salesperson is entirely focused on the buyers who have a good idea which car they are interested in and who tell you that they are looking to buy a car fairly soon.

A salesperson’s job is to demonstrate one or two vehicles, and they guide the customer into selecting the “right” car for them, based on their needs and budget.  But, the customer should come into the dealership with a fairly good idea as to which vehicle they would like.  The salesperson encourages the customer to take the car for a test drive and points out the features and benefits of the particular model.  Upon return, it is customary to “negotiate” a “fair price” for both the customer and the dealership.

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The Evolution of 4-Cylinder Engines

Four cylinder engines became popular in the 1970s and 1980s, primarily because of several major gasoline shortages.  Prior to that, American manufacturers traditionally offered V6 and V8 engines in their cars as American consumers were accustomed to powerful, gas consuming cars.

It wasn’t  until Toyota and Honda imported “econo boxes” into this country, starting in the 1970s, did American manufacturers realize that they had better change their thinking regarding engine size and fuel economy.  Toyota introduced the Corolla and Camry and Honda countered with their Accord and Civic.  The “sub-compact” Toyotas and Hondas all came with small block, lightweight 4-cylinder engines.

The Toyotas and Hondas were extremely popular, and, within a few years, captured up to 30% of the American auto market.  Their cars were in demand because they offered consumers an alternative from the large, heavy gas guzzling V6 and V8 cars that were the only cars on the market up until this time.  The imported Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans were very reliable, low maintenance and, because of their small 4-cylinder engines, were much more fuel efficient and they were fun to drive!

Because of the tremendous sales gains of the imported cars in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, GM, Ford and Chrysler revamped their small car line-ups to compete.  Chevrolet introduced the Vega, Citation, Chevette and Cavalier.  Ford came out with the Pinto and the Maverick, while Chrysler offered the Plymouth Valiant.  What do these new American made cars have in common?  One, they were more compact in size and two, they all featured small displacement, more fuel efficient 4-cylinder engines.

Four cylinder engines have become more and more popular.  They are more refined and sophisticated and starting around the late 1990s and early 2000s, every manufacturer featured 4-cylinder engines as standard equipment in their sub-compact and compact models, and some mid-size and luxury models offered 4-cylinder versions as well.

As a result of advanced technology, the 4-cylinder engines in today’s cars are more powerful, are quieter, have higher displacement, more horsepower and torque and, at the same time, have considerably higher EPA fuel economy ratings.

Over the past fifteen or twenty years, Ford, Chevrolet (and GM),  Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia and others have developed “state-of-the art” 4-cylinder, turbo-charged engines.

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