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Discussion Starter #1
This is a broader question than the 500e, but bear with me.
I'm trying to buy one used.
I'm torn between seedy lots that offer all kinds of cars comparatively cheap and dealerships that do purport to specialize in Fiats but beyond that seem to charge a premium for little return value.
But maybe that's where I'm wrong in my impressions, and if so, I'd welcome correction.
Back to my experience:
The cars in the seedy lots seem pretty similar in their specs and upon personal inspection to those in the general-consumption lots. Still, the dealerships ask between $3k and $4k more for cars that, per the vehicle history reports and OBD readings, are comparable to those offered by their low-rent counterparts.
Am I missing something?
Of course I don't care whether the dealership is sparkling clean, as long as it's a good car. But some of my primary concerns have to do with damage to my credit and wasting my money. My wife bought an ICE car from one of these outfits that went out of business days later, leaving us with about a year of effort in straightening out the title.
I'm not necessarily afraid of that in this case -- the lots seem better established than that -- but I'm kind of at sea in this environment. All my previous purchases were private party used cars, and of course my 500e leases were from shiny Fiat outfits. Any explanation on the steep disparity in prices and on doing business with such places, specifically with respect to the briskly selling 500es, greatly appreciated.
 

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There is more overhead involved with a shiny dealership. I bought mine from a one man operation in a low rent area. The guy just loved cars. If the history report checks out and you get good OBD readings and you don't see anything wrong and the car test drives fine, I wouldn't have a problem buying it. Yelp is a good source to check if the dealer has any major red flags to be concerned about. There is always going to be someone that bitches about something (like not getting floor mats or something trivial), but if there are multiple reviews, read them all and you can get a sense of how trustworthy the dealer is. It also makes it an easier decision if there is still factory warranty left.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks. I’m self-employed and poor, so I’ll have to finance through the dealership (I probably wouldn’t qualify for a loan requiring documents). I’ve got excellent credit, including an impeccable record on car lease payments, but am expecting to take a hit on financing. I’m still worried about getting gouged. It might not be rational, but I’ll welcome suggestions on what, if anything, to watch out for, and more specifically in shiny vs. seedy dealerships, if there’s a difference.
 

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I highly recommend pacific Auto Center in Costa Mesa. They used to be a fiat dealer and they have a decent stockpile of off lease 500e. Their in-house financing is Wells Fargo auto and it's one of the best rated in auto financing. Wells Fargo auto only finance through dealers and it's one of the few that offer 0 down on used cars. I chose to go this route when I got my 500e as a way to negotiate down the price. Since the dealer gets a cut when you finance they agreed to lower the price if I get a loan instead of paying cash. There's no early payoff penalty so it works out for the both of us. My credit score took a hit of 10 points, but it's no big deal for me.

Thanks. I’m self-employed and poor, so I’ll have to finance through the dealership (I probably wouldn’t qualify for a loan requiring documents). I’ve got excellent credit, including an impeccable record on car lease payments, but am expecting to take a hit on financing. I’m still worried about getting gouged. It might not be rational, but I’ll welcome suggestions on what, if anything, to watch out for, and more specifically in shiny vs. seedy dealerships, if there’s a difference.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This is very helpful. I'll check them out. Do you know how come they don't show up on the conventional deal aggregators (cars.com, etc) I've checked? Your comment is also helpful because I was a little perplexed by the reaction I got at another dealership when I said I'd want to finance. Maybe it was some kind of negotiating strategy, but the salesman acted disappointed. I'd like to know what's up with that. Your tip on them getting a cut of the financing is helpful, too. For one thing, you thought to ask, which I hadn't. But the banks, and the general outlines of their arrangements with dealerships, ought to be pretty easy to ferret out. What applies to one dealership must be the case across the board. The more info like that on this forum, the better.
I'm mad at myself because I think I tipped my hand by saying up front that I want to finance. I won't do that again.
By the way, this is a pretty good forum. Like I said, if everything works out as I'm intending, I'll hope to chip in.
 

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Since you planning on financing, what probably matters the most, is the total cost of purchasing and financing. Finance costs can vary by a lot, so shop around from dealer to dealer. Also check with your local credit union, as you might get some great rates there.
 

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I shopped through TrueCar so I'm not sure why they are not listed on cars.com. I like TrueCar because you can know the total price of the car vs the advertised price. This is especially helpful because used car dealers all charges different "fees" as a backhanded way to mark up the car. I want to know this beforehand so that I can tell them I don't want to pay their made up fees when I negotiate. Pacific Auto has this dealer fee where they provide some kind of in-house warranty service. It's supposed to come with all used cars that they sell but I pretty much said I'm only paying for the car, DMV tax, license and registration. They tried to tell me how much of a good deal that warranty is but gave up after they realized I wasn't going to give in. Also, their cut from wells fargo is $200-300 for each new loan they open.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Great. Thanks.
I'll check to see if this dealer is on truecar. Like I said, all of this info helps everybody.
 

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For most cars, I'd say stay away from Homer Simpson's Used Car Lot, but w/ the 500e it might not matter. I'd check the Carfax (and other reporting agencies) to check its history. Depending on the lot, some are set up as "rental" agencies... with a car passing thru multiple repos. They often buy the bargain cars dealers don't want on their lot (which why the 500e might be more common on these lots). If you have the car checked out by a mechanic, you are less likely to be taken in.

My Uncle ran one of those outfits, rolling back speedos, slapping on shoddy repairs and body work, and shooting a $100 paint job that peeled off in 6 months. His record was having the same car on the lot 6 times, getting the down payment and then repoing the car when it broke down. That stuff can happen at new car dealers, but it's less likely.
 

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Be lucky you can buy it used in a car lot at all. On the east coast you can only buy it from Carvana or some other online re-seller. The price is higher, regardless of whatever condition due to how they include transportation costs into the price of the car.

I will say that Carvana has a 1 week return policy so if you didn't like the car you could just return it. If a local car salesmen doesn't offer a return period I would say don't buy from them.
 

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1 week would give you time to check OBD & trip-summary/%difference SOH*, then run it to zero (by cranking HVAC by a charger), charge non-stop to 100 & recheck the readings.

*Take the display's trip miles, divided by mi/kWh, & divite THAT by the % drop between the start & end of the trip.
 

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I have bought 2 x 500es from a dealership in Yorba Linda named Four Seventeen Autogroup.
They specialize in the 500e and a couple other EVs. They seem to get first pick at the auctions as it's difficult to impossible to look them over and tell that they are 3 yr old. The first one that I bought for my house in Laguna Beach in Nov 2018 is a 2015 and we have had no problems - none. We love it so much that I bought a 2016 from the same dealer and shipped to Virginia in July of last yr. Drove it daily until the winter arrived in Nov and also have had no problems with it. Don't know how they are about financing as I didn't need it.
Good luck.
 

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With regard to financing, I encourage you to Google credit unions in your area and see if there's one that you would qualify to join. They often only require a checking or savings account of $50-100, and the benefit you would see in doing this is the low, affordable rates they offer on car loans. Just a thought. Best of luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It turns out I have a little extra time to work on this and I will indeed check on these things. My problem is being a freelancer, but maybe there's a way around that. Thanks to all of you.
 
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