JelMAC’s Car Dealer Advice Blog

Dealer Dictionary: “Sign-And-Drive”

“Sign-And-Drive” is an appealing proposition for many car buyers, but it’s come to our attention that between vague ads from auto manufacturers and overall confusion on the consumers’ part, the idea of a sign-and-drive vehicle purchase may be a hazy concept to some of our prospective buyers.

A sign-and-drive vehicle purchase is exactly what it sounds like: a purchase wherein the buyer simply signs the paperwork and drives off in his/her vehicle, without having to shell out a single dollar up-front. With the popularity of leases ever-increasing, many buyers have become fixated on achieving a low monthly payment number, and sign-and-drive is definitely not conducive to achieving this goal as it rolls in all taxes, fees, etc. into your monthly payment. So it’s not for everyone.

But, for many of us out there (myself included) who are confident that they’ve made a smart purchase which they’ll be able to afford, there is more appeal in having a higher payment and not having to write a check for thousands of dollars initially… and for those consumers, sign-and-drive makes the initial car buying process a lot more enjoyable.

Contrary to popular belief, sign-and-drive applies to both leasing and financing. It’s simply a decision made to roll all costs – the car, the taxes, the fees, everything – into your lease or finance payment, allowing you to walk into a dealership, point at the car you want, sign the paperwork, and drive away without seeing a bill until the next month when your payment stub comes. As previously mentioned, this does affect your payment: say for instance you’ve negotiated a $380 per month lease with “fees down”… fees down is a typical route taken by consumers, wherein you only pay your taxes, bank fee, and dealer/DMV fees up front. This still amounts to thousands of dollars, however, and so to roll that into your $380/mo payment as well, you could easily see a new payment of $440 per month. So that’s the toss-up… $380/mo with a couple grand paid at inception, or $440/mo to simply walk away with the car.

Where buyers sometimes get confused is by misunderstanding a “zero down” lease/finance with a “sign-and-drive”. Many customers become flustered when they realize their zero-down purchase actually requires several thousand dollars up front in taxes, fees, etc. Zero down refers to no money as a down payment, but the down payment on a vehicle is meant to reduce the expense of the selling price of the vehicle, not cover the taxes and fees. What makes things worse is that manufacturers often advertise “sign-and-drive” leases, which by definition, can not possibly be so… this is because manufacturers are advertising nationally, and don’t know your county’s tax rate, or your specific DMV/dealer fees, and so all their ads for sign-and-drive actually exclude the taxes & fees, just like a zero down option. So when you see “sign-and-drive” advertised by a manufacturer, it really means zero money as a down payment, and your taxes and fees up-front. Only your dealer can give you a true sign-and-drive option, and that’s only after you’ve decided on the exact vehicle, the county of registration, etc. In short, someone has to know your personal situation before being able to offer a true sign-and-drive deal.

So, is there anything else to think about when considering a sign-and-drive option? Well, if you’re financing a car and getting a special rate from the manufacturer (for instance, 1.9%, or something significantly below the national rate), it makes sense to put all your expense into the payment and utilize sign-and-drive. Why? Because in a nutshell, by rolling all your money into that payment, your dollars are being charged about 1.9% interest… if you had put some money down or spent it on the taxes & fees, then you would have saved that money from being charged 1.9% interest, but now you’ve lost those thousands of dollars you could have invested elsewhere. If you keep that money instead, and invest it in stocks, or even a CD or high-yield savings account, your money will earn much more than the 1.9% you’re losing by letting your monthly payment carry all of your purchase’s expense. It’s a lot to think about, but trust us, you’ll come out in the end a wealthier person.

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New Eye Candy From Dodge, Chrysler And Jeep

The Chrysler Group has just released some very interesting concept sketches of vehicles supposedly slated to debut at the Detroit International Auto Show this coming January.

Dodge Zeo:
Dodge ZEO
The word on the Dodge Zeo is that it is powered exclusively by lithium-ion batteries, making it an intriguing blend of crossover style and high-mpg capability.

Chrysler EcoVoyager:
Chrysler EcoVoyager
Given the name of this concept, you have to wonder what new technologies might be in store for the future of Chrysler’s people-movers… this EcoVoyager concept runs off a combination of battery and hydrogen power.

Jeep Renegade:
Jeep Renegade
The legendary Renegade name lives on here with the latest concept from Jeep… an ultimate two-seat off-roader with an intentional nod to classic dune buggy designs.

Good stuff!

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The Next Nissan Murano: Official Pics
November 9, 2007, 6:01 pm
Filed under: car buying, car buying advice, nissan | Tags: ,

There’s been a lot of speculation about what’s next for the Nissan Murano… one of the best-selling Nissan models in recent history. The 2009 Murano is slated to enter showrooms early in 2008 (there will be no 2008 Murano, rather leftover 07’s at substantial savings), and Nissan has done a fine job of keeping the sexy new redesign under wraps before it debuts at this year’s LA Auto Show.

But what do we have here? A few leaked photos from an official source! Here’s just a hint of what will certainly be a lot more press coverage in the coming weeks:

2009 Nissan Murano Official Pic

2009 Nissan Murano Official Pic#2

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