We are The world's best free guide for car buying, leasing and avoiding dealer scams.
This site is about truth. But not everyone wants you to know the truth.
We level the field, teaching you how to find dealer cost and get the best price on new cars, with fair dealer profit. We give useful examples, negotiating tips, free loan & lease spreadsheets, and review the best car buying and car loan sites. We analyze loan & lease dilemmas, expose dealer scams, ads, trade-in value, dealer cost, buyer's offers. Our Goal: Save you over $2,000 and be the best free consumer resource on the web. We hate to see you scammed by some of the "Morally Challenged," so enjoy this politically incorrect site that dealer lawyers tried to shut down.
Jeff received his BSEE from Florida Atlantic University (FAU).
Jeff Ostroff, a self proclaimed consumer advocate, has been running CarBuyingTips.com since 1997. He is an electrical engineer by trade since 1987. In April, 2003, Jeff left his job as a senior design engineer at Motorola's iDEN Subscriber Group to focus on these consumer advocate web sites. On Friday April 4, 2003, 4 PM Eastern time, Jeff flew out of the Motorola parking lot for the last time, with Todd Rundgren's "Bang the Drum All Day" blaring out of his Lexus SC300 car stereo. He had worked there from 1994 to 2003, on the designs of million-selling radios capable of cellular calls, 2-way radio service, paging, and web browsing, which were marketed to Nextel, ClearNet, Southern Company and others.
Prior to Motorola, Jeff was an engineer at video conferencing startup Ascom U.S. Tech in Boca Raton, Fl. Jeff has co-written articles for Bottom Line Personal (9/1/99 and 12/1/99). Favorable articles about CarBuyingTips.com have appeared in NY Times (10/10/2001), LA Times (5/15/2000), USA Today (Hot Site 9/29/99), Consumer Reports, National Enquirer, Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Morning Star, Los Altos Town Crier, and TheWhiz.com. Jeff is interviewed regularly in local and national broadcast news stories. Jeff has also been interviewed on several occasions during live radio news shows.
A lot of people email us asking about how and why we started this site. Here is a list of common questions about us.
Q: Jeff, how did you get started in the web business and when?
A: It was in 1996. Back then, most people did not know what the web was unless they had it at work. Very few people had a web site, and even fewer knew how to create one. I was the first person of anyone I know with a web site. During my honeymoon in St. Lucia in 1996, I thought it would be neat to create a web site with photos I took for my family to see online so I would not have to make copies for everyone. I knew nothing about domain names or how to get a ".com" name, so the site started out on a local ISP, but the .com name was not reserved until 1998. The internet is a pretty powerful medium to get your message out to people. It was time for me to start warning the world about crooked car dealer scams based on my past experiences with GM.
Q: Some people might think you hate car dealers in general is it true?
A: Absolutely not. In fact the majority of car dealers know that long term business relationships are profitable and want you to buy your next car from them too. Many dealers sell cars to people according to the pricing methods and negotiating strategies we teach you here. Many dealers thank me for our site, because we send them educated consumers who know what the price should be. It's a lot easier for dealers to sell to an educated consumer than to one with a chip on their shoulder, who haggles with no idea about what's going on. Just take a look at our successful $avOmeter Savings Database. It's testimony that there are hundreds of excellent car dealers who will give you an honest fair deal on your new car. We are not here to trash all car dealers, just the ones who cheat and lie. Car dealers work hard and deserve to make a profit. They have mortgages, bills, and mouths to feed, but so do you.
Q: It must have been pretty bad for you start a whole web site about it.
A: It was indeed! I thought I was pretty smart buying my first brand new car in 1987, but back then none of us knew anything about car buying and had no web sites to research car prices or car loan rates. The problem is, the most exposure we get to car buying is a few hours every 5 years or so. But car dealers have had decades to perfect their skill in selling to you. Luckily I was able to ward off most of the scams. For example, when I bought my 1988 Trans Am, the selling price was $17,700 and I ordered it from the factory. 6 months later the car arrives and the Pontiac dealer "lost" my paperwork and wanted to charge me $21,000 because GM also "raised the price of the car." Of course I knew it was a scam, as cars only increased about $300 from year to year so I spent 4 hours chewing out the owner and sales manager using every threat I could to get my car at my original price, since I did not "lose" my copy of the paperwork. I got the car at my price and bought the extended warranty when they told me I get car rental reimbursement, etc. Things quickly went down hill from there. The first month I got my first taste of that "great GM feeling" when my fiberglass rear hatchback started bubbling. They had the car nearly 2 weeks over a couple of months as they fought to solve that issue, and fuel pump and fuel tank issues. The first year I rang up $650 in car rental bills and every one of them was rejected by GM because of a tiny weasel clause in their extended warranty contract that says they won't cover "any cost covered by GM's standard vehicle warranty." This means that since all my repairs were covered by the standard warranty, I was not entitled to rental reimbursement with my extended warranty, even though the salesman assured me when I bought the useless warranty that I was covered. It was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. That's why I drive a Lexus now, never look back.
Q: Jeff, you're an engineer. What makes you an expert on car buying?
A: Once in a while I get angry email (from car dealers) who arrogantly tell me that I have not worked in the industry for 20 years I don't know what I'm talking about. Oh really? So how is it that every day people email me that they saved $3000 on their new car after using our site and they told everyone they know about us? Car buying is not a rocket science requiring years of insider expertise.
In fact, I get email all the time from sales managers thanking me for sending them educated customers, who are the easiest ones to sell to. Basically car buying is nothing more than adding and subtracting, with an occasional multiplication thrown in for good measure. It's also about spotting the hundreds of scams that some car dealers have in their arsenal. The true art of car buying has nothing to do with any science of the industry, it's 90% negotiating skills, and 10% research before negotiating. I have the skills necessary to negotiate with the toughest car salesperson. I've always had the ability to smell a scam from a mile away. I have a file cabinet full of leases that I've analyzed over the last few years and I've seen more leases than most car salesmen. I've seen and heard of every scam there is, and helped lots of our visitors get out of some real sticky lease scams. I know what I'm talking about. In fact ask your car salesman to recite the formula for depreciation, bet they don't know it. But I do. In fact I have created several excellent spreadsheets used for leases, 4 way car loan scenarios, bill of sale forms, and buyer's offers that have all stood the test of time. People have used my lease spreadsheet on their laptops at the dealer and caught them lying about money factors and packing monthly payments. I'm more qualified than most to give out advice. I've personally helped several hundred friends, coworkers, and visitors to our site get through their car buying ordeal. I also find it funny that salespeople will tell us our information is incorrect, but they don't tell us what is incorrect. It's most amusing that some morons still email me saying that holdback does not exist, yet other car dealer web sites actually list the holdback on their web sites! Many of our visitors are able to get dealers to give up some or all the holdback. Also, I have received an enormous amount of tips from current car salesmen, former car salesmen, authors, sales managers, industry insiders, and well known consumer advocates. I go to the NADA shows, I take the same training the that car dealer finance managers take. We get email from salesman who are sick of the deceit & scams at their dealer and want to tell all. Sales managers tell me our research is right on. This dynamic site has the daily pulse of the car buying industry, and dynamically grows with each report from the field. My $avOmeter speaks for itself.
Q: Jeff, do you get paid by any of the companies you recommend on CarBuyingTips.com?
A: Yes we do, we get paid by sites like CarWoo, Cars.com, Edmunds.com, Autobytel and CarsDirect. I'm what you call a real world consumer advocate. I don't like to just dispense vague and generic advice like consumer interest groups do. I like to go one step further and review each business that we recommend, telling you how to get the most out of them, and what's in it for you. Keep in mind that although they pay us, I would not recommend a site that I thought would not do good by you. There are some well known companies that are not mentioned here because I don't think they are very good. If you don't see them here, they probably are not worth it. Before you claim that I'm just in it for the money, keep in mind that 80% of this site in its current form was already up and running at my own expense, long before we had our first advertiser, long before I knew what an affiliate program is. I also answer over 100 emails every day for free, helping people out of some tight situations, and I've analyzed more car dealer lease contracts and invoices than many salesmen. See if CarPoint has an email link where you can ask them questions. I work hard on this site, I update it all the time with the latest scams, and I devote an enormous portion of my time to answering the email of complete strangers who need my help. Also, I have upper management of all these sites in my contacts. I know more CEOs of auto related companies than any car dealer. I have worked closely between consumers and these companies to successfully resolve issues, and have worked closely with the business development people of many of these sites supplying them with ideas to make consumer lives easier. No other car buying web site can claim that. So yes I deserve some kind of compensation. Besides, most buyers email me back stating that I saved them on average between $2,000 and $4,000. Not bad for a free web site. That's really what makes it all worth while. My $avOmeter crossed the $1million mark by the end of 2000. The companies who advertise on our site know that our visitors come first and everything else is secondary. With the business we send them, they don't seem to mind.
Q: Jeff, what do you think of all these other copycat "car buying guides" that look similar to yours?
A: I guess I should be flattered that they want to emulate us. Some of them have even imitated my $avOmeter on the front page. Most other car sites are very unoriginal. We have caught copycat sites cutting and pasting text from our site all the time, a testament that we are the best. In 1997, there was only Edmunds and our site. Then once the concept of affiliate programs took off, it was only a matter of time before everyone wanted to be the next CarBuyingTips.com. The only problem is, most of these other sites just slap a bunch of banners up and call themselves "the web's best car buying site," when in reality, they have no content at all. On the other hand, we have over 100 pages of the best and most useful award winning content anywhere, more than enough to fill a book. You get an honest opinion from us, not a hyped up sales pitch to the site who pays us the most. There have been other sites trying to ride off our coat tails by registering variations of our domain name as well. One final point: see how many of these copy cat sites give a link for you to email them to ask for help when you get into a bind.