Sunday, July 24, 2011

0% Auto Financing (Really)?

0 % Auto Financing – Smoke and Mirrors
Human nature, getting something for nothing keeps this old conspiracy alive and believable.  0% auto financing contracts originated in the west when new car purchases began to decline.  It was convincing because it was the  automobile manufacturers making the offer through their financial institutions  Ford Credit, GMAC Financing, Chrysler Credit, Toyota Credit, etc. Customers knew the new car market was soft so presumed the offer was genuine; but there is no such thing as 0% auto financing, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Western manufacturers did two things to pull this scheme off.  Publically rebates were suspended; privately various end of year bonuses the manufacturer owed the dealers (ie. dealer holdback) were diverted to the financial institutions.  These yearend bonuses enabled dealers to sell cars cheaper, but once it was removed to fund the 0% scheme the final sale price lost a lot if not all negotiating margins.  End result the consumer paid 0% interest on the contract but paid a onetime interest charge in the price of the car.

Israel’s 0% Auto Financing
Today Israeli dealers and local banks are emulating the same scheme.  If you have good credit you may be offered a no interest loan, but STOP think it through.   If you follow the money you have to ask, what do local banks gain by offering money for nothing? The answer NOTHING therefore they do not lend money at no cost.  Loans and fees are the only way banks are allowed to make profits; they are charging someone for that money. 
Where Does the Money Come From?
Is the car dealer paying the cost?  Given that a typical loan of 120,000 NIS in the first 3 years will cost 12,699 NIS in interest, ask the obvious question, can the dealer afford that  cost?  Of course not - so they pass it on to you in the form of inflated sales pricing, and it’s not hard to do especially in 36 month balloon contracts.
If you knew that you were paying the cost regardless of what the loan papers indicate  you need to know the downside?  It may be that you will not experience a downside except much of your negotiating power is lost, but if something happens in the next three years that causes you to terminate the contract for any reason you will take a massive financial hit, here is why.

On a conventional loan where the interest that you are paying is clearly outlined in the contract, you will pay this interest charge as you go, one month at a time.  This is the only way a person should pay the interest “as you go”, for we do not know what tomorrow will bring.

The 0% contract is much different.  All the interest that will be earned over the term of the contract , typically 36 months, will be added to the cost of the car; it becomes as much a piece of the car as the bumpers are piece of the car.  If for any reason your contract with the bank is terminated (vehicle theft, total loss accident, or your need to sell for any reason) before the 36th payment has been made you will be forced to pay the balance which includes the interest cost that were not earned by the bank.  That’s the bad news.

Now For The Really Bad News
If the contract termination is due to theft or accident and the car is written off, the insurance company will pay the bank the current Levi Yitzak value of the car, not what you owe, which will be substantially more.  Had you taken the traditional financing contract with the interest clearly stated and earned as it is used, the interest earnings would cease the day the insurance company paid the bank for your car that was lost, not so on a 0% loan contract.

To be honest all cars within the first 2 years of purchase will have a book value less than the loan balance, but when you have a 0% interest loan the gap will be much, much more guaranteed.

Want to look at real financing options go to Auto Financing in Israel  save yourself and your family from these old yet attractive schemes.  Or you can email me directly at 

Something for nothing? -  Never.
0% financing? - It’s all Smoke and Mirrors.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Big Brother on the Road

With iphone and its ability to record drivers in front and now the cameras on our roads why don't they just put little black boxes in our cars and be done with it?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's not a dent on the car "That's Character"

It’s a common scenario when olim hadashim earnestly begin their quest for their first car in Israel.   They are all taken aback by the minor scrapes and bruises to the body of most every car, and the fact that no one is saying “oh that can be buffed out”; no one but the oleh even notices the scratches.  Of course this reaction is exacerbated by the high cost of autos here.

I’ve become accustomed to the scrapes and bruises over the last 8 years though it still bugs me to see a 2009 model car with the right front fender slightly scraped and not on the way to the body shop any time soon; that car would have been in a paint booth within two days back in the US.  Here it is what it is, a scrape on the fender, nothing to bother with.

Maybe it’s our driving conditions, the narrow streets, absence of decent parking areas save for sidewalks, or my arch nemesis the motor scooter drivers.  Where do these guys and gals come from?

Several months ago I failed to complete my left turn to the inside lane while driving my car.  I opted to move over to the right lane quicker than the police like, and received a ticket and an invitation to driver’s education class.  Yet these 2 wheeled magicians bob and weave at will creating lanes between lines of traffic or on the shoulders of the highway while police sit in their cars and watch.
At stoplights it’s not enough for scooter operators to drive between cars they cut in front or right behind your bumper to go from the right lane over horizontally 2 lanes to the left turn lane.  They even have the audacity when they cannot pull off this stunt without having to take their feet off the pegs to look at you like “why are you so close to the guy in front I had to put my foot down”? Enough about the scooters.

I guess in a way I should be glad we are not so obsessive compulsive about the appearance of our cars as in the west.  But as an auto consultant it’s a challenge to present a car to an olim and say yes this car is in excellent condition, and they are only asking 50k, and as for the scrapes on the corners, here we call that "character".  

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Should You Consider Buying an Ex Rental Car?

Never Buy an Ex Rental Car!!!
"It has been abused"

This poor creature the “ex rental car (ERC)” is the quintessential poor redheaded stepchild of the auto retail industry; a plague to be avoided at all cost, say the masses.  I want to challenge you to rethink this much maligned entity before you toss this option completely out the window.

Buying any used car has its risks; yet the financial benefits are significant. Many cannot afford to buy new cars and this is their only option.  Of those who can afford to buy new many opt to buy pre-owned to take advantage of the reduced depreciation of the purchase.
New cars suffer significant depreciation when purchased.  The trigger transforming a new car into used car status is the registration into someone’s name, not kilometers driven or length of ownership.  Even if the car never moves its value is now perceived as less because it now has a used status.
There are Three Sources for Used Cars
Privately owned, ex lease, ex rent

Private ownership (as a rule the most expensive of the three)    Everyone wants to buy a used car that was owned by a private individual; preferably an elderly woman who only drove it to the grocery and back once a week.  It is assumed that privately owned cars have been taken care of and experience more TLC and generally this is the case.

But even in this class of car there are questions.  Are there any young family members in the family who occasionally drive the car? Do you really know the driving habits of the adult principle drivers?   Was it serviced regularly?
Automobile servicing is not so convenient here in Israel.  There is not a Jiffy Lube in every small town like in the west, so this sometimes gets overlooked or put off.
Ex lease cars (considered less expensive than private owned but more than ex rental) This is generally the second requested group of vehicles considered safe for purchase.  Most people are aware that private ownership cars are hard to find and can be more expensive, therefore the acquiescence to purchase ex lease cars.  Here too there are considerations, not everything is as it may seem.
Here is an unsolicited excerpt from an email sent me by Shelly, from the Shomron area, and I think sums it all up very succinctly. I once went on a tiyul with a group of friends, all Israeli, and was shocked at where we were driving in our non 4x4 cars - then someone explained it was because the rest of them were all driving work cars (lease) so they weren't worried about the wear and tear.

This is not to say this is the case with all persons who have this type of employment benefit.  It’s not hard however to see how it can be viewed in this light.
On the plus side lease cars are serviced regularly and repairs are made promptly.  This is because there are no costs or inconveniences to the driver.  In fact some view this as an advantage over a privately owned vehicle.

Ex rental cars ERC (least expensive of the three groups) First the remainder of the Shelly’s email for she addresses this type of car too.  On the other hand most are more careful with rentals because if anything happens you're liable and most rental places check very carefully when cars are returned”.   I could not have said it better.

Is this not how most persons approach renting a car?  The rental company has your credit card and explains to you upfront you will be responsible for any and all damage caused to the car.  Personally when I return a rental I sit anxiously while the young man/woman goes to check the condition of the auto hoping that there is not some problem with the car that I was not aware of.
Yes there will be persons who want to see how fast the rental car accelerates and how quickly it stops, but this happens with lease cars and private cars too.  Any vehicle when driven by persons who are not ultimately financially responsible can be subjected to abuse.  While this type of occasional handling is not optimal, it does not necessarily indicate the car have been to hell and back.

As for scheduled maintenance and repairs again the ERC has a slight advantage over its privately owned cousin.  A car in a rental fleet is a company asset and as such is well taken care of.  Computer programs track the cars as they come in and go out from rent and flag all needed service before next rental contract.

If the car is not functional it cannot generate profit for the company.  If the car breaks down under contract the company must retrieve the car deliver another in its stead and repair the broken one.  This is costly and time consuming.  Good maintenance and servicing reduces the chances of this scenario.

So here is the bottom line.  It can be well worth your time to include instead of exclude the ERC into your list of options.  All used cars should be thoroughly checked out by competent mechanics before purchase.  Since the ERC is generally less in cost you may be able to drive a newer model or a more featured car for the same money as buying a private or ex lease.
Consider your options there are some very good deals to be had with ERC’s

Please visit our website at to continue your investigation into buying used cars in Israel.  Or email me directly at