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How often have you walked out of a car dealership feeling like you’ve been had? That’s what we thought. Charlie Giacobbe, personal auto shopper and consultant, is out to change that. “The sales manager wants to find out what the most money is that a customer will pay for a car. I try to find what the least amount of money is that the sales manager will accept to sell his car,” Giacobbe explains. Giacobbe has been in the car business all his life, first as a salesman in Somerville in 1976, then later as a sales manager in Woburn. These days, he helps car buyers on the North Shore get the best possible deal available. So, who hires a personal auto shopper? Just about anyone who hates the car-buying process, those who simply don’t have time, and those who feel they aren’t good negotiators. Basically, anyone. “I’ll tell my client where we need to be, based on my research of the car for it to be a fair deal,” he says. “We’ll make an offer that we know is below what the dealership can sell it for.” silver 2009 toyota camryFor example, a recent client came to him looking to trade an ’01 Volkswagen Jetta for a new Honda Fit. Giacobbe knew his client was getting charged with a $500 markup. The dealer offered him $2,800 for the Jetta. When the Honda Fit arrived at the dealership, it came with navigation, a $1,300 option that was not part of the deal. They said they’d only charge him $500 for it. That’s when Giacaobbe got the phone call. “I called the dealership. The guy knew me. He said he’d sell him the Fit at list price and would take another look at his Jetta. I called some wholesalers and they told me it was worth $4,000 so I told my client to ask for $4,500 for the trade. The sales manager agreed, two weeks later, his car came without the navigation this time, and everyone was happy.” In another instance, Giacobbe was called to help with the purchase of an ’08 Cadillac SRX for $32,000. After looking at some of the incentives, Giacobbe discovered the ’09 version (a $46,000 car) could be purchased for $31,000. In the end, it’s all a game and knowing how to play should increase your chances at scoring the best possible deal. Sometimes, though, it’s really a matter of who budges first. Giacobbe says when in doubt, walk out. -Jack Morris Charlie Giacobbe’s fee is $250 for vehicles listed under $50,000 and 0.5 percent of the MSRP price for vehicles over $50,000; sales, 781-983-2321. silver 2009 Nissan AltimaGearing Up Five tips for buying the right car: 1. Buy in July and December. The most incentives are given in July and manufactures in December are trying to vie for top sales claims for that year. 2. If you can’t wait for those months,buy closer to the end of each month. 3. Never fall in love with the car. Always say, “This might work for me if the price is right.” 4. Walk out if you don’t feel comfortable with the price. 5. Research the vehicle online prior to purchase ( or Which Enviro-Friendly Auto Should You Buy? We asked Giacobbe to select the top green vehicle available for the average North Shore family. He excluded the Toyota Prius because”size, gas mileage, and price put it in a class that no other manufacturer currently competes with.” See below for his choice. Picture 1: 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, MSRP $26,275. Pros: Lowest MSRP, longest wheelbase, longest powertrain warranty, Onstar. Cons: Lowest city mileage at 26 mpg. Picture 2: 2009 Toyota Camry Hybrid, MSRP $26,870. Pros: 33 city, 34 hwy MPG, longest rear leg room in class. Cons: Lowest rated horsepower of three at 147, federal hybrid tax credit no longer available on Toyota (the only one in the group). Picture 3: 2009 Nissan Altima, MSRP $27,345. Pros: 198 hp is best in group, 35 city/33 hwy is best city mileage, 20-gallon gas tank is largest of group. Cons: 16-inch wheels, highest MSRP of group. “My recommendation would be the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu.  The 2008 North American Car of the Year and the winner of the 2008 JD Power “Highest Rated Midsize Car in Initial Quality”, the Malibu offers a number of advantages over the Toyota and Nissan competitors.  The 17″ wheels and 112.3″ wheelbase lead to the best ride and handling of the group.  While the city mileage is the lowest, the highway mileage of 34 mpg is better than the Nissan and the same as the Toyota.  With the lowest MSRP of the group, current incentives can bring the actual purchase price below $23,000.  The horsepower is in the middle of the group at 164 and the powertrain warranty extends 40,000 miles beyond  that of the Toyota or Nissan (5 year 100,000 mile powertrain).  The standard OnStar offers cutting edge communications in an emergency situation, will help police locate your stolen car, unlock your doors for you or even to download directions to guide you if you’re lost.  I love this feature!  Navigation systems are not required.  XM radio is also standard. As an added bonus, purchasing from an American auto manufacturer supports 78 american jobs per car sold as nearly 3 million U.S. jobs depend on automakers.”