Finding A Vehicle, Minus The Fuss



Alexis Bechman/Roundup

Ray’s Auto Exchange recently opened off South McLane Road, just a few doors down from the Humane Society of Central Arizona. Owner Ray Vela (above) said he hopes to offer reliable, used cars under $8,000.

You won’t find any balloons, banners or fancy car lifts here. Ray’s Auto Exchange looks like how a used car lot should — low maintenance, what you see is what you get.

But in an economy where more people are searching for value over flashy gimmicks, foregoing fancy desks and computers for bargain-priced cars may just be the way to beat out the dealerships.

So far, owner Ray Vela’s business plan has worked out. In the few weeks he has been open, he has already sold several vehicles, leaving his small lot, at 910 S. McLane Road, nearly empty. Save his trusty dog, which kindly barks at arriving customers, only two compact cars remain.

“I am totally out of cars right now,” Vela says, sitting behind a large desk in an even larger, mostly empty office space. The now showroom used to house a feed store and countless other businesses before that.

Unlike the dealerships, Ray’s Auto Exchange is located off the beaten path. However, the location only adds to the cost savings. Customers looking for a “nice, clean used car” will search him out, Vela said.

“I want to offer something they can afford and something that won’t breakdown,” he said.

Vela has worked 38 years in the car business, most recently at Star Valley RV. Before that, he worked at Phil White Ford. When Star Valley RV closed due to the poor economy, Vela decided to go out on his own.

Vela says he buys most of the vehicles and travel trailers from auctions and private parties. Because of low overhead, Vela is able to keep prices for most vehicles under $8,000.

All of the cars are checked out by one of three mechanics Vela uses.

“I check everything out before I sell it,” he said.

The stereotype that a used car salesman will rip you off or sell you a lemon is a stereotype, Vela said.

“It is not like that anymore,” he said. “If the city or state finds out you are tying to rip people off, you will get sanctioned. So it is not like it used to be in the 1950s or 1960s.”

Vela said he always tries to let the customer win and get the best possible deal.

Ray’s Auto Exchange will hold a grand opening celebration from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 29.

DJ Johnny Vela will play music and free hot dogs and drinks will be provided.

For more information, call (928) 978-8375.


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