10 sneaky car dealer tricks
Here are some tricks of the trade -- some more devious than others -- that you might encounter when you shop for a car.
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.
The first time I bought a car, I got ripped off. I traded in my car for less than it was worth, bought a clunker for more than I should have, and got talked into a $950 warranty to cover rust as I was finalizing the paperwork.
The salesman saw me coming and pulled out every trick in the book -- from saying my credit wasn't good enough to tacking on "mandatory charges" during the final sale.
Dealers want to talk payments; you need to talk price. For example, the last dealer I met asked me how much I could afford to pay a month. When I didn't answer, he offered a "great deal" at $385 a month. He never mentioned the total price of the car or the length of the loan.
By focusing on payments and not price, it's easy to trick consumer into thinking they're getting good deals. Steer the conversation to the total price, and let the payments take care of themselves.
A dealership can make as much money on the loan as it can on the car, which is something it's not likely to disclose. Instead, the salesman will make it seem that he's doing you a favor by getting you a great interest rate -- or getting you a loan at all.
Don't fall for it. Financing is big business for dealers, and you're not winning a prize when they get you a loan.
Step One in any purchase that requires a loan is to secure financing. Never head to the lot without first shopping for -- and getting preapproved for -- a loan. Use online auto rate searches and talk to banks and credit unions to find the best rate. Then apply and get approved. This serves two functions: You won't overpay for dealer financing, and you'll be ready to pull the trigger when you find the perfect ride.
3. Bait-and-switch advertising
Bait-and-switch gets you in the door by advertising a super deal on a car, but switching you to another, lesser deal when you show up.
Read the fine print before you go to the dealership. If you're not sure, call ahead.
4. High-pressure tactics
The salesman's goal is to close the sale today, and he'll try any number of sales tactics to make it happen. My personal favorite: Insisting the car won't be there tomorrow.
Don't bite. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure of any decision, ask to speak to someone else or just walk away. Keep looking until you find someone you can work with.
5. Extras that add up
Car salesmen work on commission, and the more you pay, the more they make. One way to increase the sale price is by adding on extras, like wheel and tire protection, a warranty extension or rust protection. To help sell you on these, the salesman will break them down to the total price per month. For example, when I bought rust protection, the dealer told me it was a "great service for only $25 a month." I ended up paying $900 over three years for something I didn't understand or even know how to use.
If you're trading in your current car, know its value. These sites can help:
Also, check eBay to see what cars like yours are selling for in your area.
If you're trading in, don't expect any dealer to offer your car's retail value. To get maximum value for your car, sell it yourself.
7. Manufacturer's suggested price
The "manufacturer's suggested price" is often used to make a deal sound better. For example, if the manufacturer's suggested price is $35,000, but the dealer is asking only $32,000, you might think, "Hey! I'm already getting $3,000 off and we haven't even started negotiating."
Sites like KBB.com can tell you what people are actually paying for specific models.
8. Your credit score
When I was buying my first car, the dealer pulled my credit report and told me my credit wasn't that grea,t but that he'd be willing to work with me. I felt a sense of relief, thinking, "At least I'm getting a loan." I later found that my scores were fine and that I could have gotten a better interest rate elsewhere.
Buying a car isn't one big transaction; it is actually three smaller ones: getting financing, pricing the trade-in and buying the car. I didn't realize this when I went to the dealership alone for the first time. Rather than look at each piece, I looked at the total cost and thought, "OK, I can afford this."
Negotiate each part separately to get the best deal.
10. Mechanical issues
Don't take the dealer's word for the condition of a used car. Never buy any car from any source without first taking it to an independent mechanic for an unbiased inspection.
More from Money Talks News and MSN Money
- Tricks of the trade: Restaurants
- 7 simple steps to winterize your car
- Tricks of the trade: Credit cards
- Smart Spending on the go: Get our app for Android or iPhone
- Car buyers stretching out payments
- Should you get a 7-year car loan?
Most of this article and most people's opinions on car buying stem from the way it was 20 years ago. Every consumer can now search the internet to find out what they should pay for a car, what they can expect for their trade, and what kind of rates are being offered. For some reason, the automobile industry is the only one where consumers consider dealer profit to be some sort of evil. When most purchase a house, they don't do research to see how much profit the builder is making or how much the loan officer makes on their mortgage. Even worse, try shopping for a diamond where the markup percentage is in the thousands! Anyone can get a good deal by doing a little bit of research and don't be surprised if the dealer feels the need to make enough money to pay the operating costs and make a profit like any other business.
Never buy a used car from a Dealer... Individuals... they are easier to read and its cheaper,but always do research to make sure the Car was built right and has a History of reliability and low Maintance costs (very important)..and crash tests.....Carfax it if it passes and its clean .....your done... that simple
Remember one thing, not all dealers are crooks! This is a retail business and dealers are entitled to make money!
What is the mark up on a gallon of milf or gas? Dealers make less than 5% on a new car!!!!!
I know. Go buy your own dealership and show those SOBs how to run a car dealeship. That would show 'em.
Never ... and I mean NEVER think you know or found out what a dealer paid for a new car.
They dont pay for them per say ... up front.
Also ... if yoru dumb enough to think a company stays in business by making $200 on a 32,000 dollar car ... then you deserve to get screwed
I just reread this again and I still find this article incredibly stupid.
Somebody should not go buy a car ever again... ride the bus
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
LATEST BLOG POSTS
Saving just a single month of expenses may take longer than you think. See how your savings rate affects how quickly you can build a solid emergency fund.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
BLOGS WE LIKE
MUST-SEE ON MSN
- Video: Easy DIY smoked meats at home
A charcuterie master shares his process for cold-smoking meat at home.
- Jetpacks about to go mainstream
- Weird things covered by home insurance
- Bing: 70 percent of adults report 'digital eye strain'