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?
You should do every future car buyer a favor and stop writing these stupid articles about TRICKY CAR DEALERS . As with every business there are good and bad examples but you constantly make all sales people out to be crooked and untrustworthy. It is obvious that you know nothing of how the business really works. The sales person is probably the hardest working of them all, and probably the lowest paid of the bunch. Most of these so called extras are sold in the business office...long after the customer has found what he likes and is about to pay for it. And as for the EXTRAS...if you don't see the value....don't buy them. But for you to claim none of them have any value is completely wrong and misleading...ever seen what grape juice looks like on light cloth interior...fabric protection isn't all bad.
Even WAL-MART offers extended warranty now....and you don't describe their practices as TRICKY.
You should keep your bias opinions to your self and let people make up their own mind!
holy cow.....where are all these stupid people. Switch car dealer for furnitue store and voila....it works or try furnace repair and cleaning......or please dont say you never bought a major appliance, life insurance,health/disability insurance, etc, etc etc. Now if you want to invest in some other community dont forget YOUR TAX dollars go where you buy the car. Your congress and senate just got a raise, did you? Go ahead and see what they are doing for you? I M just wild guessing that the writer of this crap has participated in 50- 100 auto transactions in the last 30 days. YEA hahah Car dealers profit from good loyal business not overcharging for purchasing or repairs. The writer this crap obviously likes cheap crap,products that dont work and has a whole bunch of stuff nobody will fix and I M not going to mention (sit down folks) YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR.
Dear poor sneaky coniving worshiping the almighty dollar "CARDEALER" who posted "I SELL CARS" people like you don't deserve the respect of the paying public for all the under-handed scemes you've procured over the years in the guise of "just trying to make a living". shame on you for deceiving us while you cleanup on making 1 to 3% on your (ie) 0% loan money from your bank or the kick back you get from the car manufacturer when they offer up to $3000.00 off on a new vehical or on the inflated prices of the extras a customer would or might want but would for-go because of the cost, and also the astronomical rightup cost of the "parts" you sell through your parts counters, for all of your customers like 300 to400% on those parts, also everyone knows a financial institution is not in business to give you money to lend at 0% interest, so in closing I want everyone who reads this to just be aware of the sneaky coniving ways of their local "POOR" car dealership owner!
I have been in the car business for over 9 years and sold over 2000 cars many of them are repeat customers and referrals. I treat everyone with the same respect that I would like my parents my kids and myself to receive when we go shopping. A car salesman is a person too with mood swings and daily issues like any other citizen, YES we are here to make money ,we don't work for free, when was the last time you visited an attorney and said at the end of a 4 hour meeting.."I'm not paying $300 an hour...I know someone who paid for another attorney $150 an hour.." Really...? Yes you can negotiate everything in this world but do it with respect for the salesman that busted his **** in freezing temperatures and 100 degree heat in order to get you the car you wanted to test drive and after 4 hours you tell him " I'll think about it" and you are surprised on your next lot to find an arrogant and cocky salesperson mistreating you...now..we all started the same ,young and green behind the ears banding over backwards for customers and then getting the worst survey just because the process was too long..well no kidding "sticker is quicker", or maybe the payment is $5 higher then you can afford which is $195 over a 39 mos lease or $360 over a 72 mos finance term, Nobody make you sign the dotted line ,as a consumer you are always in control and if you are not treated well then just leave. Our attitude sometimes reflects the customers', standoffish and argumentative but in many cases there's a bond created for many years to come between the salesperson and customers.
So Dear MSN...maybe you can write some stories about positive experiences..they just might bring more joy to car shopping. God Bless.
If can't or won't do that out of your delusional pride.....you deserve to get screwed.
Remember folks, YOU control the entire processes. No one says you HAVE to buy.
I sell cars. I don't mislead. HOWEVER, BUYER BEWARE! There are plenty of scammers. Find someone you can trust and work with that dosen't have to "put you in a car today!" Educate yourself online before you visit the dealership. Remember all business owners must make a profit. Good luck in 2013!
The writers of these articles are idiots. They deserve to be ripped off at every other turn. They are the people who will walk into best buy and pay full price for a TV. Paying them a whopping 20% profit. Yet when they go to a car dealer, they will lie and tell the saleperson they got a better price from another dealer, got more for their trade, or a better rate. Having been in the car business for over 10 years, I have seen and heard it all. The simple truth is, "buyers are the liers". Yes there are some scumbag salespeople out there who can really pull the wool over the eyes of people. They are never at a dealership for very long though. These salespeople have to rely on "fresh ups" to make deals. They rarely have referals or repeat buyers. If you want a great deal on a car, avoid these salespeople by asking "How long have you been working here?" If the answer is less than 3 months, be on guard. Successful sales professionals will have roots with a store. Also if a sales person does not know his or her product, you may want to ask for another so you get the right information about the car. A great deal has little to do with the price, but on is this the right car for you. A true pro wil ask several questions early in your visit, trying to find out the what when and why of your visit. That guy is not just looking to sell a car, but to sell the RIGHT car for you and your needs. This is the same guy that will still 6 position a car explaining the vehicle to you. He or she will walk you through the deal at a comfortable pace and try to make you feel good and comfortable first. This is my sales tactic, I do not want to sell you one car, I want to be your "car guy", When you think of getting a new car, I want you to remembwer how well you were treated at every turn. I want you to feel that you not only got a great deal, but have someone you can count on when it is time to replace the car in the future. I am not saying that every sales guy is like me. I am however saying, look at reviews on , ,, or google the store and see what people are saying about their experience.
A real pro will work diligently to make sure you are happy with the car at every turn and will treat you from the beginning as if you were the last person he would ever sell a car to ever.
There are millions of them out there and always a better deal somewhere else. Find out what the hold backs and incentives are before you look at a particular model. Sticker price means absolutely nothing. "Invoice"? Yeah, right! Think you'll be treated more "honestly" at a "luxury" car dealership for an initial purchase OR REPAIR? Think again!
Copyright © 2013 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX. See delay times for other exchanges.
Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Thomson Reuters (click for restrictions). Real-time quotes provided by BATS Exchange. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Interactive Data Real-Time Services. 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 SIX Financial Information.
ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
LATEST BLOG POSTS
New York's mayor says a composting program would save millions. It's a great frugal hack for anybody, anywhere. Here's how to get started.