13+ Things Your Car Dealer Won’t Tell You

Find out how to get the most value out of your purchase by side-stepping these common car dealer practices.

from Reader's Digest
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    1. That car we advertised at the unbelievable price?

    It’s a stripped-down model with a manual transmission, no air-conditioning, and crank windows. But we got you in, didn’t we?

    2. The best time to buy is at the end of the month,

    and it’s best to negotiate the trade-in separately. Negotiate up from the invoice price (what we paid for the car, easy to find on the Web), not down from the sticker price.

    3. Everybody believes his trade-in is worth more.

    You’ve got bald tires, chicken bones under the seats, and dust blowing from the vents, but you’re going to tell me your car is in “excellent” condition? Now who’s the pushy salesperson?

    4. To get a great price with minimal haggling,

    call and ask for the Internet manager or fleet manager.

    5. Once I’m sitting behind the desk,

    you’ll feel like I’m in control and may be willing to pay a little more. (We learn this during training.)

    6. Ever wonder about those ads that promise a minimum $3,000 trade-in value for your clunker?

    Those dealerships also pad the sales price to make up for the difference.

    7. Never pay the VIN-etch fee.

    It’s a $250 optional add-on that’s almost pure profit for us.

    8. Every spring we have guys who show up and say they’re interested in one of our trucks and want to give it a spin.

    They think we don’t see the mulch on the floor when they bring it back.

    9. Notice how many times we go back and forth to our manager?

    The loud music, the gongs, and the blaring flat-screen TVs? All are distractions designed to help you lose track of what we’re doing with the deal.

    10. Plenty of cars get stolen

    at gunpoint or knifepoint on test-drives.

    11. We’re making less money on the car than you think.

    Our profit margin is typically 2 to 4 percent.

    12. We all get our cars from the same place at roughly the same price.

    So if one dealer is offering to sell it for $2,000 less, there’s probably a catch.

    13. If your auto credit score is under 600, expect to get an interest rate over 16 percent and to put 20 percent down.

    If your score is under 550, we may put a tracking device in your car that will shut it off if you don’t make a payment.

    14. Go in armed and educated.

    Study the pricing of the car you like and have your financing lined up. If you walk in with nothing, you’re not a customer, you’re a victim.

    15. Here’s a favorite trick:

    Once you give us the keys to appraise your trade-in, you won’t get them back until you’re ready to leave and you ask for them. While I’m getting them for you, another salesman will try to close a deal.

    16. An older woman who walks in without an appointment, alone, is typically someone we can make a lot of money on.

    She’s usually uncomfortable with the process and just wants to get it over with.

    17. Attractive people sell more cars.

    I’ve seen some incredible deals go down because the only thing the customer was paying attention to was the salesman paying attention to her.

    18. When you bring in your friend or your father to negotiate for you, we call him “the quarterback."

    Just know that he’s often as clueless about the process as you are.

    19. If you want to test drive a bunch of models or need a lot of information,

    don’t pull in on a weekend without an appointment. Come by on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

    20. Despite the stories you’ve heard about sleazy car dealers,

    plenty of us are honest folks frustrated by the guys who give the rest of us a bad name.

    21. Once you’ve agreed on a price, you think you’re done – but we’re just getting started.

    Worn out and ready to go home, you sign document after document. Then you wake up the next day, look down, and you signed a contract that had a $1,995 extended warranty that isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. And you’re stuck.

    22. Forget the overall cost of the car. Let’s talk about what you want to pay each month.

    Then I can build in profit generators such as extended warranties and credit insurance, and you won’t even notice.

    23. Think you’ll get a good deal by coming in at closing time when I’m anxious to get home?

    Think again.

    24. I’ll promise you just about anything to get you to sign on the dotted line.

    But if I don’t put it in writing, I may not remember the next day.

    25. You shouldn’t leave the dealership not knowing how to turn on the windshield wipers.

    Make us show you everything before you drive away.

    26. Banks almost never require you to buy a particular warranty or a particular add-on to get the loan.

    If the finance officer tells you otherwise, ask to speak to someone at the bank.

    27. Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) all offer guides for car values.

    We’re the experts who do this every day and can evaluate what a 2008 Honda Accord EX is really worth in our market.

    28. You accuse us of being the biggest liars in the world, but we like to say “buyers are liars.”

    You tell us you’re looking for a car for a friend, that you’ve got to run to get to daycare, that you’ve got perfect credit. Right.

    29. If I ask “Are you here to buy?”

    in the first 10 minutes, that’s not a good sign.

    30. Don’t expect retail for your trade in and wholesale for our car.

    We have to recondition your trade, advertise it, warranty it and pay interest on the amount we have in the car, then sell it for less than we want after it sits on the lot for months.

    31. You think I’m pushy?

    I’ve had attractive young women raise their eyebrows at me and say, “I’ll do anything to get a better deal. Anything.”

    32. Seven words I hate:

    "I have to check with my wife (or husband)."

    33. Please do the math.

    You can’t get a $40,000 Tahoe for $250 a month for 72 months! Even at zero percent, $40,000 divided by 72 months is $555 before tax, title, and license fees. If you want a bargain, try to wait until the end of model year, usually in September or October, when we need to move cars off the lot.

    34. Sure, I’d be happy to tint your windows, apply rustproofing, or paint a pinstripe on your truck.

    But I’ll probably charge you two or three times the cost of doing it elsewhere.


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    Your Comments

    • Garrett Miller

      Hell, I’d rather have a manual transmission than an automatic.

    • Caoillainn

      Wanna make a bet? My dad has bought many cars over the years and knows every car dealer trick in the training book. You bet your sweet bippy I bring him along!

    • P.h.d. Kid

      Been in this business for twenty years, seen the best and the worst. Lying salespeople never last but lying customers will live forever. Tell us what your concerns are and we will do our best to take care of you, if we don’t you’ll never be the customer we need. One that will refer their friends to us. The people who said something about “knowing we are getting a fair price”…read the article, the average is 2-4percent do you know the markup on the gas you put in it? The percent you have to markup your house to cover the realtor commission? Or how much your toilet paper is marked up? show me a website that posts those invoice amounts? Let’s md honest, dealers are at a disadvantage to anyone who reads these articles (90percent of buyers) if it weren’t for the few uneducated customers, most dealers couldn’t even keep the doors open to be there when you want to come blame us that you ran into the tree in your front yard the day after yu bought it and want us to fix it for you for free because we feel bad for you (which btw we will normally do but not because we feel bad, but because you haven’t gotten your survey from the manufacturer yet and we’ll get reamed if you say anything less than perfect). Finally, for the people that need their spouses (read anyone married) just tell us that up front not after we’ve spent an hour thinking you are driving home in our car tonight. You’ll probably end up with less nonsense and a lower price right off that by because no good dealer wants a customer going home with a price they can beat with one click on their computer when they get home. Nuff for now.

      • Andy R.

        “…no good dealer wants a customer going home with a price they can beat with one click on their computer when they get home.”

        Well, nothing’s stopping the dealer from offering the customer that same price. If they were truly a good dealer, they would offer to match it. But when the customer can easily see just how greedy the dealer is being, of course they’re not coming back.

        Dealers seem to pin all their hopes on the customer being too stupid to notice they’re getting screwed. Heaven forbid you get a customer that can see through your lies.

      • AshleyBurt

        That’s life. I have no sympathy unfortunately. Sad deal but it’s just the way it is. Go into another field if it’s not your thing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/stevieod Steve Matsukawa

      Most car dealers are a half decent lot, but there is an element within their ranks that pulls their reputation into the gutter.  The bad thing is that the car dealers allow these con men to continue to do business.  At the least they can point out the scum so that we the customers can then patronize the honest and ethical car dealerships.

    • jrichburg

      The best car negotiation tools are your two feet.  I find the dealer invoice price online, subtract any incentives they are getting at the time, then add on a couple hundred bucks in profit for the dealership and make that offer.  Then they do the “I have to talk to my manager” routine, which is just a stalling tactic to give you time to get nervous and take any lousy terms.  Knowing this, I always give them exactly five minutes to talk to their manager, and I tell them that.  They look at me like I’m crazy, and ALWAYS miss the deadline.  That’s when I leave.  Now the manager knows he just lost a fair offer, and often the manager himself will call me back.  I present the same offer, or sometimes less if the car I’m buying doesn’t have the EXACT features I was looking for (usually the case with all the package combinations nowadays).  The offer gets accepted and I go back and buy the car.  By the way, I tell the salesperson I will have exactly 30 minutes to complete the paperwork and walk out with my car.  That also cuts off last-minute interest rate shenanigans.  You don’t have to be a master negotiator.  You just have to know where the door is.

      • AshleyBurt

        Amen. The only thing I do special is walk in preparing to walk right back out if they don’t suit my fancy. First words I tell them. Well I’m fine with driving right back home I like my car juuust fine.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/XGX53TPMHTSDWY6T6OWQWEHX5M Cris

      32. Seven words I hate:”I have to check with my wife (or husband).”    I say that’s too bad !! can’t make that big a purchase signally it’s a partnership responsibility .

      • Anonymous

        what does this mean? 

        • AshleyBurt

          It means it’s a partnership responsibility

    • http://www.facebook.com/jon.myers.58910 Jon Myers

      “12. We all get our cars from the same place at roughly the same price.
      So if one dealer is offering to sell it for $2,000 less, there’s probably a catch.”

      Yeah, the catch is they’re not ripping you off!

    • Cherry

      Some of these are spot on, others not so much. As a six year veteran of this industry, it often amazes me the stigma surrounding being a car salesperson. 90% of the time, all we want to do is get you into the right vehicle for your needs. I cannot tell you how many times I greet a customer who has a chip on their shoulder from the get-go. Look, be nasty to me all you want but that doesn’t make me want to bend over backwards to help you in the end. The only reason why I smile at those people is knowing that they are helping to give me a paycheck at the end of the week.

      • Chip

        Maybe if we knew from the get go the price of the car is the best deal we can get instead of some inflated, purely extra profit, “we can go much lower in our price and much higher on your trade but we are going to try to bilk as much out of you as we can” deal that always comes first, second, third offers. You just are just never sure you got the best deal you could get because there is always seemingly something being held back.

        • MiseryMan

           Chip I understand your point,  I was a Fleet Manager at a Ford Dealership and I could sell the car for the best price right away no haggling a buyers dream.  I was a customers dream come true,  I told all my customers what I was doing as soon as they stepped out of their car.  I used to get ridiculed by the Managers and Owners I was once told I treat my customers to nice by a Manager.  True Story.  But all of this said, guess what?  No one believed me.  Customers would tell me yeah right! I would be so nice to customers and they just disrespected me.  I would see repeat customers come back and buy vehicles from other guys and never ask for me and then when they were gone I would look up their deals and they paid 4-5 thousand dollars more than what I would have done for them.  So anyway to my point.  I quit doing it.   I quit telling customers what I could do and I started selling the way I was taught and I started making more money.  In the end I was making a lot more money and still received the same level of respect.

          • AshleyBurt

            Thank you for posting this. After the most recent adventure. 4 hours trying to get the regular retail down from a 5 grand mark up. I will never go back to them again. But a dealer like you would always get my business and though I’m not business savy it would make since that what you did provides long term stability and return patrons. Not to mention good word of mouth

      • Andy R.

        “90% of the time, all we want to do is get you into the right vehicle for your needs.”

        Then why do you try so hard to make the customer sign for warranties, VIN etchings, rust-proofings that they don’t need? Why do you try so hard to keep the price so high and the trade-in value so low? Why do you intentionally design sales floors and offices to make it harder for us to follow the deal that’s being discussed? I call bullshit.

        You do realize that the stigma surrounding car salespeople isn’t going to go away until car salespeople stop doing these things, right? If 90% of car salespeople stopped doing this, then you’d get a lot less people coming in with a chip on their shoulder.

        Maybe car salespeople should fix their own penny-pinching attitudes before they complain about other people’s attitudes.

        • AshleyBurt

          Pigeon holing much?

      • AshleyBurt

        My husband has a car dealer he goes to every time. Well he was on vacation so we went somewhere else. Iwas fine with this new guy until he tried to tell me a base model was valued at the price of a LTZ chevy. He even pulled the wrong blue book on purpose and kept hiding numbers even after asking for them many times. After catching him in multiple lies I didn’t play nice. Pissed him off but got a decent deal. He called 37kl for a 32k truck a hell of a deal. He was dead set that he wasn’t going to buy my hubbies motorcycle but I got him to. Got the trades up by over 10k from what he offered. And got him to come down to retail on the truck after calling his bluff. Best attitude to have is to walk in preparing to walk right back out.

        My husbands primary dealer is nothing like that chump. If he has negative equity he will tell him he doesn’t need a car yet. Takes him for tacos when he’s bored and stuff like that. That’s a kinda guy I like to buy cars from :)

    • Omprakash

      my farther read rd now myself son followed very good read , even bought in indias rd and in malaysia bought rd hope one day, you have a best buy section for us readers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gretchen-DeKok/100000174099947 Gretchen DeKok

      You are NOT “stuck” with anything if you cancel the extend warranty within 3 days.

      • Barry

        Huh? Are you insane?

      • Derek Wildstar

        you can cancel it within 30 days in most states, but it will go to the lien holder, not you, and it won’t lower your payment, it will be like making a large one time payment.

        • AshleyBurt

          And shortens your note awhile decreasing negative equity