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7 Common Lies Your Car Dealership Tells You


Joe Isuzu

Even as buyers become better educated and salespeople more transparent in the process, there’s still a reason they aren’t under oath when negotiating at a car dealership.  Be on the lookout for one of these common lies.

“That’s the best we can do.”  When you hear this in response to your offer, think: “That’s the best we’re willing to do.”  It’s true, there is a point at which the dealer simply has to maintain a profit margin, but it will be more than a few hundred dollars on a car costing several thousand. 

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“I have another person ready to buy this car.”  If that’s the case, why isn’t it sold?  A car dealership doesn’t work like eBay.  Even if the car in question is actually listed by the dealer on eBay, it’s subject to prior sale.  The first reasonable offer made gets the car, and this lie is designed to get you off the fence and/or pay more than you intend.

“We can’t make any money on your trade.”  Even if you’re trading a crusty econobox, it can be unloaded.  Mind you, your trade may never reach the used-car lot and wind up at a dealer auction instead, but don’t take this to mean the dealership is losing money on the overall deal.

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“They all do that.”  The problem with this lie is that it’s sometimes true.  There are some cars that are fatally flawed in one aspect or another.  It could be as simple as a misaligned glovebox or as bothersome as a clunky gearbox.  A little research can shed invaluable light on whether this is an isolated issue or truly common to the vehicle, which can in turn aid your buying decision.

“We’ll pay off the loan on your trade.”  And by we, they mean you.  The car dealership simply rolls over the unpaid balance of the old car into the new car.  You can get into big trouble with this when you’re “upside down,” owing far more than the vehicle is worth.  At minimum, it takes a lot longer to pay down the vehicle.  At worst, a total-loss accident will leave you owing thousands beyond the insurance settlement.

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“Our banks’ rates are the best.”  The car dealership tells you this, hoping you’ll take advantage of one-stop shopping and generating some revenue for them in the process.  It isn’t impossible to get favorable financing that way, but you’ll never know unless you first check into pre-approved financing on your own.

“The vehicle history report proves it was never wrecked.”  Just because a report doesn’t say it, it doesn’t mean it never happened.  Vehicle history reports should not be treated as irrefutable proof of a used car’s past.  Events both good and bad may not be caught or ever recorded.  The printouts can be informative and valuable, but they’re not DNA mapping. 

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