Avoid Car Dealer Tricks & Tactics

 Used car salesman

The old stereotype of car dealers in dizzying patterns of leisure suits is blessedly past.  Behind the polo shirts and khakis, though, not everyone has embraced customer service.  Some of the old dreaded tricks and tactics are still alive and well, so be on the alert for these to pop up.

Simpatico.  With some car dealers, you half expect a friend request to pop up on your phone before you’re out the door.  Civility and professionalism is fine, gaining a new buddy is another thing.  Keep things courteous, and you won’t feel like you’re letting a pal down when you negotiate.

Stalling.  Few phrases deflate the momentum of car buying more than “Let me check with my manager.”  This was poignantly satirized in the movie “Fargo, when it amounted to nothing more than stalling, wearing down the customer’s resistance.

For a few dollars more.  When asked what you want for monthly payments, you could theoretically answer $10,000.  Chances are excellent you’ll be pitched something with an $11,000 payment.  Work on an agreeable sales price first, then discuss monthly payment if you haven’t already come armed with pre-approved financing.

The numbers racket.  Even after a verbal agreement is reached, the figure may not show up quite the same on the purchase agreement.  Numbers may have been shuffled and revised slightly.  In fairness, there can be some fees tacked on that are legit, but a lot of it is just garnish and therefore negotiable.

Add-ons.  From in-house financing to rustproofing, the car’s selling price is only part of the deal.  You’ll be pitched a flurry of extras, most of which can be better obtained elsewhere (or can even be done yourself) and often for less money.

Rebate debate.  Remember the key part of factory-to-dealer incentives, and that’s “factory.”  The manufacturer ponies up the rebate, so it can almost always be deducted from the already negotiated price, not factored in to arrive at the final price.

Holding hostage.  You’re having second thoughts at the figurative or literal eleventh hour.  You try to cancel the deal or at least table it for the time being.  Suddenly, the dealer claims they can’t find your key.  If paperwork has not been signed, they have no legal right to hold your vehicle.  Until you ink the deal, consider hanging onto a spare.  And if you reconsider after that, your state may have laws allowing a grace period (a handful of days) for you to return the new car and get back in your old one.

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