How To Beat Car Dealers At Their Own Game

How do you not get scammed at a dealership?

If you’re shopping for a new car and you’ve decided you’d prefer to travel the path of used car dealership cars, then you’ve arrived at the right article! In the sections below, I’ve left you with a plethora of information to use (or disregard) to get you into the best new, used vehicle you can get.

Here’s how to not get scammed by a used car dealer.

Bait and Switch – False statements about the price of the car.

You walk into a dealership and a salesman gives you a price quote. But  when you are preparing to finish the deal, the price on the contract is  not  the same price that you were quoted.  You may also notice that your contract contains other fees that increase the Total Cash Price of your vehicle

What you should do:

  • Make sure that the Total Cash Price on the written contract matches the price that you were told. If the prices are different, you may be the victim of fraud.
  • If the dealership refuses to honor the representations made to you by the salesperson, refuse to sign the contract and walk away from the dealership.

“Packing the Contract” – Adding unwanted options and accessories.

Some dealerships “pack” a contract with add-ons like service contracts, warranties, options and accessories that you did not ask for. Common add-ons are “protection packages” and rust-proofing.

What you should do:

  • Before you sign, look at your contract carefully for any items you did not authorize .
  • If you were told something was included for “free”, check to see that the item is in the contract and that you were not charged for it.
  • If you find any items that you don’t want, tell the salesman that you will not pay for it. Put a line through the item in the contract and reduce the Total Sale Price by that amount.


Buy-Lease Switch

Buying a car means that when you finish making payments on it, you will own the vehicle.

Leasing means that there is a period of time – the lease period – when you’ll be making monthly payments on the car and at the end of the lease period you will NOT own the car (unless you make a large payment to own it). Plus, if you want to return the car before the lease period is over, you’ll have to pay a big penalty (an “early-termination fee”) to do that.

Customers are routinely scammed when salespeople lead you to believe that you are purchasing when you are really leasing (and vice versa). Other misrepresentations include telling customers that you will own the car at the end of the lease. This is false because almost all leases require you to make a large payment at the end of the lease in order for you to own the car.

What you should do:

  • Make sure you read and understand the entire written contract. If you want to buy a car, make sure the contract you are signing doesn’t have the word “lease” in it. It seems obvious but many customers are easily tricked at the dealership Bring a friend if you are not sure.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into a lease if you want to buy.
  • Shop around and make sure you understand what your obligations are.

Trade-in Fraud

Many customers who trade in their old cars are tricked by dealerships who are not truthful about the value of the trade-in. They might tell you, “A 1999 Toyota like yours only sells for $3,000.” But the Toyota’s wholesale value may really be worth a lot more. Customers who don’t know what they can get for their car if they were to sell it today (the wholesale value) are likely to accept statements like these and may walk away with very little for their trade-in. The dealership will then turn around and sell the trade-in for much more

What you should do:

  • If you are not sure of the condition of your car and/or its market value, you may want to take it to a few dealerships. Tell them that you are thinking of trading in your car and see what they offer you for it. This amount may be a more accurate estimate of your car’s market value.
  • If you are thinking about trading in your old car, make sure you know its current market value. You can go to the library or bookstore to find a book that lists values of most cars.


Be Passionate, Particular and Prepared

Knowing exactly what you want before you even think about approaching a dealership, will set you up as a person who is not to be messed with. It will also build up your confidence.

I’ve watched plenty of people go into a dealership before doing any serious preparation and they either ended up severely disappointed, or they got ripped off. If you don’t want to experience either one of those scenarios, make sure you’re Passionate, Particular AND Prepared.

You need to have some very important bits of information ready to go:

  • Know your credit rating and history by heart.
  • Know exactly how long you want to be into a loan and how much you can pay per month for that term.
  • Know exactly how much you have and are willing to pay for your down payment, and exactly how soon you will have that in cash.
  • Narrow down your choices to 3 vehicles. Know the make, model, year, specs, value and recalls for each of those cars.
  • Have your financial proof ready to go. Your last 3 paystubs are a must, but tax returns, positive bills, bank statements and any receipts from any cash you make on the side, are extremely helpful.

Knowing all of this information in detail will help you avoid getting scammed into a bad load or a crappy car. It will also give you an edge which will allow you to subliminally say to the salesperson: “I know what I want and you won’t scam me into anything that doesn’t fit in with my plan.”


Be Busy!

When you interact with a salesman and woman, you never want to be seen as a person who has time to waste. Busy customers represent three things to a salesperson:

  • Fewer hassles for them
  • Less time to try to con you into something
  • Someone who is likely dependable and who works hard

The sales force is trained to recognize and handle people who are very particular with their money. The particular people are the ones that will pay on time dependably. They are the ones that will be sure they cross all their t’s, dot their i’s and look over every last bit of the contract.

Those customers are also the ones who are not going to be tricked into sitting around a dealership for 4 hours working on a deal that realistically could have been completed in 30 minutes.


Packed or loaded payments

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. When a dealer “loads” your payment you are literally being ripped off. Here’s how it works: You ask how much the monthly payment will be on a certain automobile and the salesperson will quote you either a slighly higher APR or loan amount. It might not be much but if the actual loan payment should be $325 a month and their mathematical shenanigans push it up to $365.00 that could end up costing you an additional $2300 on a typical 60 month car loan. It doesn’t seem like a small amount anymore does it? It’s a very difficult scam to detect unless you go into the dealership with your homework completed. Before you go into a dealership, gather all of the pricing information on the cars you’re interested in so you know what the payments should be. An informed consumer is a lot harder to fool than an uninformed car buyer. This is no guarantee you won’t be ripped off but your odds will be a lot better.

On the other hand, if you agree to this packed loan payment without comment the dealer will attempt to boost the final price again and again and again. If you’re not prepared for what can happen at each step of the car buying process a salesperson will use every trick in the book to separatate you from your money. As you work your way towards a final deal you’ll be offered high price items like extened warranties, undercoating and clear coat paint layers. If you’re not careful you’ll end up paying extra for items added to the car at the factory!