Purchasing a new or used car generally involves a lot of stress, money, and time. Over the years, car dealers have gained a reputation for trying to put pressure on customers and lure them with special offers, discounts, and other benefits. While many car dealers have earned this bad reputation, some actually want to give customers a fair and good experience.
However, the fact remains that all car dealers are out to make a profit. As a customer, you need to educate yourself and be confident when making a deal. Read on to learn about the secrets that car dealers don’t want consumers to know.
Be Cautious Of Car Dealers Who Let You “Talk it Over” In Their Presence
If you happen to get trapped in the car dealer’s office bargaining over the numbers, there is a huge possibility that he may pretend to receive a call and leave the discussion to you and your partner. This is an old trick that many salesmen may use to eavesdrop on your conversation. Also, it lets them know what your bottom line is.
If this situation occurs, sending text messages or whispers can be a great way to stop the car dealer from listening to your conversation.
Do Not Fall For The Extended Warranties Offered By The Dealer
When purchasing a vehicle, the car dealer may try to push every single option on you. This sales pitch might also incorporate an extended warranty that you can get from somewhere else at a lower price. Remember, a car dealer earns plenty of money on these services, so don’t buy it.
Also, it’s vital to keep in mind that the finance manager acts as a salesperson, so he or she might try to get more money out of you in every way possible before you leave.
Carry Out Research Ahead of Time
For many years, car dealers had all the power when it came to dealerships and sales, but now this has entirely changed. Most car buyers today research on the internet before buying a car. With the right information and the availability of several helpful websites such as Edmunds, Autotrader, Kelly Blue Book, and True Market Value, you can easily check out the reviews of a particular vehicle, available rebates, and see what car suits your budget.
By carrying out research ahead of time, you will know what car you want. It also saves you the time of being led around the lot to look at vehicles you either have no interest in, or you cannot afford.
Most Window Sales Stickers Are Actually Markups
Monroney stickers, also known as the window stickers, don’t include the actual price of the car. You should know that little extras like sealants, VIN etching, and fabric protectants, can all be done at home for way less cost.
You should always ask to see the original invoice and compare it to the Monroney before making the purchase. If the car seller refuses to show the invoice, then go somewhere else.
Car Dealers Want You To Become Tired And Overwhelmed
If you take a long time to walk around the lot and talk more about trade-ins, numbers, and percentages, there will come a time when you will start breaking down. This is called the phenomenon of decision fatigue, which makes you more impatient, especially if you are attacked with choices to analyze and other decisions to make.
Your exhaustion further allows car dealers to influence your decision-making process and bombard you with several options and add-ons.
Never Say Anything About The Down Payment Up Front
The car dealer might ask you beforehand: how much money are you ready to put down? This question may seem rational, but what you are actually doing is giving up the bargaining chip far too soon.
There is an industry story about an old man who had $10,000 to give as a down payment for a truck. As the man discussed the payment way too early, this allowed the dealer to raise the price of the truck to counterbalance the down payment. Therefore, it is extremely crucial to know the out-the-door cost of the car before you say anything about your down payment.
Do Not Tell the Dealer You Are Paying in Cash
You might think that paying in cash is a good move, not always! For many car dealers, the actual profit is in getting the fine print of the financing.
Therefore, revealing to the dealer right away that you are paying in cash, will leave you in no position to bargain. So always negotiate the price first and then tell the dealer if you are paying cash, leasing, or financing.
Dealers Ask Strategic Questions To Make You Devalue Your Car
When you go to a car dealer with your trade-in, he or she will ask you many questions related to the car, like does it have a sunroof? Or does it have power steering? He already has answers to all these questions, and also knows its worth. He will just try to get a "No" out of you over and over again so that you start devaluing your trade-in and settle for less. To avoid this situation, get the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) value, and whatever the dealer asks, just keep that number in your head.
Also, remember to keep the car keys with you before you sit down to negotiate. The car dealers know that if you don’t have your keys on you, it will be a lot harder for you to walk away. They might hand over the keys to a third party like the sales manager, giving them another shot at the sale.
They'll Actually Use Your Trade-In Value To Increase The Price
If the car dealer asks whether you are trading in your old car, simply say that right now, you are not thinking about it. Don't tell them the truth.
Keeping your old car out of the negotiation can help you get a better deal on a new car. Once the price is fixed on your new car purchase, then you can reveal that you do want to trade in your old car.
You Can Cancel Service Contracts Within One Month
If you get entangled in a financial meltdown and pay extra money for add-ons, including tire protection, extended warranty, etc., don’t think that you are stuck. You can easily get out of it within 30 days and get your money back.
You can further use this to your advantage. All you need to do is accept the service plans, which are not included in the actual price of the car. And if you think you paid way too much for these services, cancel them without worry.
The Four-Square Sheet Was Created To Manipulate You
The Four Square is a type of negotiation that is used to confuse car buyers by combining the cost of the car, monthly payment, trade-in value, and down payment into one sheet of paper.
Generally, when a salesman comes out with a four-square sheet, the numbers are so high that you would immediately want to walk out. However, this is a strategy so that they get to play their numbers game. And when the numbers are played out, the price of the vehicle rarely goes down, it is just a trick they are using to close the deal. It is suggested that you tell the car dealers not to bring out the four-square sheet or you will leave.
Never Offer To Pay Invoice For Your Car
The invoice of the car does not always tell the entire story about the cost of a vehicle. The dealer gets the factory-to-dealer incentives, dealer holdbacks, and customer rebates on vehicles. So, he can even take off this money from the sales price and offer it to you, but he won’t give you the invoice without an argument.
Remember, these incentives are usually not highlighted, but they can save you tons of money.
The Car Dealer Is Never As Busy As They Seem
You might have come across a situation when you are asked to visit the lot around the dealer’s schedule, or you are forced to wait around. This helps to create an illusion that dealer’s time is far more valuable than yours.
Also, it puts the car dealer in a powerful position. Keep yourself aware of these types of manipulative situations and tactics, and remember that they are nothing but mind games.
After-Market Non-Factory Options Are A Scam
Most dealers add extras to the car, which costs them pennies on the dollar. The extras may include alarms, pinstriping, spoilers, rims, and stereo systems. You name anything, and the car dealers will throw it all in. Try negotiating on the invoice price and not the sales sticker price.
Also, you do not need floor mats that cost around $200, and you don’t have to pay for $250 worth of pinstriping. And you can get the tinting done from somewhere else for half the amount that the dealer is charging. If the add-ons are on non-factory prices, ask the dealer to take them off.
Get Your Own Financing Before you Make a Purchase
By taking out a loan from a financial institution or a credit union before you begin shopping, you can negotiate better terms with the dealer in advance. Get all your finances pre-approved before you walk-in and do not leave anything to the dealership.
This will be one of the smartest decisions you will ever make. It will also make the car-buying process a lot easier and less of a headache.
Hail-Damaged Vehicles Cost Way Too Much
If their cars get damaged by hail, the dealerships will reduce the prices and will sell it to you at a discount. You might think you're getting a great deal. But remember, the dealership has these cars insured, and they also get reimbursed for the damage from the hail.
The car dealer is not passing anything on you, he is just making a lot of profit from the hail-damaged vehicles.
You Can Win The Game Before Going To The Lot
The internet is a powerful place that has done wonderful things for modest people. With the help of the internet, you can email 20 or more dealers at a time and let them know exactly what you are looking for.
Once you have done that, ask them to provide you with a quote. You can now choose the ones that cost you the least and take those to any car dealer. This will encourage the dealer to match the quote you presented, eliminating the profit margin they were expecting to get.
You Have the Power to Control the Sale
If you do not feel right about the sale, then use your sales weapon, i.e., your legs, to walk away from the deal. There is a good chance that the salesman will offer a much lower price if you tell them that you have decided against the transaction and get up from your seat.
Always keep in mind that they cannot force you to make the deal work, and you have the power to say "No." The only thing you will lose is a few hours of your time; what they lose are a bonus and commission.
Monthly Payments Are Misleading
When purchasing a car, you should decide on the total amount of what you can afford to pay for the vehicle and ignore the monthly payment criteria. Remember, if you choose the monthly payment method, a car dealer can tamper with the figures, the APR (Annual Percentage Rate), and the length of the loan, and you may end up paying more than the actual price of the car.
It’s essential to take a look at the final price — if the cost of the monthly payment turns out to be too high, then you are paying more than you agreed to.
Get the Best Deals Through Internet Salesman
When you are reviewing the vehicle sales department on the internet, the car dealers already know that you are aware of things. They also understand that you are a smart buyer, and you are comparing prices and looking for more options.
Therefore, salespeople on the internet will offer you services at a much lower rate than the car dealers at the lot. In other words, only visit the lot if you get to meet the salesperson that you have been dealing with online.
You Might Get Into Trouble While Trading In
Even if your car is in good condition, there is a good chance that you won’t get a great value on the trade-in. You might think that by following the websites like KBB (Kelley Blue Book), you will know the actual resale and trade-in, but these figures are not always correct.
Most car dealers use the NADA (National Automobile Dealers) database, which provides them an actual idea of what price they can get for your trade. One of the best options is to get a copy of the NADA value to check the real value of your car. You can also sell your car privately to avoid the hassle.
You Do Not Have To Pay For GAP Insurance Through The Dealer
Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) is insurance coverage that protects you against paying your loan balance if your car is totaled or stolen. If you finance through the dealer, he or she may ask you to purchase GAP insurance.
This is a similar case to where the car dealer tries to squeeze out more money from the financing deal. Be wary of this situation and instead go to a financial institution to get a better deal.
Car Dealers Get Rewards For Financing Through Specific Lenders
When it comes to loyalty rewards, car dealers love them. The dealership's department of finance sends the actual value and price of the car, as well as your credit history, to various lenders. Basically, all these lenders are in competition competing with each other to get the dealer’s business and not to get you the best price.
Without giving it a second thought, the dealers choose the lender who gives them the best incentive. This means that both the lender and dealer do not care whether the deal is right for you or not. They only think about how to generate the most profit.
Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
When you are dealing with a car salesperson, negotiate the car price based on it’s worth and not based on what you are ready to spend.
Opening the talk by announcing how much you can pay for the car is like bringing a weapon with you and handing it over to the dealer. Also, everything else, including monthly payments, down payments, and interest rates, can wait. All you need to focus on is the sales price.
Some Car Dealers Won't Tolerate Your Low Offers
If you go in with a price that is far too low, the dealer would not waste his time on you, mainly if other customers are waiting in the line.
There are several dealerships out there that spend more money on advertising. This helps them to attract more customers, and thus, this allows them to easily pass on a deal that is not offering them much. They might not necessarily laugh at your low offer, but they won't accept it.
Dealers Don't Want You To Think About the Decision You Just Made
Even after you have agreed on everything, including the price, trade-in value, and financing, the game is still not over as you have not signed anything binding yet.
In the meantime, when the financial manager is getting every document in place, it is now the salesman's job to keep you distracted and talk about your family, weather, favorite movies, and more. This is done so that you do not think about changing the decision you just made.
Do Not Pay More Than $500 Over Invoice
When buying a new car, you can pay anywhere between $100 to $500 over the invoice price and still get an amazing deal. It is suggested that you only pay $500 over invoice price on expensive vehicles or $100 on a lower-priced model.
Always remember that the price on the invoice is the dealer’s cost and is entirely different from sticker price and the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price). To get more information on the invoice price, you can use the NADA guides.
Shop From The Manufacturer’s Website
If you are looking for a new car, then it is always better to get it from the manufacturer’s website. It will not only give you quality assurance but will also save you time and money. Additionally, by visiting the manufacturer’s website, you can get multiple quotes from dealers, which will help you to choose the car as per your requirements and budget.
While shopping through the manufacturer’s website, there is nothing to worry about as car dealers compete with each other, and you will most likely get the price without having to go through the hard negotiation process.
Give The Car Dealer Another Chance To Accept Your Offer
It is frustrating when you put an offer forward and the car dealer talks to the manager about it, but comes back with any answer other than yes. What should you do?
This is the time when you should pretend that you are not interested in anything else and get up and start to leave. If the dealer stops you from going, then give him the last chance to make the deal.
Get To Know Out-the-Door Price Of The Vehicle
Most of the time, car dealers play a trick and offer you a low price at first so that they add extra charges later to boost the sales price.
It is crucial to ask the dealer to tell you the out-the-door cost, which may include fees, taxes, and other things related to the purchase of a new car. This way, you would not be shocked by hearing the higher price later, and you also would not waste time settling on a number.
Shop For Less-Popular Models
When car dealers sell cars, they receive the holdback or the money back from the manufacturer. So, it’s always beneficial to go for less popular models so that you can receive the benefit of the holdback and offer a price which is lower than the invoice price.
If you choose a popular car, the dealer will not be able to negotiate much on the holdback price because of the high demand for the vehicle. Whereas if the demand for the car is low, the car dealer can negotiate more openly.
Research The Extended Warranty Properly
When buying a new car, the sales manager might offer several warranty options to you after you agree on the price. These extended warranties are said to provide additional protection if anything goes wrong with your vehicle, but the terms and conditions of the contract might restrict you from using it.
Note that extended warranties are very profitable for the dealers, so they might push you to take it. Before buying the extended warranty, read the fine print carefully and make sure that it covers everything.
Send An Email Directly To Multiple Salespeople
Sending one email to salespeople can help you get the best deal on your new purchase. With this email, you need to make sure that the car dealers know who they are competing with. So, ensure that each email address is included and visible in the CC option.
In the email, you can mention all the details of the car and by which date you would like to make a purchase. Also, list all the costs related to the vehicle so that the dealers know that you are aware of everything. Also incorporate discounts and exclusive deals offered by other dealers. At the end of the email, give them 24 hours to reply with their best quotes. This will help you to get the best car deals.
Purchase a Year-End Holdover
When the year is about to end, the car dealers need to create more space for the models that will be introduced in the coming year.
So when December arrives, customers get the highest discount on MSRP as compared to the rest of the months in a year. Hence, making a purchase at the end of the year could be worth the wait. Plus, it can be a fun way to treat yourself in preparation for the new year!
Rent Before You Buy
Going for a test drive is a great way to learn more about the car, but you will not get the real feeling until you buy the vehicle. Keep in mind that a car is one of the most significant purchases you will ever make, so it’s vital to ensure that it is worth it.
You can rent the same model that you want to purchase to know how will it actually run if used on a day to day basis. Rent a car for at least a week to see if it meets your requirements. Then, if you think it’s a match, make the actual purchase.
Buy At Larger Dealerships
Shopping at a popular and larger dealership is one of the best ways to get a better price on a car. The buying process can also be easier in many cases and there will be more vehicles to choose from.
Each month, larger dealers tend to move plenty of inventory. This allows them to sell a few cars at a lower price, or $100 to $500 over invoice price. It is the best deal one can ever get.
Have A Calm Attitude
It’s always better to get something by being polite rather than being insolent and rude. This statement especially stands true when dealing with the salesman.
We all know that purchasing a new car can be unpleasant and stressful at the same time, but having a calm and composed attitude can make your car purchasing experience way more comfortable. Although it’s the job of a salesman to be courteous, he will help you get a better deal only if you're nice toward him.
Do Not Believe In No-Haggle Pricing
Getting a car for an affordable price without negotiating sounds like a dream for customers. However, there is no such thing as no-haggle pricing, so don’t fall for it.
You will need to bargain for the best prices, especially if you are financing through the dealership. So always be prepared to negotiate as it is one of the best ways to get a great deal on the car you are about to purchase.
Negotiate As A Professional
You need to be extremely confident while negotiating and make sure that you don’t lose sight of the price that you have decided you'll pay. If you have done the research about the vehicle and costs involved, you will get the deal for a fair price.
Do not let the car dealer pressurize you or intimidate you into paying more. Let the salesman know if you don’t get a good deal, you will walk out — this will put you in a stronger position.
Before You Drive Off, Give One Final Inspection
A final inspection is extremely crucial to make sure that the car is in good condition. If you find that there are dents, scratches, or other issues, schedule a time with a dealer to get them fixed at no cost.
You can even make this request after you have received the keys and signed the contract. Just make sure to check everything before you drive off the lot.
Not All Mechanics Are Top Notch
Do your research when looking for a reputable repair shop. It can be hard to find a good mechanic, so you may need to shop around a bit before you settle. You can also ask friends, family members, and locals for advice.
You know a mechanic is good if he or she thoroughly explains the repairs required and has some options for you to consider. Don't just go to the closest shop because it may not be the best one in your town.
Some Services Aren't Necessary
Have you ever gone for an oil change at a quick lube shop only to be pressed to do a coolant flush or power steering flush? These are big moneymakers for these types of shops, and they're not always necessary. The best thing to do is to check your owner's manual.
These days, many vehicles can go 100,000 miles using a particular fluid. Also, avoid getting the fuel injectors cleaned because you can purchase additives to do the job.
You Can Change Your Own Oil
It's not too hard to change your own oil. And since it's one of the most common maintenance procedures, it's worth considering. While many auto shops try to get you to change your oil every 3,000 miles, many modern vehicles can go 10,000 miles or more without needing a change. It's just one way a shop makes fast money.
If you have some extra time and don't mind getting a little dirty (or finding a place to dispose of the old oil), you can easily change your own and save some money in the long run.
That Check Engine Light Is Probably Not Critical
Some people get really stressed out when the check engine light pops up on the dashboard, but there's a good chance that it's merely letting you know that a minor issue is occurring, such as a problem with the exhaust system. It's okay if you don't address it right away unless you have a really old car.
Eventually, you'll have to get it checked out, but it's usually not a big deal if you can't do it expeditiously. However, if the check engine light starts flashing make sure you get it checked out ASAP.
You'll Save Money If You Buff Out Blemishes Yourself
Body shops make a lot of money because they repair cosmetic damage on all kinds of vehicles, which is something the average consumer has no interest, or experience, doing. Even minor dents and blemishes can cost $1,000 or more to fix. But you can fight back by doing your own touch ups.
If you have a scratch or scuff that needs repair, simply buy some products on your own to take care of the problem. While it may not quite as professional looking as what a body shop can do, it can still produce reasonable results.
Installing New Brakes Is Not That Hard To Do
If you have even a tiny bit of mechanical know-how, you can change your own brake pads and motors. Auto shops make a lot of money from these types of jobs. That's because while the task itself isn't very hard to do it can be time-consuming. Therefore, they make a lot of money due to labor costs.
You can use a jack, but it will take a few hours even if you're only changing the brake pads. The job is much easier and quicker to do if you have a hydraulic lift.
Inexpensive Tires May Be Old Stock
Depending on what type of vehicle you drive, tires can be expensive. That means it can be hard to pass up a good deal when you see one. However, you need to make sure that the tires you get are good quality. When you visit a shop, ask to see the "build date" of the tire.
That good deal may apply to tires that are several years old. This can be dangerous, particularly if you're buying snow tires. While saving money is important, safety is even more important.
A Lifetime Muffler Deal Isn't Really A Bargain
Some shops promote deals such as mufflers that will last a lifetime. That sounds like a bargain, right? But it's not. The problem is that while the shop will repair and replace the muffler for free, it's not including other parts.
The muffler is only one part of the exhaust system. If you need to have the pipes repaired, then you're responsible for their cost and probably the labor as well. Don't get sucked into deals that seem too good to be true because they probably are.
There are Some Jobs A Dealer Should Always Do
Once a car moves out of the bumper-to-bumper/powertrain warranty period, many people avoid the dealership like the plague. The biggest reason is because dealerships tend to be more expensive than local repair shops. However, some jobs should always be carried out by the official manufacturer.
This includes work on a catalytic converter or emissions parts. Consult with the dealer first because these components often have long warranty periods. Also, federal law requires that they are replaced for free. It's worth double-checking just in case.
Never Bring Your Car In For Repairs On A Friday Afternoo
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you need repairs on your vehicle, schedule an appointment but don't make it on a Friday afternoon. That's because, just like you, the mechanics often want to finish quickly so they can get on with the weekend.
As a result, they may rush the job and won't do it as thoroughly. The best time to take your car in for repairs is earlier in the workweek. The employees won't feel as stressed to finish the job.
Mechanics Don't Catch Every Little Thing, Particularly If They're In A Rush
Nobody's perfect, not even mechanics. This is particularly true if an employee is working on your vehicle and has a time limit. He or she may miss something or forget to do something simple such as lubricate a hinge or other mechanism. While little things like this may not matter at the moment, they may affect performance over time.
The best thing to do is make sure that every little thing has been completed before you drive away from the shop. That way, you have peace of mind knowing your vehicle has been completely checked over.
Not All Tires Need To Be Replaced
It's important that you familiarize yourself with your vehicle before you take it into the shop. That includes the tires. Don't buy new ones unless you know you need them. A bad mechanic may try to sell you tires when the ones you have can last a few miles more.
Check the tread specifications yourself, and make sure the mechanic measures the tread with a gauge. That way, you know for sure that the tires are either ready for replacement or fine for another season.
A Good Shop Won't Try To Scam You
You're right to be suspicious if an auto shop advises you "not to drive your vehicle another mile." This is one scam some mechanics may try to pull if they think they can get more money out of you. If you feel like you're being pressured to do certain repairs, take your car to another shop.
Also, check to see if the facility has one of the following certifications: ASE, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or AAA (America Automobile Association). In addition, make sure it has a state license. Good auto shops will display this information.
High-Tech Devices Are Not Their Shtick
Many newer vehicles come with fairly complicated infotainment systems that can include an audio system and Bluetooth technology. Some mechanics can work on these types of devices, but most concentrate on issues with the engine, transmission, and drivetrain, not anything screen-related.
If you're having a problem with your car's in-dash system, it's probably better to take the vehicle to the dealer. They are more experienced in dealing with those types of issues. Plus, you don't want a mechanic who's unfamiliar with the technology to make things worse.
Inferior Chinese Parts May Be Installed Instead Of Brand Names
Like other businesses, auto shops do what they can to save money. Unfortunately, some of their cost-saving procedures can adversely affect you and your vehicle. When you need a part replaced on your car or truck, ask for a brand name.
The problem is that some shops use cheap parts from China if they can get away with it. These parts are often inferior in quality and not as durable as more established brands. Make sure the mechanic uses high-quality components, and ask to see the box to ensure that the part was actually installed.
You Should Mimic The Weird Noise Your Car Is Making Rather Than Describe It
Don't be embarrassed when talking to your mechanic. If your vehicle is making odd noises, you need to do whatever you can to get the point across--including mimicking the noise to the best of your ability. It's often a lot easier and quicker for you to try to make the sound yourself rather than describe it.
Your description may not make any sense to the mechanic, but the funny noise you emit may actually help them better determine the cause of the problem.
Working On Cars Can Be Dangerous
It's not always easy being a mechanic, and it's certainly not the cleanest job in the industry. While most mechanics don't experience severe injuries on the job, they do get a little banged up now and again.
It's not uncommon for employees in an auto shop to experience hot oil spills or to drop heavy tools on the feet. They also get scrapes and bruises from working on vehicles and have occasionally been bumped by cars.
Some Local Auto Shops Lack The Resources Dealerships Have
Many people prefer taking their vehicles to local shops because they want to support small businesses. However, not all of these shops have the resources to work on all types of makes and models. Independent shops may not have all the tools that a dealership does because they're very costly.
So, before you take your slightly used BMW or other import to a local repair shop, make sure it has the tools to repair it. Otherwise you can waste a lot of time.
Tacky Add-Ons Are Just That: Tacky
If you want to soup up your vehicle, you have every right to do so. But you might want to think twice about adding that racing stripe to your Honda Civic. Many auto shops have no problem boosting the look of your car with aftermarket accessories, including spoilers, strange wheels, and exotic paint.
Since it's not really hard for them to do these jobs, a lot of auto shops will simply take your money and carry out your request. But a good mechanic or auto guy will be honest about any tacky requests and suggest more attractive alternatives.
There Are Times When Investing In A New Car Is The Best Thing To Do
Many people cringe at the thought of buying a new car because it can cost a lot of money upfront. But there are many advantages. Typically, new cars run really well the first few years of service life, and if something does go wrong it's almost always covered under the warranty.
Plus, new cars provide the latest and greatest in technology. Local mechanics, of course, work largely on used cars. They won't make as much (or any) money if you're driving something new.