Car dealers are smart and savvy, and they often get their bad reputation by tricking customers.
Now, we’re not saying they all behave this way.
But a large majority of buyers have been ripped off by car dealers either through excessive and unanticipated fees or extra features that they push onto the customer.
That’s why we want you to know the top seven ways you could get ripped off by a dealer while buying a car.
Take a look at our tips for buying a car below! This article will help you know what to expect from a dealership, understand your rights and your limits, and negotiate with greater confidence.
1. Not Knowing What You Want
Don’t browse for cars in-person if you don’t know what you want. Before you step foot into a car dealer lot, you need to have a clear picture of your needs and wants.
These include what make and model you want, what your budget is or what you can afford in as you monthly payment, if you want a new, used or certified pre-owned car and what features and equipment you’d like in your next car purchase.
If you talk to a car dealer without a clear understanding of what you want, it can be easy to be swept up in the excitement and be steered in the wrong direction.
If you are going to buy a car, it should never be an impulse purchase. Always do your research before talking to a car dealer.
2. Forgetting to Get Online Quotes
Getting online quotes gives you a clear indication of how much your ideal car is worth.
Without a clear range and average, it’s hard to know a car’s value. When you’re uninformed, you can be easily persuaded to think the car’s value is higher than is.
We recommend looking for information on car-related websites like the Kelley Blue Book, as it can give you averages for different models and makes.
You should also look at CoPilot
, as it will also help you find the average price for a specific make and model in your local area. In addition, CoPilot’s Better Buys tool will show you cars in your area that you might have missed during your used car search, which might be a better buy.
3. Not Doing Your Research On the Dealership
A dealership is a business. And like other businesses, some are better than others.
Unfortunately, the list of bad dealerships and private sellers is pretty long, and if you don’t do your research beforehand, you might walk into a dealer that’ll try to pressure you into a sale or rip you off.
Here are a few signs of bad dealerships:
Your salesperson hands you to another salesperson: This is a sales tactic where the salespeople will try to wear you down until you sign the contract. Avoid dealerships that do this.
Your salesperson is controlling: Many salespeople will try and be in control of the situation. They can use demands like ‘wait here,’ ‘follow me,’ or ‘I have to talk to my boss’ and disappear for over thirty minutes. These are old school tactics to put the dealer in control of the situation.
Either way, if you don’t do your research on dealerships, you could walk into one that’ll make you feel uncomfortable or intimidated, or even one where you’ll walk away with buyer’s remorse. Avoid this situation by conducting online research and reading dealership reviews.
4. Failing to Understand Car Salesperson Lingo and Jargon
With every profession, there’s a code, language, or lingo specialists use. It’s the same for car salespeople. If you don’t know the jargon, it can be very confusing and even intimidating. Furthermore, if your salesperson knows you don’t understand, they can use your ignorance to their advantage and push you around, drowning you in-terms you don’t understand.
Don’t let the salesperson rattle up your confidence. Come prepared by reading our guide to understanding car salesperson lingo and jargon. If it’s too hard to learn and remember, we recommend you print out the guide and take the cheat sheet along with you. This way, you can walk away, knowing you made the best decision and got a good deal.
For a guide to car dealership lingo, check out our post, “Car Buying Industry Terms Every Car Buyer Should Know.”
5. Take the Car For a Short Test Drive
There are some car faults you won’t be able to discover immediately.
Sometimes you need to cover a considerable distance before any issues surface. We recommend taking the car for a test drive for at least 20 minutes so you can tick off all the things you need to pay attention to.
Make sure that when you enter the vehicle you can adjust the seat and mirrors, and make a note of the location of the controls.
When you are test driving the vehicle, it’s good to take the car on a nearby freeway as well as surface roads and if possible, country roads.
It’s important to understand how the car handles in stop and go traffic, on inclines and declines, on bumpy roads, and at high speeds.
6. Being Flexible with Your Limits
There’s no point having a budget if you’re too flexible with its boundaries. If you have a budget in mind, try not to exceed it. A good practice is to set aside no more than 20% of your annual income.
If the car salesperson knows that you’re flexible with your budget, there’s a good chance that they won’t negotiate lower rates, or they’ll even push more expensive cars your way. Exceeding your budget may appear insignificant at first, but remember, this will add up in your monthly repayments. You also need to factor in the running costs and maintenance costs.
There’s always a car that can fit into your budget. In situations where you can’t afford what you want, you might need to save up and should probably hold off on going to a car dealership before securing financing or havigna plan in place to pay for the car.
7. Not Standing Up For Yourself
Car salespeople can be bossy and controlling.
That’s why it’s important to be confident and stand up for yourself. If the situation doesn’t favor you and you aren’t going to get a great deal, don’t be afraid to walk out. You don’t have to feel bad about not going home in the car. It’s always better to lose a bad deal than to lose your money.
Unsure of when to stand up for yourself?
Make sure you avoid being ripped off by a car dealer by conducting prior research and knowing what you want. Car salespeople are quick and smart with a lot of tricks up their sleeve. Don’t give in to their clever wordplay, or too-good-to-be-true deals. Say no to unnecessary upgrades and remain firm on what you want. Make sure you remember why you came to the dealership and don’t make any impulse purchases that you’ll regret later.