Buying a new car is a big investment, one well worth a bit of research and preparation. Avoiding new car dealer tricks does require a poker face, but more important, it’s a game of knowledge – never walk in blindly.
Understanding dealer and financial terminology is essential – causing confusion is one of a dealership’s best car sales closing techniques. When you’re selecting cars, get some numbers. Find out the invoice (what the dealer paid for the car), the MSRP (what the manufacturer hopes people will pay), and if there are any incentives or rebates being offered to the dealer from the manufacturer (which increase the dealer’s profit and might mean the dealer is more willing to negotiate). Write it all down and take it with you. Having this information at hand will help you keep your head straight if the salesperson starts to play games and tries some car dealer tricks.
If there is a rebate available, insist it is deducted from the car’s purchase price. If you receive a check after the deal’s closed, you’ve already paid taxes based on the higher sales price, and your financing might be negatively impacted by the higher price – very common amongst car sales tricks. If your salesperson claims that there are strings attached to a deal or promotion (like being limited to a specific trim level), verify the information yourself – it’s pretty easy to find online. Some sales departments use these typical car dealership tricks to move unpopular or overstocked models off the lot.
It’s helpful to bring along a friend or family member, but make sure it’s someone who has your best interests in mind. Your companion can help you keep track of the deal’s financial details and spot potential trouble. Keep your voices down, because some car dealership tricks are notorious for listening in on your conversations, or have staff wandering about to eavesdrop. Talk somewhere you’re reasonably sure is private (like outside) unless you want to be overheard – like casually discussing reasons not to buy the car.
Sales reps are trained to hone in on and respond to your priorities, so they look like they’re giving you the best service but they’re enabled to engage in some misdirection. If you’re not careful, this allows them to shuffle numbers in your peripheral vision. If you’re focused on getting the lowest monthly payment, for example (always a bad idea), your salesperson will come across as accommodating and understanding… and meanwhile, your trade-in might be worthless, you’ll be bait-and-switched into a car that wasn’t what you wanted, or you’ll pay more in the long run by making payments over a longer period. Some car dealership tricks play on your financial bottom line.
Never discuss your budget with the salesperson, no matter how persistently you’re asked. That just opens you up for car sales tricks. Shop and negotiate based on purchase price, not monthly payments. Once the salesperson teases a monthly number from you, it’s very easy to focus on that number and up-sell you into more car than you’d intended.
If a sales rep offers to let you take a demo car home overnight or through the weekend, consider carefully. They act like they’re doing you a huge favor, but once you see that car parked in your driveway, it’ll be a lot more difficult to avoid emotion and is probably a car dealership trick.
Keep in mind that you’re under constant scrutiny for emotional response. If you’re holding your own in the negotiations, don’t be surprised if your sales rep keeps scurrying off to discuss the deal with the sales manager – it’s a common distraction tactic. It’s true that salespeople rarely have the authority to make major decisions on their own, which, if all else fails, they’ll play up for empathy value. But why should you feel bad for them? Having the salespeople ask for approval during negotiations is one way that the dealership can execute their car sales tricks on waiting customers.
Don’t let your guard down once you’ve settled on a price. Finance departments are notorious for being just as tricky as the sales departments, and they’ve got their own set of car sales closing techniques to seduce you into paying more. They’re fast talkers and like to make you think they’re working to secure you the best interest rate possible. It’s easy to fall for this, under the reasoning that they must really be trying to help so you can afford the car they want to sell. Remember the percentages you’re shown aren’t necessarily what they see – they might be securing you financing at one rate yet selling you another. The difference between the rate you actually qualify for and the rate you’re sold is profit for the dealership. This is why car dealerships usually profit more from selling financing than from selling cars.
Don’t be fooled here. The business or finance manager is really a salesperson, and everything they add to the deal is commission. Refuse any fees or extras that are added on after you’ve settled on a final price. Any additional costs are usually car sales tricks. Taxes, delivery, title and registration fees are really the only legitimate line items at this stage of the game. Anything else is pure profit for the dealer and totally unnecessary to the buyer. You might be surprised by some of the services you’re offered. Interior protection packages might be a waste of money, but at least there’s some logic there. But who goes to a car dealership to buy life insurance
If you can avoid negotiating at the financing office entirely, you’re way ahead of the game – so try to secure your own financing before you go. You’ll probably get a better rate and it’ll save you some headaches. At the very least, check your credit score and research the terms of any promotional financing offers to see if you qualify. If you know you’re on solid ground, it’s easier to ask for a better deal and avoid car dealership tricks.
Perhaps most important, don’t leave with your new car until every detail of the deal is done to your satisfaction, with every number, figure and fill-in-the-blank completed. Don’t let any aspect of the deal remain subject to financing or management approval. The last thing you want is a call to inform you the financing fell through and you’ve either got to sign at a higher rate or return your new car (subject to wear and tear, mileage and restocking fees, of course). You’ve just endured their car sales tricks face to face; think they’ll be any more ethical once you’re off the property?