car salesman

15 Most Annoying Sales Tactics at Car Dealerships

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting experience, but it often involves dealing with sales tactics that can be frustrating. While not all dealerships engage in these practices, being aware of the following irritating car sales tactics and how to avoid them can help you navigate the process more effectively.

Hidden Fees

fees, cash, money, tax
Image Credit: Wanan Wanan/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Hidden fees are one of the most common complaints among car buyers. Dealerships may add various fees for documentation, preparation, or advertising that are not disclosed upfront, leading to unpleasant surprises when finalizing the deal.

How to Avoid It: Before committing to a deal, ask for a breakdown of all fees and charges. Be prepared to negotiate and insist on transparency in pricing. If the fees seem excessive or unclear, consider walking away.

Bait and Switch

Cars in a row, automotive industry, dealership, lot
Image Credit: Wellnhofer Designs/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Some dealerships advertise cars at unbelievably low prices to lure customers into the showroom. However, once you arrive, you’re told that the advertised vehicle is no longer available, and they attempt to upsell you to a more expensive model.

How to Avoid It: Verify the availability of the advertised vehicle over the phone before visiting the dealership. If they try to upsell you upon arrival, stick to your budget and what you initially wanted.

Overpricing Add-Ons

cash and steering wheel car
Image Credit: RomanR/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Dealerships often sell add-ons like extended warranties, fabric protection, or VIN etching at significantly marked-up prices. This can inflate the overall cost of the car.

How to Avoid It: Research these add-ons independently and know their fair market value. Refuse any add-ons you don’t want or negotiate their prices to a reasonable level.

High-Pressure Sales Tactics

man in car headache
Image Credit: Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Salespeople sometimes use high-pressure tactics to make you commit to a purchase quickly. They may create a sense of urgency or insist that a deal is available for that day only.

How to Avoid It: Don’t let sales pressure rush your decision. Take your time, research, and sleep on it. If the salesperson is overly pushy, consider leaving and revisiting the dealership later.

Lack of Transparency

car salesman on lot with price sticker on cae selling
Image Credit: Gunter Nezhoda/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Some dealerships provide vague or incomplete information about the car’s history, maintenance, or accident reports. This lack of transparency can make it challenging to make an informed decision.

How to Avoid It: Ask for a comprehensive vehicle history report and insist on a thorough inspection. If the dealership is not forthcoming with information, consider it a red flag and explore other options.

Lowball Trade-In Offers

car salesman on lot with price sticker on cae selling
Image Credit: PH888/Shutterstock.

The Issue: When trading in your old vehicle, dealerships may offer a lower value than what your car is worth. This can significantly affect your overall deal.

How to Avoid It: Research your car’s trade-in value independently using trusted sources like Kelley Blue Book or NADA Guides. Be prepared to negotiate the trade-in value separately from the new car price.

Unwanted Add-Ons

Tesla car interior
Image Credit: Dmitriy Sinchenko/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Salespeople may try to include unwanted add-ons or accessories in the deal, such as paint protection, window tinting, or upgraded stereos, often at inflated prices.

How to Avoid It: Clearly communicate your preferences and budget. Refuse any add-ons you don’t want or believe are overpriced.

Lengthy Financing Terms

Man signing car insurance document or lease paper. Writing signature on contract or agreement. Buying or selling new or used vehicle. Car keys on table. Warranty or guarantee. Customer or salesman.
Image Credit: PanuShot/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Offering extended financing terms, such as 72 or 84 months, can lower monthly payments but result in significantly higher overall costs due to interest.

How to Avoid It: Aim for a financing term that keeps interest costs reasonable. Be cautious of dealerships pushing long-term loans that may not be in your best financial interest.

Hard Selling Extras in the Finance Office

A car salesman is explaining the purchase details and details in the car purchase contract before signing acceptance of the terms, the car sales contract through an agent. Car trading concept.
Image Credit: Pickadook/Shutterstock.

The Issue: After negotiating the car price, you’re directed to the finance office, where you may face additional sales pitches for extended warranties, gap insurance, or other products.

How to Avoid It: Review financing offers carefully in advance. If you’re not interested in additional products, politely decline and focus on finalizing the deal.

Marking Up Interest Rates

Closeup woman filling form of Individual Income Tax Return,
Image Credit: chayanuphol/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Dealerships that offer in-house financing may mark up interest rates beyond what you qualify for, resulting in higher monthly payments and increased profits for the dealer.

How to Avoid It: Get pre-approved for financing from your bank or credit union before visiting the dealership. This will give you a benchmark interest rate to compare with the dealer’s offer.

Focusing on Monthly Payments

A dollar bills in the male hand on the background of the steering wheel in the car. Concept of earnings or bribes, insurance or credit, investing or selling a car. electric car battery replacement cost.
Image Credit: Gleb Usovich/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Some salespeople steer the conversation toward monthly payments rather than the overall cost of the car. While this may make a vehicle seem more affordable, it can lead to extended financing terms and higher overall costs.

How to Avoid It: Always negotiate based on the total vehicle price, not just the monthly payment. Ensure you understand the terms and interest rates of your loan.

Forced Extended Warranties

Attractive man look tired and sad. Man closed eyes by his hands. Male sitting in the car. Hands on face. Depression.
Image Credit: Ekateryna Zubal/Shutterstock.

The Issue: In some cases, dealerships may insist that an extended warranty is mandatory to secure financing or the sale. This pressure can result in added costs that you may not need.

How to Avoid It: Research and consider whether an extended warranty is right for you before visiting the dealership. Know your rights and don’t agree to unwanted warranties.

Changing the Deal at Signing

Cropped view of african american man in formal clothes summing dollar bills near electric car fill-up in parking. Frugal adult person considering cost-effective purchase of battery-driven vehicle.
Image Credit: SofikoS/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Some buyers report that the agreed-upon terms of a deal change when they arrive to sign the paperwork. This can include higher interest rates, additional fees, or adjustments to trade-in values.

How to Avoid It: Review all the paperwork carefully before signing. Ensure that the terms match what you negotiated and agreed upon.

Fake Online Listings

Car auto auction online on computer pc or rental vehicle internet shop comparison with choosing automobiles in office work desk vector flat, concept of digital store buying screen or web selling
Image Credit: vladwel/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Online listings may sometimes include vehicles at prices that seem too good to be true. When you inquire about these listings, you’re told the car is sold but offered alternatives at higher prices.

How to Avoid It: Be cautious of listings that seem too good to be true. Verify the car’s availability before visiting the dealership and expect some negotiation.

Lengthy and Confusing Contracts

Beautiful young smiling couple holding a key of their new car.
Image Credit: hedgehog94/Shutterstock.

The Issue: Some dealerships present customers with lengthy and complex contracts filled with jargon. This can make it challenging for buyers to understand the terms fully.

How to Avoid It: Take your time reading through the contract, and don’t hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification on any terms you find confusing. If something doesn’t feel right, seek legal advice.

Author: Madison Cates

Title: Managing Editor


Research journalist, Freelance writer, Managing editor

  • Expertise: automotive content, trending topics.
  • Education: LeTourneau University, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
  • Over 400 articles and short news pieces published across the web.

Experience: Madison Cates is a journalist located in the great state of Texas. She began writing over eight years ago. Her first major research piece was published by the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household of eight brothers and a dad who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career into the automotive industry. There, she found her passion. Her experience paved the way for her to work with multiple large corporations in automotive news and trending topics. Now, she now finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.

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