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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.