Buying a car can be a thrilling experience, but it’s essential to stay vigilant to avoid falling prey to some common tactics that dealerships use to inflate car prices. From hidden fees to upselling unnecessary add-ons, here are ten sneaky tricks you should be aware of when shopping for your next vehicle.
Many dealerships add various fees to the car’s sticker price, such as documentation fees, dealer prep fees, or advertising fees. These can add hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the final cost. Always ask for a breakdown of these fees and negotiate to have them reduced or removed.
Dealers may try to upsell you on accessories, extended warranties, or protection packages that you may not need. Before agreeing to any add-ons, research their value and consider if they genuinely benefit you.
Low-Ball Trade-In Offers
When you trade in your old vehicle, dealers might offer you a lower price than it’s worth. Get multiple appraisals from different dealerships or private buyers to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
Some dealers artificially inflate the car’s price to make it appear more valuable, allowing them to offer a seemingly generous discount later. Always research the car’s fair market value to ensure you’re paying a reasonable price.
Dealerships may advertise discounts or incentives that only apply to specific customer groups, such as military personnel or recent college graduates. Make sure you qualify for these incentives before factoring them into your negotiation.
Misleading Interest Rates
Dealers may offer low-interest rates but extend the loan term to make more money on interest over time. Always focus on the total cost of the loan and the interest rate to evaluate the deal.
Dealers often use a four-square worksheet to confuse buyers by mixing variables like the trade-in value, down payment, monthly payment, and the car’s price. Focus on the final, out-the-door price to prevent getting sidetracked.
Some dealers advertise attractive deals on specific vehicles but claim they are no longer available when you visit the dealership. They’ll then try to steer you toward more expensive options. Verify the car’s availability before visiting.
Extended Test Drives
Dealers may encourage extended test drives to create an emotional attachment to the car. This makes it harder for you to walk away and more likely to accept unfavorable terms.
Dealers may pressure you with limited-time offers or “today only” discounts to rush the buying process. Take your time, do your research, and be prepared to walk away if the deal doesn’t suit your needs.