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6 Car Salesman Tricks You Need to Know Before You Buy a New Car

Actors who played car salesmen in "The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard." The next time you talk to a car salesman, watch out for these tricks...

Image credit: "Fan the Fire Magazine"

Good car salesmen are extremely persuasive. Unfortunately, some of them are also sneaky. Here are six car salesman tricks you need to know before you buy a new (or used) car.

1. Being Too Pushy

This is the most annoying trick in the book. Some car salesmen have figured out they can get people to agree to a bad deal by pressuring them until they cave.

If you suspect this tactic is at play, walk away immediately. Don’t let anyone push you so hard. It’s possible to be good at selling cars without being dishonest and manipulative.

2. Changing the Subject

When you first walk into a car dealership, you’re thinking about the total price you want to pay. Before you know it, you’re having a conversation about the amount of your monthly payment.

What happened? The car salesman changed the subject. Spending $200-300 per month doesn’t sound so bad (never mind the fact that you’re spending a total of $20,000-30,000!).

Don’t let them get away with this trick! Tell the salesman you don’t want to discuss financing until you agree to a final price. If they try again, threaten to take your business elsewhere.  

3. Covering Up Car Problems

I’m not saying this is a problem at every car dealership; but sadly, it does happen.

This isn’t a huge issue when you’re buying a new car. If no one has driven the car, how could it have problems (unless there is a recall)?

If you’re buying a used car, ask to take the vehicle on a test drive. Schedule this beforehand so you can make an appointment with your mechanic at the same time. Ask them to inspect the vehicle and inform you of any problems.

4. Ignoring Your Questions and Concerns

With the exception of a home, cars are probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy.

Given that reality, it’s fair to have questions. Lots of them! This is especially true when you’re buying a used car. You might be wondering…

  • Does this car have any major mechanical problems?
  • Are there any active safety recalls related to this car?
  • Has this car ever been involved in a serious accident?
  • Did the previous owner of this car keep it maintained properly?

If a car salesman dodges any of those questions (or tries to make you feel bad for asking), that’s a bad sign. Turn around, walk away, and do not look back!

5. Failing to Mention Certain Fees and Costs

Sadly, this is a reality you’re going to deal with at most car dealerships. Heck, cell phone companies do the same thing!

After a grueling negotiation, you finally agree to a final cost. You find yourself sitting at the desk with a finance guy. He presents you with a number higher than expected.

Car dealers tack on fees for so many things. Examples include the cost of stocking the car (why are you paying that? – beats me!) and cleaning the car before you drive it home.

What can you do? Ask for an itemized list containing these fees. If any of them seem fishy, ask them to explain what it means (and if you don’t like their answer, ask them to remove it). Don’t sign the paperwork until you’re 100% comfortable with the deal.

6. Charging an Outrageously High Interest Rate

You might hear the finance person at a car dealership say: “I just got off the phone with the bank and they will give you an interest rate of _____.”

Who is “the bank?” I don’t know. They might just be saying that, because it feels more official. You’ll probably get a better interest rate at a credit union. Want to make the process simple? Get pre-approved for a car loan before you even show up at the dealership. Or write a check!

Share this article with your friends so they can avoid these sneaky car salesman tricks, too.

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