8 Crooked Hard-Sell Tricks Car Dealers Pull When You Buy A New Car

salesmanIf you’re not careful, buying a new car or truck these days can be a real mindfuck.

After you sift through the exhausting details of over 400 vehicles currently on the market, you’re then brought face-to-face in the final showdown: negotiating price and terms with the dealer.

Few men and women relish this task. But unless you want to clunk around in some 2nd class hand-me-down, dealership negotiation is an essential skill in modern America.

It’s not hard. The key is knowing what to say and when to say it for maximum leverage. And now that the economy’s in the crapper, the process today is easier than ever.

Dealerships sell cars all the time whereas you and I only buy once in awhile. This allows them to get lazy and rely on the same old psychological tricks over and over. That’s why knowing what they are ahead of time (and how to reply) will make them stutter like a stood up date… and nab you a better deal.

So here are the 8 most common tricks car dealers have thrown at me over the years… and how you can use the dealers own words to turn the tables and back him into a corner from which there is no escape.

Trick #1. The Same-Day Urgency Ploy

You’ll see this one from a mile away because what he’ll do is quote you a price and then twist your arm to take advantage of it “today” because after that he “can’t guarantee” it will be around later so you better “lock it in” right now.

Obviously the idea here is to choke off any chances you have of further research or price comparison to discover how good (or bad) his deal really is.

What you should do here is come up with your own price and terms BEFORE you come to the dealership and when they pull this little stunt on you, calmly present your offer in writing and add that it expires tonight when the dealers close.

This gives you the freedom to walk away cleanly if he absolutely refuses. And that’s power in your hands.

Doing some research online before coming to the dealer will allow you to find out his real cost so you can make an offer that’s fair and reasonable to you… but won’t get you laughed out of the dealership.

Trick #2. Checking With The Manager

I’ve had car dealers, furniture salesmen and the whole lot dust this one off and use it on me as if they’d invented sliced bread. It’s dumb but it works on a lot of people.

What happens here is the salesman says that he’d like to accept your offer but before he can, he needs to “check with his manager” to see if the terms are acceptable.

If this sounds familiar, it’s “good cop/bad cop” for salesmen. He doesn’t want to reject your offer outright, because that would make him seem like he’s your “enemy” in negotiation. Instead he wants to appear as your “friendly helper” in getting the deal done on good terms.

To do that, he needs to be able to place blame on a faceless 3rd party. Hence, the “manager” who always seems to be in a back room somewhere smoking a cigar and thumbing through an old dog-eared issue of Hustler. Our fearless salesman wants us to believe that during his absence, he barges into his scumbag manager’s office, demanding he accept your offer, and fights the good fight to wrangle a good price out of him come hell or high water.

In reality, the conversation goes something like this:

“Hey Bill, any of those doughnuts left over from this morning?”

“Nah, Mary finished ’em off in like 10 minutes.”

“Fuck, I’m starving but I got a guy out there and I can’t get outta here ’till I close ’em.”

Don’t get pushed around by this lame tactic. Instead, use it to your advantage.

If he has to check with his manager, then why shouldn’t you have to “check with your wife/husband?” You say you’re not married? Well, how about your accountant, therapist, mistress, astrologer, stunt driver, cult leader or any other person of authority whose input you supposedly value.

Now let this 3rd party of yours hold up the deal. The more of the salesman’s time you can waste, the more time he’s working without a commission, which means the more skin he has in the game with each passing hour, day, etc. This will help motivate him closer to your side of the fence.

Remember, these car negotiations don’t happen often, so pull out all the stops and don’t worry about looking weird. This is no place for ego. After the deal’s done you’ll be all but forgotten in a month’s time anyway.

Trick #3. Salesman Pleads Poverty

“But Mr. Customer,” he whines, “I have to put food on my table. I’ve got 2 kids in college.”

Little Sally is sick and Jimmy needs a new pair of shoes. Boo-hoo. Poor little salesman.

Car negotiations are not charity, they’re business. The salesman’s personal problems, fact or fiction, are not your problem and have absolutely nothing to do with you buying a new car right here and now.

More than likely, this crumpled mess of a man slumped before you will not starve if he’s forced to accept your terms. You’re here to get a deal done… or walk.

To get this annoying sod off your back, remind him that YOU have to put food on the table too. Maybe throw a few of your own tales of woe so he’ll finally shut up.

Trick #4. Dealership Pleads Poverty

I laugh when a saleman tells me he’s “already losing money on this deal” to weasel his way out of accepting my offer.

“Actually dear sir,” I say in my best British voice, “it is I who is losing money in this deal… by handing it over to you.”

Look, these guys may be sleazy, but they’re not stupid. They’re in business to make money just like the rest of us. Remind them that it is you who are losing money just by doing the deal to begin with and perhaps, now that you really think about it, you should take your offer to another dealership who isn’t running on financial fumes.

After all, you want someone who’ll still be there after the sale. *wink*

Trick #5. Scarcity

“This is a hot car. I’ve got a higher offer from another buyer.”

If the car you’ve set your sights on really is rare, then there could be some truth to this. But if you could get the same thing down the street or online, then call him on his bullshit.

If you’re smart, you’ll never actually need the car “now” and the time it takes to wrestle a new deal will be green money in your pocket.

More often, this is just a false scarcity ploy used to box you into a particular deal. “Other interested buyers” and “production shortages” are cooked up schemes. There’s a reason why they call cars “mass produced” and even if you’re vying for a Porsche or Aston Martin, luxury dealers love to take advantage of a buyers prideful desire to “not lower himself” to negotiation squabbles.

Luxury prices too, are far more flexible than you’d think.

Trick #6. Unique Car

“Well, Mr. Customer, this is the only car of its kind. This offer is the best we can do.”

You want the weird one with the funky color? Chances are they’ll play the scarcity card, and rightfully so… but does this really trap you into a “take it or leave it” situation?

Of course not.

Instead you should reply, “Are you kidding me? How many other serious offers could you get on this bizarre bag of bolts?”

To grab the rare and the exotic you need to downplay it’s appeal and twist it into a grotesque monster. Inside you’re slobbering all over to burn rubber in this puppy but outside you need to be bored, even a little disgusted from the moment you lay eyes on their model.

The market is thin for these rare cars so sometimes they’re hard to sell what little quantity they get from the factory. Use this to your advantage.

Trick #7. Last Minute Changes To The Deal

Now that you’ve dragged each other through the mud of negotiation, you’re numb, exhausted, and crabby. But gazing back at you through a blood-caked face are the determined eyes of a salesman who has just one more trick up his slimy sleeve.

And that, my friends, is the last minute price increase and hidden fees.

He knows you’re interested or you wouldn’t have come this far. A price has been agreed on. Now his only hope lies in tacking on some plausible excuse for previously (strategically) undisclosed fees.

Do not falter in your resolve. In fact, counter this by LOWERING your previous offer. “Well, if that’s the case, I can’t do this price anymore… I’ll have to offer X so our deal stays within our agreement.”

Remember, he’s invested as much time in this thing as you have. To trip here would be a suckers game. He wants to get this bastard of a deal over with and move on to easier targets just as much as you want to get out of there with your new hot-rod.

Trick #8. Free Crap

Free crap ain’t free. There’s ALWAYS a hidden charge for it crawling around in the paperwork somewhere.

Dealers love to charge crazy prices for stuff like pinstripes, undercoating, fabric or paint protection, and pre-sale inspections. I never want any of this worthless junk and always make sure the dealer knows it. And since it’s that much less they have to do to the car, you should insist on a discount.


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