Car dealers want consumers to buy vehicles, even if the purchase is not a good one for consumers. Anyone shopping for a car needs to understand the legal protections available to them, like the protections under the California lemon law. Car buyers should also be aware of some of the ways that dealers try to con them into agreeing to bad deals or buying bad vehicles.
Recently, The Car Connection published a comprehensive article about some of the dishonest tactics taken by car dealers to try to get consumers to part with their money and make bad bargains. Anyone shopping for a car should learn about these tricks that dealers play so they can avoid falling victim.
Five Unethical Tricks Car Dealers Play on Car Buyers
According to The Car Connection, five common tricks that car dealers use to part consumers from hard earned funds include:
- Dealer handling fees: The profit margin on a vehicle is determined based on the difference between what the dealer paid the car manufacturer and what the consumer pays. Profit margins have fallen in recent years on new cars and dealers are looking to make up for their slim profits with flat-rate dealer fees. These fees are often called handling or processing fees and they can be around $800 or greater! You should check if a dealership you're buying from is charging these fees and see if you can shop around to find one who doesn't.
- Dealer-installed alarms: Car dealers may also try to sell you on an after-market alarm they can install in your car, but you shouldn't take the bait. These alarms are often ineffective and can sometimes be dangerous because many dealers who install them do not correctly tap into vehicle electrical systems. If you're at a dealer who installs alarms standard in all vehicles in their fleet, Car Connection urges you to run, not walk, away.
- Useless add-ons: Car dealers have a wide range of useless options they will try to sell you on, like rust prevention sealant or fabric protection on leather seats. The add-ons are often pointless and really expensive.
- Contracts with damaging terms: It's important to read the fine print because sometimes dealers will hide disclosures they're required by law to provide. You also need to carefully read any financing paperwork to find out what the actual interest rate on the transaction is.
- Recommending too much service: If you take your car into the dealer for something like a routine oil change, you may be presented with a long-list of “maintenance recommendations” by the dealer. This can include things like replacing the air filter or adding new wiper blades. Dealers often charge excessive prices for these services, which may be unnecessary or which you could usually obtain elsewhere for far less money.
These are just five of many dishonest tactics car dealers use to try to get you to give them more of your hard-earned money. You should be aware of the tactics dealers used and the tricks they pull. You should also be aware of the laws that protect you, like the Lemon Law, so you can take action if a dealer sells you a vehicle that turns out to have serious problems.