3 Confessions From A Former Used Car Salesman

Patrick is a former used car salesman who grew a conscience. He has three tips to share with us:

1. Buy in December
2. Bring your own financing
3. Watch out for the squeeze play.

Learn more, inside…

Buy In December
First off, if you want the best deal on a car, everyone knows to wait until the dealership and salesmen are desperate – Guess what? That means December. No one is buying cars because most folks are focused on buying gifts for the family. Everyone from the General Manager to the poor bastards taking “ups” (walk up customers, usually the worst chance of a sale) is feeling the pressure to produce. Now is your time to extract your best deal. Go for everything.. lower interest rate, pricing concessions, free detailing, window tint. Whatever you can think of.

Bring Your Own Financing
It’s very simple. Do you have a saving or checking account? Go to your financial institution and get “pre-qualified” . Your bank / Credit Union will give you a realistic idea of how much car you can afford to buy. You may not like what you hear, but you will be better off in the long run (witness the current meltdown over the sub-prime mortgage market) If you are pre-approved, you can shop for a vehicle in a realistic price range, and avoid the temptation of the buying too much car when the dealer flashes a “low payment” at you.

Watch Out For The Squeeze

This one absolutely broke my heart. It’s been 10 years since it happened, and I remember it as clear as day. A hard working couple, “salt of the earth” type came down to Phoenix from the Grand Canyon (at least three hour trip) with the ancient station wagon they wanted to trade in for a newer car. They worked at a diner in the park, she waiting tables and he washing dishes. they saved their tips for a year in order to have a down payment. After walking the lot for a half hour, I enthusiastically showed them a 3 year old Nissan Sentra. Well within their price range, solid value, reliable, and easy on gas.

They went through our finance department, and we sent them home, assuring them that we would get the interest rate and payment promised, for the down payment they left with us.

Now the heartbreak. A week later I was called in to the sales managers office and told that I need to “squeeze” the customer – call them up, and tell them to come back to the dealership (3 hours one way drive) and either bring us more down payment, accept a payment double that of the one quoted, or give back the car. “Why”, you ask?
Because the finance guys “made a mistake” and couldn’t get their loan “done” with any lender.

But finance and the manager weren’t concerned at all. They knew once the customer had driven the car for a few days, they would love it, and do almost anything to keep it.

I refused, and quit shortly afterwards.”

Thanks, Patrick. Seems to jibe with what we’ve heard and talked about before. Bring your own financing is probably the most important tip. Otherwise you’re going to also have to watch out for the four-square dealers use to rip customers off.



Edit Your Comment

  1. ratmonkey says:

    The first time I bought a car from a dealership they got me with the “squeeze”. It burned me up so bad after that I let them take advantage of me. This was nearly 10 years ago, but the dealership still sends me mail which I always refuse from the USPS. I still dream about driving by and egging few cars on their lot to get even.

  2. bluwapadoo says:

    So, how do you avoid “the squeeze”?

    And if you are squeezed then what do you? Return the car?

  3. SpyMaster says:

    This sounds like a phony “confession” anyone could write…nothing in it that would only be known by a former car salesman. Come on…give us some *real* confessions and not some junk written by a freelance writer on a slow day.

  4. pockygt says:

    @bluwapadoo: follow rule #2 and bring your own financing. they can’t squeeze you if they didn’t finance you.

  5. bbbici says:

    the squeeze is illegal. if the customer and manager signed a bill of sale stating down payment received, monthly payment, and terms, then the seller cannot raise the price post facto.

    if i were the buyers i would just bring the car back, get my deposit back, and make sure i poured bleach into the oil tank just before handing over the keys.

  6. mantari says:

    Nice. Thanks! (December tip was new on me.)

  7. taylorhempel says:

    Actually, best time to by is right after the New Year. Dealerships generally write DOWN there vehicles if they’ve been there a while after the first of the year for tax purposes. Generally they’re write them down 2-4 thousand.

  8. Plaid Rabbit says:

    Wow. Yet another thing my dealership did (squeeze), but we called it “roping” a car, must like you rope a cattle.

    Oh, and we usually had sold their trade. Needless to say, my former car-lot employer is getting some heat from the local news companies.

  9. Alexander says:

    I almost got totally hosed on my first purchase of a used car. It was bought a corner used car lot in los angeles. I admit it, the sale was hurried by my need of car right away. It was a 1990 Honda CRX for $3500 financed through the dealer. I was young and stupid and the interest on financing was like 24%! The only reason why I wasn’t totally hosed was because I knew I’d be getting an insurance settlement within a week. I got the settlement and went to pay off the car at their “financing institution”. Some shady looking building in Glendale. When I went to pay off the car, they actually gave me attitude and made me wait like an hour to “calculate the payoff quote”. Learned my lesson for sure.

  10. maxwaver says:

    My father did a good job teaching me how to deal and buying used cars. Definitely buy in the “winter” I’d say, especially if you’re looking at a RWD sports car. You won’t have to deal with the squeeze if you pay cash :DDDD

  11. JTres says:

    My parents had the squeeze done on them about 10 years ago. But they (inadvertently) ended up getting the better of the dealer! They gave their down payment and drove off the lot. That weekend we drove the car about 1000 miles round trip to visit family! When we returned on Monday the dealer called and said they needed to give them more money or return the car. They returned the car, picked up their down payment and walked out the door! We ended up with a free rental car for the weekend courtesy of the dealer who as trying to screw us!

  12. mikesfree says:

    Heard of the squeeze happening on a few people. If you finance at a dealer, dont leave with a car before solid financing is all done through a reputable company. I brought my own financing to buy my Accord. The dealership beat it. Not a bad thing, but all of it was set in stone when I left. Dont cave to social pressure to leave quickly or not ask questions. Get what you want before you leave. Chances are, you will never deal with those people again.. so why should you care if they think you were a little cautios.

  13. SOhp101 says:

    Often times the squeeze isn’t really illegal because when they do tell you those terms, the contract does say that the loan is tentatively approved and you sign the paper agreeing to this caveat.

    The best way to avoid this is to hand them back the keys and say “Thanks, but I’ll pick up the car after the loan gets approved.”

    By the way, all those tips are good either for used or new. Always have ‘real’ pre-approved financing before stepping into the dealership.

  14. exkon says:

    A little side on #1:

    If you can’t wait until December, try shooting near the end or at the end of the month. Since most of the salesmen have monthly quota or trying to get their bonuses, the are more than welcome to do anything to get that last deal in.

  15. harleymcc says:

    The last time I bought a car, I got offered a job selling.

    True story.

    Here’s some tips.

    1) Always go in end of the month, end of the quarter when quotas are due

    2) Go at night, because the sales folks that are there, are there because they need to sell.

    3) Ask to speak to the Sales Manager. Introduce yourself, get his name, and say “Which one of your folks could really use to sell a car tonight?”

    4) Have him walk you over and introduce you to the sales person.

    5) Begin sales process.

    6) When you make an offer and he says “Gotta check with Sales Manager”, you say “Sure, let’s go see xxx” and stand up to follow.

    7) Be prepared to walk out, and make sure they do not have your keys while they “Check the value” of your trade-in

    Cool If they say “There’s another person interested in this car”. say “Why are you wasting my time with it then”. Stand up and shake hand, say “Thanks”.

    9) Always be prepared to walk out.

  16. harleymcc says:

    It does a coupla things.

    1) The sales folk sometimes thinks you’re a friend of the manager

    2) It helps eliminate the “gotta go check”

    3) The sales managers will often take you to a new agent who they are trying to develop, and build confidence.

    If I get a newbie, I say flat out “How ya doing on your quota?”

    If they him or hah, I say “Look if I bought a car tonight would that help you out?”

    If, instead they say “I’m doing Great”, I stand and say “oh, is there someone else here who use the help to hit it.”

    I had one that was listed at $18,000, and I got it to $10,000, but they wouldn’t go taxes in.

    As I was leaving, the sales manager came out and said “Mike, your trade-in is in such bad shape, that I won’t be able to give a $1000 if you walk away tonight.”

    I pointed at a beer can in the road and said, “If I walk in with that beer can tomorrow, you’d give me a grand.”

    That’s when he gave me his card and said, “If you walk in tomorrow, I’ll give you a job.”

  17. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @ratmonkey: You want to talk about getting taken advantage of…I was in the Air Force in Europe and I needed a car. I couldn’t bring my car over from the states and I needed a car asap before my now ex-Wife came over. I was 18 fresh out of basic training and never bought anything bigger than a TV before..I has sucker written all over me. On base at the Base Exchange there was a car dealer who sold American cars thru the Army Air Force Exchange Service or AAFES for short. I got approved for a 95 Pontiac Sunfire for the low low payments of $380 a month for 60 months with a thousand down and 8% intrest. All goes well for 2 1/2 years until I move back to America. I figure we need 2 cars since my wife and I worked on different sides of town, go down to the old dealership and they pull my credit. They tell me I have a $32,000 car loan on my 95 car. After wiping the crap out of my pants I look at the report and sure enough they gave me a loan where all the intrest is figured upfront and you pay only towards the intrest for the first 2 years. So I had a 3 year old car that was worth 18k brand new now worth 9k but with a payoff of 21k. Too say I was pissed was a understatement, the dealer told me they gave me an illegal loan because I was overseas. Luckily the Ex managed to total the car a few months later so we just paid the difference between the payoff and blue book and the Lender Ford Motor Credit wrote the difference off, becuase I threatened to sue them for the loan they gave us.

  18. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: damn Interest not intrest

  19. MaliBoo Radley says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had the squeeze put on me. I got raped on all other aspects of buying the car, but they wanted me to put down another $500 a week later.

    I refused and asked for the keys to my trade in back. Cue finance guy going out to management and comingback saying ‘good news! we’re giving you another $500 on your trade in’.

    Of course you are, what choice do you have!

  20. Phil says:

    The first time I went to buy a car on my own (after the divorce) my credit was a shambles. I gave $1000 down, my old car as a trade, settled on a payment (maybe), and drove away without the financing being entirely complete.

    A week later, they called and said, verbatim, word for word, exactly (can I be more doubly redundant?) what was said above, “the finance guys ‘made a mistake’ and we can’t get your loan ‘done’ with any lender).”

    So I took their car back, took they key to my old car, my $1000 check, and left. I think they expected me to do the “boo hoo I drove it a week and can’t part with it” thing. I think they were surprised.

    The lesson learned is, don’t leave unless the financing is settled.

    Epilogue: I still drive the car I drove away in that day – it’s mine free and clear and runs great. What was my car payment goes into a savings account every month. Huzzah!

  21. Phil says:

    Oh, and the Grand Canyon isn’t more than 3 hours away from Phoenix. I know…

    Well, I guess it could be a three hour drive, depending on which part of Phoenix we’re talking. It’s a big sprawling place… But if you start out by where the 17 meets the 101, it’s only like 2 and a half hours.

  22. TechnoDestructo says:

    I think their biggest mistake was going to ANY DEALERSHIP IN ARIZONA.

    Vanishingly few are not lying scum. Even compared to elsewhere.


    Yeah, if you’re driving 90 miles an hour.

  23. Trick says:

    My first new car was from Cal in Long Beach, CA. It was 1989, I was just over 18 and I bought a 1989 Ford Escort GT…

    Cal originally said Ford Motor Credit would finance the purchase… I had no credit back then. After a few days Cal called, said I was declined. So I go to BofA and get a auto loan and check right there and then…

    Back to the dealer the scumbag loan processor said the car was now going to cost $500 more because I was not financing through FMC. At first I was thinking damn, this sucks then I said NO!

    The scumbag said I can’t sell you this car then… so I said OK, give me my check back and he said can’t do that. You owe us money for the car you purchased…

    So I said I still haven’t signed the new papers yet and I could just as easily call the bank, tell them what you are trying to do and have them cancel the check as I was getting up to leave.

    The tone changed and all of a sudden he will now sell me the car at the original price.


    I said I will be back if I don’t find a better deal elsewhere. He went on to say I can’t do that… that I had to buy the car! I said, why? You just said you wouldn’t sell it me!

    Long story short, I drove out of the dealer with my new Escort GT and a check for $400!!!

    “The Squeeze” will only work on those who have no options. I am so glad I had an option and realized what the stealership was doing right away…

  24. kalikidtx says:

    I am in the car business and disagree with these rules. First about buying in December, its a myth that certain months are better then others. Agreed, that you shoudl buy the very last day of the month (if you are not a picky buyer) because you can get a better deal then, BUT the month is really irrelevant., In my opinion February is the best month because its usually the slowest month with the least amount of selling days. Others say its August because the next years models are out by then, basically there are good deals every month. Now about the bring your own financing, its a good idea and it isn’t. YES, do your homework and research, submit your app to an online bank such as CapOne and find out what you are approved for so you know that in the back of your head, BUT often the manufacturer’s incentivized deals are better then retail banks and their prime rates. So go with your own rate in hand, but listen to what they have to offer as well, it can often save money. Don’t always take the lower APR over a rebate either, so the math and see what makes more sense for YOU. each buyer is different with different needs, so do not let a know-it-all friend tell you how it is. Get advice form many sources, but in the end do what makes the most sense for your personal situation. Anymore advice, email me, I’m always willing to help on this….

  25. Lorenzo says:

    or buy your used car private party…

  26. topdown says:

    Had fun shopping with my father-in-law. He just shoved his hands in his jeans pocket and stared at the sales guy. The sales guy talked to himself, and when he felt his deal reached rock bottom he’d say “that’s it” and my FIL would cough a little flegm and start to walk away. He left with a one year old Chevy with 9K miles, for $6300. Priceless.

  27. topdown says:

    I’d finance using my home equity line. Not only is the interest rate competitive, but you write off the finance charges at tax time. But Kali Kid is right about the subvented deals, esp leases.

  28. cgarison says:

    December can be a two fold bonus because car dealers need to push cars off their lots prior to having to pay property taxes on them. Also, it can be a bonus for the buyer because purchasing a car in late December can not only save the dealer on taxes, but it can save the purchaser on taxes as well if the car is registered in January a state where you pay property taxes on a vehicle purchase.

  29. idano says:

    I had a Honda Dealer try to “squeeze” me after 2 months on a New (10 miles on the odometer) Element. I brought the car back to them and got my down payment back from them with 7900 miles on it (I like to drive).

    I think they learned their lesson.

  30. drewheyman says:

    idano, i had a friend do something like that with a mustang gt, only he also ran it into another car, and the front bumper was held on with a bit of duct tape.

    they still loaded onto the truck at his apartment, and didn’t say anything.

  31. zolielo says:

    Somewhat related if you do not buy the car outright.

    Get Gap Insurance on the loan!

  32. saram says:

    You know, I think I put the squeeze on a dealership. It was my first big purchase, 2005 VW Golf TDI, and they were giving me a good sticker price but trying to stick it to me with the rate. I left my (post-dated) check for 1000.00 with them and drove off of the lot on a Saturday, with the understanding that they were going to take care of the financing. On Monday morning the Credit Union that my mom works for called them to tell me that they were going to do the loan for me at 4.9%, with my dad and his (thank you) perfect credit score co-signing. They were irritated, to say the least.

  33. Transuranic says:

    Meta-post, but I’m car shopping right now, an absolute novice, and bam I run into this post. A million thanks, to the author and all the commenters! The hive mind ROCKS.

    I owe you some stories from inside the IRS fraud department now.

  34. mike1731 says:

    I grew up with a father from Missouri who was a total trader dude. Loved to trade used cars and guns. I didn’t inherit his gift for gab and weasel ability, but having seen how it’s done, I have always approached dealerships with major paranoia.

    My thoughts:

    – I tend to live on the Edmunds website when I start thinking about car trading. I make a point at looking at the costs of all options, and figuring out in advance how much the car I want costs.

    – I next tend to visit the dealership lot on Sunday when the dealership is closed. I look for vehicles that match what I’m looking for, or ones close to what I’m interested in.

    – At the same time, I research the wholesale value of my trade in (if I have one) at Edmunds. While at it, I’ll also spend time waxing and cleaning up my trade. Not only does this make it look better, it also sends a message that I’m not so sick of my car that I am desparate to get rid of it.

    – Some companies offer very good web services that let you look at dealer inventory from home, saving you from a trip on Sunday. FordDirect in particular is really nice, allowing you to sort on features, see window stickers, etc, with live update inventory listing for major dealers.

    – And, if once I get to the dealership I get a wild initial offer, I typically stand, shake the salesman’s hand, and thank him for his time. I’ll leave him a card to call me when they want to talk seriously. That tends to focus the discussion quickly. When I come in, I never share the numbers I have prepared in advance regarding what I am prepared to offer, and what I think my trade is worth.

    – Most important, have financing in place in advance. But – very important – don’t mention you already have financing in place in advance! Ask questions about interest rates and payments, so the sales person thinks they’ll get their money in the financing office. That’s a favorite place to hide profit, figuring everyone lets their guard down once the “deal” is done. My experience is that dealers always are looking to see what you’re not looking at, then try to make their money there. With the proliferation of internet information, the financing office seems to be the newest holy grail spot.

    Two final thoughts. For my last new car, I was working for an industrial company that was a major auto suppler, so we were able to purchase through a supplier program that has pre-set discount pricing. That was sweet, although still had to negotiate on the trade in (which we did good on) and financing (which we got ripped on). Our last purchase was a used Jeep, which we bought through Carmax (fixed price, compared against Edmunds and found price to be very reasonable) and financed through our bank (saved about 0.5% in interest).

  35. cde says:

    idano@ how did they try to squeeze you after 2 months?

  36. Trackback says:

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  37. kracer22 says:

    When I was car shopping back in 2003, I was considering the Nissan Sentra SE-R and the RSX type-S, I actually went with the RSX-type S since it had everything I wanted and the knobs and overall build quality just felt better. I got it for $21,000 about $1700 below invoice. I also took advantage of the low APR Honda finance was offering. 2.9% Here’s my advice..

    1.DO YOUR HOMEWORK, I can’t emphasize this enough, you will reap the rewards later on. Find which cars are most reliable, have high resale values, get an idea of how well the car is selling, or not selling. Get an idea of the invoice, and MSRP.

    2. The main reason why I went with the RSX-S was because, I knew I could get a great deal for a great car. I knew the car wasn’t selling well, given the economy at the time, and the other competing models in its class. I also checked online to see how many cars the dealerships had in stock. The one near me happened to have 17 of that particular model in stock. So I knew I could bargain with them.

    3. Some dealerships will pressure you for your license and ask you to sign paperwork, DON’T. Sometimes when you want to leave they will make it hard for you to get your license back.

    4. Although I bought mine in JUNE, end of the season Fall-Winter are the best times to buy. Not only do dealerships need to meet quotas to get additional discounts from the manufacturer, they also need to clear out the current year’s inventory to make room for newer models coming in. So they’ll be more inclined to deal.

    5. Watch out for Options and how items are packaged together, dealers make lots of money off options & installations, again do your homework on the car and dealerships, check to see if there have been any complaints. etc. Price the car ahead of time. I bought the RSX-S bone stock, and it came with everything I wanted, so I didn’t need to inflate the price with options.

  38. kitman420 says:

    I’m currently shopping for a used car and I’ve noticed that Kelley blue book (KBB) prices are generally higher than the NADA values. So, as other people have said, do your homework and look at trade-in, private party, and retail value from both books. You can get NADA prices by searching google for the Chrome Carbook. I believe NADA book provides very accurate trade-in values. This value is good to know because you now know how much the dealer paid for the car.

  39. SecureLocation says:

    If you don’t like their ‘final offer’ price start to put on your coat or make a movement toward the door with a “Thanks, let me think about it.” Believe me, they know if you leave they have lost the sale and they’ll come back with another offer. Repeat until you hear the price you want or they don’t attempt to stop you when you leave.

  40. MrUnderbridge says:

    Some other things:

    *I’ve had dealers advertise very competitive internet specials, except when I want to test drive it, they can’t find the keys. Yeah, right. Surprisingly, they had another similar model for a higher price. Don’t know any way around it, but beware the bait-and-switch.

    *If you’re not sure what model you’ll be looking at, either borrow someone’s PDA with internet access or have a friend at home sitting on Edmunds and KBB.

    *Don’t tell them you have a trade-in (or be vague and say you think you’ll keep it) until you’ve negotiated on a price for the car. Helps to keep things separate.

    *Some have mentioned going with the ultra-low dealer financing because it can be a good deal – DON’T. For one, they play bait-and-switch with the rates, you probably won’t get that 0.9%. Second, if they do have good rates, use the fact that you have your own financing to negotiate a lower price instead (the dealer makes the same amount of money in the end). Again, helps with the keeping things separate idea.

    *If you do dealer-finance, never let them get into a discussion of monthly payment – negotiate based on the price of the car only.

    *Check your final paperwork *very* carefully. I had a friend negotiate a better price, but when the papers came back from Finance, they’d changed the 60 month load term to 66 months without mentioning it. Another reason to bank finance…

  41. markers says:

    I once went up against the 4-squares-of-death before, and won.

    Before I stepped a foot into the dealership I researched the car, figured out how much I could afford and more importantly how much I was willing to pay, oh and was pre-approved by my CU in advance. When it came down to the negotiation the salesman started to do the whole back-and-forth B.S. and each time came back with a different set of numbers, none of which were satisfactory. After dealing with that a few times I’ve had enough, so I took the sheet of paper, scribbled over the figures in the boxes and on the back I wrote down a fair price for the vehicle, phone number and topped it off with my signature showing that I was committed to that price and then proceeded to walk out of the dealership.

    A week later I received a call from the salesman saying they were now able to give me the car for that price due to a recent inventory surplus; meaning they were overpriced and nobody was buying them.

  42. pweegar says:

    In the state of Arizona, it is illegal for a dealer to sell your trade in before all financing is complete.

    I got squeezed myself. Will NEVER go back to the dealer and let everyone I can know about. For about a year after this squeeze, the dealer would call saying they have a great deal for me. Needless to say I was rude and told the SOB’s NOT to call back. I was very tempted to call the local media and file a complaint with the BBB. Hoever looking at the contract it stated (in tiny type) that the customer was responsible for any extra because of financing.

    My question is: CAN a customer enter a term into a contract stating that the dealership is liable for any more $ needed if they fail to obtain financing they say is nearly guaranteed. Would like to find out sometime. Burn the SOB’s at their own game.

    What needs to be done is better pro consumer laws enabled to protect against such practices. Don’t ever think we’ll see, but that’s what needs to be done.

  43. infinityplus1 says:

    My wife and I purchased a loaded new at the time (’02) Subaru Outback from a local dealership. I thought I had done a pretty good job negotiating a fair price and we were finalizing the deal. They were talking about a 5-6% interest rate on the financing.

    It was late, the paperwork was still not done so they said, “Take the car and go on home we will give you a call tomorrow to finalize everything”.

    We had given them our trade-in and no money down.

    The next day passed and we did not hear from them. I called the following day and they said they had run into some problems but would get us the financing they had promised but it would be a few more days. I let them know we had a trip coming up so unless we heard differently we would be using the new car.

    So the day after that, we left for a 2,500 mile road trip. When we returned a week later and still not having heard from the dealership I drove on down to see what the hold up was.

    The salesman who had sold us the car was very nervous when I asked him when we were going to get this finished up. He said he had to check with his Financing Manager and would be right back. After about 10 minutes he came back and said, “My Finance Manager said there were some issues with your credit, you are going to have to give us a $5,000 down payment in addition to your trade-in.”

    I paused only for a second before laughing out loud, quite loudly by the looks I got from others in the showroom. I said, “Yeah, right. I don’t think so. Give me my car (trade-in) and the keys. I am going to go buy a car from someone who doesn’t screw with their customers.”

    It took a few minutes but they got me the keys to my trade-in, which had kindly been filled with gas.

    So I basically got a free (brand new) rental car and two free tanks of gas for about 2 hours of my time.

    I went about a mile down the road and bought a one year old minivan for about $150 over invoice and a 3.9%* interest rate.

    * The 3.9% interest rate should help prove that I did not have any “issues” with my credit.

  44. willgetin says:

    I once had the squeeze applied by a Dodge dealership, a week after trading in my old Jeep pickup with 160,000 miles on a new Dodge Extended cab. They called on a Friday wanting another $1000 for me to keep the new Dodge. I told them I would come see them on Monday and we would settle up. On Monday, they called me again when I didn’t show up. I told them I wouldn’t be able to make it in until Wednesday because of my work schedule.

    On Wednesday I went in (almost two weeks after taking it). I handed the manager the keys and said I wanted my old truck back because I didn’t have a $1000 to give him. They hemmed and hawed and demanded the $1000. I again reiterated that I didn’t have it so we had to cancel the deal. They told me to keep the new truck and that they would forgo the $1000. I said “No, since you were so keyed up about about trying to steal a $1000 from me, I want my old truck back”.

    Come to find out, they had already sold my truck to a wholesaler. I made them go to the auction and they bought my truck back for more than they sold it for. Plus the job I had was 150 mile round trip, so the new truck had almost 2500 miles on it when I gave it back to them.

    I bought a Jeep Cherokee from a different dealer the following week. The Dodge dealership was taken away from them a couple of years later and sold to someone else.

  45. tubgnome says:

    Best deal I ever saw was a used Miata in January. That was 5 years ago and its lost only about $500 of value compared to what was paid. Used cars are always a better deal.

  46. tgkspike says:

    “Oh, and the Grand Canyon isn’t more than 3 hours away from Phoenix. I know…”

    It is more like 4 hours + . I go to school in Flagstaff. And if traffic sucks it can be a lot longer.

  47. eltonito says:

    We recently bought a used car and I was shopping a lot at CarMax. Later, I found out that they ran credit reports on myself and my wife and pre-approved us for a loan without us ever signing anything. It really pissed me off because we were paying cash for the car and they had no business looking at my credit. Before you can drive a car they run off with your ID to “copy it for insurance purposes” and then gather everything they can on you before/while you test drive the car.

    This whole thread makes me think of the documentary Slasher – surprised that no one else has mentioned it.

  48. Krolls says:

    If you are going to buy used buy from a private owner. I just bought a ’97 Audi A6. I am in college- so I did not have a lot of money to spend but i still wanted something that was fun to drive and that the ladies liked (and yes so far it HAS worked).

    The car had belonged to an Audi enthusiast when I went to visit the car he had 3 other Audis in the garage and he also had every reciept… and when I say every reciept I mean it! He had it down to everytime he filled up the tank with premium (which was everytime).

    I brough cash and ended up getting it for around 4 grand. The KBB on this car is over 7,500. This car also has about 2k worth of stereo equit. in it.

  49. Joe Hass says:

    Eltonito (and anyone else): As a point of reference, if that ever happens again (where a dealership pulls a credit report on you without a signed document allowing it), do what I did to a bank that did the same thing.

    I immediately said, “I want to talk to your Branch Manager.” Don’t take anyone less. If they say the branch manager is busy, tell them you’ll wait. When the manager arrived, I said, “I want you to know two things. One, thanks to your decision to pull my credit report without my permission, I guarantee that I’ll never do business with you. Two, I’m going to monitor my credit reports. If an inquiry ever comes up showing you pulled it, I’ll be contacting the FTC (who oversees credit reporting law) to report this violation of federal law.”

    I walked out, to the sputtering of the branch manager apologizing.

    Bottom line: don’t screw with my credit report.

  50. txspazz says:

    harleymmc makes some great points.

    Research before you go to the dealership.

    Let the sales drone know that you know what you want and you want a quick and easy deal. There are two ways to make money selling cars. Sell a lot, or make a lot on each one you sell. The first type knows you’re his kind of customer. The second type knows he’ll make $100 and still have time to rape some other poor sap before going home.

    The best one is a variation of the first and this is the fleet salesman. They typically get paid based only on numbers. If you find one working on the last Saturday of the month you are set because they need numbers.

    On new vehicles, once you pick out the vehicle you want ask to see the invoice. This is the equivalent of asking to see there cards before you bet.

    Verify that the VIN on the invoice matches your vehicle.

    On most vehicles, invoice is a fair price to start at. The dealership gets a kickback from the manufacturer. If they don’t have many similar vehicles on the lot expect to pay a little more.

    The invoice will show the date that the dealership got the vehicle. The longer it has been on there lot the better price you can get. If they’ve had it over 30 days point this out to them. The length of time that a vehicle is on the lot affects the kickback. For most, after 60 days it is costing them to have the vehicle on the lot.

    Like Harley said, when the sales drone gets up to talk to the manager, get up and go too. The manager is the one deciding what they are going to sell the vehicle for, and it kills there game.

    This is another time when the fleet salesman has an advantage. They typically can negotiate the price without a manager.

    If they aren’t close to invoice, mention that you have a relative that works for the manufacture (not a dealership) and that they may be able to get you employee pricing (of corse only if this is true).

    Don’t take the vehicle “on spot” without financing finalized.

    Don’t be afraid to walk out. If they decide they want your deal, they’ll call you back, if not, you stop wasting your time and there’s.

    When you work at a dealership you lose perspective of what a car buyer is going through. For you and me, it’s a big deal, something that you only do every 2-3 years (if not 8-10). For the dealership, people buy cars every day. When you work at the dealership you normally buy and sell one every six months (it’s one more way to make money).

    -On trade-ins:
    Make sure it’s clean inside and out.

    Aftermarket equipment will HURT your resale value. Put the stock wheels back on. Put the stock stereo back in. etc.

    Take a spare key with you and give that to them. Whatever you do, don’t give them your house keys.

    If you have a CarMax near you, have them make a cash bid on your trade. They typically make very fair offers. Keep in mind; if you sell to them and buy from somewhere else you will pay sales tax on the full price of the new vehicle instead of just paying tax on the difference in the value of the trade and the new vehicle if you do a normal trade.

  51. Mariallena says:

    I got a lot of very useful tips from “Buying a car for dummies” (yes, there is such book).

    The best ones:
    a) Negotiate THE PRICE of the car first, not the monthly payment. The dealership has a lot of slack in the alleged manufacturer’s price.
    b) Go to the dealership near (1 or 2 hrs) their closing time. The salesman wants to go home with another deal closed and he can’t use delay tactics like going “to see the manager” while you wait.

  52. eargang says:

    The other option that’ll limit their ability to screw you over is to shop with a car brand that has “clean prices”.

    For example, we recently bought a Scion xB. Pricing is set, Toyota financing rates are set.

    Prices are listed online, rates are listed online, and aftermarket accessories (supposedly one of the markets the Scion was created for) that each individual dealer sells are all listed on their individual websites.

    Saturn manages most of their policies the same way: I don’t know of any other brands that do.

    Before we ever went in to the dealer we knew what everything would cost; in fact, we picked our dealer based on the fact that their aftermarket stuff that we were interested in was cheaper than the other local Scion dealer.

  53. bohemian says:

    We went to a Dodge dealer to buy a used car. My husband had scouted out the car and negotiated what he thought was the final deal. The agreed price, new tires and a trailer hitch. He unfortunately mentioned that I was working out of state and would be back on Saturday to finish the deal and the financing. When we got there the games started. After the sales guy got us in a room he went over the deal that included a used set of new tires and no trailer hitch. They claimed nobody in town could install the hitch and the cost was over $500. Then he got a phone call on the sales room phone and excused himself for a minute. In playing with the phone he left the speaker on so they could listen in on what we were saying. He thought I didn’t notice he left the speaker on, never mind the speaker light was on. So I clearly mentioned my dissatisfaction with the change in the deal and how a trailer hitch was not that expensive and look here is a phone book, I should call around about the trailer hitch. I mentioned that the hitch for our other vehicle was only $125 and the local RV dealer usually could get one done in a few hours. I also mentioned the vehicle at the other dealership that was nicer and didn’t have any of these lacking items. When I announced to my husband that I had found the phone number of the local RV and was going to call them about the trailer hitch pricing and issue suddenly the sales guy reappeared with all problems resolved.

    The other part of this was the horrible part. The Dodge dealership used HSBC for their financing. What I either missed in the fine print or was never stated was that if you paid the loan off early you would have to pay an early termination fee that exceeds the interest you would have paid for the life of the loan in order to pay it off early. Ours was close to $4000 in additional fees. If you don’t then they call it a negotiated settlement and put a black mark on your credit. So now I have a black mark on my credit report for paying off a loan early, even though I paid the full principal on the loan.

  54. bzjenjen says:

    Hindsight is certainly 20/20. You guys have some great tips that I wish I’d known months ago. Has anyone had their trade-in keys withheld from them until they decided to go ahead with a purchase? I decided to trade my Pathfinder in for a new Toyota Corolla, and they took my keys to evaluate the trade-in. In the meantime we were unable to reach a negotiating price and I wanted to leave. They refused to give me my keys back, just kept pressuring me more and more. I screwed myself completely in that deal (into a LEASE, no less), I felt helpless and just wanted to be out of there. Are there any legal issues involved with situations like that?

  55. Major-General says:

    @bzjenjen: Very simple: you have five minutes to get my keys, or I will call the police to file a theft report against your dealership.