Buying a car can be a stressful time, as you try to find a reliable vehicle that fits within your budget. Here at TJ Chapman Auto, we pride ourselves on being an honest, reliable company, but unfortunately many car dealerships out there care more about making a buck than being honest with their customers. Keep reading to find out what our readers say you need to watch for as you search for a used car.
Overcharging and Hidden Fees
One of the most underhanded tactics that most salesmen use is when they ask you, “What kind of payment are you looking for?” without having even talked about the price of the car. This is often a big red flag because by keeping you focused on the payment, they intend to stretch the term as far as possible so that they can convince you to accept a payment that you are satisfied with, even if you end up being overcharged for the car. Any good and legitimate salesman will never start with payment but rather focus on addressing your budgeting concerns.
Also, if you agreed on a price with the salesman in question but end up encountering several extra costs on the final invoice, like processing fees, title and registration fee, licensing fee, etc., then you should be cautious. In most cases, these are just costs they’ve added to make a profit. Many of them disguise it as fees and don’t tell you about it until you are about to make the payment for the car, so keep that in mind.
It is common for car dealers to replace genuine components with fake ones. The vehicle owner might not know this for months, sometimes even years. Car dealers try to sell genuine parts to other clients who are more knowledgeable about automobile components to maximize their revenue. Replacing genuine components for fake ones can result in various issues for the vehicle owners, ranging from reduced efficiency to damage of the engine, loss of power, and other issues.
Selling In-House Services to Earn Commission
The dealer may encourage the customer not to shop around but to use their in-house services. The dealer will receive a generous commission but only by coercing the customer and restricting their ability to price compare. The dealer may charge the customer an admin fee if they don’t use the dealer’s in-house finance team, and the customer has to take a warranty with them.
You would dread to think how far the dealer would go to make a quick buck if they are prepared to deploy either of these two tactics.
Hiding the Car’s History
Shady car dealers are going to do anything they can to keep you from finding out more about a particular car’s history. Things like manufacturer recalls and known defects in the make and model [of the car], as well as specific events like crashes in the car’s history. [These things] are going to tell you a lot about a car’s real value. If a dealer isn’t readily sharing this information with you, you should at least take the time to find it for yourself before committing to a purchase, and you may simply want to walk away and find a dealer who will be more forthcoming.
Misrepresenting the Car’s Condition
One of the most common tricks that used car dealers will use is to make sure that their cars will do well on a test drive, even if they have serious underlying problems. This will usually involve making short-term, superficial repairs, topping off leaky fluids, and investing a lot into cleaning the car inside and out to make a sale before the buyer notices what’s wrong with the car. This is why it’s essential, especially when going to smaller dealerships, to take the car to a mechanic you trust for an inspection before committing to anything.