Beware of These Dealership Tricks

by Julia Guardione Updated on: May 23, 2019

Buying a new car is often an exciting experience. However, sometimes the idea of having a new ride blinds buyers from shopping smart – meaning more money out of your pocket and locked into a less-than-best deal. Understanding the dealerships’ tricks before you shop makes for more awareness, wiser shopping, and thicker pockets. So, we’ve laid out the most common dealership tactics and some ways in which you can influence the dealer yourself.

Dealership Tricks

The bait and switch

Yes, this is actually done at the dealerships. A “great deal” will be advertised through the dealership, but when you get there, the car has been “sold” and the salesperson attempts to sell you the “available”, pricier model. Call ahead to confirm the pricing and availability of the advertised vehicle you want to ensure that you won’t be duped into spending more money.

Certified Used Vehicles

A common practice of dealerships is to mislead you into thinking you are purchasing a high grade and inspected vehicle. However, the vehicles have often been in major accidents that could lead to issues down the road. Research the history of the car to make sure this isn’t the case. Carfax is a great resource for researching vehicle histories.


If a salesman finds that you don’t know much about the car or its value, they will use this to their advantage. Make sure you comparing similar vehicle prices and, as is explained later, research the supply and demand of that model.

Increased Interest Rate

There are a lot of little tricks dealerships use to get more money out of you. This can also include tacking on warranties that don’t really matter, providing false information on the state of your current car, and trying to raise your monthly payment instead of focusing on the actual value of the car. Behind closed doors, you may be getting approved for a lower interest rate than what the car salesman is telling you. This way, the dealership is able to pocket the difference.

Searching Online

Just like auto refinance can be easy online, so can purchasing a vehicle. Employees running the internet side of the dealership often use pre-approvals to grant you a lower price without actually approving anyone for anything. Before visiting the dealership, shop around on financing options to see what rates you can truly expect.

Ways you can increase your negotiating power

Is the car you want in demand

Do research on the vehicle you want to see if it’s in demand. Find out how many they have in inventory at the dealership and how much they typically sell for. If they have a full stock, this will give you room to negotiate the price.

When to look for a vehicle

Most of us have heard this before, but try to find the right car at the end of the month. This is when a lot of salesmen are trying to reach their monthly goals. Also try calling the dealership during a month with bad weather or when the new models are set to begin selling.

Don’t focus on monthly payments

Don’t discuss the monthly payment with the dealership until you have negotiated the actual price of the car. Providing a max number on the monthly payment gives the salesman a chance to include additional costs into the loan.

About The Author

Julia Guardione

Julia Guardione is RateGenius’ auto refinance expert. She is a graduate of Texas State University and a lover of all things outdoors. She lives in Austin, Texas with her dog and cat. She’s always open to new ideas, so if you have any suggestions or questions, email her at

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