5 Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed at a Car Dealership

Tips to help you the next time you purchase a car, so you don’t end up spending more than you want.

Purchasing a car is big step in a person’s life, especially if you’ve never purchased a vehicle before. Purchasing a new car is a big financial responsibility; depending on the type of car you purchase, it could come close to the responsibility of purchasing a house or paying for college. If you don’t guard your wallet, you could end up paying even more for your car than you wanted, simply because you didn’t know what you were doing. But don’t worry. Here are 5 tips to help you protect your dignity and your bank account when you head to a dealership.


Watch for the Little Lies

A lot of salespeople are paid on commission, and because of that, they want you to purchase something right then and there, even if you’re not ready for it. To reel you in, they sometimes feed you little lies, like there’s a very limited availability on the car you’re looking at, or the price is only good today. Maybe they can only get the car in one color.


If the salesperson tells you something in an attempt to pressure you into making a rushed decision, it’s probably not true. Take your time to make a choice about whether or not to purchase a vehicle and which vehicle to buy. If you’re at a reputable dealership, you’ll most likely get the price you saw if you came during a sale. Dealerships want new inventory, but they need to clear out the old inventory to make room for the new. They would rather sell a car for a discounted sales rate than have it stay on the lot taking up space.


Ultimately, no matter what a salesperson says, don’t let them rush your decision.


Shop Your Trade-In at Different Dealers

If you have a car you would like to trade-in, take it to a few different dealers to get a quote on it. This will give you a better idea of what it’s worth. This will help you to know if a salesperson lowballs you with an offer on your current car, trying to get you to sell it for less than it’s worth.


Another thing to keep in mind is to handle the trade-in separately from the car purchase, assuming you’re doing both at the same dealership. If a salesperson knows you have a trade-in, they could inflate the price of the car so it costs you more, negating the point of the trade-in. Cement the details on the car before talking about trading in your vehicle to reduce the cost out-of-pocket to you.


By giving the dealership less wiggle room in the price, you save yourself money.


Research the Vehicle History

Sometimes dealerships will transfer the title of the car to a different state in an attempt to wipe it clean of any issues, like if the car was salvaged or totaled. Because of this, you should get the VIN number of the vehicle and run a car history of it. These histories aren’t entirely infallible, but they are pretty reliable, and you can trust them more than the words of most salespeople.


Check the Odometer

One of the smartest things you can do before purchasing a car is running a history on the odometer. Even if the car doesn’t have surprisingly low miles, there’s a chance the odometer has been tampered with to make it more appealing. Maybe it’s a 2005 with only 70,000 miles or a 2010 with 35,000 miles; make sure those miles are correct.


The odometer history will have a record of the dates of certain types of services and maintenance, along with other major points in the car’s history, and with each of those entries, it shows the reading of the odometer. Therefore, you can trace it to make sure all the numbers match up, and there aren’t any points that the odometer drops.


Look for Any Extras Tacked On

Once you’ve decided to purchase the car and you’re going through the paperwork, make sure you follow all the additional costs and packages the dealership has added on. Don’t just pay attention to the monthly payment, making sure it’s what you can afford. Look at the total amount, and make sure it’s what you’ve agreed upon. There are numerous dealership packages you can request on a car, but you don’t want to pay for something you don’t want.


From extended warranties to gap insurance, dealership packages vary in price and could end up costing you an extra $1,000 or more that you hadn’t planned on spending. Before you sign anything, make sure you know exactly what you are paying for, and how much. Then you won’t get any nasty surprises when you’re going over the paperwork later.


Buying a car doesn’t have to be scary, and if you follow these tips, it won’t be. And if you find a reputable dealer, your life will be even easier. From Mazda dealers in New York to a Honda dealer in Los Angeles like Diamond Honda, great dealerships abound. Don’t let the fear of being scammed keep you from the car of your dreams.

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