The Top 3 Dealership Tricks Salesman Don’t Want You to Know About

Man and woman buying a car

Knowledge is a powerful thing—and a lack of knowledge can cost you.

Every day, car salesmen cash in on what their customers don’t know, banking on the lack of savvy and negotiating power of the person sitting across from them. But we think it’s high time consumers turned the tables.

Below are three dealership tricks that salespeople don’t want you to know about. Armed with knowledge of these sneaky tactics, you can enter you next vehicle negotiation with confidence instead of dread.

#1 Beat the Clock

Time is something that savvy salesmen will use to wear you down when you’re shopping for a car, drawing out the car-buying process to keep you there longer. For instance, a salesman may offer to go back and forth between you and a manager to strike the “best deal,” which can really just be a method for lengthening the time you have to sit there.

They know the longer you sit in their dealership the wearier you’ll become, the crankier your kids or spouse will get, and the more anxious you’ll be to just make a deal and get the heck out of there.

Don’t let yourself fall victim to this time-draining trickery. Instead, walk into that dealership with the reins firmly in your hands. Be assertive and set your own time limit by saying something like, “I’m just here on my lunch break to take a test drive. I’ll come back tomorrow to talk about pricing.”

#2 Take the Lead

Too many people walk into a car dealership looking like a deer in the headlights—and like a rabid wolf, a salesman will pounce, exploiting your ignorance to drive up the final price and strike a deal that may benefit him more than you. So, go in with a game plan, stick to it, and stay in charge of the conversation.

Do some research ahead of time so you know what vehicles the dealer has on the lot, which ones you’re interested in, and what a good price is for that model. That way, you’ll be ready to strike the first blow when the haggling begins.

When you’re approached by a salesman, take charge of the conversation by saying something like, “This is the car I’m considering. Give me your bottom-line price and I’ll see how it compares with some of the other dealerships I’ve visited.” Suddenly, you’re the one in charge and it’s on the salesman to beat the phantom deal that some other dealership has already offered you.

Perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to walk away. Getting up from the table can be one of the most effective bargaining tools.

Salesmen are trained to get the sale “today,” and if a salesman can see you’re about to fly the coop, it may motivate him to drop the price in a hurry. And if he doesn’t, there’s always tomorrow, or even next week. Note the salesperson’s name and call him up later. If it’s been a slow sales day, week, or month, he might be a little more willing to deal than he was when you came in.

#3 Don’t Let Your Guard Down

Once you’ve successfully negotiated the salesman’s minefield and it all comes down to the paperwork, it can be tempting to relax—but don’t. A little-known fact in the car-buying world is the finance manager’s office can be the most dangerous place in the whole dealership.

Finance managers are skilled, and they know how to drive up the final price on a car. They’ll try to talk you into adding things like optional theft devices, extended warranties, tire protection plans, etc.—all of which will inflate your final price.

Know exactly what you want before you ever enter the bear’s lair of the dealership, and stick to your guns. Many experts consider extended warranties and the like to be a waste of money, so do your own research about what you do and don’t want, and don’t let yourself get talked into anything more.

June 28, 2016 by Jamie Rettig