15 Car Dealership Tactics and How to Counteract Them


As soon as you set foot on the dealership lot, salespeople have their bag of tricks ready to charm or pressure you into making unfavorable decisions. But don’t worry! We’re about to lift the curtain on their tactics, giving you the upper hand and the confidence to make an excellent deal for you.

The Upsell Ultimatum

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When you think you’ve found your perfect ride, they try to upsell you on extras you hadn’t planned for. Remain firm with your needs and budget. Politely decline the add-ons, focusing on what initially brought you to the dealership. Remind them—and yourself—of the features you initially sought.

Financing Fables

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Auto sellers may present financing options that appear irresistibly advantageous. Caution is advised, as nuances in the details can be deceptive. Obtaining a loan pre-approval from a bank or credit union for comparison purposes can help you avoid surprises related to conditions or fees.

Trade-in Trickery

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Are you planning to trade in your old car? Dealers might undervalue your vehicle to boost their profit. Research your car’s value on multiple platforms before negotiation, and feel free to walk away if the offer feels low. Bringing in printouts of your research can strengthen your position.

The Four-Square Scam

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Salespeople often employ the four-square technique to obscure the details of the transaction. This strategy involves a diagram with sections for trade-in value, purchase amount, initial payment, and periodic charges, diverting attention from the aggregate expense. Aim to redirect discussions towards the automobile’s comprehensive cost for negotiation.

Emotional Attachment

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Showrooms excel at creating emotional attachments to cars, which can obscure clear thinking. Remember the vast array of vehicles available that could satisfy your needs. Maintain focus on your criteria and budget to prevent spur-of-the-moment choices driven by feelings.

The Warranty Worry

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Teams frequently highlight the benefits of extended warranties for assurance. Yet, these can notably raise the overall expense. Evaluate the vehicle’s dependability and your financial capacity to manage repairs without this added protection.

Fee Frenzy

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Dealerships might unexpectedly add various fees, including documentation and other charges. Scrutinize each one and request a thorough explanation. Should any seem unreasonable or excessive, contest them or request their removal.

The Payment Ploy

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Concentrating exclusively on smaller periodic amounts may result in unfavorable terms, with the possibility of extended repayment periods increasing total costs. Aim to negotiate the comprehensive cost rather than fixating on monthly payments.

Bait and Switch

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You see a great deal online, but when you arrive, that specific model is “just sold.” However, they have “another” car to show you, typically at a higher price. Always call ahead to confirm the car’s availability and ask for the name of the person you spoke with as a reference.

High-Pressure Insurance Push

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As you’re about to finalize the sale, there could be a push for life or disability insurance. Though touted as a safety net, it can be unnecessary and costly. Review your current ones to prevent overlapping coverage.

Endless Negotiations

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Negotiations may extend for hours, exhausting you into consent on less advantageous terms. Establish a limit, and don’t hesitate to pause or revisit on another occasion as needed. Patience becomes a critical ally in securing a favorable outcome.

Mandatory Add-ons

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Some showrooms could insist that certain extras are necessary to complete the purchase. These can include VIN etching, fabric protection, or paint sealant. Stand your ground and refuse add-ons you don’t need; they’re mostly just additional profit for the car sellers.

Inventory Illusions

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Dealers may claim they have limited stock to create a sense of scarcity. Don’t fall for this. With the internet at your fingertips, checking inventory at other dealerships is doable, giving you an edge during bargaining.

The Test Drive Distractor

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During test drives, sales professionals might steer the conversation away from the car’s features and performance to distract you. Focus on how the car drives, its comfort, and its characteristics. Prepare a list of items to inspect and questions to inquire about before the test drive to keep focused.

The Time Pressure

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“Act now before it’s too late!” Does this ring a bell? Sales centers frequently urge immediacy to prompt an on-the-spot buy. To counteract this, consider that more opportunities will arise and pace yourself accordingly. Also, be patient in decision-making as thoughtful deliberation, not haste, leads to wise choices.

Written by grayson