Buying a car is as big a purchase as a house. You need to think carefully about its features, horsepower, and style, and take it for a test drive to find out if you feel comfortable in it or not. Whether you are trading your car at a dealership or buying a secondhand from a used car dealer, you need to know a few things before you sign the contract. Car dealers confuse clients with scams and fraud relating to a car’s price, model, or other features. To make sure you don’t end up spending thousands of dollars on a car not worth your money, we have compiled a list of scams you need to avoid:
Car salesmen lie about the smallest things. From saying your preferred color is not available and it will cost more to get a car in it to this “price tag” for today, they will do anything to make a sale quickly. What to Do: Rushing is the devil’s work. You wouldn’t make such a hasty decision when buying a car, would you? So, listen to what the salesman says, go home, do your research and then decide.
2. Useless Add-Ons
Profitable add-ons that might sound like a steal but are useless include paint protection, VIN etching, rust-proofing, fabric protection, and undercoating. Don’t get confused with these fancy names. What to Do: These add-ons are less important than GAP insurance and warranties. Ask the salesman if he will include these.
3. Shell Games
Exploiting your hot buttons is the oldest trick in the book. If you are trading your car, they will quote you your desirable price to reel you. The salesman will then increase the new car’s price, making you believe it’s a good deal. What to Do: Ask about the new car’s features and compare prices online. You are good to go if the price is right or up by a few hundred dollars.
4. Stealing Rebate
Manufacturers offer multiple incentives and rebates, which many buyers don’t know about because they purchase the car from a dealership. Salesmen often keep these incentives to themselves but add their costs to the price tag. Since not all manufacturers audit every sale, dealerships get away with this scam. What to Do: Call multiple dealerships and ask what incentives and rebates they offer. Note them down to make sure that all say the same things.
5. Initial High-Ball Offer
You find a dealer online and call them to ask how much they will pay for your car. They quote a high price to bring you in. You don’t know that this is just a tactic to get you to their dealership. They will then assess your car and offer a lower price. What to Do: Instead of making inquiries on the phone, drive your car to multiple dealerships and get a quote in person.
6. Errors in the Contract
You agreed on one set of terms, and the contract has different terms. When you point the discrepancy out to the salesman, he says it was an honest mistake. It wasn’t! What to Do: Read the contract thoroughly.
7. Not Disclosing Previous Repairs
To make a car more attractive, salesmen often hide any previous repairs. What to Do: Inspect the car from every angle. If you are not an expert, take a car enthusiast with you.
8. Title Washing
When a flood or hurricane has damaged a car, it often becomes a target of title washing. The car is transferred to another state where the brand is not recognized. What to Do: You can find out the history of any car by entering its information on Autocheck or CarFax. The car might have been physically wiped, but its digital record stays in place.
9. Lying About Warranty
A car’s "Factor Warranty" allows you to get free repairs. Some dealerships turn this into an incentive or hide it, so you purchase a warranty from them. What to Do: Use the car's VIN to determine the repairs left in the warranty.
Sometimes, your down payment on a new car includes the first monthly installment. A salesman might trick you into making this payment and then ask for the first monthly installment. Read the agreement to find out how the monthly installments will be made and ask for a breakdown of the total cost of the car.