How to deal with sneaky, tricky car dealerships?

Well, there comes a time when we all want to purchase that new shiny sports car, pickup truck or suv and what is the first thing that we do? We visit our closest dealership where there is an array of great selection, United States flags and music. There is no lack of salesmen approaching you and promising you that you can take your dream car with no credit or bad credit.


Everything seems perfect you think, but then comes the magic. After the salesman keeps you waiting for several hours and you are hungry and tired and ready to leave, he gives you a stack of papers to sign. Most of the time you do not even read the documents and that is where you will pay a hefty price.


These are the ways that a dealership can trick you.

  1. Arbitration Clause: this is a section of the sales contract where the dealership forces you to give up your right to sue in a regular court and instead your only option is to go to arbitration. Arbitration is a way to settle a dispute with a third party, the process is private and confidential. The arbitrator is generally a lawyer or retired judge who will make the decision in your case. What is the problem with this? Some dealerships are used to scamming their customers and do not want the negative publicity, by forcing you to arbitration nobody will know the result of the case or even that they were sued. Also, they save money because it is a simple process for which they do not need an attorney to attend. And finally, when an arbitrator makes a decision who do you think they are going to favor? The dealership who is their regular customer or you the unknowing consumer that they may never see again? Best thing to do is to scratch out the entire arbitration clause from the contract and do not agree to it; that way you can sue them in court if you need to.

  2. No copies given: another trick that dealerships employ is to make you sign a bunch of documents and then they do not give you any copies at all. Always ask for copies of all documents that you sign. Even better yet, before you sign, take your documents to an attorney and have them review them for you.

  3. Financing: many times the dealership will give you the vehicle pending financing. You take the car home and then they call you back saying that the bank did not approve you and that you need to bring an additional $1,000 to pay for financing for another bank. Never take the vehicle until the financing is totally done. Better yet, go to your local credit union or bank and get your own financing before you visit the car dealership. Use your own finance company and that way you avoid any troubles or tricks by the dealership.

  4. Hidden Damages to Vehicle / Prior Accidents: many cars sold in dealerships have had prior damage or accidents that is not disclosed by the dealership. Always insist on getting the vehicle's Carfax Report which should list all of its damage history and accidents. Any reputable dealership will have the report upon request. If they don't have the report, RUN! Also, before purchasing the car take the car to a local mechanic and have him inspect it for any damage history or problems before you buy it. The ideal thing would be that the dealership give you thirty day warranty for any repairs that the vehicle may incur.

  5. Terms that you don't understand: the dealership will use many terms in their paperwork that you may not understand which is perfectly normal. However, you do have a right to consult a legal professional and have them review your documents before signing. Never sign something you do not understand.

Hopefully, you do not fall prey to unscrupulous dealership scams by following the above tips. So next time you go to a dealership and if they try these techniques on you, remember to run out of the door and never look back.


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