General Question

jz1220's avatar

Why does buying a car from a dealership have to be such a huge ordeal?

Asked by jz1220 (829points) March 12th, 2008

It’s about time for me to buy my first car, and I’m finding that it takes so much effort on the customer’s part not to get ripped off. I just can’t believe the number of articles on the web about how to outsmart your aggressive salesperson. It sounds as if they’re giving advice on how to avoid getting mugged (are they wrong?). This is totally the opposite of what a shopping experience should be. Why isn’t there more consistent pricing on cars as to eliminate the need to negotiate? Why have car dealers earned a slimey reputation and why do they perpetuate it?

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12 Answers

Randy's avatar

I just bought a Scion Tc about three weeks ago. I traded in my truck on it. It was compleatly painless. I was there maybe an hour doing paperwork and whatnot. If I’d have know it was that simple, I’d have done it sooner! By the way, this was a big toyota dealership that I was dealing with.

purephase's avatar

well, the most obvious reason is the thousands of dollars that you’re about to give someone for the car. Its a scary thing to do, so completely understandable that you’re nervous about getting ripped off. I was lucky when I got my car because I had a friend who’s brother worked at a dealership. So I didn’t have to worry. I would get the word out to your friends and family that you’re looking and I bet you know someone who knows someone.

Tchalla's avatar

I dont care what others say do not trust em they will rip you off those guys are straight up crooks unless you know someone very well because they know that they may see you again but as a total stranger they will rape you as much as they can. I hate car dealers they are going to mess up the market like the housing market be very careful with those crooks they will tell you anything

tekn0lust's avatar

I’ll never buy a car from a dealer again. I’m so sick of all the crap too. A little bit of research and you can buy a used car and save yourself thousands of dollars.

With things like carfax to protect you from major stuff, hundreds of articles about buying a used car and person to person financing available to decent credit scores there is no practical reason to ever buy a new car.

If you must buy through a dealer my advice is to avoid the “Internet sales guy”, what a scam that is. Try and find a way into the fleet manager. They are usually very easy to deal with. Check with your employer as thay may already have a relationship with a local dealer for fleet maintenance or company cars.

The best advice I can give you is the hardest to follow. “Be prepared at any time to walk out the door.” Do not let yourself fall in love with the car you are about to buy.

Also if at all possible get your financing in order before you go to buy the car. Dealers make money off selling loans too and they will manipulate the price of the car knowing they will get you on the loan side. Don’t let them talk monthly payment, always look at the total cost of the transaction.

Good Luck!

ninjaxmarc's avatar good experiences instead of dealing with a salesman at the dealership and they usually have lower prices than at the dealership and they list any current rebates being offered. I helped my buddy save money on his new Honda pilot with carsdirect and my iPhone I said check out this price its 7000 less than what you are trying to sell to my buddy. You didnt even mention the current rebate to him. How wrong is that?

iPhone 1, dealership 7000 down on commission.

kevbo's avatar

Carmax is also a good way to go. No haggle pricing and their Web site is an excellent way to search their inventory.

I would also add that there are some people out there who LOVE to mix it up with a dealer. I met a guy once who does it for all his family and friends for like $50—$100 bucks and saves them a ton of money. He said you have to go for cars that aren’t in high demand to get a screaming deal. You might find someone like that if you ask around.

I also picked the brains of a used car salesman a few years ago. One thing he said as justification for his methods was that the information was out there for the customer’s taking and it wasn’t his job to do the research for them. He referred to deals that heavily favored the salesman “headrippers.”

Confessions of a Car Salesman on

User_55's avatar

To be honest there isn’t a really easy way around dealing with those guys. From personal experience, I’d have to say patience is key. Like tekn0 said, don’t be afraid to walk out, but don’t be afraid to wait for a deal either. Best time to get a new car is the year end sales, basically when they have the new models in and want to get rid of the older year. Even still, just go in there talk for a min and make sure that you have stated your price that you want it for, based on your research. If that price is not met within a few minutes, and it wont be, just tell them thanks I’m gonna go check another dealership. To bring this to a close, you are going to have to wait for that killer deal. I did wait on a VW gti I wanted once and would pay a visit once in a while to show I was still interested. But I jumped the gun and bought a new SI a week before I recieved a phone call from the VW dealership saying they got me my price on the car that I initially wanted.

ccatron's avatar

i agree with kevbo about Carmax. we’ve bought our last 2 cars there. its so easy because they give you their bottom line price from the beginning. if you don’t like the price, you leave. bad thing is that no one there seems to know a whole lot about the cars since they have so many different to choose from. Plus, they don’t take just any car, so you know that the car is not going to be a lemon. Be sure to do as much research as you can on the cars you would like to look at before going. It could save you a lot of time.

cwilbur's avatar

It’s all about controlling the information and the manipulation so that you make a bad choice that the salesman benefits from.

Do your research ahead of time, and get your own financing. Don’t give out any information that isn’t absolutely necessary for negotiation (such as that you have financing). Figure out what you want, and what you’re willing to pay for it, and open your negotiations asking for more and offering less. Get everything in writing before you agree to anything. Do your research before you commit to make sure you’re not missing out on anything. And, most important, be prepared to walk away if you don’t get what you want.

The salesman’s goal is to get you emotionally involved in the car so that you’ll pay more, and then saddle you with a financing plan that works to his benefit. (Beware of salesmen that try to tell you you’ll pay so much per month rather than a flat price for the car. They’ll spread the loan out over 6 or 7 years so that you wind up paying more.) If you deal with this objectively, all he can do is come down in price, increase what you’re getting, or walk away.

boffin's avatar

I saved that article for when I get my next vehicle…
Great answer.
I was about to go find it to post here…
Thanks for saving me the trouble and enlightining the rest of the Fluther Collective….

srmorgan's avatar

This is all great advice. I have two pieces to add:

If you are trading in a car, get the salesman to agree in writing what they will offer you on the trade, BEFORE you settle on a price for the new car. These guys will manipulate six ways from Sunday if you have agreed on a price for the new car. By the time you get to the end of the deal, with all of the stress involved, you will tend to agree to any offer for the trade-in because you just want to end the entire ordeal.

Two years ago my wife wanted a Honda Pilot, We went to the local dealer, drove the car, got the usual smooth talk from the salesman and I managed to persuade my wife not to “jump” and make any commitments about the vehicle. No chatting, don’t ask about price, take the salesman’s card and tell him you will call during the week.

I used either Kelly;s or Edmunds to look up prices. I used an option on the website to get offers on the vehicle from other dealers. I called the local salesman and asked about price, playing a little dumb, and he quoted me $xx, 000. I said okay we’ll call on Saturday.

From the internet I got e-mails from dealers located anywhere from 80 to 120 miles from here, that were sight unseen, at least $2,500 cheaper than what this guy quoted me.
We walked in, he had a big shit-eating grin on his face thinking of the profit they were going to make off of us – I mean fleece- and I pulled out some e-mails and he got all flustered. We walked out of that dealership twice during the afternoon, it was so much fun haggling with these guys. I really don’t know how good a deal we made but it was no more than $100 over the lowest quote we received over the internet from these other dealers.

I had a hard time with my wife because I was willing to drive to Winston-Salem and buy it at the cheapest price just because I was angry that the local dealer tried to overcharge us but I gave in to her because she thinks she gets treated better at the dealer while the car is still on warranty because she bought it there. I have no idea if that is true or not.

The only other suggestion is to wait until the last two or three days of the month to close on the deal, not to look but to close. Everyone at that dealership is on commission and they have to hit a quota every month and if they are close to hitting it and that means more money to them, then everybody in that dealership is going to be anxious to close the deal by the 31st.

As suggested get your financing in order before you walk in there. If the dealer is offering financing at say 4%, make sure that your credit union or bank can or can not give you a better rate. I bought my daughter a used car last April and the Finance guy pressured me for 30 minutes to finance it through “their” manufacturer’s loan department even though my credit union had confirmed a better rate to me. He actually whined to me that “it’s only a few dollars more a month and it’s so much more convenient to do it today that to go to the credit union on Monday”. What a load of crap!


jz1220's avatar

Thank you to all you flutherites who have answered my question. Your responses have been more than I expected, thank you so much! I had no idea there were dealers who specialize in “no haggle” car sales. I did research on it, and it sounds like the exact kind of shopping experience I’m looking for. It has definitely restored some of my faith in my future purchase. And aside from that, great advice all around. I am researching every tip and lead from everyone.

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