So there you are, all ready to purchase a new set of wheels. You’ve done your homework about getting finance for your vehicle and you’ve done the research for the sort of car you want, so your problems are all over and the fun part is about to begin, right?
Well, this would be the case if car dealers were all completely above board and didn’t have a set of tricks up their sleeves to persuade you out of your cash, and possibly more cash than you really intended to pay. We’ll assume that the car dealers aren’t trying to sell you an absolute dog that will blow up within a week, but they’ve still got some high-pressure tricks that you need to be aware of so you can shop smart and not fall for them.
Trick #1: Bait and switch. This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. You’ll see an ad in a magazine or in the paper or online for a car that looks like everything you need for a reasonable price. But once you get around to the car sales yard, they tell you that Too bad, mate, that one’s just been sold. But over here, we’ve got And then the pressure starts for you to buy something pricier.
Trick #2: Bamboozling number crunching. If you have found a car that you like, a dealer may try to talk you into a finance agreement that isn’t the best for you. This is usually done by taking you very quickly through a bewildering array of numbers and calculations and keeping your attention fixed on the weekly/fortnightly/monthly repayment amount. However, things like unnecessary extras (e.g. extended warranty periods, income protection insurance schemes) tend to be glossed over, as do loan terms and interest rates. The chances are that this will be presented so quickly that all you can really grasp is the repayment amount. It’s far better to come to the dealer prepared with a pre-approved personal loan that you’ve negotiated after long and careful thought in a pressure-free situation.
Trick #3: Playing mechanic. Here, the car sales rep will give your current set of wheels a glance and try to tell you that it’s really time that you bought a new one, even if you’re just casually browsing through the car yard doing your homework or window shopping. However, the average car dealer isn’t a mechanic (some are, but that’s another story) and they’re not really able to pronounce on the condition of your car just with a quick look. Even your mechanic can’t do that. Avoid this by keeping your mouth shut about your current form of transport and parking your car well away from the yard.
Trick #4: What brings you in today? This is not a casual, friendly question. They’re trying to find out if you’re desperate for a car or not. If your current car has just blown up and you tell them this, they’ll be rubbing their hands with glee you’re already under pressure and are likely to agree to something less than stellar as a result. The correct answer to What brings you in today? or So what can we do for you today? is Just looking for now, said very casually.