How to articles Buyer Tips

How To Avoid Car Dealer Trickery?

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 10/19/2015

Car dealers usually treat their customers honestly. However, as is the case with virtually any other business, sometimes car dealers try to work outside the lines. So what are the tricks, and how do you identify them? Here’s a quick tutorial.

Manipulating the Numbers

Be aware that some car dealers will try to manipulate the numbers as you are working on a deal. If the dealer thinks you want to get a good deal on your trade-in, he or she will write down a high number in the “trade in” quadrant. If the dealer thinks you’re more concerned about a low purchase price, he or she will write a low number in the “new price” quadrant.

Inflating Payments

When you’re talking with car salesman, he or she isn’t going to tell you what your monthly payments are going to be. Instead, you’ll be asked what you are looking for in a monthly payment. Don’t discuss payments – insist on discussing the price of the vehicle.


There are always extras when you’re buying from a dealer – titling fees delivery charges, closing fees, etc. Most of these fees are at best unnecessary, and at worst inflated. You should always try to bargain these fees down.

In fact, a better strategy is to flat-out refuse to pay them. The dealer wants to sell you the car, so most of the time they’ll waive these fees.

Keep in mind too, that you shouldn’t pay for anything the salesperson offers after you’ve signed the agreement.

Changing the Bill of Sale

This isn’t very common, but you still need to be alert. Don’t ever sign a bill of sale that has blank spaces or terms that are “subject to approval”. Never, under any circumstances, drive a car off the lot if the paperwork isn’t perfect.


Some salespeople may resort to eavesdropping when they leave you alone for some time. They could also be working with their sales manager to find a way to trick you. This is not that common, but you still need to be alert. If you believe you’re being eavesdropped on, walk away.

Losing Your Keys

Some salespeople may misplace your car keys after you leave them at the counter when you take the car you are interested in for a test drive. This makes you have to stay longer, and gives them the opportunity to pressure you into buying the car.

To avoid this, bring an extra set of keys.

The Final Word

Not every dealership uses these tricks, but some do, and that’s why a lot of people are reluctant to buy cars from dealerships. Dealerships are actually decreasing in popularity in favor of other ways of buying cars, including online auctions. An online auction could be a great way to get a new or gently used car at a great price.

A lot of buyers love the online auction experience, but if you’re not comfortable bidding on your own, you can use a proxy bidder in certain auctions. Proxy bidders are companies that hold dealer licenses and will bid on your behalf to get you the vehicle you want at a price you’re willing to pay.

Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.