Dealer Tricks You May Not Know About

We’ve written stories before about the common ways consumers can be tricked at the dealership. Car and Driver has a story on its site about other ways car shoppers can get ripped off during their next car purchase.

We’ve heard of most of the tricks on Car and Driver’s list. But there were two that we’ve never heard of before and found very interesting. The first one doesn’t surprise us that much but the second one is downright insane!

car negotiating picture

We’re not saying all salespeople and finance managers do these things, but the more tricks you know about, the less chance you have of getting ripped off at the dealership.

"Juggling the Foursquare

This isn’t really a trick, but awareness here is important for a buyer. When you sit down to negotiate, the salesperson will pull out a “foursquare” worksheet on which to figure out the terms of the deal. In the four quadrants of the sheet, the salesman (or -woman, but enough of being PC!) will record purchase price, down payment, monthly payments, and trade-in value. He will fill in the sheet as you talk, working the deal like a shell game. If he thinks you are preoccupied with getting a fair deal on your trade-in, he might give you a good price for that and then nudge your new-car purchase price north. Take it slow, focus on one item at a time, and be sure you are comfortable with each individual aspect of your purchase.


Although it’s a good idea to bring a friend or family member shopping with you—someone else to watch the deal, question the terms, and help keep your emotions in check—this opens additional avenues for nefarious dealerships to use the wingman against the buyer. When the salesman leaves the cube, customers drop their guard and feel comfortable discussing aspects of the deal they wouldn’t mention in front of the salesman. With just a couple subtle pokes at their phones, salespeople can leave the intercom open to the sales manager’s office, where they will go not to seek approval on your terms but to eavesdrop on your conversation, harvesting information to use against you. There are even stories of salespeople hiding baby monitors in their offices. When the salesman leaves to talk to the sales manager, that’s your cue to leave and get a cup of coffee."

Check out Car and Driver’s full list of car dealer tricks here.


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