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Here’s how auto dealerships try to scam you when buying a car. “The ideal customer is disproportionately young, disproportionately female, and disproportionately a person of color.”

Discussion  9 comments


Wow. Crazy article and unfortunately, not all that surprising. the amount of daily predation that goes on in this country - particularly against the less-advantaged among us is just brutal. I have never understood why cars can't just have a fixed price. I mean surely there is a number where the dealership makes a profit and people don't feel completely ripped off? Why can't it just be that number and that's it?

Robb Monn

They do! I go to Edmunds price guide and enter my data including trade if I have one and get their suggested price and print it out. It is usually a few thousand lower than MSRP. If you do that and go into a dealer and show them the printout they will more than likely look a little sad and then give you the price without any fuss. My guess is that it may be possible to get a better deal but not by much. Your mileage may vary and it may work differently for more expensive cars -- I'm usually buying a base model of a cheaper car.

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Vijay Parikh Edited

This is why I have these rules when I buy a car:

1. Only buy what you can afford - that means no loans. Pay in cash.
2. Never lease
3. Only by the base model with the base options - most moderns cars contain everything you need in the base model, everything that isn't is usually a nice to have.
4. Negotiate on the out the door price (which should be lower than the sticker price)
5. Do not buy extended warranties/upgrades/add ons.
6. Be ready to walk. Remember you are the buyer with the cash on hand.

Keep those rules in mind and you have a shot at avoiding 95% of the scams out there.

Now I know the cash rule will be a tough one for everyone - but buy what you can afford is the operative term here. You don't need a new car and you don't need a fancy car. You can get a car to go from point A to point B at a surprising low cost. Sure, you won't impress friends / family but you aren't buying a car to impress people, you are buying a car to go from point A to point B

Colter Mccorkindale

The trick with this is that buying a used car means it will break down at unpredictable points in time, and that can have major repercussions on your health, finances and safety. We had a used car for years until it stranded my wife and kids in a Pennsylvania forest. And this was a fairly nice 2009 Subaru Forester.

Vijay Parikh

Agreed. But if all you can afford is say $2500, then buy the $2500 car and budget $100 a month toward repairs until you save up enough to buy a proven reliable car (Toyota Carola, Honda Civic) base model. Better that then end up buying a 30K+ car with a 7 year $500 dollar payment. Its all priorities and making a decision not to go into debt over a depreciating asset. When you are broke you really have no choice, embrace it and plan to get better down the road.

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Colter Mccorkindale

God less this guy. He is Ralph Nader: The Next Generation.

Colter Mccorkindale

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The pending rule would make dealerships “only charge for products deemed to have real value”.

What a wild concept!

Daniel Dunnam

I have a friend who was a car salesman for many years. I always thought it was wild hearing his TOTALLY OPPOSITE take on all the things we non-car salesmen assume are going on. He sold Land Rovers and other ridiculously expensive cars, so there surely are big differences between his clientele and those at a used Ford dealership or whatever. But I know from hearing stories from him for years, that his ideal customer was not a poor POC woman. It was an oil exec who is buying his 5th Porche…

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