I have 99 car buying problems, but walking away is not one of them. Scams are common even when you know all the tricks and techniques the dealers can use.
Let me start off by saying that the dealership has the right to make money from the sale. The issue is sometimes they try to make too much from a single transaction. This is known as a home run in the retail car business.
Sidebar: The government has a lot to say on the used car shopping subject it’s worth a read after you hear my story. I recently traded in my 2004 Blazer for a 2009 Cadillac SRX. I went to every dealer in town and several common problems stood out at all of them.
1) My trade in car was worth below wholesale regardless of condition. The value of the used car I wanted to purchase was worth above high retail in the eyes of the dealership.
2) when I sat down to work a deal there were many strange charges added to the bottom line of the settlement sheet. Reconditioning fee and dealer charges are some of the large additions. If you run into these issues yourself start asking questions.
Here is an example. At one dealership they had a reconditioning charge added to the used automobile that raised my interest. The line item on the settlement sheet equaled $800.
They told me this was how much money the dealership invested in repairs and detailing. When I asked to see the internal repair order for proof of this charge I found out the vehicle had never been through the shop at all.
I suspected foul play, because the brakes were worn out, the tires had almost no tread left and there were no signs of fresh wax on the vehicle. Note: that every repair at a dealership is documented.
This is true even if it’s an internal transaction. If the dealer states otherwise, hoist the red flag, point out this inconsistency with industry standards or just walk away.
Problems with Trading in Old Cars
Another car buying problem is when it ‘s time to get your trade in car evaluated. Some people think a good way to save some money on the price of a new car is to trade in your old one.
Watch out for dealers who try to undervalue your trade in car.
Determine how much your car is worth based on its condition, model year, optional equipment and mileage. Here’s my page that describes how the National auto dealers association can help you calculate the actual value of the trade-in car as well as a link to the calculator itself.
Another option is to break out the news paper and see what other people with your model are asking for their vehicles. You should consider selling your vehicle privately instead of trading it in at the dealership.
Yes this is not convenient, but you could wind up with several thousand dollars more to apply to the new car purchase.
A rental car to bridge the gap between the day you sell the old vehicle and delivery day on the new one can cost less than 100 bucks.
When you run into car buying problems such as the low ball offer on your trade in car, remember the walk away and shop somewhere else option. When I was negotiating with the used car manager on the purchase of my Cadillac SRX he stated I was being unrealistic about what my 2004 Blazer ZR2 was worth as a trade.
I picked up the news paper off his own desk and showed him several ads asking much more than I wanted for just a plane Jane blazer with a lot more miles.
My trade was a 1 owner loaded ZR2 with every available option. Sunroof, Leather, Brush guard, power seats and premium sound are not common on a Blazer.
I told him since he refused to offer a fair price on my exceptional trade, I would sell it independently in the news paper. If that didn’t work I would try listing it on e-bay with a high reserve. I would then take those funds and use it to buy a new car at another dealership.
I exited the showroom, but he chased me out into the parking lot and said okay, I will give you the wholesale book value listing price from NADA. I went in to pick up my tags a week later and the Blazer I traded was on the lot for $5,000 over wholesale.
Unless the car you’re purchasing is brand new you will need to carefully evaluate the desired vehicle. One good place to start is learning more about this car and who owned it previously.
When shopping around I discovered much of the used car inventory I came across was purchased at auction not traded from the local folks. If this is the case, have an independent mechanic look it over real good.
How did I find out that my target vehicle was from the auction? I ran a vehicle history report on it. Even though the report said, this car is clean, I noticed the last recorded mileage from an auction broker.
When I took a closer look at the Caddy, I noticed someone replaced sheet metal, the right front fender to be exact and the hood was repainted.
How could this be when the report said there was no reported accidents? The answer is, if the accident is not reported through official channels it will not be documented.
Regardless I used this information against the dealership at the negotiation table and shaved an extra grand off the asking price. Car buying problems can happen to even the most experienced buyers and sellers.
I think the best piece of advice I can give is to take your time and make an educated and fully researched decision. To often the dealer applies massive pressure on the buyer and the next thing you know they’re driving off the lot with a temporary tag and buyer’s remorse.
After owning the SRX pictured in this article I had several years of trouble free operation. However, recalls and special policy letters started filling my mailbox. See some of the major problems with a first generation Cadillac SRX.
I have a lot more information on this automotive website about the buying and selling of cars. This next link takes you to a few more tips from this page about car buying problems.
How would you feel about turning the tables and you being the one selling the car for above retail and offering below wholesale on vehicles? It’s not right for everybody but you can make money buying and selling cars.
The Start page for Auto-Facts.org is a great place to see what else is offered on this website. You can also find many more answers to popular car questions.