The ads at a local dealership seem to be virtually screaming promises at you lately. No money down? No problem. Bad credit? As long as your income is steady, they’ll get you a vehicle.
It all sounds very promising — but you know that anything that seems too good to be true probably is, so you’re right to be cautious. If you’re looking for a new (or new-to-you) vehicle at a dealership, it’s best to know when to walk away.
Warning signs that a car deal isn’t really a good deal
It’s hard to tell if a dealership has good or bad deals until you’re in the middle of negotiations for the vehicle you want. If any of these things happen, however, you need to gather your paperwork and get out — fast:
- They won’t give you a Carfax report. You need to know if a vehicle has already been back to the factory for problems, been totaled in a crash, suffered flooding damage or other problems. Reputable dealers aren’t afraid to reveal a vehicle’s history.
- They don’t want to honor a price quote. If you got a price quote online or through a car service like AAA, the dealership should honor it. If you suddenly find the price hiked for fees or “optional” features, your dealer is playing games with your money.
- They keep lowering the monthly payment. If the price of the car doesn’t come down but the salesman keeps finding ways to make the monthly payment more attractive, they’re not helping you. You’re going to pay too much in the end.
What if it’s already too late? Maybe you’ve already signed papers and accepted delivery of a vehicle that you now realize is a lemon. If so, don’t let the dealership get away with their games. You can effectively challenge a dealer for fraud and get compensation for your losses.