Why Are Car Dealerships So Shady? (11 Reasons Why)

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Bruce Coleman

Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

Before deciding on buying a new car, the car dealership provides you with an excellent opportunity to test various models. Once you’ve made a purchase, the salesperson will arrange the financing, take care of the taxes, and handle the registration.

Yet, a lot of people hate going to the dealership and always feel like they’re being scammed. So, why are car dealerships so shady? Is it true that they’re trying to take advantage of you, or is this just a stereotype? Keep reading to learn more about this topic.

Why Are Car Dealerships So Shady?

1. Most Salespeople are Pushy

You might be visiting your local dealership for maintenance, and out of nowhere, a salesperson will appear and start to convince you that you need to buy a new car.

They won’t take no for an answer, and they’ll highlight all the pitfalls of your vehicle. Whether you comply or not, you’ll leave with doubts about your ride.

Most salespeople justify these actions by explaining that they depend on commissions for a living. As a result, you might end up with a bad financing deal or without a good car just because the salesperson rushed you.

2. False Advertising is Too Common

People will head to the dealership whenever they see an interesting ad. In the ad, they can get the car of their dreams for a good deal.

However, at the showroom, they’ll find that the plan and price advertised are misleading. The picture they’ve seen is of the top-of-the-line model, while the prices are of the basic one that they might not be interested in.

3. Salespeople can Psychologically Analyze You

Don’t blame salespeople because this is what they need to do to earn their money. However, dealing with someone who is able to analyze you through psychological profiling can be quite uncomfortable.

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The salesperson will start the conversation with some scripted questions, but they’ll soon be able to understand what you’re looking for. Thanks to their training, they might be able to convince you of a car that you’ve never thought of before.

Unfortunately, they might not give you time to step back or talk to your partner, and a lot of people succumb to this kind of pressure.

4. Some Salespeople are Ignorant

In addition to knowledgeable and well-informed salespeople who might confuse you, some dealerships hire employees who know nothing about the vehicles they sell. They don’t know anything about the car they’re selling and are just trying to get your money.

A salesperson might talk about features that are only found in a higher model or for an extra fee. After you sign the contract, you’ll know you’ve made a mistake.

5. Getting Ripped Off is Normalized

Whether working for a new or used car dealership, salespeople are always thinking about how much money they can make with every deal.

If this means selling a questionable car to an unsuspected customer, some of them won’t hesitate to do so.

For you, this means that you might end up with a bad car that breaks down often. This is why you need to have a trustworthy mechanic inspect any used car you are interested in.

6. The Small Print Always Gets You

The Small Print Always Gets You

This complaint is related to new and used car dealerships. In many cases, you’d be tempted by an ad only to find that the deal you’re getting is nothing like the one being advertised.

Car ads have some fine print terms and conditions, and most people dismiss that. Nevertheless, when it’s related to a car you’re actually buying, the consequences can be disastrous.

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You might be surprised to know that you’d be eligible for only a few financing options and that you have to pay a large down payment to get a lucrative interest rate.

This is why you should ask about all the details that might affect your purchase decision, so you don’t waste your time or energy.

7. Added Options Cost a Lot

You’d often be interested in a car because of its attractive price, but when you head to the dealership, you find out that the actual price is much higher. This is because of what we call the Dealer-Added Options.

You never really asked for those extra features, but you’d probably end up paying for them anyway. Unfortunately, this also means that your car scouting days aren’t over because you still have to find a good deal.

8. You Don’t Know What you Can Get

Unless you work in the automotive market, you’d probably agree to whatever is being offered. Many people don’t know that they can get a lower price than the advertised one by negotiating with the salesperson.

So, unless you’re buying your car from a no-haggle dealership, chances are you can get a better deal. To do that, you should study the market and talk about the competitors’ deals so the salespeople know that you have other options.

9. They Convince You with Overpriced Models

You’re all settled, and you know your budget, but the salesperson starts recommending an exclusive car with unique features that you didn’t think you wanted.

Of course, it’s true, and you don’t want these features, but you might feel like you should get them.

Salespeople have been on the market for too long, so they can convince others to buy certain models depending on the fear of missing out.

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Unfortunately, this means you’ll end up with a vehicle you probably don’t need and definitely can’t afford.

10. Some Warranties are Restrictive

Your experience with the car dealership doesn’t stop when you buy the car, sign the contract, and leave. This is why you need to be very careful while discussing the warranty terms.

The more inclusive the warranty, the better it is. Some fine print might state that your car will only be covered only if you don’t change anything, like the wheels.

For used cars, the warranty is usually 30 to 90 days, and this differs according to the state and the age of the vehicle. A dealership that doesn’t offer any warranty is a definite no-no.

11. Some Dealerships Would Sell Unsafe Cars

A dealership selling unsafe cars can tell you a lot about the employees’ and managers’ business ethics. Dealerships don’t call them unsafe cars but call them open recalls. These are vehicles that have defects that compromise safety.

If you haven’t done your homework, you might not be alarmed. However, asking about a dealership’s open recall policy is crucial and actively staying away from such places is crucial.

Wrap Up

Visiting several car dealerships is recommended whether you’re looking for a new or old car. However, before making up your mind, you should be aware of some shady practices that some salespeople won’t hesitate to follow.

Make sure that you’re choosing a trustworthy dealership and take your time before signing the contract.


  • Bruce Coleman

    Bruce Coleman is a diesel mechanic and car tester with 20 years of experience. He's a member of various vintage car clubs, and he loves restoring old motorbikes.

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