5 Things Dealerships Don’t Want you to Know

Buying or leasing a car can be a stressful and expensive process but it does not have to be. During my short stint as a New Car Sales Associate for a Chevrolet Dealership, I learned a lot!

After selling cars, a lot of friends and family members began to ask me for helpful tips or tricks before going to the dealership. So here I am sharing what I learned!


5 Things Car dealerships
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Research the Car You Want

Since graduating college, Doug and I have bought four cars, two used and two leased.

Know what works best for your buying options as both have their own benefits and down falls.

When searching for a car consider the following:

  • Do I have a trade in?
  • What size vehicle do we need?
  • What are my MUST HAVES in the vehicle
  • Most important: What can I afford?


Berger Camero
Berger Camaro : Berger Chevrolet

Get Pre-approved at your own bank or Credit Union

Dealerships not only get paid for selling cars but financing through institutions too! Your APR (annual percentage rate)  is a big determinant on them making money. If your credit score is lacking, you may have a higher APR.

Having money to put down on a vehicle will always help you improve on a payment pricing. Just remember, if you are LEASING your vehicle, any down payment is money out the window.

Leasing down payments will lower your payment but it is money that goes straight to the bank.

BEFORE going to the dealership, talk to your bank or credit union and see what you pre-qualify for. Knowing your approved amount and pre-approved rate gives you a bartering tool.

Keep it quiet until the right time. When buying a car, the less information you give is more.

Know your Trade-in Value

Having a trade-in is a tough one. You need to ask yourself, do I want to deal with selling my trade in or do I trade it in at the dealership?

Dodge Charger
Doug’s 2008 Dodge Charger

Keep in mind, you WILL make less on your trade-in at the dealership. They will offer you less as they need to clean, repair and then sell your car off. They may also sell it to an auction.

I highly recommend using Kelly Blue Book to price your car. Most dealerships will use Kelly Blue Book pricing to determine the worth of your vehicle.

This can also help you decide if you want to sell your car on your own or trade it in at the dealership.

Please remember, there are certain times that are best to buy your car. There are always “deals” going on but knowing the New Year turnover time is key!

Late summer around July and early August are the year turnovers for vehicles. Just remember, if the new 2018’s are coming out, there will be higher discounts on the 2017’s BUT there will be limited stock. This means you cannot afford to be as picky if you want to save money.

NEVER admit your Monthly Payment Goal

There is no better saying to a car dealer than answering the question, “So what is your goal monthly payment?” The reason I know this, WE made that mistake. Any salesman can lead you to your correct payment after they tack on a high APR.

My 2013 Chevy Equinox

Quick story: Doug was right out of Engineering school. He came to visit me and turned his truck off and removed the key from the ignition, but his truck was still running. After owning two vehicles that needed repairs, he had enough. So, the next day we are at the dealership and the first thing that Doug says is, “I can afford $350/month.”

Let me do some simple math for you: A $15,000 car with a $250 monthly payment for 5 years and no APR is a standard answer when someone says, “Well I don’t want to pay more than $250 per month.”

When buying a car, please remember to be realistic! Anyways, the used Dodge Charge Doug purchased was $16,000 and he walked out with a car payment of $350 for 6 months and an APR 8.5%!!

Well, 4 years later, AFTER working for the car dealership, we got rid of the Charger and its $5,000 of negative equity. That was our first lesson in the dealership can always get you to that payment!

As a budgeter, I could sell cars but when it is your only paycheck which requires others paying for it, it was not for me.

My philosophy is selling to serve or help others, NOT selling to survive. I will NEVER recommend anything I do not use myself or believe in.

Negotiate! Do not take the first  “Serve”

There are steps in the car buying process. You will always sit down and talk about the type of car you want, the features in the car, what you will use it for.

Ford Fusion
Doug’s Current: 2012 Ford Fusion

NEVER walk into a dealership without doing your research or at least have an idea of what you want and how much you want to spend. Technology today makes it easy to find what you want and need before stepping foot into a dealership and TRUST ME, they know it!

After you find the car you want, test drive it and start to discuss numbers, your sales associate will give you the first “serve”. This is where they will see how much they can keep overhead on the price of the car.

There is always a magic number the dealership has, the first serve has that magic number on the car sold AND your trade.

It is good to negotiate the price more than once. They want to sell you a car. The real secret is, no dealership wants you leaving your first visit without committing to a purchase. They are in the business of selling after all. No one wants to be shopped or priced at another dealership, at least give them the chance to work with you.

When negotiating:

  1. Know the Value of your trade-in
  2. Take into account the MSRP of the vehicle (there is wiggle room)
  3. Ask and barter for the BEST APR rate you can get
  4. Unless you tell them you do not want to negotiate and give your best and final, do not take the first serve.

Extra Tips and Tricks to save more money:

  1. Don’t buy accessories for your car at the dealership. You are being over charged!
  2. DO NOT buy a car care package. You can pay for a good cleaning package once a year vs adding on to your financing or paying out of pocket.
  3. Learn to budget $75 of groceries for two people per week.


Are you looking to buy a car? Do you have any questions? I would love to help you buy your next car!