Aaron Widmar
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5 Things That Shady Used Car Dealers May Hide from You

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Old used car dealership
Can you trust your used car dealer?
Photo: Thomas Hawk via Creative Commons 2.0

It is important to be careful when you are shopping for a used car. Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle is a big investment, so it’s important to work with a dealer that’s known for trustworthy business practices. Otherwise, you could be swindled with one of these shady practices.

Want More Advice on Shopping for a Used Car? Read these recommendations from the experts

Deals that seem too good to be true

The old adage has some truth to it. Sometimes, used car dealerships that offer outrageously low prices or interest rates will have some fine print in the margins. If the interest rate being advertised is lower than what you expected, it likely only applies to individuals with perfect credit. It could also apply only to loans up to a certain amount. Before you sign anything, you should read paperwork thoroughly and verify that you’re actually getting a good deal.

A trade-in might not be your best bet

When you are buying a new car, you will likely need to get rid of your current car. Trade-ins are convenient, but they aren’t necessarily the best way to make money off your old car. If you want to receive the full value of what your car is worth, consider selling it yourself to a private buyer instead. If your car is old or run-down and needs some TLC, the dealer will likely scrap it for parts and only offer you a fraction of its potential value.

They push a vehicle that isn’t the best fit

Buying a car should be based upon your needs and budget. An unscrupulous dealer is more interested in their inventory and profit. Be wary of anyone who tries to push you into buying a used car that’s above your budget or doesn’t fit your preferences. Chances are that such dishonest salespeople are trying to offload their stagnant inventory or increasing their sales yield. A good dealership will sell you the vehicle that’s best for you — not for them.

There are hidden issues with the vehicle

No used vehicle is absolutely perfect, but some have more problems than others — and they might not be noticeable to the average person. A good car dealer will thoroughly inspect every pre-owned vehicle they sell to ensure it’s safe to drive and inform you of any issues, even if they sell the car as-is. A shady seller will have no idea if the car you’re buying is a lemon that’s ready to crumple — or they know that the car has problems but won’t tell you.

Your final price may be more than you expected

When the time comes to sign on the dotted line, your final price may be more than what you were quoted earlier and shook on. There are many used car dealers who charge additional fees that they tack on after you agree to the purchase price. It is a good idea to ask about all fees during negotiation to ensure you know the amount you’re agreeing to pay. A good salesperson is transparent about the bottom line during the entire process.

Don’t be taken advantage of by an underhanded used car dealership. Find one that is known for being transparent with customers and won’t overcharge you for a vehicle that’s rife with problems. Otherwise, you’ll be back in the market for another car much earlier than you expected.