How To Avoid Getting Ripped Off By A Car Salesman

Lifestyle
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brofer

Car-buying is one of the biggest scams faced by service members and veterans. Younger enlistees who often have disposable income are prime targets for car salesman looking to take advantage. When you are in the market for a new vehicle, you often walk onto a car lot and see rows of shiny new cars, just waiting to be test driven.


Here are five tips to avoid car scams.

Watch your back when dealing with car salesmen.

There’s a road in Norfolk, Virginia, called Military Highway, and it’s notorious for its miles and miles of used and new car lots. The salespeople who work these lots know that a lot of young enlistees and newly commissioned officers will have expendable income, and convince them that they are offering the best deal on a car. Young service members need to do their homework, compare prices of similar vehicles online, get the Carfax for a used vehicle. Car salesman are there to sell cars, not advocate for your best interest.

Related: How To Avoid Getting Duped By A Stripper »

Use competition to your advantage.

There are tons of resources available when looking for new or used cars. One trick to get what you’re looking for is to use competition to your advantage. Visit several dealerships, and arm yourself with research. Knowing the Kelly Blue Book value of a car can help you to talk down the price. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Pay attention to the fine print.

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. In TV car commercials, they hide all the stipulations in tiny print on the last frame. All the promises of low APR and monthly payments — make sure you ask about the stipulations of any good deal. Often low interest rates apply only to “qualified” buyers with good credit. Whether it’s in a deal, your lease, or your buyer’s contract, make sure you read everything to avoid surprises.

Consult your calendar.

There are certain times during the year when the price of cars is lower. According to AutoTrader, late summer or early fall is a good time to buy as the new-model-year vehicles will begin populating the lot. Dealerships will be looking to cut deals on current year models to make room.

Take advantage of military discounts.

Almost every brand of car has a military discount. If you have your military ID or a DD-214, you can take advantage of some very gracious vehicle deals. Companies like Ford, Honda, Scion, and Toyota offer a $500 rebate toward leasing or buying any car. Others, like Acura offer even more.

Nothing says joint force battle management like a ride-sharing app. (Task & Purpose photo illustration)

The Air Force's top general says one of the designers of the ride-sharing app Uber is helping the branch build a new data-sharing network that the Air Force hopes will help service branches work together to detect and destroy targets.

The network, which the Air Force is calling the advanced battle management system (ABMS), would function a bit like the artificial intelligence construct Cortana from Halo, who identifies enemy ships and the nearest assets to destroy them at machine speed, so all the fleshy humans need to do is give a nod of approval before resuming their pipe-smoking.

Read More
The newly painted F-15 Eagle flagship, dubbed the Heritage Jet, was painted to honor 1st Lt. David Kingsley, the namesake for Kingsley Field, and his ultimate sacrifice. (U.S. Air National Guard/Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

An F-15C Eagle is sporting a badass World War II-era paint job in honor of a fallen bomber pilot who gave everything to ensure his men survived a deadly battle.

Read More
The wreckage of a U.S. Air Force E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft is seen after a crash in Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, Afghanistan on January 27, 2020 (Reuters photo)

A U.S. E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft crashed on Monday on Afghanistan, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein has confirmed.

Read More
In this June 7, 2009 file photo Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) points to a player behind him after making a basket in the closing seconds against the Orlando Magic in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. He was 41. (Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill)

Beloved basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday. Two days earlier, Army Spc. Antonio I. Moore was killed during a vehicle rollover accident while conducting route clearing operations in Syria.

Which one more deserves your grief and mourning? According to Maj. Gen. John R. Evans, commander of the U.S. Army Cadet Command, you only have enough energy for one.

Read More
Jessica Purcell of St. Petersburg, a captain in the Army Reserve, was pregnant with son Jameson when she was told at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic not to worry about lumps under her arm. She now is diagnosed stage 4 cancer. Jameson is 10 months old. (Tampa Bay Times/Scott Keeler via Tribune News Service)

Jessica Purcell, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, was pregnant with her first child when she noticed a swollen lymph node in her left underarm.

Health-care providers at a MacDill Air Force Base clinic told her it was likely an infection or something related to pregnancy hormones. The following year they determined the issue had resolved itself.

It hadn't. A doctor off base found a large mass in her underarm and gave her a shocking diagnosis: stage 2 breast cancer.

Purcell was pregnant again. Her daughter had just turned 1. She was 35. And she had no right to sue for malpractice.

A 1950 Supreme Court ruling known as the Feres doctrine prohibits military members like Purcell from filing a lawsuit against the federal government for any injuries suffered while on active duty. That includes injury in combat, but also rape and medical malpractice, such as missing a cancer diagnosis.

Thanks in part to Tampa lawyer Natalie Khawam, a provision in this year's national defense budget allows those in active duty to file medical malpractice claims against the government for the first time since the Feres case.

With the Department of Defense overseeing the new claims process, the question now is how fairly and timely complaints will be judged. And whether, in the long run, this new move will help growing efforts to overturn the ruling and allow active duty members to sue like everyone else.

Read More