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.

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