How to Know if You’re Being Ripped off by Car Dealers

There are many aspects that come to play when a car dealer sets a price on the car in question. Sure, the first one being the performance of the car as well as its overall state, but, sometimes, the overall state of a vehicle isn’t all that obvious at first glance. Well, what should you look for then? How can you even determine if the price that the car dealer has set for the car makes sense?

Rest assured, with a little bit of understanding, knowledge, and research there definitely are ways to do so, and on that note – in this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know so that you don’t get scammed.

Be Sure To Do a Background Check

Buying a car is not a small purchase, and hence people regularly opt to buy a used car. While that is perfectly fine, keep in mind that you are buying something that will probably be used every day, so you want it to be in the best possible state when you buy it, or you are going to end up paying way more as the time passes.

In order to be sure that the car you are going to buy is indeed in the shape that your car dealer claims it to be, it’s essential for you to do a background check.

Consulting the Experts

If you don’t know much about cars, or just don’t want to risk not doing the background check thoroughly enough, you can always turn to experts for the advice on the topic.

These people know just what to look for, so it will make the process a lot easier to give you peace of mind. The professionals behind say that getting an online background check with all the relevant information will help a lot in this endeavor.

For instance, If the car was used as a taxi or rental car or whether the current odometer reading is accurate, so if you find information on this topic important, it will be easier if you get a professional background check.

Doing It Yourself

While yes, the companies that background check reports are essential when it comes to information regarding the car in question, there are some things that you just need to do by yourself.

Before anything else, even a test drive, ask your car dealer to inspect the car. First and foremost, be sure to do this during daylight since some things that you are looking for during the inspection can only be seen this way

Look For Mismatched Panels

This is something that you probably wouldn’t be able to see if it weren’t for daylight. So, be sure to look for a mismatch in coloring between the panel, even if it’s very subtle. If you do happen to find one, ask your car dealer about it.

The probability is high that the panel was replaced at some point, most probably either because it was rusty or it was involved in an accident. And if it really was rusty, the probability is high that there is more rust in that car, and you don’t want that.

Be Sure to Check the Tires

If the tires are new, you won’t be able to see much when you inspect them, but if they aren’t new, you need to look for the way that they have worn off. So, turn the tires fully outwards, get down on the eye level, and brush your hand over the tire.

If they are evenly worn off, that’s good, but if they aren’t, you might be looking at the problem with the alignment.

Open the Hood

You really don’t want to buy a car before opening the hood. There are some key parameters that you need to check out, and it really isn’t all that complicated. Firstly, look for corrosion and rust. A little of both is not that big of a deal, but if there’s a lot, you don’t want to buy that car.

So, first, be sure to check the engine oil. You want the oil nice and clear, and if it smells burnt – something’s not right.

Second, be sure to check the brake fluid reservoir, since it can tell you a lot about the state of the brakes. For instance, if it’s full, it’s a good sign that the brakes are in good shape, but If the pistons are coming out farther and the reservoir is a bit lower, the brakes are probably worn off.

Start the car

Sit in the car and start the ignition. Ask your car dealer to be quiet while you listen, because some things you just wouldn’t be able to hear if anyone is talking. Listen carefully, and if you hear any clacking, racketing or pretty much anything that is unusual, be sure to ask your car dealer about that


Okay, so, you have inspected the car, you figure that it fits all the criteria, and now it’s time to close the deal. Get ready, because negotiation is very important, and probably one of the best tactics for car dealers to scam you.

But, you have inspected the car, done the background check, and you pretty much know how much is the car worth after all of that research.

Scam Tactics

The most common tactic that car dealers use in order to get more money is to initially ask for way more money than it’s realistic because they count on lowering the price at some point, while still overpricing it, but making you feel like you’ve got yourself a deal.

It’s really important to clock this, as well as to ask about the details on the car, asking them to break down the price basically. That’s how you combat this tactic – by insisting on all the details and leaving no stone left unturned.

Service & Parts Department

Finally, it should be mentioned that you are still at risk of being ripped off by car dealers even when the deal is closed and the reason for this – service & parts department. Always do your research when you spot an issue with your car before you go to the service department because the probability is high that they are going to try and earn more money by suggesting unnecessary tweaks.

Also, if you need some car parts to be replaced, be sure to first check the pricing online in various different places. More often than not, parts can be overpriced.

In the end, you can never be 100% sure that your car dealer is honest and fair with you, but you can be 100% sure that you have done everything you can in order to prevent that. So, always do your research, don’t be shy to ask as many questions as you have, look for the signs mentioned in the article, and you will be fine. Good luck!

Interesting Related Article: “Tips to sell your car quickly and at the best price