How Not to Get Ripped Off When Buying a Car

It's no secret that car dealers have an unshakable reputation for shady deals, dishonest stunts, dirty tricks, tomfoolery, shenanigans and other undesirable actions that you should prefer never to have to deal with.

Fortunately, not all car dealers are guilty of these dreaded sins.  There truly are a group of committed, ethical, honest, good and professional car dealers out there who are looking out for your best interest.

Unfortunately, a few bad apples have spoiled the business for those of us who run a tight ship and an honest operation.

Because there are a few bad apples out there, our advice is to arm yourself with as much information as possible about the scams the dishonest dealers try to pull so you can spot them a mile away and run down the street to another dealer who really deserves your business.

The problem is in knowing how to spot the bad dealers and in being able to identify their tricks and scams.  So we've listed the most common scams the bad guys like to pull so you can be on the lookout.

If you happen to see any of these games being played run in the other direction!


SCAM #1:  The Commodity

Beware of dealerships that go on and on about selection and price and never talk about anything else.  Most dealerships want you to believe you can buy the car from them for less money than anywhere else.

The reality is we all get our cars from the same places and sell them for about the same prices.  These prices are largely set by the manufacturers and NADA or Kelley Blue Book.  Cars are commodities.  We're probably the only dealership in the area willing to admit that.

The real reasons you should choose one dealership over another have nothing to do with pricing.  Pricing can be gamed and gimmicked in the advertising.  You should be looking for a dealer who has your best interest at heart.  A dealer who helps inform you, instead of just selling you.  A dealer who offers something unique in terms of service, follow-up or peace of mind.  A dealer who says something different than everyone else in the area.



SCAM #2:  Rollover

"We'll Pay off Your Loan No Matter How Much You Owe!"

Have you ever heard a car dealer say that on the radio or TV?  Probably … but you should know, not all dealers are upfront about how it works.  Here's the deal.  When you trade a car with a loan balance, the money to pay off that loan has to come from somewhere.  It can either come from the dealer's profit, from a manufacturer's rebate or it can be refinanced into your next loan.

The problems start when you have a dealer advertising super low prices and saying that they'll pay off your trade.  Hang on!  If the dealer is selling cars at such a low price, then they can hardly have any profit left.  So … where is the money coming from to pay off your loan?  We both know the dealer isn't going to lose money to sell you a car.

Instead, what you really want to look for is a dealer who's offering up a legitimate reason to pay off your trade, and then backing up that reason with his or her own profit.  And if you do end up in a situation where you need to put part of the balance from your current loan into a new loan, here's what you should keep in mind.

If your car is worn out (bad engine, bad transmission, high mileage, body damage) and you are stuck with a balance and an unreliable vehicle, you have to do something … you have to get to work.  Or if you're driving a car that you just can't stand anymore and you're eager to get rid of it … then this too may be a good scenario for you.  If so, you should carefully find a good deal on a vehicle and secure a fair loan.  The only way to get out of this cycle is to find a vehicle that you will be happy driving the entire term of the new loan.  Then buckle down and accelerate those payments.  Get your loan balance knocked down below the wholesale market value of the vehicle and avoid being upside down.

At our dealership, a professional will walk you through this entire process.  We will explain your loan balance vs. what we are offering you for the vehicle.  We will help you hand-select the perfect vehicle that has the best chance of dealing with your negative equity AND leaves you with a loan balance and payment you can deal with.


SCAM #3:  All Applications Accepted

"All Credit Applications Will Be Accepted!"  Or, "No Credit Refused" which properly translated means:  You can fill out a credit application … it doesn't mean you can actually get a loan!

Accepted doesn't mean approved.  If you fill out a credit application, and hand it to someone at the dealership, then that application has been ACCEPTED.  Now, if they offer you a loan and you drive off the lot in a new car, then that application has been APPROVED.  There's a lot of road between those two words, so be sure that you know the difference.  Also be sure to read the fine print.  Read the disclaimers.  Think through the ad word for word. 

Our advice:  Buy from a good honest dealership that you have researched.  If you are planning on financing your purchase, then shop with a dealership that has finance experts and a lending network of all types of specialty lenders.  At our dealership, nobody works harder to get you APPROVED on a loan that you are flat out excited about than our team of experts.

SCAM #4:  Make Us An Offer

"No Reasonable Offer Will Be Refused!"

Hmmm.  Car dealer language can be confusing.  "No Reasonable Offer Will Be Refused!"  Then why is it that your offer is NEVER reasonable?  These ads rely on very subtle wording and tricks.  Our brain hears this and thinks "I'm gonna make them a low offer and they are going to take it and I'm going to get a great deal."  Actually, this is a mind game.  The key word in the sentence is "Reasonable."

Read this:  No Offer Will Be Refused.  Now Read this:  No Reasonable Offer Will Be Refused (Except yours because it is unreasonable).  Any offer less than the amount the dealer wants will be deemed "Unreasonable" by the dealership and immediately refused.  A Google search of "No Reasonable Offer Will be Refused Scams" turned up about 233,000 searches.  It seems like there are many that like to use this silly phrase.  Read the ads and look for "car slang" like this.  Sometimes these guys are so good that the ad needs to be read more than once to catch the "hook" or the "out."


SCAM #5:  Life Insurance Scam

There you are, sitting in the finance office, dotting I's and crossing T's, barely paying attention.  The finance manager slips in a Credit Life Insurance Policy.  "It's standard," he explains.  "It's simply to protect your family in the case that you pass away before this loan is paid off."

True.  This policy will pay off your loan for you if you kick the bucket before you kick the loan.  That could be a good thing for your family if you're not otherwise insured. 

But it's not standard, and it's not for everyone.  My major point about Credit Life Insurance is that it must be your choice to include it or not.  You should request a full presentation of the features and benefits of the policy and talk it over with your family, taking your existing insurance coverage into consideration before making a decision. 

It's up to you. 


SCAM #6:  Keys On The Roof

You may have heard a similar story before.  It's no myth - this really happens.  You come into the dealership with your existing vehicle to have it appraised for trade in.  An hour goes by and you still haven't gotten your keys back.

Eventually, if you haven't struck a deal on the car you want so you decide it's time to leave.  The sales person explains that the guy who has your keys is at lunch and won't be back for an hour.  And his office is locked.  So you can't leave yet.  "Why not test-drive another car?"  This is just a cheesy excuse to keep you around the dealership longer.

They know that the more time you invest, the more committed you become, and the more likely you are to agree to terms you aren't really comfortable with.  In the most extreme cases, people have virtually been held hostage at dealerships for hours on end waiting to get their keys back.  A lot of "car guys" laugh about this sort of thing, but it shouldn't happen at any respectable dealership. 

A Final Thought On Scams

We've included these common scams with a few ways to avoid them.  Of course, there are many other scams but these are the most common.  By learning about these scams, you'll be able to spot the others a mile away. 

We would like to point out, however, that the most effective way to avoid these scams all together is to find a reputable, ethical, honest dealer you can trust and depend on.  Our dealership always stands up for what is right and consistently demonstrates an unwavering sense of consumer concern.  So why not settle your nerves and eliminate the feeling of anxiety that comes along with buying a car and visit a dealership like ours that works hard to create a car buying experience that is unlike any other.


  • Monday 8:30am - 8:00pm
  • Tuesday 8:30am - 6:00pm
  • Wednesday 8:30am - 6:00pm
  • Thursday 8:30am - 8:00pm
  • Friday 8:30am - 6:00pm
  • Saturday 9:00am - 4:00pm
  • Sunday Closed


Tyler Kia

1810 S 11th St (M 51 S)
Directions Niles, MI 49120

  • Sales: 888-215-6589
  • Service: 888-218-1579
  • Parts: 888-218-1654