5 Things You SHOULD Tell Your Car Dealer

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Content Manager

Bethany Hickey is a Content Manager and Writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs. She's a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. 

, Content Manager - December 24, 2020

You may have heard advice on what you shouldn’t tell your dealer, but what should you tell them? If you want to get the most out of your car shopping experience, there are some things to be clear about when you’re browsing the inventory and discussing financing options.

1. If You’re Ready to Buy, Say So!

There are some differing opinions on whether or not you should tell a car salesperson that you’re ready to buy. However, remember that to a dealer time is money – literally. The faster they can sell vehicles, the more they can make.

Acting as though you’re indecisive on whether you’re going to buy a car soon isn’t going to be much help. You’re more likely to get more attention at a dealership if you tell them you’re ready to buy soon.

2. Tell the Dealer How You Really Feel About a Car

“Don’t ever tell a dealer you love a vehicle." You’ve likely heard that before, right? But how does this assist you in choosing the right car for you? If you’re honest with the dealership about your feelings on a specific make or model, they may have more recommendations or opinions on vehicles to help you make the right decision.

Tell the dealer exactly what you’re looking for in a car. Let them know the size, capacity, what you plan to use it for, etc. Make a list of must-haves and inform them. The more they know about what you’re looking for, the better they may be able to find you a vehicle that fits your situation.

Once you find the right one, tell them! Negotiations aren’t off the table once you find the right car, or once you tell them you love it. In fact, by acting indecisive on a specific model – even though you love it – you’re only prolonging the process for yourself and the salesperson.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

Don’t be afraid to say no if something doesn’t feel right at any point in your car shopping process. This includes specific vehicles on the lot and the delivery paperwork. If you get to a point where you have second thoughts, don’t be scared to say so. Once you purchase a car, returning it – financed or not – isn’t an option at most dealerships.

You can tell a salesperson that you’d like to sleep on the decision, or simply tell them a specific vehicle isn’t right for you. If you leave and tell them you’re going to get back with them, you’re likely to get a call the next day. Car dealers are likely to follow up with you if you’re a serious buyer who simply needed time to think about the decision.

This also can be applied to the financing stage. If you’re looking through the paperwork and aren’t sure about something, ask. Financing and car buying documents are long and filled with legal jargon.

You shouldn’t sign something if you’re not sure what that means for you and your vehicle. Remember, once the sale is done, it’s almost always final, so make sure you’re confident in your decision from the first signature to the last.

4. Tell Them if You Have a Trade-In

The timing of when to tell a dealership you have a trade-in is debated, but it’s a good idea to treat your car purchase and trade-in as two separate transactions. Many experts recommend telling the salesperson that you have a trade-in after you’ve decided on the selling price of your next vehicle. This way, you’ve already gone through the negotiations with your next car and gotten the price to what you want, and your trade-in equity can lower that price even more.

However, if you’re a bad credit borrower, you may need to use your trade-in’s equity to meet a down payment requirement. Most subprime (bad credit) lenders require at least $1,000 or 10% of the vehicle’s selling price. Since the subprime financing process starts with meeting all of the requirements then choosing a car, you may need to tell the dealer about your trade-in before you choose a vehicle.

5. Have Bad Credit? Tell Them!

If your credit score isn’t the best, don’t be afraid to tell the car dealer. Odds are, they’re not so concerned with what your credit rating is. Your credit score doesn’t have really anything to do with the negotiation process on the selling price of the vehicle. Unless you’re shopping at an in-house financing dealership, also called a buy here pay here dealer, any other car salesperson just wants to know that you’re able to get financed.

In fact, there are many dealerships that are signed up with subprime auto lenders. They’re called special finance dealerships, and they are equipped to assist borrowers with bad credit, no credit, or unique credit situations. By telling the dealer that you may need special financing because of your poor credit, they may be able to lead you to their special finance manager and let you know if they have resources to help you get approved.

Finding the Right Dealership for Your Credit Situation

Finding the right dealership can be a hassle. You can be readily prepared to talk to a car salesperson, but if your credit score isn’t the best you may need special financing. Not every dealer is signed up with bad credit auto lenders, but we know which ones are.

Here at CarsDirect, we’ve been teamed up with special financing dealerships for over 20 years. To get matched to a dealer in our network that has subprime lenders, fill out our free car loan request form. We’ll get to work looking for a dealership in your local area with bad credit resources.


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, Content Manager

Bethany Hickey is a Content Manager and Writer for Auto Credit Express, CarsDirect, and many other automotive blogs. She's a graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint, with a bachelor’s in English-Writing. 

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