The dodgy tricks of secondhand dealers

CarsBy now the stereotype of the dodgy secondhand car dealer is a well established one.


He’ll sell you a great looking car at a “too good to be true” price. And a few weeks later you’ll realise that it was, in fact, too good to be true as you break down. You’ll need copious repairs that will eat into your savings and push your new purchase over the budget you had put aside to deal with getting a new car.

This is the nightmare at the back of every buyer’s mind as they look for a new vehicle. Many decisions will be made based on the perceived trustworthiness of the seller. It is almost taken for granted that the dealer will be trying to rip you off, and as a customer it is your job to outfox them in return. Here are a few of the dodgy tricks that you should keep an eye out for, as well as how to beat the dealer at their own game.

Bring a mechanic to your viewing

It should be a given that you will never part with your cash without first seeing your prospective new car in person. When you show up you should have a number of things that you’re looking to check, and you should avoid being given the general selling-spiel by the dealer. It’ll be his job to sell you the car with words, but you will want to make the purchase based on cold hard fact.

To ensure that you’re able to do this, bring along a mechanic. If you yourself are not completely confident that you can spot a worn down pair of tyres or hear an old and useless gearbox then you should bring along a professional who can. If you don’t know anyone willing to come along for free, then pay for the service. Think of it as an investment. In the same way that you would always have a surveyer look over a house, you should always be willing to have a mechanic look over a car.

Know your product

Salesmen know the business. They will know which brands and models have certain reputations for certain problems. If they’re selling you a certain type of car, it’s more than likely that they understand all of the potential problems it will have. It is more than likely that they have thoroughly checked with the previous owner before they bought the car, so they will know what issues the car is likely to have. If you know what the potential issues with your new car are likely to be then you will be better placed to ask the right questions and look for the right things. Consider using a leasing service like to engage in a long test drive of your potential new purchase. That way, when you take the salesroom one out you’ll know how it should feel.

Beware the emotional buy

A lot of secondhand dealers rely on their extensive sales ability to sell you a vehicle that you don’t really want or need. Beware walking into a dealership without knowing what you want, and beware being sold something that you wouldn’t usually consider. If you don’t need or want a sportster, don’t be sold one. Don’t fall for the marketing speak, and be clear and decisive about your needs. Otherwise, you can end up paying top dollar for an unsuitable vehicle.

Written by