Many potential clients contact us after being told by a dealership that their old car had been in an accident and that they can’t take it as a trade-in. Sometimes, this is true:many vehicles offered for sale at car dealerships that are not safe to be driven because of prior wreck damage that was never properly repaired. But, sometimes the dealership is being dishonest. This is one of the Games Dealers Play: Badmouthing the Trade-In.
Some dealerships lie about the trade-in’s condition because they have other reasons for not accepting the trade. Many consumers’ trade-ins are “underwater”, or they owe more money than the car is worth. Sometimes, a car dealership will accept an underwater trade-in. Usually, they will make it for it by playing some trade-in game, like charging more for the new car or sneaking in extra costs.
But, if the pay-off is more than the deal can absorb, then the dealer can’t accept the trade. An honest dealership would explain the reason to the consumer, but that would result in a lost sale. The consumer could shop elsewhere or might decide to hang onto the old car until the debt was reduced. Either way, they are not going to buy a car from the dealership.
So, dishonest dealerships try to salvage the sale by badmouthing the trade. They might point to something in the Carfax history or tell the consumer that the trade-in was in an accident or is unsafe to drive. Hearing this, potential customer decide to get a new, safer car.
Our Advice: If a car dealer tells you that your old car has a serious problem, do not rush into the purchase of a new car. They may be badmouthing the trade. But, take the warning seriously. Have the car checked out by an independent shop as soon as possible.