The thrill of buying a car involves test-driving various models, negotiating for the best price and finally driving off the lot in your new vehicle. That excitement can quickly turn into regret if you discover you’ve been a victim of auto dealer fraud.
Unscrupulous dealers use many tactics to take advantage of buyers. It’s crucial to be aware of the red flags that can indicate fraud.
Improperly inflating a vehicle’s invoice price
One common tactic is to inflate the invoice price of the vehicle. Dealers may include additional fees or package deals not initially discussed, making the car significantly more expensive than originally advertised. Always double-check the invoice against the manufacturer’s suggested retail price and any agreed-upon fees.
Giving a low-ball trade-in value
Another sneaky tactic some dealers use is to provide an unfairly low value for your trade-in vehicle. They may use various excuses, such as claiming the market for your car is low or citing issues that supposedly reduce its worth.
Marking returned vehicles as new despite known issues
Some dealers will accept the return of a vehicle due to defects or other issues and then resell it as new without addressing the problems. Verify the car’s history, ask for maintenance records and consider having it inspected by a third party. Doing so can help you avoid purchasing a lemon disguised as a brand-new vehicle.
Concealing add-on fees
Hidden fees can often inflate the final price of a car well beyond what was initially agreed upon. Dealers may tack on fees for paperwork, vehicle preparation or other ambiguous services. Always ask for a breakdown of all fees and question any that you don’t understand or weren’t disclosed upfront.
Being a savvy consumer is your best defense against auto dealer fraud. Legal action is possible if you succumb to auto dealer fraud, so don’t just sit back and accept the fraudulent behavior.