Consumer Reports talked to 10 current and former used-car salespeople for their September issue about how they manipulate the buying process. The findings: Targets: The uneducated, young, and those with bad credit ratings are the easiest targets. Dealers often also assume that if you’re a minority or a woman you’re less educated about automobiles. Tips: --Beware of the salesman that gets too friendly too quick. --Don’t let the salesman change the discussion whenever you ask about price. --Don’t divulge too much information, such as the amount other dealers have offered them for their old car. Refuse to discuss a trade-in until negotiations are complete on the car they're buying. --Resist any attempt to rush into a deal—don’t be afraid to walk away. --Don’t let the dealer discourage you from having the vehicle inspected. (Salesmen rarely know the history or condition of used cars on their lot, no matter what they tell you.) --Watch out for the salesman that focuses on the monthly loan payment instead of on the vehicle price. By using a long-term loan, dealers can offer a low payment without mentioning the resulting higher interest charge. --Ask about the dealer markup on top of the manufacturer’s finance company’s loan. The interest rate you see is often bumped several percentage points higher from the quote by the dealer. On a 48-month loan, a three-percentage point difference can boost the total cost of a $10,000 loan by nearly $700. --Know the value of the car you’re buying. Buyers armed with a laptop computer, calculator, or a list of wholesale and retail prices downloaded off the Internet are less likely to be overcharged, lied to, or subjected to high-pressure sales tactics. Two former salespeople interviewed now run these consumer advocate sites: www.ripoffreport.com and www.stopautofraud.com
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