There are enough reasons why buying a new (or used) vehicle can be a serious pain without the auto industry trying to muddy the waters. Cars are expensive, can be huge safety hazards if you aren’t careful, and can quickly turn into massive money pits should a consumer not pay close enough attention to the finer details of what it is that they’re buying. All that said, having a reliable vehicle is darn near essential in modern society, and therefore millions of Americans willingly step into car dealerships almost every day, prepared to jump through whatever hoops it takes to get them behind the wheels of their own automobiles.
Car manufacturers and salespeople alike are aware of the societal need for transportation by any means necessary. Creative lying is the benchmark of most sales jobs, but the auto industry has turned it into a veritable art form with the sheer volume of tricks, schemes, and outright scams salespeople regularly use on consumers to ensure they profit the absolute most they possibly can. Although the cliché says the customer comes first, in fact, sometimes the actual wants and needs of the customers barely ever come into play at all, and that’s when salespeople even bother considering them in the first place. The higher up the chain one investigates, the bigger and scarier the industry secrets become. The scariest thing is, once you reach the top, you’ll realize almost every single person ever to purchase a car has probably been manipulated in one way or another, occasionally to his or her great detriment. Keep reading to learn what we’re talking about with these 15 dirty secrets the auto industry doesn’t want you to know.
15. Salespeople Want The Best Deal For Them (And The Worst Deal For You)
This first secret should be pretty obvious, although virtually every salesperson in the game is going to try and deny it. The fact is simple, though, any salesperson telling you that they’re exclusively looking out for your best interests as a consumer is lying. Even the nicest, most genuine looking man or woman on the lot is only there for one reason: they want to get paid that day, and selling you a car is the best way for them to do so. It doesn’t matter if you can afford it, if you’re getting a so-called “good deal,” whatever that may be in the salespersons’ own warped reality, or if you even need a new car in the first place. All that matters is that you give them your money, and hopefully a lot of it. Granted, not every salesperson in the world is going to vindictively attempt to screw you over, and many are decent people looking to earn an honest living. The ones who claim they got in the industry to help you are almost definitely playing loose with the facts, and consumers should be extra wary whenever a salesman acts over eager to give them a “good deal.”
14. Engine Sounds Mean Almost Nothing (And Are Regularly Faked)
While many people buying a car would probably be content with the engine so long as it doesn’t fail on them in the middle of a drive, others strive for a certain excellence and integrity in their vehicles that is increasingly hard to come by these days. A growing trend amongst the auto industry, caused in part by consumers, is that louder means better, or at least that’s what people seem to think. The idea that a loud engine is a good engine is pretty flawed to begin with (especially considering cars also have mufflers). The entire point of which is to make the engine’s quieter. Despite the people who invented cars understanding that most drivers didn’t want to be distracted by overbearing noises whenever they hit the road, manufacturers these days are actually intentionally making engines louder. In no way should this mean they’re making them better, although, in fairness, they aren’t making them any worse, either. The point is, increased engine noises trick consumers into thinking their cars are somehow more powerful than a quieter car. This used to be the case, at least when home mechanics weren’t manipulating their cars the way the entire industry is today. Now, though, how loud an engine is has almost nothing to do with an automobile’s performance (unless it’s way, way too loud, which isn’t something to brag about, and probably means you need a new muffler).
13. “Car Punching” Makes Cars Look More Popular Than They Are
Some auto companies apparently feel as though lying about the performance of their vehicles isn’t enough to entice their consumers, and thus they’ve introduced a new concept called “car punching.” Car punching is when executives within auto manufacturers purchase the newest models and makes of vehicles that their company is producing en masse, only to sell them off as low-mileage used cars a few months later. Car punching leads to consumer trend reports implying certain cars are more popular than they actually are. This leads to car buyers thinking they’re buying the hottest car of the year, when in fact literally thousands of the people making the car so popular fully intend to get rid of it the second they’ve jacked up buyer interest. The most damning facet of this trend is the fact that it primarily applies to high-end luxury vehicles like Lexus and Mercedes, where style and substance are everything, and things like fads and sales numbers can be amongst the most important elements in a consumer finalizing their purchase.
12. Salespeople Constantly Cut Corners To Your Detriment
Although most salespeople truly don’t care about the consumer’s best interests, they aren’t actively out to ruin lives, either. Unfortunately, lives nonetheless have been ruined by seedy car salespeople, thanks to the widespread lack of attention to detail and cutting corners in getting consumers the car the salespeople convinced them they wanted. Cars are expensive, such to the extent that almost everyone looking to buy one needs some sort of payment plan that may or not involve their bank or their credit history, and while a salesperson would never tell a consumer that they can’t afford a car, the consumer’s bank is well within their right to be the ones to point that out.
Salespeople don’t really care what your bank has to say, though. They might simply try and convince you to dip into your retirement fund, or tell you your kids don’t need to go to college, or they might do something even worse in the long run and simply lie about your finances in their paperwork and hope no one finds out. Dealerships are constantly claiming to make “mistakes” on contracts they knew full well was inaccurate or outright falsified in order to get a deal finalized, and once again, whatever happens to the consumer once they’ve made their purchase is left for them to deal with on their own.
11. Vehicular Emissions Can Kill People
One fact about the auto industry that is pretty much public knowledge is that as helpful as they are to society, cars are quite deadly to the environment. Emissions of nitrous oxides and a plethora of dangerous other chemicals enter the airways each time someone takes a drive, and they’ve been destroying the planet since the day’s cars first become widespread. There have been advancements in the automobile’s design over the years to diminish this problem, and yet it still persists, with manufacturers apparently no longer caring about how to fix it.
Most people know that vehicular emissions are harming the planet, although the full extent of the problem may still shock you. The Economist reports the dangerous chemicals released through car exhausts kill approximately 58,000 people each year, and some companies have been lying about following the safety measures implemented to lower that number. Cars are getting cleaner and greener these days, and problems like this could go by the wayside in due time. Until that day comes, though, drivers should pay close attention to what comes out of their cars, because if they don’t, the results could be fatal.
10. Slow Cars No Longer Exist
The idea of car manufacturers lying about how loud an engine is, sounds pretty silly, regardless of the fact that it’s completely true. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that the far more relevant feature of how fast a car is also gets lied about on a regular basis, and consumers eat these lies up while looking for the fastest car on the market. The truth of the matter, however, is that in 2016, pretty much every car on the market is pretty darn fast. Practically every consumer vehicle produced within the past five years (at least) is capable of going at least 100 MPH. The majority of these cars can even reach speeds of 80 or 90 MPH while still comfortably cruising, and considering these speeds are significantly above the national limit, that should probably be enough. Nonetheless, certain individuals are desperate for the fastest and best car out there, and can get taken advantage of.
9. The Cheapest Car On The Lot Is Pretty Good These Days
Everyone over a certain age probably has or had a friend at one point with a comically horrendous car. Maybe the doors were jammed shut and you had to enter through a window, or perhaps the odometer didn’t work and you thus never knew exactly how fast you were driving. Worst of all, there could be a mechanical problem that keeps the owner sending their car to the shop, turning the idea of car ownership into one of the most expensive burdens a person could imagine. Luckily for consumers, these problems don’t really exist anymore (unless, of course, you’re buying a really old car). So long as the car you’re looking to purchase was made in the past five years or so, the par standard for what makes a vehicle street ready these days is so high that the concept of a “lemon” barely exists in the car industry anymore. Salespeople constantly ignore this fact and try to sell you the best car on the lot, regardless, assuming most car buyers think a higher price tag means higher performance.
8. Extended Warranties Are Extended Bills For Nothing
It makes perfect sense why people buying cars would want to be protected by a warranty. They want to feel secure that should something go wrong, they’ll be compensated, or at least financially aided in some way en route to solving the problem. Warranties are so important to consumers the word has become a buzzword in and of itself, and car dealerships have utilized this information to create dozens of extended warranties that don’t actually help you in the slightest. Sure, buyers want to make sure that if their car stops working (or merely has some minor issue) they aren’t left up a proverbial creek with a broken down vehicle.
On the other hand, is there really any reason ever to purchase an extended car wash warranty? Even on the off chance that the dealership has the best deal around when it comes to cleaning cars, who wants to be locked into a deal where they have to pay for months or even years for a service they’ll probably only use a handful of times? Making matters worse, dealerships know people who sign up for a warranty like this will probably change their minds, and thus they make it as difficult as possible to back out of the deal when consumers realize things are getting extended far beyond what anyone would reasonably need.
7. Most Add-Ons And Extras Only Benefit The Salespeople
Salespeople are generally paid at least partially based on commission, which, although reasonable and fair, is a big piece of why they’re so willing to lie about the various secrets we’re outlining on this list. Things get even more complicated when you consider that their commissions are based on more than just whether or not they sell you a car. It varies from dealership to dealership, but the fact remains that salespeople could be getting a commission for literally every single thing they sell you, and this means every single thing they try and sell you should be placed under suspicion.
It makes perfect sense that salespeople would deserve some commission for selling a huge and expensive automobile, but whether or not they deserve a bonus for convincing you to buy add-ons is a dicier subject. The fact that most salespeople actually earn a small commission when consumers are approved for a loan is where things get outright dangerous, as some of them will do whatever it takes to get you that loan as a result. With an aggressive salesman pitching it to you, a loan that actually brings you to financial ruin could be a minor inconvenience that gets you your dream car, and therefore buyers should yet again always have their salesperson’s interests in mind when agreeing to absolutely anything.
6. Salespeople Can And Will Manipulate Your Credit
Most businesses in this world see people merely as their credit scores, and therefore having a bad one can pretty much destroy a person. This is of no concern to a salesperson attempting to sell a car, especially if they’re given some sort of bonus for convincing you to get a loan you didn’t need. In general, people should only give their financial information to those they deeply trust, and that goes double for one’s Social Security Number. Most people take this advice and keep those things between themselves and their banks, but dealerships will often try their best to get this information out of you anyway, and a staggering number of people will give it to them.
People probably feel secure in giving away financial information to a car dealership because there’s little risk of identity theft when it comes to multinational corporations. However, identity theft is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people having access to your finances, and some pretty serious damage can be done just by them checking. People have walked into dealerships with pre-approved loans from their banks only to get roped into loans that benefit only the salesperson’s commission check, and the dealerships had the audacity to call it a “mistake” when they did so. Seriously, people, keep your SSN to yourself.
5. You Can Easily Sell Your Car Privately With No Problems
Even if you’ve never driven a car a single day in your life, you’ve probably walked down the street one day and witnessed a person attempting to sell one on their front lawn. Not too long ago, most people probably even knew someone who purchased a car this way, and there’s a good chance everything went completely smoothly when they did. Thanks to sites like Craigslist, Cars Direct, Carvana, True Car, Cars.com, and countless other websites, the process is getting exponentially easier with each passing technological advancement. Despite how easy it can be to sell your own car, most car salespeople will present the idea that doing so is somehow an almost impossible task that only the professionals are capable of performing. There have even been reports of dealership owners going to these websites and trolling users, only so they could, later on, present the idea that the websites are a hassle that will rip private sellers off. In fact, the most likely way to get ripped off is to sell your car back to the first dealership that makes you an offer.
4. Honest Salespeople Understand The Word No
Regardless of your personal knowledge on cars, hopefully, you’ve heard the expression “no means no” at some point in your life. Of course, the sales world has a counter-expression, since salespeople are never supposed to take no for an answer. The result is often a combative relationship between buyer and seller, although there is one upside to the arrangement. One of the few ways to denote a trustworthy salesperson over someone trying to rip you off is how they react when you say the word “no” to them.
“No” is without a doubt the least favorite word for the salesperson. How a person deals with rejection says worlds about them, and the same is true for salespeople trying to sell you on an extended special warranty. If you tell them you don’t want it and they move on, either to something else you might want or perhaps even dropping the subject entirely, maybe they actually care about what it is you want from them. If, however, you tell a salesperson you don’t want a particular vehicle, or especially if you tell them you don’t want an unnecessary add-on to your vehicle, and they ignore you and keep trying to sell it to you anyway, you should probably pack up your things and leave right away because all they’re doing is convincing you to rip yourself off.
3. It Can Take Years Before Massive Design Flaws Are Discovered
For as hard as this list is coming down on the auto industry, we would never deny how essential cars are in everyday life, and we certainly don’t expect people to stop buying them. After all, people already know that cars can be outrageously dangerous, and more than 1.3 million people die every year in car-related accidents. Even scarier, the majority of these accidents occurred when everything within the car itself was working normally, and human error still lead to lives being lost. However, that doesn’t mean some car accidents are the result of faulty automobiles, and sometimes it can take the manufacturers years or even decades before they notice the problem.
Between the years 1999 and 2009, the Ford Motor Company recalled over 14 million automobiles of various makes and models due to a faulty cruise-control mechanism made the cars particularly prone to catching fire and exploding. It took over 10 years for Ford to recognize all of the affected cars, and that’s just one of many examples that cars in and of themselves can easily kill you. Rare though it is, every car is capable of exploding due to the gasoline required to make them run, and this is one safety concern most consumers have apparently completely forgotten in the past century.
2. Electric Cars Are 100% Viable
Cars require gasoline to run, burn extreme amounts of limited natural resources, and emit deadly gasses that harm both the people driving and the very planet they live on. When automobiles first became mainstream, these problems seemed like an unfortunate side effect of the greatest invention in history. Nowadays, science has realized just how damaging these facts are, and green initiatives have been popping up around the globe aiming at getting people to drive less and stop relying so heavily on automobiles. A select few brilliant technicians had a better idea, though.
Electric cars are still fairly controversial in modern society, but the truth is, there’s no reason why more of them don’t exist already. The first fully electric car was the General Motors EV1, introduced in 1996. Unfortunately, GM felt the cars weren’t financially viable, or perhaps they were so financially viable that GM and most other car companies were frantically panicking about the fact that the industry was about to change for the first time in a century. GM, therefore, self-sabotaged the electric car industry, crushing the majority of EV1’s and heavily protesting any programs related to the auto industry going green.
1. All Salespeople Lie
The conclusion one should come to after reading this list is fairly simple. The main flaw of the car industry is that it is run and occupied by people, and people lie. Salespeople, in particular, have turned lying into an everyday function of their job, such to the extent that most of them probably don’t even realize they’re ruining consumer’s lives. Others figure it out almost instantly and can never shake the feeling, and this is why car dealerships have some of the highest employee turnover rates out of any industry.
Making a purchase as big and potentially life-changing is obviously one that shouldn’t be entered lightly. Auto-buyers need to heavily weigh every facet that goes into owning a vehicle, and the catch-22 of the situation is that the people who presumably know the most about the cars are also the ones who want to trick you the most. People are stuck in a nebulous state of needing to trust car salespeople while also knowing they are the least trustworthy profession around, and this unfortunately only serves to make it even easier for the salesperson to manipulate the consumer, since the consumer is often so busy worrying they’re about to get scammed, they miss some of the finer details in how it is they’re being scammed in the first place.
Chances are if you were planning on buying a car before you read this list, we probably weren’t able to convince you to start biking to work instead. Nevertheless, at the very least, hopefully, you’ll be a little more careful the next time you’re in the auto market, and maybe you’ll cut the traditional salesperson out of the equation just to be safe.