What is it about dealerships trying to pull a fast one on their customers? It's not a nice thing to do, and hurts their overall company image. However, that did not stop these people from trying.
People on Quora share when a car dealership tried to scam them. Content has been edited for clarity
"I have a 2015 Nissan Altima and went to have my car serviced as it had passed 20,000 miles. The service guy recommended my brake fluids to be flushed which, I knew was not necessary, but I did anyway.
While I was patiently waiting to have my car returned after service, the service guy came in and told me that there was something that he would want me to see. He did not take me near my car, but he showed me a picture of a seemingly deep gash in one of the tires. He said that the tire may blow up any time and that he recommended that I have it replaced. He also said that he had in stock, the exact same brand tires that were on my car and can replace it if I wanted to. Also since it is not recommended replacing just one tire in the axle, he suggested me to replace both of my rear tires. He did the math and it would cost me roughly $500. I wanted to shop around to see if other retailers had tires in better rates, so I thought for a while and said that I will come back later to have it replaced.
To be honest, I was a little tense about not having my tires replaced right away and wondered if I took the right decision. I drove to the nearest Costco to inquire about their prices. Costco gave me a rate of around $350 for both sets of tires and asked me why I wanted it to be replaced. I told them what the service guy at the dealership told me. He was pretty honest and told me he wouldn’t worry if the tires were not leaking air, and will need to be only replaced if it starts leaking air.
I was still disturbed by the fact that the service guy at the dealership told me with all seriousness that my tire was really in a bad shape, and would recommend it to be replaced ASAP. So I just asked Costco guy if he could have a look at the tires. They took my car into their service area and after looking at it, told me that it was a really superficial gash that had absolutely zero impact on my tires. The service person at the dealership was just trying to sell me not one, but two freakin’ tires. I don’t trust dealership guys anymore."
"I bought a used 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee with 72,000 miles from a Dodge/Jeep dealership. I was told it had been inspected and was in good running order, but of course, it was an 'as is' purchase because it was already seven years old.
Two days after I bought it, it started throwing transmission control issues. Two days is just enough time for the car to run through its diagnostics and verify any trouble codes and light the check engine warning. When I took it back, they weren't the least bit sympathetic, insisting that the car was sold 'as is' and telling me it was my fault for not having the car inspected by an independent mechanic. They were right, of course: to protect myself from scammers who don't care about getting repeat business, I should have had it inspected. Since I did not, I had no way of proving they knowingly sold the car to me with these issues.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have been able to prove they cleared the codes from the PCM (the car’s brain) before selling me the car. The problems the transmission was having were not out-of-the-blue issues. They were definitely problems that a reliable inspection would have found within minutes of hooking a scanner up to the car, especially a scanner from the make of the vehicle."
"Back around 1990, I was shopping for a used, full-sized window van. I found one in excellent condition at the Crown Dodge dealer in Ventura, California. I carefully inspected every square inch of the vehicle and it looked perfect and was obviously well cared for. I worked with the salesman, arrived at a price, and signed a sales agreement. I then left the dealership to get my wife to bring me back to pick up the vehicle.
Upon arriving back at the dealership, I noticed the front, right corner of the vehicle had been damaged. The corner of the bumper was pushed in and the fender had been dented. None of that had been there before when I inspected the vehicle. I asked the dealer to either fix the damage or reimburse me for repair costs. They stated that the damage was already there before I had agreed to purchase the vehicle.
Even with the minor damage I still wanted the vehicle, but I was very disappointed that they wouldn’t accept responsibility for it. The vehicle hadn’t even left their dealer lot! In the end, I lived with it and had the damage fixed myself. I also told several friends about this and turned a few customers away, so ultimately that minor repair, cost them quite a bit in new customers."
"In my case, I bought a 2006 Ford Focus from a dealer. It looked good, drove fine and they put a new MOT (inspection) on it as well. They also fixed some minor faults I found while checking out the car. This was a headlight bulb that needed to be changed, a rattling noise due to an engine plastic cover and a new MOT.
So far, I had a good impression and the car was very clean inside out and had a full-service history. So far so good.
Then, on the very day when I picked it up and drive to the nearest gas station, it had a red warning light and showed a message on display on the dashboard saying ‘engine systems fault.’ Not very reassuring. I took it straight back. They had a mechanic look at the code, and he said it's something with the throttle body. They promised to fix it if the issue returns.
It proved to be intermittent, and the engine barely started up when it occurred. Then I’d just switch the ignition off and start again and it would run as if there never was any issue. Very strange.
As they promised to fix it, I drove over and had them look at it. They suddenly said it’s not covered by the warranty for engine and transmission and they can’t keep fixing my 12-year-old car. Particularly, the latter was extremely rude. I have never before asked them for anything about this car.
I had to go to an auto electrician who could not diagnose the fault either, as it was intermittent and simply advised me to wait. I paid $48 for this advice. I had no choice though as I need an expert to tell me what the fault means and what needs to be done about it.
And above all, I was so unlucky that there were blizzard-like conditions on the way back, and I was over an hour late picking up my son from preschool. A day wasted, my life risked, and bad service."
"When I first moved to Phoenix, it was under interesting circumstances. A hammered driver had totaled my car three days before I was planning on driving down, and my insurance company was helpless because 'they were upgrading their billing system' all weekend. Blah.
So I got to Phoenix in a very expensive rental, and I finally negotiated a settlement from my insurance company. I had done some shopping around for a new car. Let me rephrase that. I had spent at least a couple of dozen hours looking for precisely the car I wanted. I found it, I drove down to Mesa, and I asked to test drive it.
Keep in mind that the car that was totaled was completely paid for. I had documentation saying that an insurance settlement was on the way, but I was told it might be up to three weeks. I had very little liquidity at the time due to the fact that I had just paid for a move across the country. I test drove the car. I loved it. I told them I wanted it, and then I told them my predicament.
They worked with me. Two thumbs up, right? Except they weren’t willing to budge on the price, which was a good $5,000 more than the price advertised on the internet. They were asking $19,000. I arrived prepared to pay $14,000. They started trying to negotiate with me. They came down to $18,000. I countered at $13,000. They told me I was being ridiculous. I told them that prices are the result of supply and demand, and the more they messed around with me, the lower my demand became.
They caught me as I was on my out to my car to go home to tell me that they would honor the internet price, but part of the deal was that I had to buy an extended warranty. Nope. Sorry. That’s not in the fine print.
After several hours, I got them to acquiesce. I was dead tired by that point, and I just wanted to go home. The next morning, I went through all of the paperwork to find that they had tacked on the extended warranty anyway. Grrr. So I called the warranty company, canceled it, and got a full refund.
Almost the exact same thing happened a couple of years ago. This time, I had an offer from another dealer, but I didn’t want to drive two hours to complete the deal. I told this dealership right from the get-go that my price out the door was $9,950 with trade-in. They came back with an offer of $17,000. I tried to tell them that they obviously misunderstood me. I didn’t have to work with them. I didn’t have to offer them proof of the other offer. I was there to see if they could come reasonably close, and if they couldn’t, it was in both of our best interest to just tell me so I could go buy the car from the other dealer.
This 'negotiation' took six hours. I learned to not ever let them have my keys again. They finally came down to something like $10,250, and I accepted. I went through the same rigmarole. I stressed numerous times that the $10,250 was price out the door. When I was in the financier’s office, I stressed numerous times that I did not want the warranty.
Yup. Checked the invoice the next day to find out that they charged me almost $14,000 out the door, and the difference was the warranty. I know the drill. I called the warranty company and canceled for a full refund.
I will never do business with either dealership or their service departments again."
"The big one was a car dealer in Seattle. I was in the market for a Ford Ranger when it was being discontinued. Big rebates were being offered. I made the mistake of negotiating by the payment I was willing to pay. I had done my homework and thought I knew the value of the vehicle I was trying to buy. Never once did the dealer disclose the vehicle's manufacturer's suggested retail price to me despite repeated requests. This is when I should have backed out… But I am stupidly stubborn sometimes. The ranger in question that met my list of must-haves was at another dealer a state away.
Got time to finance, and they couldn’t find me a loan, which was odd considering I had good credit. Come to find out the loan to value ratio was too high, thus throwing a wrench in the loan approval process. They asked for more money down. I said no, they assured me they would find financing.
Went home that night with the vehicle identification number, they were trying to get me to pay $4,000 over the manufacturer's suggested retail price. This was after factoring in Ford’s $3k incentive.
Needless to say, I was not happy.
Turns out the dealer couldn’t get the truck. It had sold while we were going through the process. I let the sales manager know my extreme dissatisfaction. He tried to sell me a different vehicle a few hundred below invoice to save face. I was done with them at this point."
"I work at a dealership now, and the sales staff are pretty good here. But when I was 21 I had a very expensive repair situation that happened so mysteriously. Somehow, oil was added to my brake fluid. This was discovered when my brakes failed in downtown Indianapolis, fortunately at a stoplight. Oddly not long after having my car serviced for something at a dealership.
So instead of doing the very expensive repair, I decided to trade in and get a new car. I test drove one and agreed to buy it. Then they did all the paperwork, and the itemized numbers made no sense. They credited me the rebates then took them off down the column. It was some fancy sleight of hand.
I knew I needed the car and signed all the paperwork anyway. And was given the keys to my brand-new ride. Except it wasn't the car I test drove. They sold me a stripped-down car that had no AC or radio. I was so upset. I told the salesman that was the wrong car, and they made up some story about how it was the only way to get to the payment I wanted. So I took the car anyway. Those bozos thought that they could cheat me and charged the same price as the one I wanted. But I fooled them in the end and got the last laugh.
My father had to co-sign and was coming the next day to do it. So I put 100 miles on the car and took it the next day with my father. He thought the paperwork looked wrong also and didn't like the car and refused to sign. So we walked and bought elsewhere. The sales manager gave me such an accusing look. Guess he shouldn't have tried to play a young female that wasn't going to stand for his stupid behavior."
"About a dozen years ago, on a Saturday night, a local new car dealership asked my wife and me if we wanted to test drive a new model that had just arrived over the weekend. We had to fill out a few papers in the finance office, and they took copies of our license and insurance. All pretty standard stuff as we had done this when other dealerships wanted us to test out their new cars also.
We took the car home and parked it in the garage. We had already decided the car wasn’t one we particularly liked, so we wouldn’t put miles on it, but instead would take it back on Monday morning.
On Monday, I drove the car back but the dealership refused to take it back. They said that we had purchased the car at the sticker price of $45,000.
I explained to the manager that it was they who had asked us to test drive the car. He said we owned it and had signed documents buying it. I explained that it was just not the case. We signed temporary documents to drive it over the weekend.
Their finance manager agreed with me and was soon 'fired 'or left because of their deceptive practices.
I ended up hiring a Deceptive Trade Practices Attorney. He said insure it and drive it while the case was pending. It cost me $1,200 in attorney’s fees to test drive their car that night, but I got the use of a decent vehicle for a while.
A few months and 6,000 miles later, the dealership ended up taking the vehicle back. We agreed to no admission of guilt on their part, and no sale on our part. Since they had titled the vehicle in my name, they now had to sell it as a used vehicle. I figure it cost them around $10,000 as their loss.
I ran into one of their salesmen at a car show two years ago. During our conversation, I mentioned that we had a bad experience with that particular dealership.
He said that they had since replaced that sales manager and that the dealership uses our case in their employee training of how NOT to sell a car."
"I went and purchased a 2001 Nissan Maxima from a website for my fiancé. They had the car advertised for $1,700. There was no indication that this was a dealer in the ad, so I wasn't aware of that fact until I pulled up to the location. Immediately, the gentleman knew why I was there and showed me the car. The car looked nice, I had started it and it sounded fine. He began to go on about how he got this part replaced and that part repaired before putting it on the lot. I know quite a bit about cars but didn't make that evident until I began to thoroughly go over the car myself.
He said that it had a fresh oil change - the dipstick proved otherwise. He told me the front tires were new - one of them has a slow leak that deflates the tire entirely in days. The sound system was completely blown in the back. As I went to change the oil, I discovered that the exhaust hanger in the middle of the car was completely rusted through, and so that part of the exhaust hangs loose. Last but not least, the car's coolant temperature sensor seemed bad, only to discover that the wire actually connected to the harness has been completely severed. None of this was disclosed to me at the time of sale - all he could tell me was that the valve cover gasket was new, the tires were new, and all the fluids had been changed. The car had a check engine light on and when I questioned him about it, he ran the code to show me what it was (a bad O2 sensor), but that was as far as he was willing to go as far as addressing problems upfront.
I ended up buying the car simply because we needed a car that was reliable enough to get my fiancé to work and back each day. Luckily, I was able to talk him down a hundred dollars. At the end of the day, the car cost me just under $2,000 with the taxes and fees included. The total cost of getting all of the problems fixed puts me at a total cost of $400 in total if I don't do any of the maintenance myself and leave it with a shop.
So I am satisfied with the car, but as far as his tactics went - he simply wanted to get rid of a car and would tell me anything he could to do so. I simply didn't have the time to play games with him and told him I'd take the car as it was and would handle the remaining issues myself. He seemed displeased with my lack of enthusiasm, but I don't like being dealing with liars."
"After graduating from law school and getting my first few checks as a lawyer, I figured it was time for me to finally splurge and get a new car, after years of used cars that were in repair shops half the time.
I had my heart set on a silver Hyundai Santa Fe SUV, all-wheel drive, automatic transmission, and with whatever the biggest engine was at the time. Unfortunately, none of the Hyundai dealers near where I lived, in the DC suburbs, had the color and specs I wanted. Finally, working the Yellow Pages, I got in touch with a dealership out in the Virginia sticks, maybe an hour and a half away from where I lived. I talk to a salesman on the phone, and he tells me yep - he has a silver Santa Fe with all my specs on his lot, and to come take it for a test drive.
So I drive over, and an hour and a half later, I arrive at the dealership. I ask for the salesman I talked to - and discovered that there had been a mistake. Apparently, he had been mistaken; the car he thought he had had been sold that morning, and there was no silver Santa Fe with my specs on the lot.
I hit the roof. I was just livid at the waste of my time, so I demanded to speak with the manager, and just created an unholy row and scene in that showroom. That they made me drive an hour and a half, incompetence, how dare they, terrible customer treatment, everything. Anyhow, I made them feel terrible, so they tried really hard to make it up to me - and the dealership’s owner himself came over to let me know he would personally arrange to have an SUV with my specs brought over from another dealership. It would be there first thing tomorrow morning, and he quoted me a good price that would have made two trips worthwhile. They even comped my lunch at a nearby Sizzler for my girlfriend and me.
In the meantime, the salesman, who was really feeling bad, was so apologetic that I started feeling bad for him and how much he was going out of his way to be helpful. So when he offered to let me and my girlfriend take a new black Santa Fe to the restaurant, I quickly agreed. It wasn’t an all-wheel drive, it wasn’t even automatic, but stick drive, and it had a smaller engine than the one I’d wanted.
However, it wasn’t a bad car at all - I’d never driven a stick before, but it really came quick to me, and it was fun.
So when I dropped it off at the dealership, the salesman told me that while it was not the car I wanted, he could cut me an awesome price on this black SUV. I was like sure - I’ll hear the price. Turned out to be a wonderful price - like way beneath sticker price.
After I continued guilt-tripping him and his general manager, I got them to go down even lower. Long and short of it, I walked out of there with a great deal that day, with a car that I really liked. I had never driven a stick since as enjoyable as driving that Santa Fe stick SUV was.
So years later, I was shooting the breeze with a friend, and the conversation got to car dealerships. I proudly told her of my exploit buying my first new car. How I had browbeaten that hapless salesman and the dealership’s management and owner, taking advantage of their mistake and their resultant chagrin, and guilt-tripping them for making me drive so far, and using that to drive a hard bargain and walking out of there with a steal of a car.
She looked at me with pity in her eyes. Then burst my bubble with something like: 'Um… the salesman lied to you to get you to drive an hour and a half to his dealership, then he sold you the car he had on his lot instead of the one you wanted.'
Only then did it hit me, years after I’d bought the car - and by then I’d traded it in for an upgrade - that I’d been played."