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Educational Consumer Tips

Navigating auto sales

Author: Better Business Bureau

Are you looking to buy a new car? Here's some tips that can help you:

  • Understand advertised offers - "No matter what you owe, we will pay off your trade-in." This statement leads consumers to believe the dealer will give them what they owe for their old car. But what this statement really means is that the auto dealer will only apply what the current market value is for your car, not the remaining balance owed.
  • All credit applications accepted -  Many consumers mistake this statement to mean their loan will be approved, but really this only means the dealership will accept the application. According to the Texas Motor Vehicle Divisions, an auto dealer is prohibited from making a statement representing or implying that no perspective credit purchaser will be rejected because of his inability to qualify for credit.
  • Very low prices - Sometimes dealers advertise a certain price for a vehicle that is extremely low in comparison to other dealers. The dealer should advertise the exact number of cars that will be sold at the low price. Tips for those interested in buying a car:
  • Do your research - If you have a specific make and model in mind, compare prices from several area dealerships. View each dealer's BBB Business Review at to get information about the length of time it has been in business, its history of complaints and complaint resolution and any past advertising concerns. BBB has more than 1,000 BBB Accredited auto dealers to choose from.
  • Read the fine print - No matter what the business is advertising, always pay attention to the fine print. Next to many of the claims, there is an asterisk or number that refers to additional terms and conditions or limitations.
  • Ask questions - Ask the dealer detailed questions about its advertised sales and research if they are comparable to vehicle market values.
  • Get it in writing -  Read and understand the contract thoroughly before signing. Make sure everything promised and agreed upon is included in the contract.