The internet is full of used-car horror stories. One of our favorites is from a man named Eric, writing to Popular Mechanics. He tells the story of winning an auction for a used but pristine Acura TL, towing it home full of anticipation, and opening the hood to find…nothing. The engine was missing.
Another buyer wrote in about a beautiful Audi A4 that did turn out to have an engine…but it was from a much older car and included a dozen failing parts.
Are These Just Over The Top Lemon Stories?
These sorts of cautionary tales are part of our collective unconscious—we’ve all heard a hundred stories like them, and probably made at least one purchase we regret. After all, 69% of used car shoppers experience buyer’s remorse. Most of us think of lemons as built-in risks when it comes to used auto sales.
The thing is, they shouldn’t be. They don’t have to be. Good cars are out there, and you can find them if you know both how and where to look.
Most of us don’t, though. Buyers tend to treat over-the-top lemon stories like they’re flukes: just bad luck, maybe, or the bad-faith actions of a singular unethical dealership. They aren’t. Used car sales is rigged against the consumer from the ground up, thanks to exploitable online tools, volume-based sales, quick turnover, a host of carefully maintained popular myths about how to find your dream car, and a powerful dealership advantage called information asymmetry.
You Need a Guide…
This blog is your one-stop resource to the critical ins and outs of used car sales. It isn’t a list of tips—it’s a clear, direct overview of all the ways that dealerships deceive, mislead, bully, and manipulate customers into going home with the wrong car at the wrong price. We’ll also cover how to navigate the process successfully, by working with the right kind of dealership and shopping by condition rather than price.
If you’re in for a long read, start with the full guide. Otherwise, pick and choose from our list of breakout articles:
- The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Dealer is Exploiting
- The Struggle of Finding Accurate Information About Used Cars
- The House Edge: How Dealerships Use Information Asymmetry to Mislead Their Customers
- Apples & Oranges: The Impossibility of Comparing Used Cars Online
- How Deceptive Auto Pricing Tactics Impact the TRUE Cost of Car Ownership
- How The Top Online Car Shopping Tools Actually Deceive Consumers
- The Danger of Shopping for Cars Deals by Price Instead of Condition
- A Powerful Checklist For Choosing a Car Dealer and How We Stack Up