10 Misconceptions About Used Cars and How to Address Them

People who visit a used car dealership are often primed to be on the defensive, afraid you’re going to take their money and sell them a lemon. In order to be successful, you have to be ready for the main obstacles to a sale. Here are 10 misconceptions about used cars, and how you can address them, overcome them, and close the deal.

1.    Something must be wrong with it or it wouldn’t be for sale. The fact is, people change cars for many reasons. For example, a couple may dispose of an SUV when their child gets a driver’s license and doesn’t need to be carted around with all their friends. Or a young woman may sell her Corvette when she finds she has a baby on the way and needs to fit a car seat. Be ready with these examples if your buyer is questioning why a particular car is for sale.

2.    There’s no way to tell if it’s been in a collision. This used to be true, and many people are hesitant to buy a car that has been in a wreck. But now, with Carfax, anyone can check a car based on the VIN number and find its entire history. Encourage prospective buyers to look up a car they are considering purchasing.

3.    A new car is a better investment. Not really. A new car can lose over 35% of its value the minute it’s driven off the lot. Explain to your buyer that used cars with low mileage enjoy the same reliability as newer models, at significant cost savings. In addition, some states impose higher sales tax and registration fees on new cars, where used car buyers often get a break on these costs.

4.    It’s better to get a car with a warranty. Some used car dealers offer warranties on pre-owned vehicles, however if you’re unable to do so, and the car is not still under original factory warranty, you can overcome that objection by explaining that most repair work is non-warranty anyway, for example brake pads would not be covered under a new car’s warranty.

5.    I need the safety features of a new car. Technology has vastly improved with regard to car safety since the 1970s, however, antilock brake systems (ABS), side air bags, and similar features have been around for over a decade, so most used cars are properly equipped. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety maintains a database where individuals can look up vehicles to see their safety ratings. Encourage customers to consult this website if they are considering a particular car.

6.    The vehicle might not pass inspection. This is an easy objection to overcome. If your state is one of the many that require either an emission inspection or a safety inspection, simply ensure that every car on your lot has passed, and use this as a selling point. The modifications needed to bring a vehicle into compliance with these requirements are not generally expensive, however, if the vehicle has not yet been tested, this can hinder a potential sale. And of course, no cars that have failed inspection and gone without repair should be sold on your lot.

7.    There are cosmetic flaws that will be expensive to repair. Have an estimate ready of what it would cost to repair any major dents or scratches, and explain how it’s still more cost-effective than buying a new car. It may be more cost-effective for your dealership to take care of some of these repairs before pricing the car and placing the car on the lot.

8.    There might be something wrong with it that I’m unaware of. Vehicle history availability goes a long way toward alleviating buyers’ fears in this area. Many used car dealers provide a complementary Carfax report with each test drive and go over the report with the prospective customer. By pointing out that the car has been properly maintained and repaired as needed, you can build confidence in your buyer. Highlighting this service on your website and literature will help to establish your dealership as one that can be trusted in the community.

9.    With a new car, I’d get automatic roadside assistance. Again, this is an example of where cost can win out. The price of an AAA membership, which provides the same service, is less than $50 a year in most locations.

10. The dealer can’t be trusted. The used car salesman in a leisure suit is a stock character from sitcoms—overeager and greedy. The best way to overcome this stereotype is to present yourself as a professional, from the way you dress to the way you speak, to how you keep your office. Build trust in your buyer and they’ll be confident in your product.

Uninformed buyers are often reluctant to consider a used car based on inaccurate information they’ve heard in the media and from friends and family. Knowing the main objections and concerns that a customer will bring to the dealership is the first step in overcoming them. Be prepared to confidently address each of these misconceptions and watch how your sales improve and your business expands with new customer referrals.


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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.