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 Posted:  12/23/2013 16:10

Hot Tips for New or Pre-Owned Car Buyers

PLCU recognizes that most car dealers' integrity is above reproach.  The following tips have been compiled to help you avoid falling prey to the few who do not hold themselves to this same high standard of ethics.  In addition to the misleading 0% financing offers, there are many other ways to leave the dealership with more or less than you intended.  Keep in mind that YOU are the customer.  Do your homework before you go to the dealership, and come away with a purchase you can live with.

  • Avoid making a cash deposit.  Put the deposit on a credit card.  If the deal goes south, you may never get your cash back, but you can always dispute a credit transaction.  Hint: Use your PLCU Visa card.
  • “It’s in perfect condition!”  Run a vehicle history report ( on pre-owned vehicles to see if the car was totaled, salvaged, rebuilt or flooded, failed inspection, or had the odometer rolled back.  Have a mechanic put the car up on a lift for inspection and to check for accident damage.  Never sign an "As Is" agreement at a used car dealer.  Get at least a 30-day warranty included.
  • “On-the-Spot Delivery.”  Avoid the potential call from the dealership informing you that you “didn’t qualify for the interest rate we signed you up for.”  At PLCU, you can avoid becoming a victim of the “subject to financing” clause because we make sure you know what you can qualify for before you commit to a hefty purchase.
  • Do BYOF, “Bring Your Own Financing.”  By having your own financing BEFORE you go shopping, you avoid all the monthly payment quotes and keep the focus on the selling price of the car, not the monthly payment.  The minute someone starts negotiating the car by monthly payment, it's time to leave.
  • Beware the “bank requires a VIN etch on window” fee.  Dealers often slip in a $300-$900 fee for window etching, saying you need it to get the financing.  They may tell you it’s free, but they probably padded your monthly payment with the fee.  Do-it-yourself kits are available online from for $15.  (PLCU does not require VIN etch as a condition of your loan.)

PLCU is committed to providing you with the consumer information you need and deserve as member-owners.  You’ll find hot consumer topics in each issue.  Call a PLCU representative at (858) 495-3400 or toll-free at (888) 495-3400 for more information about how you can guard against being scammed.

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