Car Dealer Terms
Here are all the car dealer terms and definitions you will
ever need or even want to know about...
Allowance Buyer: These are buyers who’s primary concern is getting as much as they can for
their trade-in. Understand that whatever the car dealer gives beyond what they can “flip” it for (sell it) at a
wholesale auction, they will tack on to other areas of your car deal, like paying full MSRP for the car, extra
points on the car loan, bogus “fee’s” like the car paint sealant scam, etc, etc.
Back End: Also known as “Back End Gross” or “Backroom”. Any money the dealer makes that is not
part of the actual sale of a car. This includes outrageously exorbitant fees for options or accessories you can buy
later on an aftemarket basis. Access the car scam page for specific scams.
Bait and Switch: Also known as “Switch” or “Switched”. Up-selling a potential car buyer to a
more expensive car then what they were considering.
Bargaining Cubicle: Also known as the “Negotiating Room”, “Cube” or “Vertical Coffin”. This is
the little room where the sales people will work you. Stay out of this place!
Bump: Also known as “Bump and Grind”. A common sales technique used to incrementally raise the
price of the vehicle. When you make an offer on a car, the sales person will inevitably tell you some bogus line
like: “Gee, I know my boss will freak out if I take this offer to him so how about if we raise it (“Bump”) by
$150.00 (or whatever) and then he will at least listen to me?” So that’s the first “bump” and on it will go. The
sooner you succumb to the “Bump” the more bumps in the price you can expect. This series of bumps is known as the
Closer: It’s the bottom of the ninth. Your team is ahead by one point and out comes a very
specialized pitcher known as the “Closer”. This guys whole job is to pitch so well that he preserves your lead –
thus you win! On a car lot this is usually the most experienced seller. This persons job is to close the sale. I
suggest when you first start out with a salesperson that you ask them immediately if they have the authority to
finalize the sale of a car. If they say “no”, then find someone who can. Doing so will save you a lot of time and
Corporate Cities: This is a situation where the car manufacturers actually own part of a car
dealership and assist in the management of it. It’s a fairly recent thing. The downside for the car buyer is that
if the manufacturers own part of a number of dealers in your area then their won’t be much room for negotiating a
lower price then the other dealership that is co-owned.
Dealer Option: Also known as “Dealer Add Ons”, “Dealer Installed Options”, “Add Ons”. These are
options added by the car dealership and not the manufacturer. These include things like pin striping, body flare
moldings, paint sealant, special wheels, fabric Scotch guard protection, rust proofing, window VIN etching,
extended car warranties, paint sealant, etc. My suggestion is to bail on these “Add Ons” from the dealer because
you can buy them for a fraction of the cost from aftermarket sources.
Dealership Principal: Also known as “The Dealer”, “Dealer” or “Franchisee”. This is the person
or persons that owns the car dealership.
Dealership: Also known as “Dealer Franchise” or “Dealer”. For the owner of a car lot to get a
dealership to sell cars under the manufacturers name they must have a franchise agreement with the car
Finance & Insurance Manager: Also known as the “Business Manager” or “F & I”. This is
the last person you will see during the car buying process. This person is known as the “F & I Monster”, and
for good reason. They are usually very good closers and are responsible for completing your loan and selling you an
expensive extended car warranty and all that other stuff I describe in the “Dealer Option” category above. This
person will use every smoke and mirrors type of trick available. You can end up so confused within minutes after
entering his office that you won’t know your head from your arse! But now that you’ve been warned then it shouldn’t
be an issue for you, right?
Fleet Manager: Lets say your business needs to buy ten cargo vans (or whatever) then this is
the person that handles fleet sales for the car dealership.
Front End Gross: Also known as “Front End” or “Front End Gross”. This is the profit a car
dealer makes on the sale of a new or used car.
General Manager: This is the person below the dealers owner. They are in charge of handling all
the day-to-day tasks involved in running a car dealership.
Haggle Free: Also known as “No Dicker Sticker” or “No Haggling”. This is one of those car
dealerships like Saturn where there is no negotiating (or haggling) for the price of the car and you pay what they
tell you. This type of car buying is for the timid. Expect to pay more for any vehicle sold at a place like
House Sale: A sale that has no commission. Some cars are offered as loss leaders in order to
draw customers to the dealership and hopefully sell them something more expensive. These are usually “House
Leaser: A “Leaser” is a buyer who leases (rents) a car instead of buying. Car sales people are
trained to watch for this type of buyer. Know what you’re getting into before you lease a car because it’s a
totally different animal than buying.
Low Ball Offer: Also known as “LB” or “Low Balled”. This is a really low offer that the
salesperson will offer you to keep you at their car lot or to get you to come in if you ask them over the phone. My
experience is that the phone low-ball offers are almost always bogus. When you get there that person that made the
offer will have “gone home for the day” or “Gee, there must be some misunderstanding”, etc.
Mega Dealer: This is a car dealership owner that owns more than one car dealership in a given
Pack: Also known as “Payment Packing”. One of the first things the salesperson will ask you as
you are walking across the car lot is “How much do you want your monthly payments to be?” Tell them you are
concerned more about the out the door price on the car and not the monthly payment. This is a method where the car
buyer is quoted a monthly payment that falls within their budget because this is their biggest concern. If you buy
a car like this then you can expect to pay dearly for it because there are many other costs to consider, like the
interest on the loan, the length of the loan, the down payment and the actual purchase price.
Payment Buyer: Do not reveal to the salesperson that you will be making payments on the car
until you have a firm out the door total price on the vehicle. Car salespeople love uneducated payment buyers
because they will up-sell you to a much more expensive car that still falls within your monthly budget. The only
problem is that your loan will go on for years longer!
Qualify: Also known as “Qualifying”. Part of the process the salesperson uses to find out if
you’re a real buyer and what type of real buyer you are. This manifests in a series of innocent questions that if
not prepared will peg you as a “Looky-Lou”, payment buyer, etc. Be prepared for this because your answers will
determine the attack the sales people will take with you.
Sales Manager: This is the individual that manages the sales department.
Salesperson: The person who sells cars! Some are as sleazy as any human can possibly be and
some are really honest wonderful people.
Service Manager: The person in charge of all repairs and maintenance of the vehicles.
Spot Delivery: The paperwork is signed and a car is immediately given or delivered to the buyer
from the dealerships inventory.
Switch to Spiff: When a dealer has a problem selling a particular car the sales manager will
offer some super-duper cash incentives to the sales force to the first one to unload this dog.
Tent Sale: Just a big heavily advertised car sale where the dealer will put up a big tent on
their car lot advertising the “lowest prices in the Universe!!!” I wouldn’t bother with these things because its
usually just a bunch of hype.
Tower: The sales managers office is sometimes referred to as the “Tower.”
Turn Over: Also known as “T.O.” This is where you are handed off to a different salesperson.
Sometimes this is used to confuse you and wear you down in order to make you more pliable for the kill. If it
happens at the very beginning of the process then it might not be an issue, but if it happens in the middle then
you need to let them know that you are aware of their games and that you aren’t going to take this crap and that
you will walk – and mean it too!
Used Car Manager: This is the Sales Manager for a used car lot.