Car Lot Terms

Here is all the car lot terms you would ever want to know about and many of these are what car salespeople are calling you the car buyer behind your back...

Be Back: Also known as a “BB”. If you go to a car lot and then bail without buying something, well, this is what the salespeople will call you because they figure (hope!) that you will “be back”. Get it? A “be back” in the car repair business is someone that has to bring their vehicle back because it wasn’t repaired correctly the first time. Its a loser for mechanics to have to deal with be backs.

Bird Dogs: These are people that get paid when they refer car buyers to a new or used car salesperson. Obviously they have something arranged beforehand and receive a flat fee or some type of commission based on a percentage of the sale.

Buried: This means you’re in debt for a vehicle that has little or no equity.

Buyers Remorse: This is the feeling some uneducated buyers get when the euphoria of buying a new car wears off and they realize that they have made a huge mistake! If you do what I say on this website, then you won’t be dealing with any buyers remorse.

Chained: This is when the car dealer gives you a super low offer. An offer you can’t refuse. Car dealers aren’t in business to be giving out free cars so the reason you’re getting this “low ball” offer is because they will make up their money some other way. Its just a way to keep you at the dealership. They can do this in the finance department, or adding tons of accessories at inflated prices, or giving you nothing for your trade in.

Clocked: Also known as “clocking” or “clocker”. This is where someone has set the cars odometer back thereby reflecting lower mileage. Odometer tampering is really uncool and very illegal. You need to be aware of this when buying a used car. If lets say the odometer says 25,000 miles but the rubber pad is worn out on the brake, gas and/or clutch pedals then chances are this car actually has 125,000 miles on it. Yikes! You can verify mileage by checking receipts for repairs and maintenance and also by getting a vehicle history report.

Creme puff: This is a trade-in car that is especially clean where the dealer will make a huge profit on. Of course they won't tell you that your trade-in is a "creme puff".

Curbing: Also known as “Curbstoning”. This is where someone (a “curbstoner”) is selling used cars out of their front yard. The term “curbing” or “curbstoning” refers to the curb in the front of their house where the car for sale is inevitably parked. Get it?

Demonstrator: Also known as “Demo”, “Loaner” or “Loaner Vehicle”. These are vehicles that the dealership uses for customers to go on test drives. They are also driven by some of the personnel at the car dealership and also used as loaner vehicles while a customers car is in getting repaired. If you buy one of these then make sure its at a deep discount because they are usually driven the same way people drive rental cars...hard!

Down Dip: Also known as “Dipping”. This is where the customer is “loaned” the down payment for a vehicle by the car dealership just until the loan goes through. If you feel tempted to do this then just know and accept that you cannot afford this vehicle at this time. Just turn around and go home and save your money for a down payment. If you do this then know that you will pay dearly for this car.

Down Stroke: Also known as “Down Dump”, “Lump” or “Put Down”. This is how much cash (or trade in value) a buyer can put down on a car deal.

Hard Dollars: This is the money that the car dealership is investing in your trade in.

Lemon: A lemon is just a bad car. Maybe it was built on a Monday morning when everyone was hung over or maybe on a Friday when everyone wanted to bail for the weekend. Who knows? Some cars just end up being bad from the beginning. Most states have Lemon Laws where you can deal with vehicles like this.

Looky-Lou: A potential car buyer that cannot be immediately sold a new or used car. Sales people hate Looky-Lou’s. Well too bad!

Off Lease Vehicle: These are vehicles which were originally leased and are now on the used car market.

Repossession Vehicle: Also known as a “Repo”. These are vehicles that the finance company had to take back because the “owner” stopped making the loan payment. Many people think that you can get good deals buying repo’s but the reality is that there is no equity in them so the finance company doesn’t have any room for negotiation plus they don’t like spending time dealing with retail customers and will usually just sell them to wholesale dealers and be done with it.

Soft Dollars: This is an inflated price that the car dealer will give on your trade-in. They aren’t doing this to be your buddy. They are just doing it because it looks good, which is why it is sometimes referred to as “Show Dollars”. The reality is that whatever they appear to give you on your trade-in, they will make up for it somewhere else on the car deal. The replacement money can be made up in a number of area’s like: extra points on your car loan, added or inflated “fee’s”, etc. The bottom line is that if you’re willing to go to the trouble that you will ALWAYS get more money if you sell your car yourself.

Spiff: Not to be confused with “Spliff”, you potheads, you! This is the name for a little sales contest that the car dealer management offers to its sales people as an incentive to sell more cars. Salespeople will often try to get you involved in this by offering you the “deal of the century” on that car you’re interested in. Don’t fall for it. If their was ever a time that the adage “Their ain’t no free lunch” had meaning, well then this is it.

Unit: This is the name that the sales people give to the car they sold to you.

Up: Most car sales people work on a commission basis. So there is an order amongst the sales people as to which one of them gets the next customer. If you end up being salesman Joe’s customer then you are referred to as being Joe’s “Up”. Get it?

Upside Down: Also known as “Negative Equity”. This term describes a situation where you owe more money on your vehicle than what its worth on a wholesale basis. You have zero equity. If you trade-in a vehicle that is “Upside Down” then just know that whatever “deal” you’re given on your trade-in will be made up for somewhere else in the car deal. For example: if the car dealership has to pay off your loan on the trade-in then they will merely add that amount to your new loan. Remember: “There ain’t no free lunch!”


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