Used Car Terms

Here are all the used car terms and definitions used by used car dealers...

Auto Mall: This is where a number of separate and competing car dealerships are located next door to each other. In San Diego there is an area known as the “National City Mile Of Cars” and there is just about every car dealer both foreign and domestic located along that street. Its there as a convenience for the buyers and sometimes the dealerships will share in joint advertising campaigns because of their close proximity to each other. Sometimes its also one huge car dealership that might carry a number of different makes under the same roof.

Bill of Sale: This is a document that the seller of a used car gives to the buyer. It should have the vehicles make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), selling price, date of sale, odometer reading and the signatures of buyer and seller. A Bill Of Sale form is either provided from your DMV or in some states you can just write it out yourself on a piece of paper.

Chopper: Also known as “Chopped”. Two cars of the same make and model are wrecked and end up in a junkyard. Someone comes along and hacks up the two cars and puts them back together as one vehicle and sells it to you the schmuck of the century! I think I bought one of these once, and oh Gawd what a piece of junk that thing turned out to be! And yes, what a schmuck I was!

Company Vehicle: Also known as “Executive Vehicle”. These are auto manufacturer company vehicles that are driven by the employees. Then they are sold as used vehicles. Before buying one of these you should check to make sure that this particular model isn’t being recalled.

Commission Split: This is where the car sales people will split their commission with another sales person because maybe they needed the other salesperson to close a deal that they couldn’t. Its one thing to walk on to a car lot and right away get switched over from one salesperson to another. That’s not a big deal, but if it happens later in the deal it can really get to be a waste of time for you and a lot of hassle. The reason is because, unbeknownst to you, the sales people may be hassling each other over the amount of they think their part of the commission split should be. Sometimes this switching of sales people is merely used as a process to physically and mentally wear you down. If they start pulling this stunt on you then immediately tell them that you’re going to leave – and mean it too. Of course you shouldn’t be too surprised if they chase you down!

Consignment Sale: This is where a car dealer handles the sale of your car at their used car lot and gets a percentage of the selling price. Make sure you have an agreement on a minimum price you will sell it for before leaving your car there. I would be very careful as to which used car lot you leave your car. They can sometimes be a shady bunch. Not all, but enough. So be sure to only deal with a reputable used car dealer to avoid a nasty situation where they sell your car and then disappear.

Gun decking: This is a term used for just one of the things you must do when you are checking out a used car to buy. Its where you look down each end of a car from the front to the back and vice versa and sight down the body looking for any ripples or waves in the body panels. Doing this may tell you if the vehicle has had bodywork done before. You also need to keep an eye out for misaligned doors and body panels and door and body panels where the color of the paint or the paints sheen is not the same as the rest of the car.

Mechanic: A person that does maintenance, diagnostics and repairs on a car. If they were accredited then you would see the term “ASE” (Automotive Service Excellence) “Certified” or “ASE Master” in their title, which is broken into numerous categories for the type of work that they have been trained to do and the testing that they have passed to earn the specific title.

Odometer Statement: This is usually a part of your cars title (AKA: Certificate Of Ownership, Pink Slip) that states the cars mileage at the time of the sale. It will sometimes state that the odometer has not been tampered with too.

Private sales: Also known as “Person to Person”. This is a car sale that is between two private parties.

Pre-owned Vehicle: Just another term for a “Used Car”. Nothing more and nothing less. Its just nicer sounding, that’s all.

Pre-Driven Vehicle: Here is another friendlier way to say the term “Used Car”.

Program Vehicles: Another term used for a Used Car except that this term usually applies to cars that were previously leased.

Vehicle History Report: For about $20.00 you can run a vehicle identification number (VIN) and find out if there are any funky things that have happened to it in the past. Was it a former fleet vehicle? Was it ever in a flood? Has the odometor been rolled back to show less miles? Is it a California Gross Polluter?


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