The “Push Pull Drag” Scam

Coupled with the stress of the car buying process is the tricks most dealers will try to get you in to the dealership and get you to buy. Here are their top 3 scams:


1) Push pull drag sale: This is when they will offer $2,000 for any vehicle. Enticing at first glance, particularly if you have an old beater with a leaking head gasket. What they’re really doing is borrowing that $2,000 from the profit in the vehicle you’re buying. I.E. they won’t budge on price there. When you think about it, a dealer still has to make a profit and it would be impossible to sell your leaking head gasket Subaru for $2k. Even if they spent their own money to fix it they couldn’t sell it for that if it is beat-up, old, or high mile-aged.
This is the classic example of voo-doo math. Have you ever negotiated a great deal on the car you are buying but not gotten that much for your trade? Or been given a great number for your trade but very little to no discount on the vehicle? That’s voo-doo math.
The ‘name your own deal’ also falls into this category. Implying you get to chose your numbers within reason, the reality is this is just a beginning of negotiation point to begin the back and forth and the dealer holding all the power will certainly let voo-doo math prevail in the end.
2) V.I.P. pricing: another well disguised scam, v.i.p. pricing is what a dealer may call a “great” deal particularly if you are a return customer. The reality is that a gross profit dealership needs to make significant profit–and I can guarantee it takes a lot of back and forth to reach that “V.I.P.” number. In contrast to a gross profit store, a volume store does not make as much profit off every vehicle, they depend on volume sales to keep the lights on. That means you pay less. And at a best price store, they’ll give you that more competitive number right upfront. All cards face up.
3) Pushing used: commissioned sales people make more money off used vehicles, and not very much off new. For this reason they will try to sway you towards a used vehicle citing depreciation, savings, or some other reason. The reality is this is a vehicle they ‘stole’ from someone using voo-doo math and are making an enormous and unnecessary profit on. It may even be sold for well over book and market value. If you are shopping new, and have done your homework, stick to your guns.

Laura Madison




  1. Anonymous  February 21, 2016

    Good to know thanks! When I was ready to walk rather than buy (used) suddenly the price dropped by $2000. I still should have walked, but it was a great SUV until I got t-boned.


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