Home » What Was The Most Ridiculous Thing A Car Salesman Told You? Autopian Asks

What Was The Most Ridiculous Thing A Car Salesman Told You? Autopian Asks

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When you go to a dealership to buy a car, you expect the salesperson to be an expert in the vehicle you want to buy. Want to tow a 6,000-pound trailer while carrying your whole family? The sales staff should be able to tell you if the SUV you’re looking at can handle it. But not all salespeople were created equal. What’s the most ridiculous thing a car salesman told you?

For me, this answer is pretty easy. My parents have finally decided to replace the 2011 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 that they use to tow a 6,292-pound, 35-foot travel trailer. On the surface, this seemed fine. The 4×4 SUV could tow 8,000 pounds and had a payload of 1,564 pounds. The camper hitched up to the rear was a 2007 Thor Adirondack 31BH, a 35-foot trailer that weighs 6,292 pounds empty and 7,600 pounds loaded. On paper, that sounds great, right?

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

In practice, it’s different. The Suburban does an ok job when it’s just my parents and myself. The Vortec 5.3-liter Vortec FlexFuel V8 (320 HP/335 lb-ft torque) gets the job done, but you have to wring it out to get to and then maintain the speed limit. There isn’t much power in reserve for passing, hills, or more weight.

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This is demonstrated well when my brother piles his four kids plus him, his girlfriend, and a bunch of gear into the Suburban. The engine may have been near its limit before, but it practically wheezed under the higher loads brought on by a camping trip with my brother’s family. The Suburban also handled much worse with the trailer on the back. The trailer suddenly felt like a boat anchor trying to drag down the Suburban with it.

The problem was clear to me. Everyone was paying attention to just the trailer’s unloaded weight, never payload or anything else. The 2007 Thor Adirondack has an unloaded hitch weight of 736 pounds. Now, trailer manufacturers don’t just publish that weight for nerds like me. Tongue weight subtracts from your tow vehicle’s payload. You don’t need a physics degree to understand this. Something has to carry that 736 pounds, and it’s the tow vehicle. At the same time, the tow vehicle can carry only so much weight. The 2011 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 4×4 has a payload of 1,564 pounds. Take that 736 pounds away and guess what? Now you’re left with 828 pounds to play with. My brother’s family eats up that whole number before they add a pound of luggage and toys.

2015 Gmc Yukon Xl Denali
GMC

Unfortunately, my parents somehow managed to buy a worse vehicle for the job. They just brought home a 2015 GMC Yukon XL Denali 4×4. The EcoTec3 6.2-liter V8 under the hood makes 420 HP and 460 lb-ft of torque at roughly similar RPM ranges as the old Suburban’s engine. That’s good. What was bad was the 7,900-pound towing capacity and the 1,492-pound payload. So, now my brother’s family will begin to overload the SUV before they even finish piling in.

So, what gives? How did my parents mess up? I had a discussion with the salesman and he used some really fuzzy math. See, he said payload no longer matters when you hitch up to the trailer. He told me the numbers that mattered were towing capacity and GCWR, which he said were 8,100 pounds and 14,000 pounds, respectively. Since my family’s trailer weighed just 6,292 pounds of the 8,100-pound tow rating, that’s 1,708 pounds they could use for other stuff. Add in what he said was the SUV’s 1,500-pound payload rating, and you have 3,208 pounds that you can put in the SUV. He then told me that my brother’s family can’t weigh 3,208 pounds.

Problem is, that’s 1,708 pounds of free towing capacity. That’s weight for the trailer, not the interior of the tow vehicle. Your payload doesn’t double because you’re towing a lighter trailer.

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Sadly, I somehow encountered even worse advice. Another salesman at another dealership tried to sell my parents a Chevy Equinox, saying one of those can tow 7,000 pounds. An Equinox really tows around 1,500 pounds.

Maybe, I haven’t encountered the worst advice out there. Has a salesperson told you something even more ridiculous?

Top graphic sales guy: adobe.stock.com/pathdoc

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Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
3 months ago

I have two examples that come to mind:

(1) I was shopping for a BMW i3 REx in 2017 and the sales and the finance guy at a dealer teamed up to shift numbers around explaining how I’d save thousands in gas even if I only drove very little (never driven more than 6k mi/yr) and even framed the car as an investment… I had a field day outlining the basics of finance to them on a blank piece of paper, as I had taught Finance 101 to undergrads, worked at a bank and have an MBA from a finance-focused school. This was the best/only time I made good use of the two latter accomplishments, btw.

(2) at a Volvo dealer in 2021, while sitting in a Volvo XC60 I told the sales guy that my wife and I wanted to factory-order a specific build with the cloth seats in the PHEV and he laughed and said that I didn’t know what I was talking about – that combination didn’t exist. Care to guess who ordered from a different dealer and what’s sitting in my deiveway right now?

Bonus: the same Volvo “gentleman” still tries to sell me an upgrade on my current lease, saying that he will beat whatever price I’m paying now… it’s been two times now that I’ve said “sure, here is the number” and says that it can’t be right and he doesn’t believe me. Obviously I then point out that he won’t close a deal with me, but to please go ahead and check my deal in his system while I hold. At this point, I love to waste the guy’s time and watch his stupidity unfold. I might go in again whenever he calls next if I’m in for some entertainment.

Musicman27
Musicman27
3 months ago

This isn’t what this article is about, but what this guy’s family needs is a Toyota Sequoia Sr5. My family has one from 2006 and it can HAUL. It also has 3 rows, and enough power to out-accelerate most normal cars. Plus it’s a Toyota.

It has a 6500-pound towing capacity, but it gets 15 MPG.
And also a 2015 one can haul 7100 and a new 2024 can haul 9100+

0l0id
0l0id
3 months ago

Years ago as a college student I test drove a Mazda Protege, where the dealer didn’t do the alignment so the car would gradually drift into the right lane if you were to let go of the steering wheel. I knew little about cars back then, so I asked the salesman why it was doing that.

He up and tells me that he thinks it’s actually a safety feature for if you fall asleep behind the wheel!! …so that you can I guess safely drift into the gutter and not end up in the left lane instead.

I didn’t end up buying the car, but actually bought his argument, and it was only YEARS later when a friend drove my drunk self home in a different vehicle of mine, did I learn that I was being bullshat. He suggested I get my wheels aligned, and i was like naaw dawg, it’s a safety feature. I was promptly reprimanded for not knowing anything about the vehicle I own, or cars in general. And was made aware in no uncertain terms of the fact that what just came out of my intoxicated face made absolutely no sense and is outright a stupid thing to believe.

The silver lining of all that is I made it home safe, AND this MAY have been the moment I started developing interest in how cars work!

Uberscrub
Uberscrub
3 months ago

I’ve been wanting something fun and phev/ good mileage – and wanted to check out an A3 phev, just to see if i liked it. there was one at a small used car dealer about 50 minutes away. I looked into the dealer, and they have a policy that you can’t test drive a car without a cashiers check for the sticker price. How the hell can you operate like that? They weren’t specializing in rare cars and needed to weed out dreamers or anything like that. The website had lots of notices about how appointments must be made ahead of time to be able to talk to a sales person, etc. I never even called to set up a time to not test drive a car I probably wouldn’t buy – so I guess the tactic worked and I waste anyone’s time?

Rexracer
Rexracer
3 months ago

Sadly dumb stuff the sales people say is par for the course. I typically just ignore what they are saying, since it rarely can be trusted.

It would be easier to talk about the smart things car salesman say, as those are few and far between,

Boosted
Boosted
3 months ago

One Saturday, myself and 2 friends went to the Honda dealer to check out s2000s. The week before we had been hyping each other up over the car. Two of us weren’t planning to buy that day but the numbers ended up being too good, one bought, we told the salesperson us two are coming back tomorrow morning. Maybe we were the ones who sounded ridiculous because the next morning when we came back he wasn’t there. He lost out on two more easy sales.

beachbumberry
beachbumberry
3 months ago

“The wear bars on the tire mean you have 1/4” of tread to go before it’s unsafe to drive. These tires (already down to the wear bars) have 20,000 more miles on them!”

I promptly left

Sklooner
Sklooner
3 months ago
Reply to  beachbumberry

That was a friend’s husbands theory- yikes they drove 300km of gravel on essentially bald tires

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
3 months ago

Can’t say I have ever heard anything too stupid said to me, however when I worked at a dealership I heard lots of dumb shit.

My favorite was a new sales guy told a buyer of a Tundra that it had a “dump bed option” when asked about the bed light button in the cab. The buyer was surprised and bought it based on this. Needless to say, the buyer was unhappy when he drove off the lot and realized all that button did was turn on a light.

Pajamasquid
Pajamasquid
3 months ago

“We don’t have our most popular model available for a test drive, so we will have to schedule you to come in on Saturday between 11:45 and noon. If you change your mind, you MUST call me beforehand because I don’t want my time wasted.”

By noon on Saturday I had already test-drove the car at another dealer across town and purchased it. Never did call the first dealer to let them know I was bailing.

Sklooner
Sklooner
3 months ago
Reply to  Pajamasquid

I had that recently for a WRX, it had to be daylight hours and I had so be there 15 minutes before for a ‘briefing’

WaxhawFive
WaxhawFive
3 months ago

I’m still stuck on your brothers family taking his parents rig for a camping trip. I have had to buy all my own stuff; the RV, all the gear, etc. My kids are in college, and thanks to this post I now have to anticipate that they are going to call up and expect to borrow all my stuff to take their family camping in the future?

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
3 months ago
Reply to  WaxhawFive

You bought all your own stuff, so you get to set the rules.

Leroy Brown
Leroy Brown
3 months ago

I was purchasing my first new vehicle (2014 Silverado) and when I went to take it for a test drive, the salesman told me I needed to drive it in 4-wheel auto mode at all times, even on dry pavement….needless to say I switched to another salesman.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
3 months ago

“We seem to have misplaced your keys, but what would it take to get you into this Liberty today?”

Yep, had a dealer pull the ol’ let’s check out your potential trade-in “whoopsie where’d those pesky keys go!” nonsense. I was a recent college grad and had my dad with me. He smartly pulled the spare key out of his pocket and said “give us a call when you find it!” We happened to have 3 copies of that key (just a basic Toyota key from the 90’s).

I am very very glad I did not buy that POS Liberty.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
3 months ago

That’s a serious commitment to camper road trips.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
3 months ago

In the year 2000 a Honda dealer told me the S2000 was only going to be made that year and production was maxed at 2000.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
3 months ago

“It’s a V8, see… eight spark plugs.”

Makes sense.
A 97’ single cab Ford Ranger with a V8…

How fresh out the penitentiary are you? You Powder pale, muscular salesman saying this to me under the Texas summer sun.

Gotta respect the hustle I guess.

The dudet
The dudet
3 months ago

I saw salesman talking to a person about a Nissan Leaf. The person asks is it powerful. Salesman reply’s with “Well it’s twin turbo charged.”

Last edited 3 months ago by The dudet
Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
3 months ago
Reply to  The dudet

He was thinking of the Taycan.

Camp Fire
Camp Fire
3 months ago
Reply to  The dudet

He was thinking of a leaf blower rather than a leaf.

The Dude
The Dude
3 months ago

Had one salesman tell me I could fit 3 dead bodies in the trunk when I was checking out the Fusion not long after their recent, though now ancient redesign.

My then (now wife) girlfriend was with me who a year prior was in a house where someone broke in and shot someone, though she took it well despite still having PTSD from the event. She considered making a scene that would’ve likely helped me score a decent deal.

In the end I went with an Acura TSX.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
3 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

OK we need to know more. Three side by side? On top of each other? Longitudinally or transversely? Adult sized? American adult sized?

So many unanswered questions. Can you go back to the dealer for clarification?

The Dude
The Dude
3 months ago

Haha I’m going to assume three side-by-side, facing left to right. Maybe you could fit 6 if you stack on top of each other?

Sadly, I no longer live in that state anymore so going back might be a bit tough…

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
3 months ago

I would guess separated into 4 or 5 garbage bags,easier to stack I suppose.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
3 months ago
Reply to  The Dude

Hey, my 1988 Jaguar XJ6 will legit fit at least three dead hookers in the trunk. For as low as the car is (lower than my 2018 Fiesta ST for reference), the trunk is DEEP.

Pappa P
Pappa P
3 months ago

Fining a replacement for my WRX was an adventure.
2014, I went into my local Ford dealer and asked about a Fiesta ST. The salesman brought me into his office, had me sit down, then told me he’s never heard of it.
2013, at the Toronto auto show, I spoke to British gentleman at the Subaru booth, Alistair.
My WRX was coming off lease, and it was common knowledge that Subaru was preparing the next gen replacement. I asked if he knew any details about the new WRX. His face changed, he got angry, then he said “There is no new WRX!”
I explained my situation, and then he did a 180 and decided that there actually was a new WRX.

Urban Runabout
Urban Runabout
3 months ago

I remember the good old days when Grandpa only had to option his LTD sedan with the 460 and towing package, strap on some big fender-mounted mirrors, and he was good to go hitching up his 30′ Airstream Excella with him, Grandma, and a back seat full of grandchildren and all of our clobber in the trunk/trailer.

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
3 months ago
Reply to  Urban Runabout

Yeah. Whatever happened to things like “It’s ok if the engine revs a bit” and “We’re hauling so we’ll be a bit slow, I’m going to be patient and give us plenty of room”.

Jeff Jordan
Jeff Jordan
3 months ago

A Cadillac salesman told me that if I were to order a car (rather than buying from stock) Cadillac would charge the dealer an extra $4000 over their wholesale cost which would be passed along to me. Or, if I bought a car from stock, I would have to buy a series of dealer add-ons (which Cadillac required their dealers to provide) which would only cost an extra $2000,

Eslader
Eslader
3 months ago

Overheard one telling another customer “and it’s got a turbo, so it’s great in the snow.”

rctothefuture
rctothefuture
3 months ago
Reply to  Eslader

I mean, that cold charged air will make it great for making power in the snow!

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
3 months ago

I was at a Chevy/Pontiac dealership around 2006, looking at a 2003 Grand Prix GTP 2door, pull me over red, supercharged, the whole 9. The dealer kept telling me how with the supercharger and RWD, it was a great burnout and drift car. I honestly think he was surprised when I lit up the front tires at a light. He did mention RWD at least one more time after that. In the end, they weren’t going to work on the price vs trade in, so I left.

Matt H
Matt H
3 months ago

Volvo salesman told me and my Dad that the then-brand new S80 sedan had a V8. We popped the hood and saw what was obviously a transverse inline 6. Salesman wouldn’t back down. We left.

LarsVargas
LarsVargas
3 months ago

We were buying a 1-year-old Mazda 3 for my wife circa 2008. Decent car and the salesperson was actually pretty good to deal with. We negotiated a fair price and they even let me use the dealership computer to research before I made an offer. (This was pre-smart pones and ubiquitous Wi-Fi.)

We already had financing arranged on good terms with a bank, but didn’t let them know. We also knew our credit was exceptional (800+). The dopey finance guy almost blew the deal.

When we were seated in his office, I casually told my wife, “This is where the money is made.” and F&I guy scoffed and said that no, it’s barely break even there in F&I. OK, I may have left out the fact that I used to manage my family’s car lot.

I forget the actual interest rates, but say we were quoted like 4.0% for the loan. This idiot tells us that there were a few things and the BEST he could do was like 6.75% or some outrageous number.

I asked him if that was our deal since our credit was strong. Perhaps an error was made, trying to give him an out. Nope. he doubled down. So I told my wife, let’s go. And we both got up. (We had practiced this earlier, so she was expecting it.)

As we were trying to leave, the F&I guy came after us asking why we were leaving and I explained the details of the first paragraph. He actually pretended to look hurt that we came in prepared. He asked to see if he could “sharpen the pencil” a bit and I told him that thing better be hypodermic sharp.

He actually came up with 3.9%. And I congratulated him on his pencil sharpening skills and then asked how much of it I could put on a credit card (I wanted points). He told me, and we did that. The rest was covered by a check as I explained that he actually had a decent deal but I was going with my bank and paying cash because of the games he played. He was clearly unhappy about it, but the deal was basically done.

We then got the loan at the bank and replenished our cash supply. The money was cheap enough at the time that we didn’t want to drain all of our cash.

Pappa P
Pappa P
3 months ago
Reply to  LarsVargas

I feel like any dealer nowadays would tell you the price is higher if you pay cash.

Last edited 3 months ago by Pappa P
LarsVargas
LarsVargas
3 months ago
Reply to  Pappa P

Oh yeah. It’s been that way for a good long time. They definitely want to sell you some financing and make some back door money as well.

I would NEVER reveal I was paying cash until after getting a firm and committed price from them. Even then, if I was paying cash, I might still finance the car to get some extra thing they’re throwing in, and then pay it off within the first month, presuming of course that there is no pre-payment penalty.

And yes, I read every single word of what I sign when I buy a car. It’s tedious, and generally annoys the F&I guy and salesperson. If they complain or show obvious distaste, I tell them that I can leave at any point and them acting like that will only make the process take longer.

Pappa P
Pappa P
3 months ago
Reply to  LarsVargas

Yeah I guess there are a few clever ways to grab financing incentives while still avoiding most of the financing charges.
Definitely sounds like you’ve got all the right moves to deal with the scammers while avoiding being scammed.
It’s too bad someone needs to be that well educated just to avoid being taken advantage of.
The dealership is just a broken and outdated business model.

Jb996
Jb996
3 months ago
Reply to  LarsVargas

I love the moment when I make it clear that I am going to read everything. It’s like their head explodes.

Seebeexee
Seebeexee
3 months ago

I went with a friend of mine to help her sell her 2010 Jeep Liberty to the local Jeep dealership. A few days before, she had received one of those postcards in the mail where the dealer says they’re very interested in buying her vehicle.

We had just started talking with the salesman about how much they’d be willing to pay for her Jeep, when he interrupts himself to interject his “expertise” into a conversation behind him between two customers. They were talking about how they had to use synthetic oil on their most recent oil change on their older vehicle that had always used conventional oil.

The salesman interrupted them and said that you can’t use synthetic oil in an engine that calls for conventional oil because it lowers engine compression.

Before he could even turn back around and continue talking with us, I told my friend that we were leaving. We stood up and walked out without saying another word.

Last edited 3 months ago by Seebeexee
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