Financing a truck is a lot like financing any other vehicle, and you’re just as likely to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous dealers. You don’t have to get a raw deal though, if you know how the financing business works and the tricks they use to empty your bank account.
The first thing you should know is that while it sounds easy to finance your truck at the dealership it’s one of the worst things you can do. Financing is one way the dealerships make money; they sell their loans to other companies at a profit. Once your loan is out of their hands the terms may change or the interest might be higher. This is why it’s important to read through every word of a contract no matter how long it takes and how impatient the salesman acts. If you absolutely can’t finance your purchase anywhere but the dealership, make sure that you know exactly what the contract says. If at all possible make arrangements with a bank or a credit union for a pre-approved amount before you look for a truck.
A sure indication that you’re being taken advantage of doesn’t start on the lot or in the office. It starts when you’re shopping for a truck and you come across an ad that brags of low monthly payments and low or no down payments. It looks great and would fit into your budget but few read the fine print that usually states such outrageous terms as high interest, short loan periods, mandatory minimum credit scores and fees that can run into the thousands of dollars.
Another way that truck dealers take advantage of you is in talking about monthly payments instead of the full price of the truck. This makes the truck sound more affordable than it is. A low monthly payment usually means a long-term loan and more interest generated from your wallet. Insist on talking buying price rather than monthly payments and you’ll make a better deal.
Shop around at dealerships outside your area. Truck dealerships are only allowed to advertise in their area for the most part, and by not checking those out, you might be missing out on a great deal. Take the time to shop around just as you would for any other important purchase.
Once you start haggling on a price, it’s easy for a salesperson to take advantage of you. He or she will bring out the sales manager to try to jack up the price. If you’re not careful they’ll wear you down! They’ll try to convince you that you’re cheating them and robbing their children, but that’s about as true as a three dollar bill. After that ordeal, comes the signing of the papers and another pitfall—never, ever leave any spaces blank on any contract. Draw a line through the space or write “blank” in it so that the dealer can’t add things in that you don’t want. Dealers have been known to add hundreds or thousands of dollars to contracts by filling in blank spaces after the buyer signs.
If you can’t avoid financing your semi truck at a dealership you can at least protect your interests by refusing to let them manipulate you or cheat you because of a lack of attention to detail.