Why Car Salespeople Tell You That They’re ‘Not Making Any Money on the Deal’

There are many steps to the car buying process when you buy a car from a dealership. You have to get information on the car, take a test drive, and then sit with the salesperson to talk about the pricing.

At this point, you shouldn’t be too surprised if the salesperson uses a few tactics to get you to buy the car. One tactic that car salespeople will use involves telling the customer, “I’m not making any money on this deal.” But why do they tell you this and, more importantly, should you even care?

“I’m not making any money on this deal.”

A car salesman talks to a customer from behind a protective screen at a dealership.
A car salesman talks to a customer from behind a protective screen at a dealership. | Jacob King/PA Images via Getty Images

While we can only speculate as to how much car salespeople make with every car they sell, you can take their word with a grain of salt. According to Real Car Tips, the sales tactic of “I’m not making any money on this deal,” usually means that the salesperson is just trying to guilt you into paying a higher price while convincing you that you’re still getting a good deal. However, if you came away from the deal feeling guilty and paying a higher price, would it still be a good deal?

Probably not. So, in that case, dismiss the salesperson’s claims and continue trying to get the best price for you. After all, it’s your money that’s paying for the car, not theirs.

The salesperson may even try to wear you down

A car salesperson is on the phone on the showroom floor.
A car salesperson is on the phone on the showroom floor. | Valery Sharifulin/TASS

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Guilting you into paying a higher price for a car is one thing, but tiring you out is another. Have you ever wondered why some deals will last until after bedtime? It might be due to the salesperson trying to run out the clock to get you to buy. According to Bankrate, the notion behind this tactic is that, given enough time, you’ll be tired and hungry and will just want to get the deal done.

Don’t fall for this tactic by setting the pace of the deal from the get-go. One idea is to tell the salesperson that you’re going to only drive the vehicle and get information today and that you will come back the next day to talk about the numbers and buy the car. That way, you’ll know what to expect when actually sitting down with them.

However, if you’re neck-deep in a car deal, then feel free to tell them you need to walk away or at least get something to eat in order to make an informed decision. Some really nice salespeople may even offer to get food delivered to get you to stay and work the deal.

Beware of the “porcupine close”

Cars are spaced out at Selman Chevrolet in Orange, CA, on Thursday, November 11, 2021.
Cars are spaced out at Selman Chevrolet in Orange, CA, on Thursday, November 11, 2021. | Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Another sales tactic that car salespeople tend to use is called the “porcupine close.” This strategy is simple: the seller asks the buyer a simple question that “sticks” in order to get them to buy the car. For example, the salesperson might ask you, “If I could get you to the monthly payment that you’re looking for, would you buy the car today?” or “If I can get the car in the color that you’re looking for, would you take it home today?”

It’s a pretty innocuous question and truthfully, the dealer is just trying to get some type of commitment from you to buy the car. If you say “yes,” they can easily turn it back around if you say “no” later on. They’ll typically say something like, “you told me that you would buy the car if I could get you the payment that you’re looking for.”

It’s a simple tactic, but if you don’t want to fall for it, then simply tell them no from the start and inform them that you’re still shopping around with other dealers and are looking for the best deal possible.

It doesn’t matter how much money the dealer makes

While it may be true that the car salesperson might not be making much money on your car deal, don’t worry about it, the dealership will always make its money in the end. Instead, focus on the task at hand and save as much money as you can. Ultimately, you’re the one paying for the car, not them.

RELATED: 12 Lies a Car Salesman Will Tell You to Close the Deal