How to Navigate the Car Dealership Finance Office

Car Dealership Finance Couple

[Editor’s note: This article has been updated with new information and for comprehensiveness since its original posting date.]

Lots of people will be entering the finance office of a car dealership in the coming days, since we are here at the end of the month and year, also the busiest week of the year.  The finance office can be a scary place for many people, but there really is nothing to fear if you take your time and pay attention.

Many Buyers Like The Convenience Of Dealerships

More people are using dealerships to finance these days due to aggressive incentives and very low interest rates, and also the ease of getting everything done at one time. Dealerships like you to finance with them for the obvious reason of making a profit, but equally as important, it takes you out of the market. Dealerships can often save you money on a loan.

Most People Have Had a Bad Finance Experience

The finance department seems to be a source of irritation for many buyers, and people who have bought a lot of cars have likely had a bad finance experience.  Like every profession, there are good dealers and bad dealers. Many people are taken advantage of in the finance department of dealerships. Over the years, I have seen it all, high-pressure tactics to purchase extended warranties, credit life, and disability insurance, GAP insurance, etc. I have also witnessed downright fraud.

The finance experience does not have to be a trying experience. This seems basic and simple, but it is critical that you understand you are signing a contract-a legal and binding document that obligates you to make monthly payments on a timely basis. READ WHAT YOU SIGN.

Signing Papers Is The Most Important Factor in Purchasing

People never ceased to amaze me when I was in the car business. People would negotiate for five hours on a car, then when the most important part came…going over the final numbers and signing papers, they would almost always want to rush through this part. They would sign everything you put in front of them without asking any questions. 

Do Your Homework In Advance

It is no secret that a dealer makes money on almost every product they sell in the finance department, but remember every product is optional, nothing has to be purchased in the way of optional policies or products. There are worthwhile products offered, like extended warranties and GAP insurance just to name a couple, but they are totally up to you. Nobody will hold a gun to your head and force you to buy anything. 

Doing your homework is always a good idea! As far as interest rates go, know what you can get before you go to a dealership. Talk to your banker or credit union to know for sure, don’t leave it to chance. Know how many miles you drive per year to know which extended service policy to buy. Get online and calculate about what your payment should be. Buying a car and committing to five or six years worth of payments should rank right up there with buying a home, and taken as seriously, especially when it comes to reading and signing paperwork.

Pay Special Attention To The Finance Contract

One good rule of thumb is to spend the most time looking over the installment loan contract.  Make sure the amount at the top is what you agreed to.  Then as you go from top to bottom, look at any line that has a dollar amount next to it.  If a finance person is going to “slide” a product in on you, like an extended warranty or something else, there will be a dollar amount associated with it.  Question anything you are unsure of.

In Conclusion

By the time you get to the finance department of a dealership, you are ready to get out of there and get behind the wheel of your new ride. Some dealers prey on that, and too often consumers sign everything someone puts in front of them. Take a deep breath, consider the products you are offered and remember that these are optional purchases. Some of them will be right for you, others may not. Make a good financial decision for you and your family.

Related Reading:

Choosing the Right Dealership to Purchase From

Photo Credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock


  1. Dale and Debbie Bilyeu 2 years ago

    We are looking for information on the new Explorers and Tahoes.

    Also for a Car Pro dealer in our area.

    Thank You!

    • Michele Sanders 2 years ago

      I don’t have any way of knowing where you are located, but just click CERTIFIED DEALERS at my website to start the process, I have great dealers all over. THANKS for listening.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  2. bob 10 months ago

    my wife bought a honda CERV, everything was done over the internet. got to the dealership, went thru the numbers and the interest rate was 12.5%. my wife’s credit score is almost 850. we raised hell, credit manager came out and tore up the contract up and gave us 2,5%. by the time we finally got the final papers done, the finance officer gave us .99%.
    PAY ATTENTION as this article explains, they will take you if you let them, and yes this was one of if not the biggest honda dealers in houston. remember “it’s just business”

    • Amy Plemons 10 months ago

      Good point Bob! Thank you for the affirmation!

      Jerry Reynolds
      Car Pro Radio Network

  3. Joe 9 months ago

    Of course, there is another option. Locate the vehicle you want on the Internet at other dealers, negotiate the price and financing via email and finally a phone call, and pick up the vehicle. I pay cash unless the dealership wants to give me a better price at an extremely low rate, and come with a certified check in hand.

  4. Phillip Herbst 9 months ago

    My Brother bought a new CR-V and had negotiated the contract with the salesman; however, when he got to the finance office, he noticed the contract was $1500 more. When he called it to the attention of the Finance Manager, he basically said “Whoops! My bad” and corrected it. My brother felt certain that this was done intentionally, hoping he wouldn’t notice. Second issue, several months later he had his CR-V in for some kind of issue at a different Honda dealer; When the service department entered the VIN number into the HondaCare system, it returned “No Record”. Turns out instead of selling my brother the Factory “Honda Care’ Extended Warranty, he was sold some third party warranty. I have since learned that this is becoming a common practice at almost all dealers. You assume you are getting a factory warranty but are getting something else.

  5. kelly brown 9 months ago

    We bought a 2018 Grand Cherokee from a non CP certified because the other dealer said they could be the price. When my wife went to make the dela they offered two incentives. One for $2500 and one for $3000 in house. We agreed to pay cash for TTL and a extended warranty. When got the paper work back to sign the total had changed by $3000 and my cash TTL was shown and as a down payment. The financing showed a inflated number for the beginning price that was not in line with what we agreed.
    We still have not paid the cash for the extended warranty because i want to question the deal. No the finance guy is calling me hurry and give him the $1500 so he can collect from the bank.
    My question is can we walk the deal even though we had the car for a week?

    • Amy Plemons 9 months ago

      Kelly, if you signed all the papers and took delivery, you can’t walk away even though you have not given them the $1500. You do have some leverage to make sure the numbers are correct on the contract, and they can be changed since the contract has not gone in yet due to the $1500 that is outstanding. I would get the GM involved if you need to. If they give you the option of letting you out of the deal, take and I’ll hook you up with the Owner at Bayshore.

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

  6. Craig Baumunk 8 months ago

    Our 2005 Lexus has 115000. At 100,000 miles I had the timing belt, water pump replaced and had new struts installed. The tires are one year old. I wanted to know if I should have anything else replaced, since I plan on keeping the car for a while.



    • Amy Plemons 8 months ago

      I think you have it covered for now, you should be fine!

      Jerry Reynolds, President
      Car Pro Radio Network

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