The "Four-Square" process - savvy auto buying

Dealerships Rip You Off With The “Four-Square,” Here’s How To Beat It


Former used car salesman Alan Slone grows a conscience and reveals one of the major strategies dealership use to screw you when buying a new car. At the heart of it all is the “4-square,” a sheet of paper (sample above) divided into four boxes: your trade value, the purchase price, down payment, and monthly payment. This is supposed to help you and the dealership come to an agreement, but as you’ll see, it’s really more akin to three-card monte dealer’s deck of cards. Many, but not all, dealerships use this tool. Here’s 5 tips to get you started, and then a very detailed breakdown of how the dealership manipulates buyers with the four-square.
7 tactics car salesmen hope you don’t know


  1. Playing out the clock
  2. Psychological profiling
  3. The pressure of the ‘impending event’
  4. The ‘porcupine close’
  5. The ‘Ben Franklin close’
  6. The ‘alternate choice close’
  7. The trip to the back office
Comment: Image from the 2nd article. I'm not in "the market" at this time because:

  • I'm happy with my 17 year old truck (it needs a new rear bumper - someone ran into it in a parking lot and left without leaving a note
  • Our main vehicle is about 3 years old and has a lot of life left in it
My tips:
  • Separate "the trade" from the purchase
  • Either arrange financing in advance or pay with cash
  • Search for the car you want and the price on the Internet
  • Control the clock
  • Be willing to walk away 

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