Top 5 Ways Pickup Truck Dealers Inflate What You Pay

Written by Jim Belt in Trucks

Buying a new pickup truck is an exciting prospect, but dealerships use several tactics to pad their profits at your expense. Understanding these common dealer strategies is key to negotiating the best possible deal. Here are the top 5 ways dealers make you pay more for that shiny new truck.

#1 The Dreaded Dealer Markup

When you walk onto the lot, that window sticker price is already marked up over the invoice price the dealer actually paid. Dealer markup, also called the "dealer reserve," can vary wildly from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand over invoice on a pickup truck. You could pay $1,000 to $3,000 over the invoice price.

#2 Failure to Negotiate Effectively

Many buyers, especially those without experience negotiating at dealerships, simply accept the first offer. Middle class truck buyers frequently overpay by failing to push hard enough for a lower price. Dealers take advantage of consumers who don't stand their ground. Overpaying $2,000 to $5,000 is common.

#3 The Dreaded Upsell Game

Get ready to be pitched "just a few" costly upgrades and premium trim level additions. Dealers make more money by upselling higher trims and options, so they'll work hard to upsell you. Common upsells include:

  • Premium paint colors ($500+)
  • Larger wheels/tires ($1,000+)
  • Towing packages ($1,000+)
  • Spray-in bedliners ($500+)
  • Premium audio systems ($1,000+)
  • Advanced safety tech ($1,500+)

Depending on the upsells, you could pay $2,500 to $5,000 in add-ons you may not need.

#4 Taking Advantage of High Demand

If there's one vehicle category where simple supply and demand pricing power reigns, it's pickup trucks. With demand for trucks at record highs, dealers can mark up prices significantly over MSRP and still find buyers. In high demand situations, markups over MSRP can range from $2,000 to $10,000 or more.

#5 Stretching Out Loan Terms

Even if you negotiate hard on the sale price, dealers make more profit over time through loan financing. They'll try to stretch out loan terms to make higher priced trucks seem affordable based on low monthly payments. But longer terms mean paying much more in total interest over the life of the loan - often $5,000 to $10,000 more in interest.

The key to getting a great deal is being an informed, prepared buyer. Research typical dealer costs, know exactly which configuration you need, negotiate hard with the ability to walk away, and secure affordable financing terms. With some savvy, you can drive away with the pickup you want instead of getting fleeced.