This Guide will walk you through how to buy from a Dealership without getting burned.

Click here for the Dealer Worksheet

This page is designed to help you if you are buying from a Dealership. If you are buying from a Private Seller, please visit the Closing the Sale page.

The Dealership Worksheet is a very valuable tool to have when it comes time to discuss the figures. It is structured to be very clear and break down every cost you will incure when purchasing the car. We recommend using this form after you have decided on which car you want. This worksheet is your way of not only understanding what you are paying for the car, but also to make sure things don't change when you get into the finance office. Keep in mind that The Auto Evaluator is a tool to help you make an educated purchasing decision for yourself and insist that this form be completed before you sign for the car.


Some dealerships might adjust the figures prior to calling your loan into a lender. This is often to make the deal more attractive to the lender. (Note: We do not condone any illegal actions nor do we recommend this method. Our only goal here is to educate you of these practices.) This is typically done by inflating the sales price as well as your trade value and or down payment. Your main concern is the bottom line, so don't be alarmed if they use this method. Be sure, however, that the new figures don't change your 'Amount to Finance'. If you aren't sure, fill out an additional worksheet with the new numbers. Take a look at the example below for a demonstration of the technique.



Here is what your vehicle is actually worth.
Normal trade example


Here is what they might place on buyers order.
Inflated trade example


If your trade vehicle still has a balance,
then put that figure in the box labeled 'Payoff'

Trade example for a payoff


Sales tax on a vehicle will vary depending on your state laws. Most states will give you sales tax credit on your trade in vehicle (except California, Hawaii, Maryland, and Michigan). In the box for 'Fees and Other', be sure to list each additional cost the sales consultant is charging you. Some dealerships charge doc fees, while others do not. Look at the box below for an example of how to fill out the form. Note: Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon do not currently charge sales tax on vehicle purchases. See the bottom of this page for the link to your state's DMV.



Keep track of any additions.
Adding to the price of the used car




Everything above the red line should be filled out BEFORE you fill out a credit application.



Everything that appears above the red line can be filled out before you even fill out a credit application. We do not suggest you take the time to fill out this form unless your decision to purchase has been made. If you have any credit problems however, it might be best to either talk to your bank or credit union to see if they will approve you for a loan. Keep in mind that a poor credit score might effect your APR, but should NOT effect the sales price of the car.


Once you have completed your credit application and have agreed on the sales price and fees involved, make sure you fill out the bottom part of the worksheet before you enter the Finance Office. You have the right to know exactly what your payments will be before hand as well as the APR and term of the loan. This is to help protect you in the event the figures change. Please know that there are many dealerships that are both honest and trustworthy, so don't assume the worst.



Know this information before you go into the Finance Office.
Always prepare yourself


Once you get into the Finance Office, the Finance Manager might offer you various additions such as extended warranties, credit life, and gap. Anything you add to the car loan WILL change your payment, so be sure you understand what you are purchasing and how it will benefit you.



Click on any of the 50 (fixed) States below to visit the
DMV website of the State. (opens in new window)

Alaska Alabama Arkansas Arizona California
Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia
Hawaii Iowa Idaho Illinois Indiana
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri
Montana North Carolina North Dakota Nebraska New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico New York Nevada Ohio
Oklahoma Oregan Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina
South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Virginia
Vermont Washington Wisconsin West Virginia Wyoming



We are not affiliated with any other automotive web site, company, or lending institution. We give our customers the tools they need to make an educated purchasing decision for themselves. We offer no opinions in regards to which manufacturer, make, or model a customer should purchase. This system has been designed around actual car buyers who experienced problems, some severe, and is beneficial to use whether you are going by yourself, or bringing someone to help you look at the vehicle. The program is 'dealership friendly' and has been developed with cooperation from Auto Mechanics, Sales Consultants, and Sales Managers. The Auto Evaluator is a guide, not a guarantee and always consult a qualified mechanic. The Auto Evaluator and all it contains is a TradeMark of Mistar Enterprises, LLC.