Auto Cheat Sheet car buying guide

Enjoy car buying?

Enjoy car buying?

Enjoy car buying?

Auto Insider Car Buying Tips

Welcome to my 100% free online car buying guide for new and used vehicles. My name is Carlton Wolf and I’ve been in the retail car business for over 20 years. I created the Auto Cheat Sheet to better educate buyers on the deceptive sales practices found in many dealerships across the country.  Please understand, not all car dealers are dishonest. However, you never know who you’re going to be dealing with.

New Car Buying

My detailed new car tips will guarantee you get the best price available while new car shopping. 95% of the new car buying process can be done online without haggling with a car salesman.

View all new car buying tips

Used Cars

Buying a used car is a little different than buying a new vehicle. I’ll show you how to find the right vehicle, negotiate the lowest price, check the vehicle’s title history, arrange financing and more.

How to buy a used car

Trade In

Trading in your car to a dealership may be an easy & convenient, but is it the right choice for you? Learn how to navigate the trade in process, and see how you can get the best deal.

Trade-in tips and secrets

Find Insider Deals

Use free tools that save you time, money, and headaches.

Who’s this car buying insider?

Carlton Wolf excelled in the automotive industry holding roles in many areas, but most importantly he was a car salesman known as “The Wolf” because of his techniques, tactics, and success at converting shoppers into customers while achieving extremely high levels of profit.

Carlton Wolf is the author and founder of Auto Cheat Sheet.

For almost two decades, the Auto Cheat Sheet has helped thousands of people level the playing field when navigating the deceptive car buying process. Also educating them on how to recognize and avoid costly car dealer scams.

What car buying tips can an insider deliver?

Most online car buying guides you find on the internet are written by individuals that have done research on the industry and have no experience in the field.  The Auto Cheat Sheet provides you with real-life modern car buying tips from a dealership professional with over 20 years within the retail car industry.


Average deal’s profit

New cars are a high-ticket item, new car sales account for over half of the total gross sales at the dealer. Gross profits hover around $2500 per car, but from a net-profit standpoint, new car sales generally lose money.  However, additional products and dealer strategy makes up the rest of the average.


Best car buying time

The months of September to December are the best time of year to buy a car. Dealers have sales quotas, which typically break down into yearly, quarterly, and monthly sales goals.  The largest rebates are always available at this time of year which helps the dealer move the old models to make room for the new.


Legality of dealer scams

Not all dealers and their staff are unethical.  However, you never know who you will be dealing with when you walk through the door.  Car dealer scams cost uneducated buyers thousands of dollars a year.  The problem with most car-buying scams is once you become a victim…it’s too late.

Where can you save when buying a new car?

If you could look behind the curtains of the dealership, you would discover that each and every operation you are passing by is set up as a profit center—all of them competing for the money in your wallet. So who typically wins this war of dollars, and how does the dealer actually make any money? The answers might surprise you.

  • Research new cars
  • Configure money down
  • Buy below invoice
  • Dodge buying mistakes
  • Questions to ask yourself
  • Explore online quotes
  • Obtain factory rebates
  • Understand quote sites
  • View all new car buying tips

How should you buy a used car?

Buying a used car instead of a new car has its advantages. The most beneficial, someone has already taken the huge initial depreciation loss on the vehicle when it was purchased new.

Does your trade-in hold opportunity?

I will always recommend selling your trade-in on your own over trading it in at a dealership.  I understand some people must trade because they don’t have the time or patience.

  • Appraisal process

    The used car appraisal process may vary slightly at each dealership, but the principles of the trade-in process is basically the same.

    How the trade-in process works

  • Junk car

    Trading in an old junk at a car dealership will usually only net you couple hundred dollars if you don’t control perception of your seasoned vehicle.

    How to sell an old junk car online

  • Estimate your trade-in’s value
  • Trading vs. selling on your own
  • Should you clean your car before trading?
  • View all car trade-in tips

Research. Compare. Find.

Compare new car prices, invoice prices & true dealer costs in your local area.

How do car buying scams cost you money?

They always start with something that takes your focus from the matter-at-hand using: misdirection, gimmicks, too-good-to-be-true scenarios, and sometimes even tight-short-booty-pictures of someone looking much too far for that fan belt.

  • Spot delivery

    The spot delivery scam takes shape when the dealer knows that the buyer will not be approved at the rates that dealer signed them too.

    Spot delivery scam explained

  • Trade-in payoff

    What happens when the dealer forgets to pay off your trade within the time frame allowable?  Now you have two vehicles you’re responsible for.

    Forgot to pay off your trade scam

  • Deferred down payment

    When you purchase a car and don’t have quite enough money for a down payment, be very cautious about the dealer’s offer of a deferred down payment.

    Deferred down payment scam

  • Forced extended warranty

    Forced warranty or hidden warranty occurs when a customer is told that he is not eligible for a loan until he pays for extended warranty.

    Forced extended warranty scam

  • Guaranteed credit approval

    This is used in a dealers advertising to drive high volumes of bad to poor credit customers to a dealership in the hopes of being approved to finance a vehicle.

    Guaranteed credit approval scam

  • Excessive dealer fees

    The dealer prep fee lets a dealer pick up a quick profit from consumers in the range of anywhere from $500 – $2500.

    Dealer prep fee scam

  • Credit doesn’t qualify
  • Payment packing
  • Straw purchase
  • Addendum sticker
  • Cosigner loans
  • FLEET manager scam
  • Trade-in value scam
  • Dealer added options
  • Purchase-lease switch
  • All credit accepted dealer scam
  • Bait and switch
  • 0% interest available
  • Key mailer
  • Slasher sale
  • Certified pre-owned vehicle scam
  • Rebuilt title
  • View all common car dealer scams

Trade Value Estimator

Know the value of your car before trading it in.

Where else can you save money while buying a car?

The sale of the vehicle itself is not the only area a dealer makes money when selling you a car.  Backend products such as financing, insurance and warranties are all high profit opportunities a dealership will take advantage of.


The best self-defense at the dealership is having a pre-approved car loan in place before you go shopping. Here’s why, and how to protect yourself.

  • Low interest car loan quotes online
  • Bad credit auto loan guide
  • How to refinance a car online
  • Auto refinance myths exposed
  • All about credit reports and scores
  • How to read your credit report
  • How to establish credit history from scratch
  • View all auto finance advice


Extended auto warranties can be great, but know the right questions to ask before buying one. Learn how to use free warranty quotes to your advantage.

  • Find free online auto warranty quotes online
  • Questions to ask before buying a warranty
  • How to select an extended auto warranty
  • Extended warranty terms and definitions
  • View all extended auto warranty topics


Make sure to call your car insurance agent before you head to the dealership, so you have all the information you need before you buy a vehicle.

  • Where to find free car insurance quotes online
  • Online auto insurance company reviews
  • Common insurance myths exposed
  • Car insurance discounts and secrets
  • What is credit life & disability insurance
  • All about GAP insurance
  • View all car insurance tips

Raise the hood!

Has your car buying experience broken down on the side of the road? Send your questions, comments, or ideas to improve our site. But, please understand our response rate is driven by the demand, complexity, and “The Insider’s” availability (retirement is sweetness).

  • Located somewhere in the great state of Oklahoma.

  • Live chat is unavailable, support is out selling a car.

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