Burdge Wins; Ford Loses

In a recent court case, Ford was required to back back a lemon car and to pay back to the consumer the amount that the selling dealer increased the actual purchase price in order to pay off the consumer's trade in. That's a first.

Called "negative equity" by car dealers, it can mean that your trade in vehicle isn't worth what you owe on it. Some dealers hide the numbers by jacking up the sale price without really telling the consumer what is happening. Other dealers aren't telling the truth about the trade in value in the first place. Either way, it can cost you money.

Now, the courts are recognizing that when that shiney new car turns out to be a lemon, then the manufacturer shouldn't be allowed to rip you off again by deducting the so-called "negative equity" amount from the money they have to refund. That's only fair. After all, if they had built it right in the first place, you wouldn't be in that spot.

That's good news for consumers, certainly, but the problem goes deeper than that. Before you go to the dealer's lot, check online to find out what your trade in is really worth. Then, argue for the highest dollar when you are negotiating on the dealer's lot.

And don't let them hide the number with some excuse like "oh, don't worry, we'll pay it off for you." Know the numbers; that's the one thing car dealer's don't want you to know and there's a reason. The less you know, the more they make off you.

It's your money, so don't waste it.

You read more car dealer terms and what they mean by clicking here to read our Car Dealer Dictionary.