Man talking(l+r), Car keys exchanging hands(c)

Nattakorn_Maneerat/Shutterstock @reekneesells/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘When the whole family comes to the dealership’: Workers share 6 signs that will give you away at the car dealership

‘When they still have their keys in their hands.’


Melody Heald


Don’t want to tip your hand at the car dealership? Well, there are six signs that dealership workers say will give you away if you don’t want salespeople to know you are looking to buy a car.

In TikTok videos, California-based car dealership employee @reekneesells asks each of his co-workers, “What’s a good sign that a customer is buying today?” Here are their answers.

When the whole family shows up

Happy family choosing new car, salesman showing them luxury auto at automobile dealership store. Customers selecting vehicle, consulting manager at modern showroom shop
Dragana Gordic (Licensed)

The worker starts off his series by asking a co-worker named Joey, “Hey, Joey. What’s a good sign that a customer is buying today?”

Joey’s response? “When the whole family comes to the dealership.”

This one is tricky because Edmunds actually recommends you don’t go car shopping alone. “Having the right person with you at the dealership can help you spot any inconsistencies in the deal, fend off potentially pushy salespeople and create leverage in your negotiations,” Edmunds recommends.

And it’s also recommended that you bring your kids along in the event you are shopping for a family car. That way the whole family can test-drive it together.

But viewers agreed that this is a pretty good sign a person will be leaving with a new car.

“Lmfaooooo my whole family did go with me to buy my car,” one viewer stated.

“Lol my entire family came with me the day I got my car,” a second commented.

When they say they’re buying today

Man signing car insurance document or lease paper. Writing signature on contract or agreement. Buying or selling new or used vehicle. Car keys on table. Warranty or guarantee. Customer or salesman.
PanuShot/Shutterstock (Licensed)

Next up is a worker named Ricardo. His answer is blunt. “When they’re saying they’re buying today,” he says.

Giving less information is sometimes better when dealing with car salespeople. In most cases it’s best for car salespeople to think you are just shopping around, and shopping around at different dealerships. Them thinking they have competition can put them on edge, ultimately forcing them to offer you the best possible deal, or a deal they think is better than their competitors—whether imaginary or not.

When they want to talk numbers

Hand holding car remote control, smart key to lock or unlock doors of white car. Safety, travel and transportation concept
Jo Panuwat D/Shutterstock (Licensed)

A worker named Robert, when asked the same question, smiles and repeats the question to himself. After a few seconds, he responds. “When they don’t ask to test drive. They want to get to the numbers,” he says.

“OK. Straight to the point?” @reekneesells says.

“Straight to the point,” Robert confirms.

It is recommended that one test drives three different vehicles before settling on one car. During the test-drive process, one should not only see how a car drives, but they should also inspect the interior—including the infotainment, air conditioning, and lighting—and do a walk-around to inspect the vehicle’s exterior.

When they customer says they aren’t buying

Positive young professional saleswoman demonstrating document to male customer buying new car in dealership
Max kegfire/Shutterstock (Licensed)

In a part-two video, @reekneesells continues his quest for answers. His co-worker Luis actually contradicts Ricardo. “A good sign is when they come in and they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m not buying today,’” he says.

This initially confused the content creator, who asks, “That’s a good sign?” Luis confirms that it is.

This is probably because shoppers sometimes lie while at the dealership. MotorTrend reports that one of the things a car shopper will lie about are their intentions.

“People always say things like ‘Oh, we just started’ or ‘We’re not buying today’ when, in fact, they’ve been shopping for six weeks and have every intention of buying a car that day as soon as they find the right car at the right price. They just don’t want the salesperson to know it,” MotorTrend says.

When they hold onto the keys after a test drive

Closeup hand giving a car key and money for loan credit financial, lease and rental concept
Nattakorn_Maneerat/Shutterstock (Licensed)

The creator then asks his co-worker named Micah, “What’s a dead giveaway that the customer is buying today?”

“When they still have their keys in their hands,” Micah responds. “Yeah, they still got their keys in their hands.”

“What do you mean?” @reekneesells asks.

“Like, after the test drive,” Micah says.

“Oh, ok. Taking ownership. I see it,” the creator responds. “That’s a good one.”

While it’s true a customer can become emotionally attached to a car during the test-drive process, it’s always a good idea to keep one’s game face on. So hand over the keys, people.

When they say they have a large down payment

Businessman giving or paying money to a man
Atstock Productions/Adobe Stock (Licensed)

Another worker, Leo, says, “Whenever they say, ‘I got $10K. Put it down.’ I’m like, ‘That’s a deal.’”

A car sales expert says that you shouldn’t reveal you have a down payment too soon as this can hinder a good deal.

The expert, @BillyTheCarKid on TikTok recommends letting the dealership run his credit score and give him the final deal while “still under the illusion that I’m not putting any money down.” 

“Traditionally, the dealership is going to come with really high rates, no matter what I tell them. $10,000 down, $20,000 down, nothing down—they’re gonna come back and say we only got you a 7.2 or whatever bullcrap rate they’re going to tell me,” he says. 

“This is an excellent time to say, ‘Maybe I just need to put a little bit of money down. Let’s put $10,000 down and see if that gets us down to the 5.99 that our credit union was saying they could get us.’ Sometimes, this just puts the nail in the coffin, makes the finance guy realize, ‘I’m gonna go somewhere else if you don’t get real,’ and they just give you your rate,” he continues.

The Daily Dot reached out to @reekneesells via TikTok comment and direct message.

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