Man talking(L+r), Woman in car putting her hand out to receive keys(c)

Prostock-studio/Shutterstock @costacreatescardeals/Tiktok (Licensed)

‘All car guys shake people’s hands like this’: Dealership worker shares the 5 signs of a knowledgeable car shopper

‘You gotta walk a real thin line, and make sure you’re at the top of your game.’


Nina Hernandez


A car dealership salesperson shares five signs of a knowledgeable car shopper. If a potential customer shows any of these signs, it’s a good idea for you to be on your best game.

In a TikTok video, Costa (@costacreatescardeals) promises to help fellow car salespeople “tell if your customer has been in the car business.” The video has amassed more than 456,000 views since it was posted on April 2. “Here are some signs that the customer that just walked into your dealership is in the car business, has been in the car business, and is a car guy,” he explains. “You gotta walk a real thin line, and make sure you’re at the top of your game.”

How they shake your hand

Hands shaking and passing keys
Ground Picture/Shutterstock (Licensed)

The first sign a prospective car buyer knows how to do business comes down to how they shake your hand. “No. 1, if he walks in and shakes your hand like that—that underhanded handshake—oh, watch out. All car guys shake people’s hands like this.” That’s not the only information the handshake might reveal. “If he shakes it real firm and tight, and looks around the dealership and says, ‘Who makes the decisions around here? I want to talk to him,’” Costa says. “He’s a car vet.”

Asking specific questions

Car dealer showing vehicle to mature man
Ground Picture/Shutterstock (Licensed)

“No. 2, if he starts asking you questions like, ‘Hey, how much you got in it? Hey, how long has this been on the lot? Hey, has it been through the shop yet? Has it been through recon?’ He’s a car guy,” Costa says. “You gotta watch out.” Earlier this month, a car-buying expert went into detail about the questions you should ask when shopping for a used car if you want to look like a pro. He recommends “playing dumb” and limiting the amount of information you give the salesperson. That should help you avoid feeling pressured to make a deal.

Counting on their fingers

Arm and hand of caucasian man over yellow isolated background counting number 4 showing four fingers (Licensed)

“No. 3, if he starts counting on his fingers like this, backwards? He’s a car guy,” Costa says. He demonstrates how a person who knows cars will count the vehicle’s shortcomings on their fingers. “He’s a car guy. When they start counting like that, oh, he’s a car vet,” Costa says. “He’s been 20 years in.” This likely indicates a person who knows how cars work and the price of fixing each defect. It’s harder to use leverage you don’t know you have in the first place.

Using hand gestures

Man with hand on table

“No. 4, if he hits you with this right here when you present the numbers and he’s like, ‘Hey, slow down, bud,’” Costa says. “That right there? He’s been in the game for at least 25 years. So you’ve got to watch out for him.” Some experts believe it’s best to wait until the last day of the month to purchase a used car, because theoretically salespeople are under pressure to meet quotas. You might also want to delay so you can get an offer from another dealership.

Calling you ‘bud’ or ‘boss’

Smiling car rental assistant giving information to customer.
Nebojsa Tatomirov/Shutterstock (Licensed)

“And, last but not least, if he starts telling you things like, ‘Hey, boss’ or ‘Hey, bud’ [or] ‘You got this,’ he’s definitely a car guy,” Costa concludes. The used car business is notoriously difficult, so perhaps someone who has worked in the industry before would show more respect to sales people than the average customer. Anybody who’s worked commission knows what a grind it can be.

To end the video, Costa says, “Tell me some of the things that you notice that your customer is a car guy. I just want to hear ‘em.”

One user wrote, “Or I walk in and look at sales board. Agent with lowest sales that week is my guy.”

A second user wrote, “you’ll know he’s a car guy when he’s not buying a car from the dealership.”

A third user wrote, “My dad was a sales manager for 30 years. I went to buy a car, told him the offer he said “stand up, say thank you for your time and walk out.” They lowered the price like $6k.”

Costa told the Daily Dot, “It’s hard to find a finance manager that will protect the house over making money. If you have challenged credit, check the link in my bio.”

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