Car Dealer Dictionary

BABYSITTER: Slang term used for a co-signer or co-buyer on an automobile contract.

BACK END: Back end is the contract which is being sent to the bank for financing, where extra “hidden” profit is made by the dealer.


BE BACK: Prospective buyer who has been in the dealership once or several times. Did not buy at that time and has returned for additional information or whatever.


BIRD DOG: One who refers prospective customers to a particular dealership or salesman for a given fee or compensation.

BOUNCE: To bounce someone means to increase the sales price of the car, interest rate, monthly payments, etc.

BRICKS: This term is used to refer to one’s house as security in taking out a second trust deed loan.

BROWNIE: To sell a car to a customer as a result of going around and putting a piece of paper with a message like “call me regarding your car” on car windows on the street.


BUY RATE: This is the interest rate that banks or financing institutions will charge on all contracts being financed. It is a “secret” number between the lender and the dealer which is the real amount of the interest rate that the loan starts out at before the dealer increases it for its own extra profit.

CHISLER: A buyer who constantly grinds the salesman to the best possible deal that he can get.

CLIMBER: A salesman who can sell anything to anyone. One who is able to tackle a tough customer and knock them over.

CLOSER: Usually a pushy salesman whose job it is to “close” the deal with the customer when the customer hesitates when dealing with the salesman.

COLD CANVAS: A form of prospecting where a salesman or dealership solicits any and all prospective buyers in any given area.

COME ON: This is where the buyer is led to believe one thing and it turns out to be really something else.

DE-HORSE: This is when you take a customer out of his trade-in and let him temporarily drive a borrowed car from the dealership until his purchase is completed.

DESKMAN or DESK: A man who both figures and determines what kind of deal the dealership will make to a customer.

DEUCE: This usually refers to a $200.00 figure for whatever reason, down payment, trade-in value, etc.

DIP: This is when the customer needs additional or all of his cash down advanced by a finance company.

DOUBLE DIP: To finance purchase between two or more loan companies.

DOWN: Short form for down payment. Also used when a salesman is finished talking to a prospective buyer. He is considered to be down and the next salesman is considered to be up and in line to handle the next prospective buyer.

DOWN STROKE: Means customer’s down payment.

EDGY: This is a customer who may or may not be able to get his car financed.

ETHER: Is a slang term used in association with its actual application. For example, putting someone in the ether. This is usually done in a closing situation and the customer is not completely aware of what is happening.

EYE BALLER: Is a flashy looking, bright colored, usually a sporty type automobile.

FLAKE: Is a customer who usually has bad credit, little or no money down. It is usually a waste of time trying to put a deal together for him.

FLIP: This is to convert a buyer from financing his automobile through his own bank or credit union to financing through the dealership.

FULL BORE: To sell a car for the full sticker price with no discount.

GOLD BALLS: One who has excellent credit and usually a considerable down payment.

GRAPE: This is a very easy buyer. He normally goes along with anything anyone tells him.

GREEN PEA: This is a new salesman or sales business manager.

GRINDER: This is a buyer who, no matter what the salesman offers, wants more for less.

HEN: Older type salesman who influences younger salesmen (adversely).

HIGH BALL: A figure given to a prospective customer which is an inflated value of his trade-in in order to get the customer to return to the dealership to purchase his new car.

HIGH PENNY: To adjust a customer’s monthly payment. For example: from $101.13 to $101.93. It is safe to assume that if the customer will pay $101.13 for a car payment, he will pay $101.93 without giving it a second thought.

HOME RUN: When maximum profit has been made on a deal or when the sales business manager has sold the customer all the insurance he has available.

IRON: This is an old used car valued at nothing more than the price of iron.

KINK: A problem with a deal due to “miswriting”, misrepresentation, misquoting, or mishandling.

LAID AWAY: A customer who has paid the maximum price for as many items (like accessories, rust proofing, extended warranty, financing and credit insurance) as can possibly be sold on an automobile.

LAY DOWN: This is a customer who says yes to everything. They “lay down” and get run right over.

LINER: A salesman whose responsibility is to settle a customer on one particular car, get a commitment of some type from the customer, regardless of how ridiculous it is, and then turn the customer over to his T.O. man, sales manager or mother.

LOW BALL: This is a sales figure or tenative price given to a customer who has acknowledged the fact that he is not going to purchase an automobile at this time and wants to shop this figure against other dealerships. This is normally an unrealistically low figure and one that the automobile can not actually be purchased for.

MICKEY: Slang term used to describe a down payment loan that is arranged by the dealership. This is referred to as completing a deal in Mickey Mouse way.


MOUSE HOUSE: Slang term used for a finance company.

NEGATIVE EQUITY: Negative equity means that your trade-in vehicle has a fair market value that is less than what you owe on it. This could be because you have not owned it very long and you still owe a very high payoff on it. It could also be because the last dealership you traded a car in, and who sold you this one, started you on this “negative equity” cycle. Click here for more information about Negative Equity Car Dealer Scams.

NICKEL: Refers to $500.00 for either trade value, purchase price, cash down, etc.

PACK: There are two interpretations of this. First, it is used in figuring a salesman’s commission, depending on the individual dealer they will deduct anywhere from $75.00 to $250.00 from the gross profit of the deal and pay the salesman his commission figured on this difference. Second would be when the salesman or sales business manager would quote a monthly payment to a customer and increase the actual amount by 5 or 10 dollars to leave room for Credit Life, Accident and Health Insurance.

PENCIL: This has two applications. First, a sales manager will pencil a salesman’s deal by crossing out the customer’s offer and penciling in the figure that he wants to get for that car. The second application is used when a salesman or sales manager changes the selling price or trade-in allowance and covers it up with an increase in the customer’s monthly payment because of the additional cost he expects to pay for Credit Life, Accident and Health Insurance.

PIPE SMOKER: A customer who smokes a pipe, gives no commitments whatsoever, usually grinds the salesman to his last thread and doesn’t buy the car after all.

PUT TOGETHER: This means much the same as “laying someone away”. In other words the maximum gross profit to be made on that deal was accomplished.

RESERVE: Sometimes thought of as a “kickback” the bank gives the dealer for setting up the loan. The income a dealership realized on a contract in excess of the finance source’s discount rate. For example: If the bank is going to charge $600.00 in finance charges on a given contract and the total finance charge to the customer on this contract is $1,000.00, the dealership will realize $400 in “reserve money” but the customer thinks the interest is all being charged by the bank.

RESIDUAL: This is the termination value of an automobile that is being leased. The number on the lease contract may be real or simply made up.

ROLL BACK: To work a deal backwards. Instead of working with the purchase price and trying to determine a monthly payment, you would start with a known monthly payment and try to determine a selling price. It also means to “roll back” the odometer on a car to make it worth more money – highly illegal.

RULE OF 78: A mathematical formula used in figuring a rebate of unearned charges or premium, when these charges were pre-computed and pre-paid. Once referred to as “78 ways we get to keep your money”.

SLED: Reference quite often given to a customer’s old trade-in which is usually “beat up” and worth little or nothing.

SLIDE RULER: A buyer who is a specification nut. He does not deal in generalizations when prices are quoted. They must be exact and justified most of the time. This buyer will have a slide ruler or a pocket calculator with him to calculate his own sales tax and total sales price.

SPEAR: Think of it like in the movies when the Indian would “spear” a fish in the stream for his dinner. This is just a method used in getting a customer onto a dealer’s lot. For example: Stopping a man on the street and telling him that you would give him some outrageous figures for his trade-in if he would just come down to the dealership today and take a look at what you have to offer.

SPOT DELIVERY: This is when all phases of the purchase and delivery are completed the same day. This may be with or without any kind of credit check or approval.

STICKS: Reference given to the borrower’s furniture he puts up as collateral on a small loan, such as when he borrows the money for the down payment on the car he is getting ready to buy.

STRAW PURCHASE: This is when a third party buys an automobile and finances it in his name for some else (who will be the actual driver) because of that other person’s age, bad credit, or lack of credit, etc.

STROKER: An individual who gives the impression that he wants to buy a car, but really doesn’t have the means to do so.

STRONG: This word has two possible meanings. When used in reference to an automobile, it indicates that the car is a good seller and therefore, an above average profit can normally be made on it. The second application would refer to a sales individual, be it salesman, sales manager, or Sales Business Manager, in reflecting his ability to do his required job (i.e., aggressive, pushy).

STUD: See second application of STRONG.

“SUM OF THE DIGITS”: Another term used for the “RULE OF 78” – a formula used in figuring rebates, once characterized as “78 ways we get to keep your money”.

SWITCH: To change a customer from buying one car to another for several reasons: availability, possible profit, etc.

THIRD BASEMAN: An individual who accompanies a prospective buyer because the buyer feels he is better versed in haggling over the price of the car and/or knows more about the car mechanically, thereby decreasing the chances of getting stuck with a “lemon”.

TIRE KICKER: This is normally an individual who doesn’t want to buy a car, but just wants to look. He walks in, touches the merchandise and doesn’t want to talk to anyone.

T.O. (TURNOVER): The procedure used in selling where the salesman or liner turns a prospective buyer over to another salesman or sales manager to close the sale.

T.O. MAN: This is the individual to whom a LINER will turn a customer over.

TOAD: Reference given to a customer’s trade-in; a worn-out piece of machinery that is just “sitting there” like a toad.

UNDER-ALLOWANCE: To give a customer less for his car than it is actually worth.

UNWIND: To take back a car that is already delivered and void all papers that were used in reference to its delivery.

UP-RATE: To increase an individual’s rate on his automobile insurance, either due to an error when initially rating the customer, or a difference in the customer’s driving record from what was originally stated.

UPSIDE DOWN: This condition exists with a buyer when he wants more on his trade-in that the car is worth.

WALKING FIGURES: When the salesman knows for sure that the customer will not buy a car at this time because he wants to check out some other dealerships. The salesman will give him a ridiculously low figure to try to beat, know that, in the end, he will have to come back to him.

WATER: This is the false equity shown on a deal that a customer is supposed to have in his trade-in. For example: Showing on the purchase order $1500 in equity on a ’69 Ford when he actually only has $1,000.

WOULD YA, COULD YA: A practice used by salesmen in getting a commitment from a customer. In other words, “Would you buy this car if I could get it for the price you want to pay?”

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