Car Punching: The Auto Industry’s Dirty Little Secret

service loaners

When I first heard the term “car punching,” I imagined groups of rambunctious teenagers vandalizing cars on dealer lots.

It turns out car punching isn’t quite as scandalous, but still isn’t an ideal practice. The term is in reference to car dealers that artificially increase sales, which can pad the bottom line and give automakers an edge when reporting sales numbers.

Carmakers are constantly battling for the sales crown, and car punching could be the dirty little secret that pushes one company over the edge.

How does it work?

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Who Should Fix Recalls on Used Cars?


Automotive recalls have been a revolving theme in the auto industry for the last few years thanks to some epic fails by Toyota, General Motors, Takata, and many more. If you bought a new car recently, odds are good that you’ve received a recall notice.

Some recalls can happen for minor issues that amount to nothing more than a minor nuisance, while others can be for potentially life-threatening problems that need to be fixed immediately. Owners are usually notified about recalls through the mail or electronic communications from the automaker.

How would someone know, though, if a car he or she is considering has had a recall? People shopping for cars can check for recalls using the VIN lookup tool offered on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website.

When you buy a used car from a dealer, though, whose responsibility is it to disclose, and repair, unfixed recall items?

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Are Car Dealers the Cheapest for Car Maintenance?


I’ve grown up believing that the service department of a car dealership is the most expensive place to get your car repaired or serviced. I attribute that to my Dad, who taught me at a young age to always take my car to an independent repair shop to get the best price.

I carried that belief into adulthood, and only now am I starting to realize that’s not always the best approach.

To be fair to my Dad, maybe that was true 20 years ago. Maybe dealerships have realized they need to be competitive with other shops to keep customers coming back. Whatever the case, it’s time to give car dealerships another look for service.

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Be Like Floyd: Mayweather and His Car Dealer

Floyd Mayweather Mercedes Ferrari

When a ridiculously rich and famous athlete wakes up at 3 a.m. with the sudden urge to call his dealer, it’s normally not the kind that sells cars.

The online media has exploded with stories about tomorrow’s bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, with one of the biggest stories being, oddly enough, the cars of Mr. Mayweather.

When you or I wake up in the middle of the night from a dream in which we owned, say, a Bugatti Veyron, we shake our heads at the unlikelihood of it and go back to sleep. When Floyd Mayweather wakes up and wants a Bugatti, he calls his dealer and has a new Veyron in the garage by breakfast. That in itself is incredible, but it’s not the real story here.

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When Car Dealers Make Mistakes, Who Should Pay?

2012 Chevrolet Traverse

I’m going to spill a secret here.

Once, when I went to the grocery store, I asked the checker for a book of stamps. I got the book of stamps. But the stamps were never rung up, and I never paid for them.

I did what any good American would do. I didn’t say a word and kept the secret until blabbing it to the world on a blog. I hope I won’t get arrested now, because apparently, if it were a car I had underpaid for, that’s a real possibility.

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European Dealers Selling New Cars As Used – Could It Happen Here?

car lot

Auto sales in the United States have picked up after a few of years of dreadful numbers.

The situation in Europe, though, remains in the toilet, and a new report makes the case that numbers are even far worse than believed.

Bloomberg has reported that a Ford executive said that dealers for brands across the European Union are buying their own inventory, thus providing a boost to new-car sales figures by as much as 30 percent.

Roelant de Waard, Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Service at Ford of Europe, told Bloomberg,

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What’s Your Best-Ever Car Dealer Experience?

Suzuki dealer

If I asked you to rank car dealers on a list of trustworthy and respectable businesses, where would you place them?

The truth is, dealerships deserve a higher ranking than many of us would grant them. In this era of online dealer reviews, fierce competition and online research by customers, car dealers know they have to provide superior customer service, because with today’s customer they get only one chance.

Like anyone else, I’ve had excellent and disgusting experiences with car dealers. I’ll share an excellent one here, mention a disturbing Google trend and, of course, ask for your story of the best dealer experiences you’ve ever had.

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Coffee, Food, Weddings: Car Dealers Offering More Services to Lure Buyers

Galpin Ford's Horseless Carriage

A flickering TV showing a rerun of Judge Judy. A coffee pot caked with burned-out coffee grounds and filled with lukewarm liquid that may have once actually been coffee. A gated-off “kids area” that is nothing more than a set of wooden blocks stained with oil from the hands of countless dirty children.

This describes the general ambiance of the waiting area in any car dealership I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit.

These places are an adequate form of shelter while negotiating the purchase of a new or used vehicle, but they are hardly welcoming and comfortable places to spend a few hours of your time. That, however, could change, as dealerships are beginning to add services that not only make them more comfortable, but could turn them into genuine destinations.

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Selling Cars from Front Office to Back Lot

Naeem Khan SLS

You’ve probably heard the big news that Ford is changing its slogan from “Drive One” to “Go Further.” It’s another move in the constant shuffle of ad agencies and irrelevant marketing that car companies engage in.

This slogan is almost as dumb as Hewlett-Packard’s “Everybody On.” Does Ford really think people will make the distinction between farther (that is, distance) and further (more advanced) or realize that most people use them as synonyms?

I like the old slogans much better: Saturn’s “A Different Kind of Car Company”; BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Mercedes is honoring dress designer Naeem Khan (above) with its “Mercedes-Benz Presents” award for designing dresses for some of the world’s most stylish women. How about “Benz Bends Fashion to Its Ends” for a motto?

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Crazy or Brilliant? Scion Hopes to Sell New Cars Online

2011 Scion xB

Automotive News reports that 65 to 70 percent of car shoppers never contact the dealer they purchase from before walking through its doors.

That, in my opinion, is a mistake that could cost a car buyer thousands of dollars. I’m not going to get into the importance of online research and dealer comparison shopping again, but instead use that stat to illustrate that cars, for many reasons, have yet to succumb to the online purchase phenomenon that has gripped every other product on Earth.

Some automakers have tried to push an online buying experience (remember the GM eBay experiment?), but for now buyers prefer to buy their cars within the confines of dealership walls.

Scion, the “Gen Y” marketing arm of Toyota, wants to start pushing dealers into selling vehicles online. Could it work?

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