Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today



Driver Safety

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Happy African American couple

AARP Books

Visit the Books Section

Enjoy titles on retirement, Social Security, and becoming debt-free.

Jobs You Might Like

most popular


On Your Side

Used Car Buying Tips

Consumer advocate Ron Burley helps you pay a fair price for your next automobile

AARP Auto - the go-to destination for your auto needs - 300 px size promo

En español  |  Last March, Robert Jones went to Mac Churchill Acura in Fort Worth, Texas. He didn't need a new car; he was just redeeming a free-gift notice received in the mail. But five hours later, Jones, then 83, traded in his Ford Explorer for a 2009 Acura MDX. The dealership charged him $48,000 — thousands more than most MDXs sold for new. The book value of that model? Low 30s. After Jones' daughter, Jan Duran, found out, she met with Mac Churchill. "I explained that my father was recovering from a mild stroke," she says. But Churchill wouldn't roll back the deal. So, Duran returned the car to a different Acura dealer, to be resold at auction (likely at a big loss, which Jones would be responsible for paying), and wrote to On Your Side.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, which oversees car sales in the state, says that inflating the price of a used vehicle isn't illegal. But, to my mind, Mac Churchill's huge markup tested the boundaries of ethics. So I asked the dealership to cancel the contract. Like his boss, general manager Sharbel Lattouf refused the request.

car at dealership with sale sign

Know what that car is worth before the test-drive. — Jesse Lenz

Next stop: American Honda Motor Co., which oversees Acura franchises. Spokesman Gary Robinson was in a different gear. "We're sorry that happened," he said, "and we will make it right." Acura Financial Services reversed the agreement, and the Mac Churchill dealership sent Jones a check for his down payment and the fair market value of his trade-in.

A new or used automobile can be a risky impulse purchase: It pays to be prepared when buying a car.

Do your research

Know what that car is worth before the test-drive. Compare prices online, read reviews and research the history of the specific vehicle you're thinking of buying.

Don't buy their time line

Salespeople know that if you walk off the lot, you might never come back. That's why they say, "The deal is good only today." Ignore them. Take your time before signing.

Create some competition

Unless you're buying a Lamborghini, several nearby dealers are probably selling the same car. Get quotes from them, too.

Find your own loan

Credit unions can often beat dealer-originated deals. Get the financing first, so you can focus on features and price without being distracted by the dealer's financial sleight of hand.

Also of Interest

Visit the AARP home page for great deals and savings tips

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.