A car dealer is not your best friend.
Repeat – a car dealer is NOT your best friend.
Why do I need to say that? Because so many people come to me saying, “he was so nice,” “he was giving me a special deal,” “he showed me pictures of his children.” But as soon as they drive off the lot, the “friendship” ends and the buyer feels cheated and betrayed because of broken promises.
Being your “friend” is a sales pitch and nothing else.
So if a car dealer suggests that certain financial numbers be “modified” from their actual value to “give you a deal,” chances are the dealer is the one getting the “deal.” Then if you have a problem with the sale, the dealer can point to the fraud that you engaged in to avoid liability for his own wrongful conduct.
One common example is when a dealer suggests that the purchase price listed on the DMV transfer documents be lower than the actual price you paid to save you money on the sales tax you pay. To put it bluntly, this is stealing money from the state. If you later have a valid legal action against the dealer to cancel the sale and get your money back, two things can happen. One, the dealer will argue that you are only entitled to get back the lowered documented price you agreed to. Two, and worse, the dealer will argue that you engaged in fraud, not the dealer, and are not entitled to any relief because you engaged in wrong-doing.
If both you and the dealer have “unclean hands” in the transaction, then chances are the court is not going to be inclined to help either party. So, if you are offered a “good deal” that includes manipulating numbers on the purchase contract, remember the good deal is not for you, friend, it’s for the dealer.
New cars don't come with license plates. Used cars do, at least most of the time.
A dealership will often put its own temporary promotional "plate" on the cars it sells, presumably so you can let the world know how proud you are of where you bought your car. (Really, this is just free advertising for the dealership.) And for most car buyers, these temporary promotional plates get left on the car because, well, out of sight, out of mind.
I often hear buyers of used cars claim the car dealer never gave them the license plates for the car. They call the dealer who says the plates have been ordered from the DMV and the car buyer waits... and waits. But eventually the buyer is pulled over by the police for not having license plates.
If you're lucky, the permanent plates have been hiding under the dealer's temporary promotional plate all along and that nice police officer will let you know instead of giving you a ticket. Why didn't the dealer just tell you? Again, free advertising.
At this time, Cal. Vehicle Code section 4456 allows for a vehicle to be operated on the roadways without a license plate no more than 90 days after sale. After that you can get ticketed for not having a permanent license plate. Period. You will have to pay DMV directly to get the permanent plate, and demand reimbursement from the dealer for the fees you already paid on the purchase contract. If the dealer refuses, file a complaint with the investigations unit of the Cal. Dept. of Motor Vehicles. DMV doesn't like that.
In July 2016, Assembly Bill 516 passed, requiring dealers to put a temporary license plate (not promotional plate) on cars before they leave the lot. These will stay with the vehicle until the permanent plates are received. However, this law won't be phased in until January 2019.
In the meantime, check under the dealer's promotional plate for the real deal.