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The Four Square When Car Buying

If you are not in the car business you have probably not heard the term Four Square. It is a lingo term used by dealers to describe the worksheet used by sales people during the new and used car negotiation process. It is usually a standard 8.5 x 11 card that will have 4 large squares that cover the face. Each square is used to write and negotiate a specific aspect of the car deal.

Four Square Car Sales Negotiation

Four Square Worksheet

Four Square Worksheet

Top Left: Price of the car you are planning to purchase. usually M.S.R.P.
Top Right: Your Used Car Trade-in. Less than you expect.
Bottom Left: The amount of your down payment. More than normal.
Bottom Right: Your monthly car payment. The area where they want you to focus.

The layout of the form is not the issue, it is the skill of the Sales Person going through the 4 Square.

Car Selling Four Square or Shell Game

The first thing they say is “Let me go through the whole worksheet and then if you have any questions, they will be happy to address them” Then they will write in the square the M.S.R.P. of the car you have chosen. They will say “The car that you have chosen usually sells for (the amount they wrote – scam).

Then they write down a Trade-in amount for your car and say that is number based on a similar car they traded in a couple weeks ago.

Then they move to the next square and write down a third of the new car price and say that normally you would put down a third.

Then they move to the next square and write down an estimated payment (usually close to twice what it should be).

They are trying to keep you focused on the payment box. Sometimes they will refer back to the down payment box to confirm you can put down that amount. If not they will work you for a down payment that you can put down. Then back to the car payment.

If you come back and say that is too much for the car, I want a discount. They will say OK, but you said you wanted to lower the down payment so that will drive the payment up. You said you wanted to keep the payment low. So they ask you, isn’t it more important that the payment is something you can afford every month, or do you want to go back and forth with numbers or should we pay attention to the part you said was important….The Payment.

When they can keep you focused on the payment, they Win, and you loose. How was that for dealer experience?

You can avoid the Four Square Game with Steps to Buying a Car

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