The Insider’s Guide to Car Dealership Lingo (Clone)

You never expected things to get awkward at the car dealership. Yet, there you are feeling as though you just signed on for way more than a new car. The salesperson is serving serious glances and asking you to quietly follow them down a long hallway. One moment, you’re signing off on your brand-new ride and the next, you’re being escorted to a back office being offered services you’ve never even heard of. It all seems very “The Godfather” and you can almost hear someone whispering, “I’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse.”

The truth is car buying can be overwhelming and overly complicated, especially with a pile of paperwork and terms you don’t understand. That’s where we come in. Suretys is here to be your trusty Plus One and offer you a breakdown on common phrases first time buyers might hear when shopping for a new car. Consider us your insider’s guide into the car buying experience. We’re here to empower you. 

We’re here to keep you in gear with some phrases that will fuel your mind and keep those wheels turning. Pun intended. (Dad jokes are our specialty). Our goal is to bring simplicity to the car buying process. Getting your first car should be memorable and easy, not complicated, and confusing. Let’s get to it. 


Dealership Lingo Glossary: What Does it Mean?! Also known as, “Say what now?!”

This is a short glossary of some terms you might hear at your local dealership. It’s important to know how to identify them, so you don’t end up being referred to as a “blower” or a “blowhard.” More on that later. (Yes, it’s a thing). 


The Condensed Dealership Glossary: Terms and Tips

“Back-end products” 

This is a phrase you might hear tossed around at the dealership water cooler. As in, “You may want to consider these back-end products, Bob.” 

After the “front end” of the deal is done and the first part of the sale is complete (i.e.: getting the thumbs up for your new car), one typically finds themselves in the F&I manager’s office (finance and insurance office) to discuss a plethora of products, known as “back end,” products or services. This is where you’ll hear about gap insurance, window etching, or a vehicle service contract (known as VSC). It’s important to do your research to figure out what makes sense for you. “Back-end products” are a way for dealerships to profit on services you might not be keen on. These services may sound good in theory, yet they may be harmful to your finances and completely unnecessary for you in the long term. We strongly suggest researching popular “back-end products” before entering the dealership. 

“Beacon Score”

This is a slang-term a dealer will use when they want to know a customer’s credit score. Commonly used by Equifax to refer to a customer’s credit score, this helps dealers determine if a customer is one, they will consider. Often, your approval and keys to your new car are riding on your “beacon score.”

“Ghost or “Thin-File”

You’re like Casper, but if Casper was a ghost without any credit history or very little credit history. If you’re a student, immigrant, or returning from the military, it’s very likely that you may not have extensive credit history. You will often be referred to as a “ghost” or “thin file.” In dealer language, this is typically when you’ll be told, “You need a cosigner to get into a new car, you don’t have enough of a credit background.” This is where Suretys comes in. Suretys sees beyond a mere credit score to determine your approval. 


You’re sure to hear this if you bail on a dealership. “This guy seems like a real be-back, eh?” A salesperson will say this when referring to those who leave dealerships claiming they’ll “Be back soon” or “I’ll be right back” never to return. 

“F & I”

As mentioned earlier, F&I is short for finance and insurance. The “F&I” office is where you’ll go to sign documents. This is also where a F&I manager will attempt to sell you on back-end products. This is typically very time consuming and can be harmful to your loan. Moreover, if you’re uncertain about what services someone is trying to push you, this can put you in a financial bind.

“Interest Rates”

This is a big one. “Interest rates” is a term used almost every few minutes in an average dealership. Customers often have a fair understanding yet may not be knowledgeable in how “interest rates” can not only put them out for thousands of extra dollars each year but can also cause one to overpay beyond the vehicle’s actual value. In simple terms, an interest rate is the amount charged by the bank or lender in exchange for approving your loan. The interest rate is the amount you’ll pay on top of the principal amount, which is the total car loan amount. Because the interest on a car loan is considered “simple interest,” it doesn’t grow over time. Getting pre-approved from a bank or credit union before car shopping will help guarantee a better deal for you on your loan. 


“APR” or annual percentage rate, is the total cost of the loan including the interest rate and all other services or fees paid. The APR will always be the higher number, as it considers all the car loan’s expenses. Considering a car’s APR is the best way to gain insight into how much the loan will cost you throughout its term. 

“Blower” or “Blowhard”

Finally, if you hear yourself being described as a “blower” or “blowhard”, it’s probably time for you to leave the dealership. You’ll be dubbed this if you’re shopping without any intention of buying a car, and nobody wants a blowhard around. 

But wait, there’s more! Nah, we’re not trying to sell you anything here. As always, our intention is to educate the consumer and help people drive off the lot in a car they can afford, at the rate they deserve. Check out our site below to learn more about how Suretys can help you.


Suretys: Meet Your New Significant Other

Suretys knows buying a car is complicated. Convincing a parent or a friend to cosign for you adds a lot of pressure. What if you had your own PLUS ONE? Suretys replaces the need for a cosigner and becomes your PLUS ONE. The proof is all in the word “significant”: SIGN IF I CAN’T! Suretys takes the weight off while you take the wheel. Learn more to join the movement.