New car dealers’ hidden ties to “buy-here, pay-here” dealerships

New car dealers like to project the image that they are above engaging in shady practices prevalent at “buy-here pay here” auto dealerships. Among the shameful litany: charging exorbitant interest rates and selling junk cars  that break down soon after purchase, only to be repossessed when the hapless owners can’t drive them, lose income, and fall behind on payments. Then re-selling the same cars over and over again — a practice known as “churning”  —  making a killing on each transaction, and often trapping multiple consumers into paying for the same car.

“Buy-here, pay-here” sales tactics were painstakingly documented in an award-winning series by Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Bensinger, who examined over 2 million records and exposed who the worst “churners” are among “buy-here, pay-here” dealers in California.

But — the reality is that thousands of new car dealers own “buy-here, pay-here” car lots. According to Automotive News, of 20,000 members of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, ” ‘just under 10%’ are franchised new-car dealers who have joined under their franchised dealership name or under the names of their separate buy-here, pay-here operations.” — Automotive News, July 22, 2013