Greg Zyla: The jargon of used-car salesmen
Of all the car columns I’ve written over the years, I receive more mail on columns written about used car salesmen than anything other subject. Additionally, in no way are we insinuating that used car salespeople are untrustworthy. Matter of fact, most are trustworthy.
So with the best interests of readers at heart, here’s a lesson in slang that’s spoken on used car lots across the country, both good and bad.
“B.C.” - Customer with bad credit.
“Buried” or “Upside Down” - A customer who owes more than the car he/she is trading.
“Back Lot Special” - A vehicle with little resale value that usually takes up a back row on the car lot.
“Be Back” - The customer who says they’ll be back.
“Bare” - Paint that is beginning to fade.
“Checked Tops” - Vehicle with chipped or spotted paint on hood, top or truck.
“Donut” - Small size spare tire used on newer vehicles.
“Fresh Badge” - Car that has recent state inspection.
“Full Shot” - A vehicle that has been completely rebuilt following a crash.
“Gear Banger” or “Stick” - Manual transmission equipped vehicles.
“In The Wrapper” - A car in like new condition.
“Leaker” - A bad moon or sun roof.
“Laydown” - Customer who buys a car without negotiating price.
“Light the Candles” – Start the engine.
“Nine Yards” - A car equipped with every option available.
“Orange Peel” - Paint applied poorly that looks wavy.
“Plain Janer” or “Rubbernose” - Car with few or no options.
“Put to Sleep” - Customer who paid too much for his/her car.
“Ringer” or “Hot” – A stolen vehicle with incorrect vehicle identification number (VIN).
“Slider” - Power sunroof.
“Slug” or “Dog” - Vehicle with a worn engine.
“Spare Is In The Wrapper” - A spare tire that has never been used.
“Six Banger” - A six cylinder engine.
“Spinner” or “Bad Clock” - A vehicle with a rolled-back mileage odometer.
“Stroker” or “Tire Kicker” - A person on the lot who looks with no intention of buying.
“Sneakers” or “Paws” - The tires.
“Tight” or “Cherry” – Vehicle in excellent condition.
“The Up” - The next customer assigned to a salesman who has to “get up” to assist.
“Worth A Nickel” - A vehicle with a value of $500. A pair of nickels is $5500, while a dime is $1000. A dozen is $1200 and so forth.
“50-50” - Agreement between buyer and seller where each assumes 50 percent of the cost of repair that occurs within the warranty limit.
Thus, with this knowledge you’ll know it’s time to leave when you overhear your salesperson telling a colleague that you’d be the perfect person to buy the “spinner” that’s a “slug” because you’re a “laydown” who was “put to sleep” at the last dealership.
And even though you’ve been “buried” and are probably not a “B.C.,” the chances are good to sell you a dealer installed “slider” and offer a “50-50” warranty for your car and a “pair of nickels.”
If readers would like to add some lingo, I’ll print the best of them.
Greg Zyla writes a weekly for GateHouse Media and welcomes reader questions on collector cars, auto nostalgia or old time motorsports at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.