I've already made every imaginable mistake so that you don't have to.

Four Square

Photo Credit: pexels.com Patrick Case

Car Shopping > Four Square >

Four-square is a technique that car dealerships use to encourage potential buyers to focus on:

Instead of:

The customer will be presented with a piece of paper with a grid composed of squares for trade in and price of the new vehicle on the top half with squares for down payment and monthly payment on the bottom half.
The section in beige in the table below is what the salesperson will try to present to the prospective buyer:

My Commentary
Interest RateNumber Of PaymentsThis Row Won't Actually Be Included!!!
Trade InNew Car PriceDealer Wants You To Ignore This Row!!!
Down PaymentMonthly PaymentDealer Wants You To Focus On This Row!!!
Hat Size?Zodiac Sign?May As Well Add These? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

While trade in and price of the vehicle should in fact be critical elements in the negotiation process, the salesperson will try to confuse the customer into focusing on down payment and monthly payment.
On the grid that the customer is presented with, there may be:

If the customer takes issue with the numbers, the salesperson may meet with his or her manager, then come back and adjust the down payment and monthly payment numbers lower, and perhaps even adjust trade-in higher to make the customer feel like he or she "won".

Does this sound crazy yet?

Well hang on, it gets crazier!!!
The salesperson may go so far as to fold the worksheet such that only the following are visible:

are visible.
I argue that when the salesperson folds the paper that he or she should then extend the grid to include squares for the:

Using elements of phrenology and astrology to negotiate a car purchase would make about as much sense as negotiating based upon down payment and monthly payment.

My Takeaway

A customer negotiating with a salesperson using a four-square sheet is not winning.
If a car salesperson tries to present you with a four-square presentation, I strongly suggest that you calmly gather all your personal belongings and leave that dealership.
The salesperson may try to explain to you that the four-square presentation is their standard process.
Your salesperson might even say the quiet part out loud with something such as "If I give a you the information that you want that will make it too easy for you to shop me against my competitors."
Your standard process should be to find the lowest out-the-door price.
Allowing yourself to be lead through a four-square presentation is akin to turning your car buying experience into a televised wrestling event.
Such an encounter is not merely rigged, it is outright choreographed.