Here Is How The CDK Cyberattack May Make Buying Your Next Car Harder

Photo: fotostorm (Getty Images)
Photo: fotostorm (Getty Images)

Around 15,000 car dealers across the country have been impacted by the cyberattack on CDK Global, a company that dealers use to handle the financial aspects of the transaction. While most consumers probably don’t have a lot of sympathy for dealers, this cyberattack may make it a lot harder for you to find a deal.

CDK Global is a company that provides dealerships with software for managing the financial aspects of executing a new, used, or leased car deal. According to a Bloomberg report, a known cybercriminal gang called BlackSuit disabled CDK’s systems last week, demanding over ten million dollars in ransom to regain access.

I’ve spoken with several dealer contacts who describe this situation as an absolute nightmare for both dealerships and consumers. One salesperson who works for one the largest dealer groups in the country was told that their store will cease operations for up to thirty days until a solution can be found. While most dealers are keeping the doors open, those impacted by the CDK outage have resorted to conducting transactions the “old fashioned” way using pen and paper.


Even with this workaround, it’s not an ideal situation for car buyers. The CDK software allows dealers to access special finance rates and rebates via the automaker. If the dealer can’t use the system the customer won’t get any additional discounts or low APR loans. One BMW salesperson said, “We have $20,000 in dealer cash on the XM SUV, without access to CDK we can’t apply that rebate.” Naturally, this is bad news if customers are shopping around for their deals. Often the more competitive dealers are the ones that do the most volume, and if those stores are locked out of their rebates they obviously can’t offer as good of a deal.

For cash buyers that don’t need financing, typically that is a quick process. You either bring a bank check or wire transfer the funds, sign the paperwork and you’re done. But even for cash buyers, salespeople are saying to be prepared for a long day of doing paperwork. I was recently working with a high-end independent used car dealer that specializes in sports cars and exotics. The salesperson said he had a customer drive all the way out from Colorado and it took over six hours between the sales contract, titling, registration, and trade payoff.

Another area of frustration is access to dealer inventory systems to know what cars are actually available and which ones are not. A salesperson who works at a DC area Lexus store said “Our website is all screwed up, there are lots of cars posted for sale that aren’t available at all and customers are angry that we can’t sell them a car that appears to be available.”

According to Fortune, CDK could end up paying a ransom to get operations running again, but it may be days or even weeks before dealers are back to normal. In the meantime, if you are in the market for a new or used car it’s probably wise to cast a wider net beyond your immediate shopping area. Also, ask the dealer how much of the paperwork can be done beforehand to save you time at the dealership. And be prepared to bring an extra level of patience if you are in the showroom since the timing could be stretched out even longer than expected.

Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to

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