Generally speaking, when a consumer is applying for a loan for a car purchase or a car lease, an inquiry is the placed on the the consumer's credit report that the credit report was pulled on. For example, if the credit inquiry was only conducted on Experian, then the credit inquiry would appear on their Experian credit report; it would not appear on the Equifax of TransUnion. This is one example of how consumer’s scores can be different on all three bureaus. This inquiry has the possibility of negatively affecting the consumer’s credit score because it goes to show that the consumer is taking on, or is about to take on, more debt.
The exemption from this is when the consumer pulls what is known as a Soft Credit Pull. A Soft Credit Pull, such as a pre-approval, is for informational purposes only and is not an actual inquiry if one may obtain credit. Moreover, this is where the distinction can be drawn. A Hard Credit Pull is when a consumer is actually applying for a loan or to take on debt. A Soft Credit Pull is when a consumer makes an inquiry as to whether or not they would be approved in the event they did want to make the purchase.
How can car dealers capitalize on Soft Credit Pulls? By placing a widget on their website that allows consumers to get pre-approval for a car purchase, car dealers can obtain email addresses and phone numbers from prospective car purchases surfing the net. For more information on Soft Pulls, feel free to check out this website.
Hope this was helpful!