What has a worse reputation than a used-car salesman? A used-car lot. Although some used-car dealerships can give all of them a bad name, for the most part they are a great alternative to buying a car privately. When you purchase a car from a dealership, you typically have the additional security of perks like being factory pre-certified. A used-car dealership also flourishes or dies by its reputation. Unlike buying from an independent owner, you do have recourse if you buy a “lemon” – a car with unforeseen issues.

The biggest thing to look for when choosing a good dealership is their reputation. It used to be that people were limited to finding a reputable dealer only within their area. Due to the internet, you can now search worldwide for the car you want and have it delivered. One major drawback, however, is that it costs more to ship the car to you. And if you do have problems, taking it back to the dealership is typically not easy.

Choosing a car dealership that is close by is a better idea than just searching on the internet. Often, if you find a comparable car online, your local dealership will price match, if they can. When you buy a car locally, you can also establish a rapport with their repair and maintenance department.

There are five tricks to finding the best used-car dealership in your area. If you use these tips as a guide, you can avoid a lot of the pitfalls that can be associated with a used-car purchase.

1.  Narrow Down the Type of Car You Want

When buying a new car, you typically only have one or two models that fit your criteria. In the used-car business, the options can literally be endless. Before you even consider looking for a specific type or model of car, you should do some research to ensure that it has the type of mileage that you want, that the insurance is affordable and that there aren’t known mechanical issues with the car you choose.

2.  Research the Car Online to Find Dealerships

The second way to look for a good used cars dealership is to find one that is close enough that has the type of car that you want. Most car dealerships will sell cars only by the manufacturer that they represent. But there are also many used car dealerships that carry several makes and models. There are also some that will haggle on the price, and some that have a set price that is non-negotiable. If you are a good negotiator, then a fixed-price lot is not going to be an advantage. However, if you want to know what the bottom line is, then going to a fixed-price lot may be your best bet.

3.  Once You Find a Dealership, Research their Reputation

There will likely only be a couple of dealerships in your location that carry the model that you want. Before heading over to take a look, it is a good idea to research their reputation and see what type of rating they have. Search engines do an excellent job reviewing businesses from real customers. Make sure if you are going to use a review that you know who wrote it. Sometimes reviews are nothing short of paid advertising. You want to make sure that you are getting the real story about what type of business you are dealing with, so know who is reviewing their service experience.

4.  Are You Going to Be Financing?

If you are planning on financing your used car, you may want to find dealerships that offer in-house financing and make sure that they carry a reasonable rate and that you will qualify for financing. Sometimes the financing they offer is significantly higher than other banks in the area. Have an idea about how you are going to pay before you choose which dealership you want to use.

5.  Don’t Make a Rash Decision

If the dealerships in your area don’t have the car that you are looking for, talk to them anyway. There are times when a dealership will look around to other dealerships as a courtesy to find the car that you want. Don’t rush into buying the car simply because the inventory is limited. It may take a couple of weeks to find the right car from the right dealer. Taking the time can save you considerably in the long run, rather than buying a car with a whole lot of problems from a dealership that has a less-than-stellar reputation. If you work closely with a dealership, they will probably be able to locate the car you want, or find you one that is comparable to what you desire.

There is a reason that some used car dealerships have the reputation that they do — they earn it. If you want to make sure to get the car that you want, in your price range, with some additional security attached to its purchase, then don’t be in too big of a rush. Find someone you can trust and do your research before you take a leap of faith and purchase before doing your due diligence.



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