Tips for Finding the Best Used Car Dealer in Town

December 23rd, 2016 by
best used car dealer

Used car dealerships may seem to be the same. But when you actually go in and see the inventory, meet the salespeople, and start talking about finance options, you’ll quickly realize that not all used car dealerships are the same


When you’re in the market for a used car you have multiple options for making that purchase. But, how do you know which place is the best? After all, they all seem to be similar. The truth is, as you drive by any given car dealership, there’s no doubt one looks the same as the next. But when you actually go in and see the inventory, meet the salespeople, and start talking about finance options, you’ll quickly realize that not all used car dealerships are the same. Of course, if you shop for a used car online you can minimize the time you spend at a dealership, however you will still have to go in for a test drive and take a good look at the car you are considering. As with anything, the best defense is doing your research before you go and having prepared with knowledge about both the car and dealership. The following are tips and warning signs to help you on your used car search by suggesting what to look for when searching for a good car dealer. With these tips you’re sure to find the best car dealer in town.

Starving Salespeople
No, we don’t mean they haven’t eaten for a few days, although that would be bad too. Starving as in, ready to pounce the minute you step foot on the lot. If you get to a dealership and the entire staff of salespeople are hanging out front, consider it a red flag. A good dealership has ways of determining which salesperson helps which customer. At a good dealership the staff waits inside until a customer comes in ready to ask questions and browse the inventory. At that time a good dealer will politely approach you and offer assistance. A bad dealership will be just the opposite. They salespeople will stand on the curb “looking for fresh meat” ready for their next victim to walk through the door.

Disappearing Salespeople
While a magic show is fun, it should be saved for your kid’s birthday party. If you are talking to a salesperson about a car and he disappears and a new one comes out to talk to you, then you’re dealing with what is called a “turnover house” in the industry. This style of selling is a way in which multiple salespeople speak to you so that you eventually break down and sign a contract. Essentially, after being worn down, you would eventually sign just to “get it over with.” In those cases the turnover system favors the dealership, not you at all. From start to finish you should be with one salesperson that you feel is trustworthy and will take care of you. In many cases, those who have gone to a great dealership, call the same salesperson again when they are ready for another car. Your relationship with the salesperson at the dealership should be a solid one.

Internet vs. Onsite
If a dealership has their inventory online, the price should be the same when you go to look at it in person.
If you have already been quoted a price through the internet and the salesperson tries to switch you to another car or disavows the internet price, than you know you’re dealing with a rotten dealership. If that happens go ahead and move on to another dealership. All prices should be transparent and accurate both online and in person.

Another problem you may run into at a bad dealership is that the cars advertised online are not actually on the lot. Many times a dealership will display “ad cars” as a way to intrigue you to come in. These cars are often way too good to be true, but you can’t resist them. At the best dealership in town, what you see is what you get – online and off.

The Way Your Salesperson Addresses You
While it might seem harmless if your salesperson says, “Follow me!” or “Wait here,” there is actually a little deception behind their commands. They are trying to see how easy it is to control you. And, if they disappear for long periods of time, they are actually having you invest more time in the buying process so you are less likely to go somewhere. Tricky tactics that are old school, yet are still used by many dealerships. It would be in your best interest to be as unpredictable as possible, that way you’re beating them at their own games. If they go to “talk to their boss” leave. Walk beside them instead of “following” behind meekly. Dealers at the best car dealership in town will treat you like an equal. They won’t waste your time or play games. It’s your car purchase and your money you are spending, so understand that you are the one who should be in control, never the salesperson.

Discussing Monthly Payments
As we just mentioned, this is your money you are spending and a good dealership will respect that. When the salesperson asks how much you’d like your monthly payments to be and you give them a number, say “$375” and they respond with “Up to…?” they are just trying to pressure you into bumping up the price. If you aren’t paying attention or crumble under pressure, you may respond by saying, “Up to $400.” In reality, that extra $25 might be your gas money for the week or money for the babysitter. Take this tip and be ready for the “Up to…?” question and be ready to hold our own. Do not out negotiate yourself. Dealers at the best car dealership in town won’t ask you that question, they will accept your first response respectfully. If they feel they could get you better financing if you went higher, they will tell you, but not in the form of a question.

The Old Switcharoo
Whether you saw a used car on the internet or you happen to be looking at one in person, a salesman at a bad dealership will try to switch you to another car in the lot. If a car has been in the lot for a while or is more expensive, the salesperson my try to convince you that you’d actually like their choice better. Yet, the mark of a good salesperson at the best dealership in town is one that listens more than they talk. A good salesperson at a great dealership will listen to your needs and do their best to fulfill them. They will not focus on their own needs or the interest of the dealership.

Beware of the Closer
Even if you’ve had the same salesperson the whole time, you might find that towards the end of the conversation a big scary salesperson comes over and sits across from you. Meet, the Closer. This guy is meant to put the pressure on and sweeten the deal for the dealership. If you feel at all bullied or the pressure is uncomfortable, simply get up and leave. Even if the car seemed great, there are plenty others out there. Plus, you can always approach the dealership again via the internet.

More Disappearing Acts
A bad dealership will somehow “lose” your trade-in and say they “lost the keys.” Tricky, but their goal is to make you purchase a used car immediately. Don’t fall for that nonsense. Tell them you just so happened to bring an extra pair of keys and you’re ready to take your car elsewhere. You’ll be surprised just how quickly they find your trade-in. The best dealership in town will never lose your keys, your car, or paperwork. They are organized and professional.

You Feel Uncomfortable and Intimidated
It should go without saying that your used car buying experience can be a pleasant one. Sure Hollywood often portrays used car dealers as slimy, but the reality is at the best car dealership in town you feel respected and completely comfortable. When you treat yourself to a nice meal at the best restaurant in town, do you feel bad when you spend your money? No, you feel great! You leave satisfied and plan to go back, right? The same goes for your trip to the dealership. You should leave feeling satisfied and pleased. Red flags at a bad dealership include intimating questions or behavior, and uncomfortable situations. Sometimes you may have to test drive the dealership before you even put the key in the ignition to test drive a vehicle!

If you’re looking for a car dealership in San Diego, you need to look no further than Auto City. With a huge selection of the highest quality used cars available for you to check out online and respectful, knowledgeable sales advisors ready to help you purchase the used car of your dreams, we pride ourselves on setting the highest standards in San Diego. We also offer financing options, even for those with challenging credit. We are a one stop shop for all your used car and trade-in needs!