How to Research a Used Car Dealership

August 27th, 2016 by
used car dealership reputation

It is very easy to look up reviews for any business online. You do it for restaurants, so why not used car dealerships?


When it comes to buying a used car at a dealership, you’ll be much better off if you do some homework before ever setting foot on a car lot. Some dealerships are great, while others are horrible. Each one also has its own way of doing things, which may or may not match up to how you want to shop for a used car.

Talk to Friends, Family Members, and Coworkers
Find out who in your social network has purchased a vehicle from a used car dealership and ask them about their experience. Here are the kinds of questions you should ask:

  • Did the dealership let the customer take the lead or try to show them particular vehicles?
  • Were the salespeople friendly and helpful or were they aggressive and pushy?
  • Did the dealership offer free vehicle history reports on all its cars?
  • Did they have to waste time haggling and negotiating the price?
  • Did the dealership help find the best financing?
  • What kind of warranty was offered with the vehicle?
  • Was there any kind of money-back guarantee?

Any time you get multiple people you know praising a dealership, it is a very good sign and means you should pay them a visit. Likewise, if multiple people have had bad experiences at a particular dealership, don’t waste your time going there.

Check Online Sources of Dealer Reviews
Customer reviews of real experiences shopping at a used car dealership are another source of valuable information you can check before making any visits. The three most common sources for such reviews include DealerRater, Yelp, and Google.

As with most review sites, you’ll see a rating for each dealership, which represents the average of all customer ratings for that dealership. While this might give you a very quick snapshot of a dealership, it’s really not the most useful information you can get from review sites. You want to actually read a bunch of customer reviews, both good and bad, to find out what’s really happening at a dealership. Every business is going to receive at least a few negative reviews, and that shouldn’t necessarily scare you away. Read the negative reviews to find out what those customers didn’t like. They might be things that don’t even concern you or apply to you at all, but at least you’ll know ahead of time.

When a dealer has hundreds of great reviews and very few bad ones, it’s worth finding out more. The bad reviews might all be linked to a particular salesperson that is no longer even working there. Or the bad reviews might have been from several years ago and the dealership has made improvements since then. Keep in mind that businesses do change over time – sometimes for better and sometimes for worse!

When customer reviews include feedback about particular salespeople, pay close attention to those. If you see a particular name coming up over and over again for being a great person to deal with, then you can reach out to that employee and hopefully have the same great experience as well.

It’s surprising how often people skip looking into a dealer’s reputation. It’s such a simple step, and you really can learn a lot just with a little reputation research online. You do it for restaurants, so why not used car dealerships? And after you’ve made your own used car purchase, make sure you take the time to review your experience on one of the sites mentioned above to help other people find the best places to buy used cars.

If you feel that Auto City may be the right place for you to purchase your next used car, we invite you to check our reviews online. If you have purchased a vehicle from us, we would really appreciate your feedback! Please tell us how we did – review us on DealerRater, Yelp, or Google.