SUVs and cars are parked in a row at a local used car dealership.

7 Tips for Finding the Best Local Car Dealerships

Finding the right dealership can seem like a daunting task. After all, purchasing a vehicle is a big deal, and no one wants to spend that kind of money and get a bad experience. In this useful guide, we will be providing you with the top 10 tips to finding the best local car dealership wherever you are.

Tip #1 – Look at Reviews

In the midst of the Digital Age, consumers have a much bigger advantage than ever before. With online reviews and customer testimonials, you can easily learn more about your local car dealership by simply running a quick Google search. The dealerships that appear on the first results page are generally the best facilities in the area. You can browse their websites and read testimonials there, but you can also find the local car dealerships on third-party rating apps like Yelp. Even Google allows customers to leave reviews. These are important to look at because the dealerships will most likely not post lower reviews on their website. In order to get a well-rounded idea of what you can expect at that dealership, you should read reviews from multiple sources.

Well written reviews will tell you about the general atmosphere of the dealership, the diversity of the inventory, the friendliness of the staff, cleanliness, parking, average waiting times, services, and so much more. You will be more prepared when you decide to pay a visit to the dealership.

Tip #2 – Beware of Shady Advertisements

We’ve all seen these before. That flashy red and blue car dealership commercial with a salesman screaming some too-good-to-be-true deals is a red flag. Sometimes, desperate dealerships will promote incredible deals that require very specific incentives that you probably don’t qualify for. The deals are advertised to grab your attention. Once you get the dealership and don’t qualify for those incentives, the salesperson will do what we like to call a bait-and-switch. You’re already at the dealership and halfway through the process, so the salesperson will then attempt to pressure you into finishing the deal even though you’re not getting the pricing that was advertised.

Tip #3 – Look for Quality Over Quantity

A salesman is talking to a couple in a car at a local used car dealership.

Just because a dealership has hundreds of available vehicles for sale, that doesn’t always mean that they are the best one to buy from. It can actually be a good indication that the sales team doesn’t know that much about the cars they are selling. After all, they are humans, and there is a limited amount of knowledge that can be stored about a certain subject. While a wide range of pre-owned vehicles is normal because people trade-in their older cars for newer ones, it’s best to find a dealership that specializes in a particular auto brand. For example, the salespeople at a local Ford dealership should know everything about the Ford lineup. They should be able to answer any questions you have without running to the back to look up the information.

Here’s an example scenario. Let’s say that you are looking for a compact crossover that is sporty, comfortable, and has all the high-tech equipment that all 2020 models should have. If you head over to your local Ford dealership, the sales representatives should be able to tell you differences between the EcoSport, Escape, and Edge. All three fit nicely into the compact crossover category, but which one is best suited to your specific needs? A dealership that specializes in a single brand will have a sales team that is better able to assist you in making the right choice.

Tip #4 – Take a Look at Contact Info

The contact info for any type of business is very important for building trust. A car dealership is no different when it comes to location, phone numbers, and business hours. If you can’t seem to find this information easily, then you may want to look for another dealership.

First, the location is important. Local car dealerships are preferred over out-of-state dealers because they are easier to get to. No one wants to put hundreds of miles on a vehicle they just bought on the first day of having it. Plus, if you need routine maintenance or services done to your vehicle, it’s easier to go back to the local car dealership than one that’s far away.

As for the phone numbers and business hours, you need to be able to contact the dealership easily if there are any issues with your vehicle. Knowing who to call and when they will be available to speak with you can help speed things along.

Tip #5 – Service and Parts Department

Another good indicator that a local car dealership is reputable is that they offer service and parts on-site. It’s even better when they only offer OEM parts too! The reason we prefer dealerships with a service and parts department is that it makes everything so much easier when you need routine maintenance and even in the event of an accident.

Going back to the Ford example, wouldn’t you rather have your brand new Ford vehicle serviced by a team of Ford-certified technicians than a general mechanic? This point ties back into Tip #3. Finding a dealership that specializes in a particular brand and has an available team of certified technicians is the best way to go. You won’t have to waste time hunting down a reliable mechanic nearby or worrying about whether or not you can get an appointment soon. Having the option to go back to the dealership you bought the vehicle from is the best-case scenario.

A mechanic is tightening the lug nuts on a car.

Tip #6 – Cleanliness is Key

The staff at any good car dealership should take pride in the way it looks to customers. It doesn’t have to look like a palace, but cleanliness is very important to keeping customers happy. If the lobby, waiting area, bathrooms, and car lot are all kept clean, that is a very good sign. Overflowing trash cans, littered parking lots, dirty bathrooms, and sticky tables are all red flags that you should run to a different dealership.

Tip #7 – Available Financing and Leasing

A good local car dealership will have a team of finance experts on-site to make sure that you secure the most competitive loan or leasing option. They may even have a way for you to get pre-approved for financing terms online before you head to the dealership. This can help cut down on the amount of time you spend there, which can lead to a better overall experience. If the dealership you are looking at doesn’t have these options, you need to look elsewhere. Oftentimes, financing at the dealership will get you a much better deal than if you went directly to a bank for a car loan. You may even be able to work out a deal that allows you to get free maintenance or complimentary services like roadside assistance or an extended warranty. It doesn’t hurt to ask, and you might be surprised at how compliant many of these dealers will be when you finance a vehicle through them.