A saleswoman is shaking a customer's hand at a used car dealership.

Signs of a Good Used Car Dealership

Shopping for a used vehicle can be quite the process, and part of that process is finding a dealership you can trust. Not doing your research on a dealership can be just as detrimental as not properly researching the car you’re looking for. If not buying from a reputable source, you run the risk of being overcharged or sold a vehicle in deceptively poor condition. These risks can force a buyer to ask ‘How can I find reliable used car dealerships near me?’ Hopefully, we can shed a little light on that subject. So, what are the best signs of a good used car dealership?

Customer Service

This one might be a no brainer for any buying experience, but it’s always great to start evaluating a business on its customer service.

These days, you can get a sense of how a business handles its customer service before even stepping into the dealership. Most sites now have the option to speak to a representative via chat as you’re browsing their site, the dialogue box often popping up within moments of you landing on their home page. For those of us who love cutting right to the chase, this is a great way to ask questions about availability, specifications, or payment details without spending too much time clicking through the site.

A good website will go the extra mile by providing individual sections dedicated to your questions like financing or what the best current deals are. The site must have a concise contact page that gives you the dealers hours, address, and phone numbers to all of their departments. It should also help you maintain easy access to the other things you’d like to research while looking for information. A good website should prove a dealership has nothing to hide. Employee spotlights are always a great sign, too.

There’s also the old school method of going in and looking around the dealership. How quickly a sales representative gets to you and how they interact is telling as to what kind of car-buying experience they’re able to provide. These days, people aren’t interested in the traditional pushy, or deceptive tactics car salespeople are infamous for. Nobody wants to get pushed around or have to haggle too much. It’s much better to have a casual conversation about your vehicle needs, what you’ve been looking at, and what the dealership has to provide. You shouldn’t feel pressured to buy the same day you arrive, and the salesperson shouldn’t want you to either. It’s a big decision, and a respectful salesperson should be understanding enough to be happy with at least getting you to take their business card if they weren’t able to get you into one of their cars that day.


Sometimes we know exactly what we want, and sometimes not so much. A good used car dealership should have a broad selection of different makes and models to choose from. Even specialty shops dealing in specific brands should have a variety of inventory, if not in style, in model year and price range.

Again, the dealership’s web page is a great place to start. A dealership that’s proud of their used car inventory will have a link to it right at the top of their page. From there, a concise breakdown of makes, models, years, etc. should be available to cut down what you’re looking for in an organized manner. As you click through, you should be able to find plenty of professional-quality pictures of each car along with detailed descriptions noting the condition of the vehicle, features, and specifications.

The back ends of two rows of cars at a used car dealer near me are shown.

The better the dealer, the better the information they want to provide for you. Look for links to the Carfax documentation, an easy way to get all the information you need on a used car’s history. You should also be able to check the car’s availability, calculate potential payments, and schedule a test drive right from the site. Dealerships can also help you get pre-approved for your loan online.

Just like with meeting the staff in person, it’s always great to go by and check out the inventory in the lot before committing to a used car dealership. Even if you’re just assessing your options, it’s great to walk amongst the rows of cars, checking pricing and availability against what you found on the website. A major warning sign is if you found a vehicle on the website, but the car isn’t available on the lot. It’s always best to ask someone who works there to check for sure. It is possible that a car may have sold since you were online or since the site was last updated, but you don’t want to start such a big transaction with a potential lie.


Reviews are another topic that might seem obvious when researching used car dealerships, but navigating through what is or isn’t helpful can be tricky.

No matter what, any business is likely to feature their most flattering reviews on their website. One warning sign might be that they don’t have any reviews at all up. The right dealership should take pride in their inventory and service. This doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker as some businesses may just be focussing on the work on their lot, but it is something to keep in mind.

Leaving the dealer’s website, a quick search engine query should pull up a plethora of sites offering reviews of the dealer’s performance. Many of these will be unmoderated reviews, and therefore, there may be some that appear a bit more venomous than others. While you should take these with a grain of salt, they can also be a great indicator of how a business handles complaints. It’s always great to see a dealer respond to these in an apologetic manner, offering to rectify any displeasure the buyer may have experienced. Meanwhile, a combative response that stoops to the writers level may be a sign of insecurity and could be a warning sign that you do not want to get involved with them.

The best kind of review you can get from a used car dealership near you would be a firsthand account. Odds are, someone you know may have dealt with them already and can give you a pretty good idea of what to expect when purchasing your vehicle. Not only is it from a source you can trust, but you can ask questions that they may not have considered in their experience that may be more relevant to what you’re trying to achieve. Local sales are also a great sign that the dealership has already garnered trust in the community it has set up shop in.

Buying a used car is an enormous decision that requires more than just knowing which car you want, but who you want to buy it from. A car buyer needs to be just as educated about the source as they do the product. Buying your car from the wrong dealership cannot only make the initial car buying process difficult but the aftermath of ownership as well. You need a dealer you can trust and go back to for the life of the vehicle and hopefully beyond.