Advantages and Disadvantages of Going to Used Car Dealerships

April 9, 2012

Learn the pros and cons of used car dealerships, how to find used car dealership ratings online, and how to get updates on dealership rebates.

Visiting used car dealerships can make it easy to find a wide variety of used vehicles, but limiting your search to dealership lots could keep you from finding the right car. This guide highlights common advantages and disadvantages of going to used car dealerships to shop for your next car or truck, and offers tips on how to find a dealership for you.

Advantages of Going to a Used Car Dealership

  • Cost savings. There is no doubt that going to a used car dealership can save you thousands of dollars over buying new. By being the second or third owner of a vehicle, you can avoid the large initial depreciation hit the first owner took. However, even though you are saving money on a used car, be careful to avoid overpaying. You can use a service like CarsDirect to get an idea of what cars are selling for in your area. You can also research trade-in and retail values online via Kelley Blue Book.
  • Large selection. Used car dealerships stock all sorts of vehicles, ranging from basic economy cars to luxury vehicles. If you visit a large enough used car dealership, you should be able to find a vehicle that fits your needs and budget. However, it may be easier to find a vehicle by using the online search tools available via CarsDirect before visiting a dealership.
  • Good warranties. Large used car lots normally offer warranties on all vehicles, even those that are older. Although this warranty may only cover major power train components, it provides some peace of mind as you make a large purchase. Additionally, some used car dealerships, particularly those associated with new car dealerships, are able to offer certified pre-owned programs. These programs provide extensions of factory bumper-to-bumper and power train warranty coverage. Certified vehicles must also undergo a thorough inspection and reconditioning process.
  • Ability to negotiate. Thanks to the large markup in used cars, you should be able to negotiate an excellent deal when at the dealership. Just be sure to negotiate downward from the asking price based on research completed online.

Disadvantages of Used Car Dealerships

  • Unknown auto history. When shopping a used car dealership, you may not know the auto history of cars you are looking at. Although many dealerships provide vehicle history reports, these may not be available in all cases. If necessary, pay for an auto history report on your own to make sure you do not buy a damaged vehicle.
  • High-pressure sales tactics. Used car dealerships are notorious for their high-pressure sales tactics. You may be "turned over" to multiple salespeople who will try to pressure you into making a decision today. Remember, you can walk away from negotiations at any time if you feel uncomfortable. Remember to avoid making a purchase on your first visit to a dealership unless you have had adequate time to research pricing before visiting the dealership.

Depending on your situation and how far you must travel to reach a used car dealership, you may notice disadvantages when going to a used car dealership. In any case, be sure to do your research before visiting the showroom, and only purchase when you are confident you are getting the best deal.

How to Find Used Car Dealerships near You

In some cities, used car dealerships can be found on every corner. If you live in a remote area, you may have to do a little traveling. There are many ways to locate used car dealerships near you. Further, you can narrow your search to include dealerships that have great reputations and offer decent vehicles at reasonable prices. By doing some research before you travel to any dealership, whether it's online, on the telephone or by speaking to others, you'll be able to gain valuable information to narrow your vehicle search and create a great used car-buying experience.

Online Search

Before traveling to any used car dealerships, it's possible to do a quick search online. This is especially effective if you already have a general idea of what type of used car you're looking for. There are many online sites that offer options to limit your searches for type of vehicle, year, price range and even features such as power options, mpg and accessories. You can then enter a mileage range, usually based upon your zip code. All the matches in your area will then be returned with dealership location, directions and phone number. You may even find a picture and details of the actual vehicles they have in stock which match your search terms. This will help you to define your search and pinpoint the vehicles for you, before wasting time or gas money hunting down vehicles at all the nearby dealerships.

Determine an Online Dealer Rating

Another useful action to take is to check dealer ratings, reviews and complaints on online forums. Get feedback from customers and consumers on particular used car dealerships in your area. Use this information, bad and good, to determine if your time, or want for a certain used car is worth any hassle. You can usually search by zip code, or dealership name to see if any feedback has been submitted. People enjoy having an outlet to give thanks or complain about their experiences, so you might find some helpful results regarding the used car dealerships you have in mind, or information on a location you hadn't yet discovered.

Local Search

Asking people you know should help you to find used car dealerships near you. You could check with family, friends and co-workers to see who's had a great experience and what dealerships are recommended. You might even check with people at the grocery store, your nearby convenience store or mechanic. Many people have had the used car buying experience and will give you first-hand knowledge of specific car dealerships and what to avoid when buying a used car. Your local yellow pages will also have many listings, saving you the time of travel. If you have specific questions regarding types of vehicles, special financing or advertised specials, making phone calls is a great way to limit your searching and focus on one or a few locations which may be able to meet your needs.

How to Find Used Car Dealership Ratings Online

A quick entry into your favorite online search engine (e.g.: Google, Yahoo, MSN) will return many results for used car dealership online ratings. Using these online ratings can give you an idea of what other people have experienced at certain dealerships in your local area and across the country. You'll be able to benefit from this information whether you've already got a specific used car dealership in mind, or whether you're simply looking for the best dealership to visit to make your purchase. Search for used car dealers by zip code, review ratings, read comments and take advantage of online tools such as car value calculators, vehicle comparisons, true cost to own tools and other valuable information for the car buying process.

Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a large part of running a successful business. Online car dealership rating websites provide consumers with the option to rate and comment on their experiences at any used car dealerships they have visited. This information will be helpful for you in your search for a used car. Not only will you find information on the dealerships that you should avoid and why, but you'll also be able to read comments left by people who have had pleasing and beneficial experiences buying a used car. At this point, armed with pros and cons of the locations you have in mind, you'll have a better idea of what to expect when you show up to make a purchase.

5-Star and Percentage Ratings Systems

In addition to comments regarding customer satisfaction, personal experience and complaints, you'll usually find ratings systems based on stars or percentages up to 100% for the best. Ratings systems are designed to cover key points such as friendliness, quality, customer service, prices, selection, buying process, sales pressure or overall observations and judgment of the shopping experience. Often, a list will be provided for the best and worst dealers reported on the site. Review the ratings system to locate a website that covers points which matter to you. You may be less concerned about the prices of used cars on the lot, but more interested in browsing without pressure. Conversely, you may be equipped to haggle and negotiate with a pushy salesperson, but only if the vehicles are of the quality you desire. All of this information can be determined by reviewing these online used car dealership ratings and comparing those dealerships that interest you.

Rate Your Experience

Online used car dealership ratings sites depend upon experiences from consumers like you to provide accurate ratings and to assist potential buyers in their search for the perfect used car experience. Once you've selected your dealership and made your purchase, don't forget to return to one or more of your favorite online dealership ratings sites, and explain your own personal experiences while buying a car. Don't forget to rate and leave comments on your feelings and observations of the lot, the staff, the finance process, if applicable, and the car you selected.

How to Stay Updated with Used Car Dealership Rebates

A used car dealership will often offer discount sales or rebates for making a purchase of a used car at their establishment. Sometimes your purchase will need to meet certain criteria such as price point, trade-in value or financing. Used car dealership rebates generally depend upon which location you select and what type of car you purchase.

Used Car Dealership Rebates

A rebate for a used car is an incentive offered to you to buy a certain type of car, or to buy a car from a certain dealership. Rebates are offered for various reasons. Many times they will offer this incentive to clear the lot for new inventory, or to clear out vehicles that haven't sold in a few weeks. You may also get used car rebates for graduating college, being a member of the US military, buying a hybrid vehicle, or trading in a currently owned car. It's a good idea to research certain vehicles and dealerships before you make a decision. Check your local newspaper or online listings to determine which local car dealerships are currently offering rebates, then check online dealership ratings.

Online Used Car Dealership Ratings

Online used car dealership ratings websites will provide you with comments and ratings to help you decide which used car dealership you'll be interested in dealing with. You can input your zip code and read about other people's experiences at the dealerships in your area. You'll usually find ratings in terms of customer service, sales pressure, financing process and overall experience. Once you decide on a dealership, check the cars they have to offer and do some online research to find out blue book values and other pros and cons of owning certain makes and models. You'll want to make sure you're taking advantage of rebate offers from dealerships that will give you the best deal with the least amount of hassle, and provide you with a quality used car.