Car dealers, along with lawyers and politicians, have been saddled with an unfortunate stereotype. The number one way to find a reputable car dealer is to trust word of mouth. Ask them about their experiences with sales people, service after the sale, if the car they bought was everything they were promised, and if they ultimately felt like they got a good deal. Additionally, a big, shiny lot with tons of cars and lots of flags flying does not always equate to a reputable dealer.
Car dealers, along with lawyers and politicians, have been saddled with an unfortunate stereotype. You know the guy. He sports polyester pants, a pencil mustache and slicked back hair. Sadly, this enduring reputation means that car shoppers are already nervous, distrusting, and on the defensive before they ever step on a car lot. There are many ways that you can weed out disreputable dealers before you even step onto a lot. Here are a few ways to find a car dealer who is reputable, honest, and who cares about you, the customer.
Good Reviews Ask around - The number one way to find a reputable car dealer is to trust word of mouth. Your friends and family have your best interests at heart, and will not white-wash anything to the benefit of the dealer. Ask them about their experiences with sales people, service after the sale, if the car they bought was everything they were promised, and if they ultimately felt like they got a good deal.
Good First Impression Check out their website - All websites are not created equally. You can actually tell a lot about a dealer by perusing their website, if you know what to look for. First see that their website content is well-written. If a dealer does not have enough respect for the customer to do spell check or use punctuation, they are likely to have the same slovenly attitude toward their customer service and the quality of the vehicles they are selling.
Second, look at their inventory to see if the information you would want to know is readily available. Any dealer that requires you to call a salesperson to get the most basic information is probably not on the up and up.
Look at their lot - This is a less reliable indicator, but still important. First look at their inventory is clean and presentable, including their used cars. Look for their staff to be buzzing around, being helpful, not holed up in their offices ignoring customers. Additionally, a big, shiny lot with tons of cars and lots of flags flying does not always equate to a reputable dealer. Do not discount the smaller dealer. Often, smaller dealers, especially family-owned dealers, are spending less time trying to look impressive, and more time actually being impressive.
Star Staff Converse with the sales people - Keep a sharp eye out when speaking with the salesperson. He or she should be friendly, but not overly so. You should get a pleasant smile, not be asked your life history. Make sure you are getting real, informed answers to all of your questions. Your salesperson should be an expert about the product they are selling. If they seem to be selling you a line, rather than showing they have knowledge about the vehicle you are looking at look elsewhere.
Talk with other staff - Salespeople are supposed to be friendly, and will often be so just to make the sale. Remember that it is the other staff you will have to deal with for service after the sale. Chat with the receptionist. He or she is the first person you will speak to any time you call with a question or issue, and should be accessible and helpful, not curt or dismissive. Take a stroll through the service area.
No Red Flags Look over the car - Any reputable dealer should not have any problem with you looking closely at the vehicle, or taking a test drive. If it seems like you are putting forth too much effort in order to do either of these things, you should probably forget about that dealer. If a dealer is hesitant for you to have your own mechanic look over the car, walk away.