Five Tips to Find a Great New Car Dealer

Mid adult woman looking at a car in a car showroom

How to pick the right dealer to service all your car buying needs

Finding a car that fits your needs and your lifestyle is just one part of the new car buying equation.  Another very important part of that equation is finding a great dealer from which to buy it — one who is trustworthy, fair and helpful.  In this section, we offer tips to help you find the right new car dealer to service all your car buying needs.

Tip 1:  Talk to those you know

Testimonials and word of mouth referrals from people you know are an important part of finding a great dealer from which to buy your next new car.  Ask your family, friends and co-workers where they bought their car and what their dealership experience was like.  Were the salespeople responsive and friendly?  How would they rate the dealership's overall customer service?  Did they feel they got a good deal and if not, why not?  Input from people you know can be instrumental in helping you find a quality new car dealer in your area.

Tip 2:  Go online for a reputation check

Check a dealer's reputation online by visiting the Better Business Bureau's website (BBB) or by checking local discussion forums for customer ratings and reviews.  The BBB publishes reports of problem dealerships in your area, or ones that have received a certain number of customer complaints within a certain period of time.  What's more, you can learn a lot by what customers say in Web forums such as message boards.  While not all complaints are legitimate, be cautious if you notice seemingly legitimate complaints from a number of dissatisfied customers, or if you notice a recurring pattern of complaints about a specific problem or issue.

Tip 3:  Test drive your dealership

Since you probably already know the make and model of the car you want to buy (along with its price and any applicable incentives and rebates), it's time to submit a new car purchase request online.  Your request will be routed to retailers in your area who sell that vehicle.  You should receive a reply, either by email or phone, with information about the car's availability, features and price.  In addition to comparing pricing information, pay attention to how timely and forthright the responses are.  Be cautious if a dealer refuses to quote a price over the phone.  Don't forget to ask if the dealership offers additional savings programs for the car you want to buy, aside from incentives and rebates offered by the manufacturer, and keep detailed notes of the information you receive from each dealer for future reference.

Tip 4:  Beware of surprises

When it comes to buying a new car, beware of surprises such as hidden costs or ever-changing information.  For example, be cautious if the dealer tells you he has your exact car in inventory, only to find a different car waiting for you when you arrive at the dealership.  Be sure the purchase price you're quoted doesn't change when it comes time to sign the sales agreement.  And don't forget to double check the sales agreement carefully, before you sign on the dotted line.  If you notice expenses for things you didn't request, such as rust proofing or fabric protection, be sure to discuss these items with your dealer.  If the deal — or the dealer — doesn't feel right, don't be afraid to walk away.

Tip 5:  Stick with the tried and true

Selling cars isn't easy.  Dealers who don't maintain a certain level of customer service and who aren't intrinsically committed to the customer don't last very long.  As a general rule, it's better to stick with a tried and true dealership, one that's been around for a while and one that has built a solid reputation in your community.  Not only has its standards enabled it to withstand the test of time, there's a high likelihood it will be around in the future to service all your vehicle needs.

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