If you’re looking to buy a car, then the chances are pretty darn high that you’re going to have to deal with a car dealer! Of course, this may instill a bit of dread in people if they’ve never dealt with a car dealer before. A lot of people assume that most, if not all, car dealers are completely untrustworthy, the kind of person who would sell their own mother if there were profit in it. Well, that’s mostly due to negative media portrayal. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of car dealers are actually splendid and (mostly) honest.
Still, you’re going to want to arm yourself with the right information before visiting any car dealer. Even those who are “legit” may still aim to make you pay a little bit more than you need to. After all, they’re going to be earning commission based on the amount you end up paying!
We’re going to have a quick look at the things you should be keeping an eye out for. Much of this will deal with making sure they’re not “slimy”, as some would put it. Other parts will deal with ensuring you don’t make any mistakes when it comes to the various agreements you’ll need to make.
Checking the license
Licensing laws when it comes to car dealerships vary all around the world. In the United Kingdom, for example, car dealerships don’t actually need a license to sell cars. But in the United States, a license to sell cars as a business is very much needed!
So if you live in the U.S., then this should be the first check. All official car dealerships should be fully licensed to buy and sell cars. You should be able to find the necessary licensing information on the car dealerships website. If you go to a dealership and ask to see their license and they give you trouble about it? Then don’t bother. Professional, licensed car dealers should always be willing to show their credentials to you, without question.
A lot of car dealerships work directly with the car manufacturer. Many of them are actually specialists representing the brand. This is generally a sign that the car manufacturer in question has a bigger stake in this car dealership than with many others. This can be a good sign if you’re looking for a car from that manufacturer. It also means that the dealer is more likely to be highly knowledgeable when it comes to that brand. They’ll also be able to provide better assistance after you’ve purchased the car. They may be licensed to help you with particular issues that the car manufacturer itself usually deals with.
But specialist car dealerships often sell a variety of car lines. You may find that they try to steer you towards buying a car from the car manufacturer they’re partnered with, even if it doesn’t quite suit your needs. Be careful about this sort of tactic!
You shouldn’t assume that a license and good prices is an automatic indication that a car dealership is worth working with. What you should really be looking at is their reputation. They may be operating legally, but do they actually deliver?
You may not get accurate answers directly from the dealership themselves, so don’t ask them about customer feedback. You’re going to want to look for an independent source of reviews. is The best way of getting a feel for a dealer’s reputation is to check out the opinions of those who have purchased with the dealer before. It’s always worth bearing in mind that people are more likely to leave reviews when the experience they had was bad, so be sure to check a variety of reviews instead of letting alarm bells ring upon seeing one negative review.
So, you’ve found a car you want, and you’re looking to haggle. A lot of people are afraid to haggle because they’re sure it’s something that’s only in the movies. But most car dealerships are willing to negotiate the price. Most of them would make a lot fewer sales if they didn’t, and they know it! Still, haggling requires quite a bit of skill. If you’re not prepared, you might make a lot of costly mistakes.
For example, not negotiating the purchase price, and instead negotiating the monthly repayments. When you negotiate based on the monthly payments, you very quickly reveal how much you’re able to pay each month. This gives the dealer a big advantage. It gives them room to hide costs such as add-ons and higher interest rate.
Working with bad credit
Speaking of high interest rates, those who have bad credit are often going to have to suffer them! The fact is that you should always be careful when it comes to dealers who offer you finance options even if you have bad credit. They assume that the buyer is desperate, and will possibly take advantage of their situation.
If you have bad credit, then this is no reason to allow a car dealer to take advantage of you. They’re relying on you to feel as though you don’t have any options. Now this isn’t to say that all car dealers who offer ‘bad credit finance’ are going to give you a bad deal. I’m just pointing out that you need to be very wary. Companies like ApproveNow can help you out in this situation, giving you options outside of the dealership itself.
Checking your credit score yourself
“Checking your credit score” is an odd phrase. You don’t actually have a universal credit score. Any lender you go to will be defining your ‘creditworthiness’ as per their own metrics. This is very important to remember. It means that a car dealer could tell you that your credit score isn’t very good, thus justifying higher interest and deposit fees – even if your credit score isn’t that bad.
Basically, if you don’t have an idea of what credit score you might get from a lender, then that lender can tell you pretty much anything they want. So you should get some free independent credit checks before you go to the dealership.