How to select the best Car Dealer to buy from

Assuming you already have a good idea about the car you want to own, how do you find the best car dealer to buy from?

I suggest that you contact dealers individually and directly via email, telling them exactly what you’re looking for and asking for an Out The Door Price Quote.  Start with the closest 2-3 dealers and add a wildcard that may not be close but has a reputation for great deals. Below you’ll find a number of ways to narrow your search considerably.

A footnote on buying services: They are unlikely to be your best bet because they usually charge the dealer a fee which will undoubtedly pass to you !



Probably the most important element to consider is the ‘out the door’ price. I suggest you go to an online site like and see what the actual sales prices are for the vehicle you’re interested in. This will give you a great perspective on what to expect when contacting the dealers.  Ask whether the dealer has a low price guarantee and exchange policy?



Another element is the length of time that the dealer has been in business. Avoid new dealers. You want one that’s well established. What’s your dealer’s reputation? Check with friends but my preference is to turn to Social Media . . . Go online and check the reviews of the dealers at sites like Google, Yahoo, Yelp, Edmunds and DealerRater. These reviews are unbiased reports from the dealer’s actual customers and will give you great insights into the dealer itself as well as the personnel working there. How do their customers rate them? Are the dealer’s staff seen as friendly? Do they respond to a problem promptly? Do they solve problems or sweep them under the carpet? As a bonus, these reviews can alert you to the best salespeople — they’ll be the dealers repeatedly highly recommended.


  • Does the dealer have the car you want in stock?
  • If not, can they get it and is there any extra cost to get it?
  • If getting the car from another dealer, how many miles will it have on it?
  • Will the car have any extra equipment on it and if so is there any extra cost for the equipment (or is it included in the price)?



Consider also what a dealer will give you for your trade. If  possible, don’t use a dealer that supplements their inventory by buying from auctions. If they are solely dependent on trade-ins for their used car inventory, they may be more willing and able to stretch to make a deal. Most dealers will need to see your trade-in in person to correctly value it, but perhaps you can get the salesperson to come out and bring your trade-in to the dealer for evaluation (I sometimes do that for my customers!).



  • How do they do business?
  • Will they go out of their way to make things convenient, such as bringing the vehicle you’re interested in to your home or office to see it?
  • Will they streamline the paperwork procedure (getting together all the necessary items) and prepare it in advance to save you time?
  • Will they even deliver the vehicle to your home or office or help arrange affordable shipping?



  • What are their used car policies?
  • Do they offer warranties on their used cars?
  • Do they allow you to take the car for inspection (and even help you facilitate that by bringing the car there for you?)
  • Do they have prices clearly marked?
  • Do they sell cars that they got at auction (bad) or are they all trade-ins & lease turn-ins (greatly preferable).
  • Are there CarFaxes in all the cars?



  • What are their financial policies?
  • Do they have a convenient online credit application you can fill out?
  • What lenders do they deal with?
  • Will they hold your personal check and for how long?
  • Will they take a credit card for a deposit?
  • What sort of back-end products do they have available?
  • What is the policy on return of a deposit in case they can’t get the car you looking for?



  • Another area to look into is servicing.
  • What are the dealer’s service hours?
  • How competitive are their service prices?
  • What about some of the other dealer perks? Do they have a comfortable waiting area with free coffee and tea? Do they have vending machines and entertainment such as television and WiFi in the service area?
  • Do they have a service shuttle to take you to town or home rather than having to wait there?
  • Do they offer loaner cars for major repairs? Some dealers even give a free car wash to their service customers.
  • Another area of interest is the parts department.
  • Is it well-stocked and if they need to order something, generally how long does it take
  • Are their hours of operation convenient?
  • These are all things that you’re going to want to look into and factor into your decision. Obviously all things being equal you want to go with a dealer who is closest to you.

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