How to Find a Trustworthy Used Car Dealership

Many people dread shopping for a used car because they “know” they’re going to get ripped off. The best way to avoid this and to shop with confidence is by starting your search by finding a trustworthy used car dealership.

Finding a trustworthy used car dealership can be almost as important as finding the right car. Anytime you purchase something that was pre-owned, you’re taking a chance, but a reputable dealership will give you the best chance of getting a quality car at a fair price.

Focus on Reputation

The key to finding a trustworthy used car dealership is to focus on their reputation.

A dealership that is concerned about their reputation recognizes that a lot of business can be generated by positive word-of-mouth from happy customers.

They will make it a point to treat you fairly.

Dealerships that aren’t concerned about their reputation are only concerned about making as much money as possible. They don’t care how they treat you because they are only concerned about making a sale “today” and they don’t care about “tomorrow”.

Find Potential Used Car Dealerships in Your Area

The first step to finding a trustworthy used car dealership is to get a list of the dealerships in your area.

Talking to your friends and family is a great place to start. You can even ask your Friends and Followers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter for recommendations.

A recommendation from someone who actually bought a car from a dealership, and was happy with it is the best recommendation you can get.

The next place to look for options is to do an internet search for “used car dealership in (city)”. This will give you a very long list of options that you will need to research. If you are partial to a particular make and model of car, you can add that to your search criteria. For instance, if you are in Santa Monica and looking for a Toyota, you can search for the best used cars Toyota Dealer Santa Monica has, and check out their reviews.

Certified Cars

One decision that you have to make is whether you want your new, used car to be certified or not. Certification indicates that the car was thoroughly inspected by a qualified mechanic. Any problems that were found during the inspection are fixed.

This ensures that you are much more likely to get a car that will be reliable. The tradeoff is that a certified used car is likely to be more expensive because of the time and effort the dealership invested in it.

Research, Research and More Research

Once you get a large list of dealerships in your area, you need to start researching their reputation. This is the most critical part of finding a used car dealership that can be trusted.

The number of dealerships that you research depends upon how specific you are about the make and model of the car you want.

If you are just looking for a car that is reliable, you may only need a few dealerships. However, if you want a specific make and model, you should research more because it will likely be harder to locate the car you want.

Your goal for this research isn’t to find out who gives the best prices, etc. That will come later.

Your goal should be to look for their reputation. Are people who buy cars from them typically happy or do they have a lot of complaints?

Used Car Dealership Ratings

There are many sites online that specialize in gathering reviews about used car dealerships. Check each dealership you have on your list on the following sites and see if anyone has given them any reviews.

Better Business Bureau

Checking with the BBB is always a good choice when you are researching any kind of business. They will tell you if there are many outstanding complaints filed against the dealership as well as give you insight about their reputation.

Internet Review Sites

Using various review sites online can also help you find out what people are saying about each dealership. Check sites like, insider and for additional information.

Visit the Used Car Lot

Once you have several used car dealerships in your area that have a good reputation, it’s time to start shopping for a car. However, you should still keep an eye out for signs when you visit. Evaluating the trustworthiness of the car dealership is an ongoing process.

Beware of the dealership if the salesman:

  • Makes too many promises
  • Tries to pressure you
  • Doesn’t seem knowledgeable about the vehicle
  • Isn’t willing to negotiate

What Else Do You Need to Know

When you find a trusted used car dealership, and find a car you like, you need to take the extra step of doing additional research on the car and on the price.

This will help you to get the best deal possible and give you information about the general reliability of the make and model.

What Do You Think?

Do you have any other tips to find a trustworthy used car dealership?

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