Far too often we hear horror stories about unsuspecting buyers being fooled by a shoddy car dealership. It all starts off well as people think they are getting a brilliant deal which only turns out to be a total waste of time and money. Everything comes down to trust but with so many car sharks out there, how do you know which car dealership to use?
An obvious solution is to only buy from a reputable dealership directly associated with the brand you want or those with accreditation from the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Most of these dealerships also sell used cars which are typically the safest bet.
For some, however, this is not always an option either because of budget, location or they already have their heart set on a specific car from a non-affiliated dealership. While not all of these places are dodgy, keep in mind the following tips to be on the safe side.
Research The Car Dealership Online
A simple Google search can reveal a lot about a dealership and while this may not have been possible a few years ago, the Internet is now literally at your fingertips. Before you go to any car dealership, do some online research and see if there are complaints about the specific dealership using a website like Hellopeter.com, Google reviews or Facebook reviews.
Remember that these websites will be full of complaints but you should only focus on those that matter (and apply to you). Some people like to complain about everything so don’t be distracted by the sheer number of complaints but rather see if the complaints have been resolved or not. Dealerships with a good response rate are generally considered reputable as they continuously engage with customers to resolve issues instead of ignoring them.
First Impressions Last
Just as you wouldn’t eat at a dodgy restaurant or shop at a retail store with dirty floors and creased clothes, a dealership should also be judged by the showroom floor. It doesn’t have to be luxurious but if things are broken, untidy or dirty, they often don’t care about anything other than taking your money. A good car dealership is in it for the long-term and will take pride in what they do and it usually shows in the condition of their showroom.
Look At Other Cars
We know first-hand that people often only want to test drive the specific car they are after. While it makes sense, you should really look at, or test drive, at least two or three other cars at the same car dealership. This will give you a better indication of the condition of several cars on the showroom floor and if they don’t know what you are going to look at in advance, they won’t have time to hide any defects or major faults.
A big red flag for any potential car buyer is if a dealership makes an excuse as to why you can’t test drive other cars. Sometimes they will even ask you to come back at a later date which is totally unacceptable. As any reputable car dealership will tell you, vehicles displayed on the showroom floor are there for that very reason; to be inspected and tested. If they refuse for whatever reason, you should walk away as something is clearly wrong with the car.
Bad Repair Jobs (Or Too Many)
When people buy used vehicles, no-one expects perfection but it should at least look good and be mechanically sound. One expects used vehicles to maybe have a few scrapes on plastic bumpers or on the inside but nothing should be too obvious. Good dealerships will make sure that the car looks good before reselling it and if they don’t, you can assume that they probably haven’t checked the mechanics either.
The exterior paint and bodywork can also be a tell-tale sign of any potential issues. If large sections of the car seem to have been repainted, the car has probably involved in a serious accident. While accident damage is not the end of the world, you at least need to know how bad the damage was. If the dealership is not willing to give all the details and says it was only a minor accident even though most of the car has been redone, you should move along.
Too Much Chit Chat
There is nothing wrong with car salespeople talking about the car’s history but when they make excuses about a sound or how the car drives before you even start the car, chances are there might be a mechanical problem. Take heed as this is a clear warning sign that the dealer knows something is wrong and they are already trying to make excuses.
Offering Incredible Car Deals
It’s not always easy to spot a bad car dealership as the true nature of the market is to encourage and convince potential buyers to choose them. However, there is a massive difference between harassing someone and encouraging them. If you feel that a car dealership is trying to force you into a deal before having time to compare or do your own research, don’t indulge such behaviour and simply walk away.
At Group 1, we believe in providing only certified used vehicles that have undergone stringent quality testing. You can trust each and every Group 1 car dealership to offer professional service and vehicles of the highest mechanical quality and overall condition.
Find out everything you need to know about The Group 1 Guarantee on our website and book a test drive when you find the car you are looking for. Follow our blog for all the latest in motoring news, road safety tips or car buying advice among others.