Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A couple is out of focus behind a blue vehicle at a used car dealer near me.

What to Look For at a Used Car Dealer Near You

If you have been trying to find a local used car dealer near you that offers the best selection of vehicles and high-quality customer service, then you’ve come to the right place. We are going to help you figure out which dealer to give your business to in your area. There will be many listings that appear in the search results. You will want to look at the top three listings. These are the most highly-rated local used car dealers in your area. For more tips on what to look for at a used car dealership, keep reading!

Used Vehicle Diversity and Quality

Every used car dealership has a wide range of pre-owned vehicles that are for sale. At any given time, the available inventory can change. This is because people trade-in their used vehicles for newer ones. The best used car dealers have a vast selection of pre-owned vehicles to choose from, whether they offer the same brands new or not.

If you are looking for a particular vehicle, it might work out in favor to find a local used car dealer that specializes in that brand with news models. As a direct result of this specialty, the sales representatives will most likely know more about the used models as well. This can give you a leg up if you want to learn about different vehicles before you settle on one in particular.

Some auto brands are more commonly seen in used car lots than others. For example, you can almost always find a Toyota, Jeep, Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan, or other affordable brands. The ones that are more difficult to track down are luxury vehicles and trucks. This is because people tend to keep these models longer. Generally, folks prefer to trade in their used model to cover the price of a more expensive vehicle. Those used cars will end up on the lot; which is great news for anyone looking to purchase a used car on a budget.

Most used car dealers have three different types of used vehicles for sale on their lots. These are used models between 1 and 5 model years old, Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles, and a selection of vehicles that are priced under $10,000. Let’s look at the differences between each one.

A couple is looking at a silver used car.

Used vehicles are just that. They are pre-owned models that are priced fairly and available for purchase. A reputable dealer will have a vehicle history report for each of these vehicles. If the dealer doesn’t have a vehicle history report available, that is a red flag. You should either request a report or research the vehicle on your own time.

CPO vehicles are used models that have been put through a rigorous inspection process by either the manufacturer or the dealership. These models are typically newer vehicles with a lower mileage. Once they have been given the seal of approval for the CPO title, they also get an extended warranty, roadside assistance, and better financing options. The catch is that they are quite a bit more expensive than the average used vehicle. It’s up to you whether having peace of mind is worth the extra money.

Finally, the third used vehicle category that most dealerships offer is the budget-friendly one. You can easily find pre-owned vehicles for under $10,000 at just about any dealership. While these vehicles are usually over seven years old, that doesn’t mean that they are bad. You can find a diamond in the rough that can last a long time with you. It is important to request a vehicle history for any used model, but it is crucial that you get one for an older model. You don’t want any extra surprises down the road.

On-Site Parts and Service Departments

A reputable dealership will not just be a lot with a bunch of cars on it. The best ones always have a service and parts department to handle all of your vehicle maintenance and repair needs. On-site mechanics will be well-versed in a variety of vehicles, and they can generally handle any problems you may have in the future. For example, if you get into an accident, the dealership technicians should be able to do the body and/or engine repairs. They should also be able to perform routine maintenance like oil changes, brake inspections, battery replacements, tire balancing, wheel alignment, and air filter replacements.

You also want to ask if the on-site service and parts department uses OEM parts. This can be a bit tricky with a pre-owned vehicle, especially if the brand is not one that they specialize in. For instance, it’s harder to get the technicians to order OEM parts for a Honda if they are CDJR specialists. However, it is not impossible. Just ask them. You can always request OEM parts for your used vehicle. This might take more time for the parts to be shipped to the dealership, but having OEM parts is worth it for many folks.

The technicians are also the ones to call on if you want to install aftermarket products to your used vehicle. Upgraded sound systems are a popular add-on for many people. It’s better to let the professionals install it than to do it yourself. Another popular addition is a towing package for full-size SUVs and trucks. Not every used vehicle comes with exactly what you want. Luckily, the dealership should be able to accommodate you.

A mechanic is working on the engine bay of a car.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

The first thing you need to do before signing any paperwork is to request a vehicle history report. Do not just take the dealer’s word for it. You need to see the actual CarFax report to know whether or not the vehicle has been in any accidents. The report will also tell you if the vehicle was ever stolen and recovered, salvaged, or has ever suffered from water damage. Don’t take the next steps until you have reviewed the vehicle history report.

Once you are sure that the vehicle doesn’t have any deal breakers in the report, you should take it out for a spin. Performing a test drive will not only give you a feel for the vehicle, but it will also give you the opportunity to listen for any strange rattling noises or squeals. Sometimes, mechanical issues won’t rear their ugly heads until you’ve driven the vehicle for a bit. Testing driving it before agreeing to the purchase can help you avoid any unwanted surprises.

Even if the vehicle is not a CPO model, you can still ask about any extended warranties or protections that the dealership offers. Sometimes they will give you free routine maintenance if you bring the vehicle back to them when it’s time for an oil change. You might even be able to get them to add in a limited extended warranty. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Find Your Perfect Ride

Whether you are searching for a CPO model or one that is under $10,000, you should be able to find exactly what you’re looking for with a little bit of effort. Just make sure to know what you need out of your vehicle and do a little research before stepping foot on the dealership’s lot.