How to Find a Dealership That Won’t Cause You a Headache

Bad dealerships take the fun out of car buying.

They'll flood your email and voicemail with friendly yet coy messages, trying to get you to buy now! Then, when you go to the dealership, they might try to overcharge you for your new purchase with a variety of sneaky tactics.

With those things said, not all dealerships are bad. Some adhere to professionalism and do things the right way.

Here are some ways to find these reputable dealers.

Customer Ratings

There's no better way to gain insight into how a dealer treats its customers than from their experiences. While customer reviews can be subjective, you'll want to look for patterns of behavior when reading reviews.

For reputable dealers, you'll see high marks from a variety of customers. Alternatively, if you notice many customers complaining about rude service, being overcharged or other issues, it's an indicator you might experience the same by going with them. And when finding reviews, J.D. Power and DealerRater are excellent places to start.


When doing research on your next car, it's ideal to see what dealerships charge for that model. If you find one dealership that charges significantly more than similar dealers for the same car, then you should weed the pricey one out.


You'll also want to see if the dealership received any accreditations such as an A+ grade with the Better Business Bureau or if they won awards for their customer service. Finding a dealership that consistently earns high ratings usually is a sign they'll treat you right.

First Impression

Chances are this won't be your only time visiting the dealership. If it goes well, you might be back for service and/or to buy another vehicle in the future. So, that first experience can tell you everything about the dealer. Some things to look for include:

  • Does someone greet you in a professional manner?
  • How clean is the lot?
  • How knowledgeable is the staff on the product?

Your first impression can tell you much about the dealership and how your relationship might go with them.