The reputation of the car dealership that you want to deal with is an important factor in your car purchase adventure whether you are purchasing a new or used vehicle.
The honesty and reliability of the dealership, or lack thereof, can make your vehicle purchase a gratifying and fun event or can turn it into a source of ongoing aggravation and headaches.
You as the purchaser have an important tool available for your research – the online reviews of the dealership.
Why are Online Reviews a Good Source of Information on Car Dealerships?
With a new car dealer, you have a few different sources of information that you can use to check the reliability of the dealership such as dealership ratings, awards from the manufacturer, word of mouth reviews, and online reviews.
Awards from the manufacturer don’t necessarily translate to a dealership being a good choice for you, so online reviews represent your best source to assess the reliability and trustworthiness of a business you haven’t transacted with before.
With used car dealers, in particular, trust in the dealership is a must, with the large number of unscrupulous dealerships (or the perception thereof) that populates this segment of the industry.
Positive reviews are one source of information, but should be taken with a grain of salt as the authenticity of these reviews is always in question.
Negative reviews are the more important source of information because as a rule, a customer needs to be upset to take the time to write a negative comment about a dealership, and a dealership wouldn’t post a negative review itself. It’s possible a competitor would post a negative review to damage the reputation of a dealership, but infrequent and unlikely.
People Now Visit Fewer Dealerships
It used to be that potential car purchasers would visit multiple car dealerships before deciding on what vehicle to purchase. This was before the advent of wide internet usage that allows those in the market for a vehicle to thoroughly research vehicle choices and check out the available inventory at a particular dealership without ever visiting it.
Research has shown that on average customers visited only 1.8 dealerships in their vehicle search. It follows that extensive research of local dealerships has become important and dealerships are in a race to appear the most trustworthy online.
Bad customer reviews grab the attention of potential customers – all you have to do is think about the preponderance of shopping sites that have followed the Amazon lead in making the five-star product ratings prominent in the description of products.
It only follows that potential customers are most likely going to be more attracted to a dealer with a five-star rating than to a dealer with a three-star rating.
With all of these factors, it becomes apparent that using online reviews when shopping for a vehicle is following the lead of other types of shopping.
Where Can I Find Honest Reviews of Car Dealerships?
Many sites can be used to search online for dealership reviews. Sites that are dedicated to strictly dealership reviews are prevalent on the internet.
The largest of these online review sites is DealerRater.com which has somewhere around one million user-generated dealership reviews.
A second dedicated dealership review site is CarDealerCheck.com. While not as large as DealerRater.com, it has a good number of reviews worth checking out.
In addition to these dedicated sites, many of the automotive-related sites such as cars.com and edmunds.com provide dealer ratings. Simply searching for the dealership on Google will throw up a number of reviews on the business aggregated from various sources.
Another source of internet reviews is the Better Business Bureau online. In fact, whether you’re looking for a Ford dealer in Kansas City or a real estate broker in Los Angeles, the Better Business Bureau is one of the most consistent ways to find third-party reviews of companies.
Knowing the reputation of a used car dealership from online reviews can be an important weapon in a buyer’s arsenal when negotiating with a dealer, in giving you some sense of whether or not the dealer is telling you the truth about the vehicle.
While assessing a dealer’s reputation with internet online reviews is not necessarily a guarantee that you will have a good car purchasing experience, it gives you a good idea of the amount of trust you should place in a dealer.