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You have finally made the decision to head to the dealership, but when it comes right down to it, how do you choose where to buy your car? With 16,708 franchised new car dealerships across the U.S., there's no shortage of choices. Thankfully, with the help of a few simple tips, it's possible to choose a dealership where you can have a better overall buying experience.

Research Your Dealership

To help narrow down where to buy your car, start with online resources. Whether at home or on the go, a site like DealerRater can help you research car dealerships in your area specific to the make of car you want to buy. Their search engine will ask for the make you're interested in purchasing and your zip code. You can then see reviews of all of the relevant dealerships in your area with actual customer experiences.

You can also check out the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Here, you can review a car dealership's BBB rating, customer reviews, complaints against the dealership and how the dealership responded to those complaints.

Finally, why not take a spin by local rating guru Yelp? You'll be able to sort dealerships by overall customer ratings and read even more customer reviews. You'll also be able to see if the dealership has responded (with thanks or apologies) and add this information to your list of local leading dealerships that could earn your business.

Ask for Referrals

Remember when your friend or colleague came rolling in with their new ride? Don't be shy about asking them where they shopped to help you decide where to buy your car. Beyond the review and rating sites listed above, you'll add the experience of someone you know and trust to the information you've already gathered. You might even score the name of a sales associate who was particularly helpful and pleasant to work with, which can set you at ease before you set foot on the lot.

Don't Buy If You're Not Comfortable

No matter how much research you've done or how strong a referral you've received from a trusted source, buying a car is a major financial decision. Your comfort with the overall experience is key. When choosing where to buy your car, don't feel pressured to go through with a purchase solely on ratings and recommendations. Do some research and compare the interest rates online before you visit the dealer so that you're not caught off guard and you're prepared to negotiate. If you're not comfortable with the numbers or experience — or if something feels like it's not adding up — remember that you have other options.

Feel free to take a deal home and sleep on it. Bring that offer to another dealership to see if they can meet or beat it. When you take the keys and drive off of the lot, you should have a smile on your face and be delighted with every aspect of your new ride. How you feel about the experience is just as important as how you feel about the car that's becoming a part of your life.


This information and recommendations contained herein is compiled from sources deemed reliable, but is not represented to be accurate or complete. In providing this information, neither KeyBank nor its affiliates are acting as your agent or is offering any tax, accounting, or legal advice.

By selecting any external link on, you will leave the KeyBank website and jump to an unaffiliated third party website that may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. The third party is responsible for website content and system availability. KeyBank does not offer, endorse, recommend, or guarantee any product or service available on that entity's website.

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