What to Expect When Shopping at a Used Car Dealership

Posted Thursday, Apr 13, 2023

Used cars cost less, the interest rates are low, and they have lived out most of their depreciable life, which helps you save a lot of money. The real problem arises when you walk into a fraudulently used car dealership that tries to upsell you at each stage.

Now, this doesn't mean every used car dealership is bad, but it is better to be prepared before visiting the market for a used vehicle. Here is what you must know when shopping for a used car.

Used Car Dealership - Auto World Omaha

6 Things You Need to Know When Shopping at a Used Car Dealership

1.      Doing Your Homework Is Important

Have a clear idea of the kind of car you need. Factor them into the budget, and don't forget to include costs like registration, insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Research the models that suit your budget. Consider the mileage, safety tests, and repair records for your desired models.


With the make and model in mind, ask your dealer for out-the-door prices before paying a visit. You can use those quotes for the following.

  • The rebates and discounts are being applied to ensure the advertised prices.
  • To confirm if the vehicle is present on the lot.
  • To spot any add-ons or extra charges, the dealer may introduce them at the last minute.

Next, investigate the dealer before visiting the dealership. Contact your local consumer protection agencies and inquire about any complaints against the particular dealer

2.      Expect Add-ons

One of the things to consider when shopping at a used car dealership is add-ons. Add-ons are the extra services and products a dealer tries to sell. These products and services include vehicle identification number etching, gap insurance, and rustproofing.

Add-ons cost thousands of dollars and are completely exclusive of the cost of the car itself. Dealers often present you with add-ons when you are just about to seal the deal.

Even more annoying is when the dealer includes these add-ons to your deal without informing you or getting your approval. The good news is that you can buy a vehicle without any add-ons. You can get these add-ons from independent retailers at cheaper rates. Therefore, inquire about add-ons before the conversation begins, and ask for rates in writing to compare them later.

3.      An Independent Inspection Is a Must

A dealer will offer you a vehicle history report, but it's no substitute for an independent inspection. A vehicle history covers things like flood damage and accidents, but it doesn't say much about the mechanical issues with the vehicle.

Therefore, letting an independent mechanic inspect the car inside is a good idea. A mechanical inspection is necessary, even if the car is certified and is being sold with a service contract and a warranty. A mechanic will charge an inspection fee, but it will save you from paying much more in the long run.

For insurance reasons, the dealer may not allow you to drive the car off the lot. However, a mobile inspection service will go to the dealership with you. If that isn't an option, you can ask the dealer to drive the car to their desired venue for a mechanical inspection. You should consider a different dealer if the dealer doesn't allow you to conduct an independent inspection.

However, if the dealer allows an inspection, ask your mechanic to provide a detailed breakdown of all the repairs. The report should include the car's make, model, and identification number. The repair costs will put you in a better position to negotiate with the dealer

4.      Know Your Payment Options

When buying a car, you have two payment options. You can either pay in full or seek financing to pay overtime. Financing increases the overall cost of the car due to monthly interest payments. Therefore, deciding your down payment, monthly payment, and APR beforehand is important.

Low monthly payments are tempting, but they make you pay much more than the car's original cost. Therefore, you must know the total cost of the car, including the financing, and not just the monthly payments.

Dealerships and other financing places like credit unions, banks, and financing companies offer varying financing terms. Therefore, shopping around to find the right financing deals is important.

Here are a few things to know before financing a used car.

  • What's the expected price you're willing to pay?
  • What is the total sales price, including financing, i.e., the sum of the down payment and your monthly payments?
  • What's the dollar amount (finance charges) the credit will cost you?
  • What's your APR?
  • What is the projected number of your payments, and how much will you pay each time?

5.     Know the Return Policies

Knowing the dealer's return policy and getting it in writing before signing anything is important. In some states, a dealer should give the customer the right to cancel. In other states, the right to return the purchased vehicle remains valid only if the dealer offers it.


In some places, the right to cancel is called the "cooling off period"; in others, it is called a "money-back guarantee." It is called a "no questions asked return policy" in other places. To know the return policies in your state, check with the state attorney general.

6.      Know the Differences Between Warranties

As Is - No Dealer Warranty

The dealer isn't responsible for paying for any repairs in the car. The buyer will have to pay for any problem that arises after the purchase.

Implied Warranties

It is an unwritten/unspoken promise from the seller to the buyer. Even if there aren't any written warranties, the repairs will be covered by the implied warranties.

Limited VS Full Warranties

The dealer may offer a warranty for some or all of the car's systems and components. Most dealers offer a limited warranty, and the coverage tends to vary.

Final Word

So, now you know what to expect when shopping at a used car dealership. Unfortunately, there are too many scams on the market, and they're trying their best to take your money, and the best way to do that is through hidden charges.


However, at Auto World-Omaha, we observe the utmost transparency when selling vehicles to our customers. Furthermore, our representatives work closely with our customers to solve their problems, allowing them to make their dream of owning a car come true.


To benefit from our services, feel free to visit our website today.