Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - eustace

What is the best way to discern the credibility of a used car dealer?

On one end, you have franchised dealers.

Then you have the big supermarkets like cargiant.

Then there are large non-franchised dealers.

Then you have small time back street dealers.

How do you decide if a particular dealer is more than just a small backstreet dealer.

1) Is it based on the number of cars they have in stock. If so, what would be the cutoff?

2) The size and quality of their premises

3) Any other factors.

Basically, I am trying to understand ways to sort out potentially reliable non-franchised dealers, from dodgy back street dealers.

Also what are the ways dealers get stock.

The obvious ways are from auctions, from trade-in deals, and from relationship with franchised dealers. I understand that franchised dealers give away very little of their stock nowadays, and prefer to sell their good stock directly.

So where else can non-franchised get delaers get stock from. Can they have relationships with large car leasing companies, car rental companies, etc., to dispose of their old cars?

Edited by eustace on 04/10/2017 at 02:27

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - RobJP

The obvious ways are from auctions, from trade-in deals, and from relationship with franchised dealers. I understand that franchised dealers give away very little of their stock nowadays, and prefer to sell their good stock directly.

So where else can non-franchised get delaers get stock from. Can they have relationships with large car leasing companies, car rental companies, etc., to dispose of their old cars?

Not really. Franchised dealers can only put cars that meet particular citeria into their 'approved used' type car sales. Car age, mileage, condition, etc.

Anything that doesn't meet the criteria goes out the door.

There's a garage in Llandudno (Junction Autopark) that gets a lot of stock directly from BMW, JLR, Merc, Toyota and Audi dealerships within a few hundred yards of them

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Dogfuzz

These days I would approach any kind of dealer the same way

1)They are in it for the money.

2) A used car is for sale is because the previous owner did not want it or need it

3) You will still need to personally check the provenence of any vehicle whatever type of dealership-although just possibly a main dealer "used -approved" car perhaps carries a little more cred.

4) All that glitters is not gold.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Andrew-T

How do you decide if a particular dealer is more than just a small backstreet dealer.

1) Is it based on the number of cars they have in stock. If so, what would be the cutoff?

2) The size and quality of their premises

3) Any other factors.

Basically, I am trying to understand ways to sort out potentially reliable non-franchised dealers, from dodgy back street dealers.

Under heading (3) you should include Demeanour of Staff. The most dodgy backstreet dealers identify themselves immediately, as do the car supermarkets. Full-blown franchised outfits will be listed on their maker's website and will have all the trimmings, with bling-laden palaces and prices to match, and are usually on the car-strip outside larger towns. Dealerships in between all those are more hidden, have lower overheads and often offer better 'bargains'. As with other important decisions, word of mouth can be most useful.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - SkodaIan

How long they have been in business is a good guide. A couple near me have been going at least 20 years so would have been found out by now if they were doing anything dodgy.

Dealers in small towns are probably safer too. If you're in a rural market town with a much more limited number of potential customers, more of whom know each other, it's much harder to cover up dodgy practices.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Andrew-T

How long they have been in business is a good guide. A couple near me have been going at least 20 years so would have been found out by now if they were doing anything dodgy.

There's a moderate-sized independent in mid-Cheshire which has been trading for at least 30 years, and advertises a liaison with Cheshire Trading Standards. Not many outfits are ready to do that. I've bought from them more than once and been well satisfied.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - madf

How long they have been in business is a good guide. A couple near me have been going at least 20 years so would have been found out by now if they were doing anything dodgy.

There's a moderate-sized independent in mid-Cheshire which has been trading for at least 30 years, and advertises a liaison with Cheshire Trading Standards. Not many outfits are ready to do that. I've bought from them more than once and been well satisfied.

Yes: I have bought a Yaris from them in 2005. Still have it.

Nice people to deal with..

I view salemen like politicians: they both try to sell something they don't know much about and try to evade all responsibility when things go wrong. The difference is politicians always succeed in the evasion bit.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - SLO76
No hard and fast rules here but from experience both working for and buying on behalf of customers and myself here's my take on things.

The best used stock is part exchange motors which come in against a newer model from the same manufacturer. The cars will be prepped to a higher standard and have to be in good order to be able to meet approved used status. The customer was clearly happy with it too in order to buy another one which speaks volumes. Even non-franchise part ex stock is typically of a higher standard than older auction bought. Main dealers are the best source for used cars in general with many now stocking good used motors up to 12yrs old. However, most of the nearly new stock at main dealers will be ex lease, this isn't any worry as long as they've been serviced annually and the paintwork is in good order. Main dealers are often a little dearer for used stock (by used I mean 3yrs plus) but it's mostly part ex and not auction bought though some ex fleet will be bought in at this age.

Smaller used dealers are unfortunately a rogues gallery of cheats and scoundrels. They buy most of their retail stock at auction as they lack the new or nearly new stock punters will part ex on. I know a lot of these guys, I see them at auction regularly and I see the trash they buy. It's nearly always needing work, it's almost always there because it wasn't fit to sit on a main dealers forecourt and needs too much money spend to prep properly. These guys then carry out cheap usually substandard repairs, block warning lamps, cheap paint and many of them stamp up the service books themselves, some even go to the lengths of stealing books out of other motors so check the reg matches. We had to remove service books from our stock cars because this happened so often.

Most main dealers will hang onto good used stock rather then send it through the ring and most used motors that end up at auction are there for a reason. If it's ex fleet then fair enough but this only spans up to 4yrs old anything between this and say 10yrs will only be sent to auction if it has issues. It's either too up in the miles, it's tatty and needs paint or has had poor paint in the past, or there's a mechanical issue. It may be because it's an unappealing colour or spec but if it's a nice sellable model with reasonable miles then 95% of main dealers will retail it themselves.

There are of course exceptions to the rule, some small trader work in partnership with a local larger dealer to take all their older part ex stock. This is less common these days and happened more with smaller main dealers that didn't have the space to sit with older stock. This is where much of mine used to come from, I used to buy from two local dealers who didn't have the space or the will to sit with sub £3k stock so I hoovered up anything decent. Sadly both have now went bust and I now buy largely through word of mouth. It's always been a sideline, more now than anything else because I refuse to buy and sell the junk most of the trade are happy to flog.

I'm rambling now. Basically the bulk of backstreet dealers and traders are rogues who sell botched up stock no one else wanted. The exceptions are rare these days so buyer beware.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - pd
Most main dealers will hang onto good used stock rather then send it through the ring and most used motors that end up at auction are there for a reason. If it's ex fleet then fair enough but this only spans up to 4yrs old anything between this and say 10yrs will only be sent to auction if it has issues. It's either too up in the miles, it's tatty and needs paint or has had poor paint in the past, or there's a mechanical issue. It may be because it's an unappealing colour or spec but if it's a nice sellable model with reasonable miles then 95% of main dealers will retail it themselves.

Maybe it depends where in the country you are but around here there are virtually no independent franshised main dealers left and virtually none of them will retail anything which doesn't meet their relevant manufacturer's approved used scheme criteria. Unless they have their own "second tier" used car outfit they will punt just about anything over 3 years and 50k miles out somewhere else.

Unfortunaterly, the days of main dealers selling nice cars out to chosen second tier dealers are not what they were. Many of the larger groups ban it all together. Some send all their px to auction as a matter of policy so you have to get them from there, some have their own online remarketing platform, some use a 3rd party one. I've seen salesmen who actually took a car in px have to go to BCA or Manheim to buy the car which they know is a decent car because they can't buy it direct from their employer.

Sourcing decent cars is hard because, frankly, most owners do not take car of their cars. You can't restrict yourself to one source. There are decent cars at aucton (only 5-10% of them but they are there if you know what you are looking at) and it is alsmost impossible for a dealer to survive on "direct" purchases only now unless they are very lucky.

I can't agree that 95% of main dealers will retail a "nice" 4-10 year old car themselves. In fact I can't think of one which does so in a 50 miles radius unless they have a seperate site to do so. Most would lose their franchise in a flash if they had a 8 year old car sitting on the forecourt, particularly if not the "right" manufacturer.

I certainly agree on service books, pus locking wheel nuts, spare keys, nav discs etc. Pilfering at all levels is rife and it is a right pain.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - eustace

SLO76, How do large non franchiosed dealers like car giant, etc., get their stock? Other than franchised dealers, auctions and part exchanges, are there any other sources for stock? Can they get say ex-lease cars directly form large leasing companies, etc, or ex-fleet cars from corporates?

Are these same sources also available to smaller dealers?

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - pd

SLO76, How do large non franchiosed dealers like car giant, etc., get their stock? Other than franchised dealers, auctions and part exchanges, are there any other sources for stock? Can they get say ex-lease cars directly form large leasing companies, etc, or ex-fleet cars from corporates?

Are these same sources also available to smaller dealers?

Car Giant used to get pretty much 100% of their stock from auction. Every single lease disposal auction tends to have a Car Giant buyer there and they sometimes pay serious money. I think they also get a few direct as well and no doubt use some of the online disposal platforms some of the lease companies have nowdays.

In turn, they send most of the part exchanges to auction (Aston Barclay I think) and being nearly all London cars their body work quality is variable to say the least.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - SLO76

SLO76, How do large non franchiosed dealers like car giant, etc., get their stock? Other than franchised dealers, auctions and part exchanges, are there any other sources for stock? Can they get say ex-lease cars directly form large leasing companies, etc, or ex-fleet cars from corporates?

Are these same sources also available to smaller dealers?

They buy ex fleet/lease stock at auction and anything older than 3-4yrs will mostly be part-ex. I'm unfairly not mentioning car supermarkets which can be a good source too. They will usually hold onto good part ex stock and retail it. But often the deal isn't as good as it first seems by the time you factor in the cost of adding the warranty which an approved used car would normally come with.
Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Slow Eddie

. But often the deal isn't as good as it first seems by the time you factor in the cost of adding the warranty which an approved used car would normally come with.

I'm sure that's the case, backed up by my extensive browsing playing Fantasy Car Buyer - but at least CarGiant's offers provide a handy price benchmark to set against approved used models, to see what you're paying for that enhanced level of assurance.

Personal experience of CarGiant is limited to buying a mega-miles ex-fleet Saab 900 in 2000. Had twinges of buyer's remorse the following days, but whadyaknow, the trusty old heap is still in the family 17 years later!

(Must add - SLO's overview of trade practices is very helpful, and together with others' contributions is much appreciated.)

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - pd

SLO76, How do large non franchiosed dealers like car giant, etc., get their stock? Other than franchised dealers, auctions and part exchanges, are there any other sources for stock? Can they get say ex-lease cars directly form large leasing companies, etc, or ex-fleet cars from corporates?

Are these same sources also available to smaller dealers?

They buy ex fleet/lease stock at auction and anything older than 3-4yrs will mostly be part-ex. I'm unfairly not mentioning car supermarkets which can be a good source too. They will usually hold onto good part ex stock and retail it. But often the deal isn't as good as it first seems by the time you factor in the cost of adding the warranty which an approved used car would normally come with.

Out of 3363 cars in stock at the moment only about 200 are over 4 years old which indicates the vast, vast majority of Car Giant's cars are ex-lease sourced either directly or most of the time from lease disposal auctions.

I'm sure Car Giant retail the odd px but as I would imagine the vast majority of the stuff they get in is outside their age criteria I doubt they do it much. Car Giant really hasn't changed much since they were the Great Trade Centre and their focus is slightly higher than average mileage 2-4 years old fleet/lease stuff.

In the old days as GTC they used to buy them in from auctions and stick them on sale uncleaned still with the auction stickers on them!

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - SLO76
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all auction bought stock is rubbish. Fleets and ex lease metal is generally good news, with service history and usually in good condition as they are penalised for any damage when they have to return it. It's older used cars I'm talking about, something which has sensible mileage and is a good model generally won't be sent to auction unless there's something wrong with it. The exception is where the dealer genuinely doesn't have the room for it.

I've spent a lot of time at auctions over the years and while it used to be the case that main dealers would quickly offload pretty much everything over 6-7yrs old through the ring and genuine part ex bargains could be found, it's no longer the norm. The bulk of it is junk, tatty, high in the miles with dashboards lit up like Christmas trees. No dealer will give away something he could retail with confidence.

I'd say around 90% of the cars I'm asked to view on behalf of friends, family and customers at smaller independent dealers are hiding major flaws, usually terrible quality paint repairs. There are of course occasional exceptions to this rule.

Some bigger dealers own a secondary firm that sells on their older part ex stock and again these can be a great source of good used cars. My local VW dealer is one such firm. Their tradeaway branch is stocked only with part ex stock from their other three new car dealerships, nothing is bought in. I've negotiated deals on behalf of many customers with them and have yet to encounter a bad car on their forecourt. Negative thing is that it's this kind of thing that is killing off the genuine smaller garages who once relied on buying stock direct from guys like this.

Edited by SLO76 on 04/10/2017 at 14:46

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - eustace

, something which has sensible mileage and is a good model generally won't be sent to auction unless there's something wrong with it. The exception is where the dealer genuinely doesn't have the room for it.

So what happens to ex-fleet cars that are genuinely in good condition? How would the fleet owner dispose it?

Edited by eustace on 04/10/2017 at 15:20

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - SLO76
"So what happens to ex-fleet cars that are genuinely in good condition? How would the fleet owner dispose it?"

You'll notice I mention fleet disposal sales as good source of used stock but this accounts only for cars below 4yrs old. Anything older at auction is there for a reason in 9 out of 10 cases.
Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Andrew-T

<< So what happens to ex-fleet cars that are genuinely in good condition? How would the fleet owner dispose it? >>

Around here the rule seems to be that most young cars for sale will be ex-rental or fleet, and the better-quality ones appear on franchised forecourts. That is partly because rental cars are screened by their makers, and franchised dealers take first pick. I suspect the supermarkets get next bite at the cherry.

Indie garages get more of a look-in at middle-aged cars, so it depends what age of car you are looking for, and whether it is old enough to have hit the MoT cycle. At that stage it's up to the buyer to look at everything he can, on the car and on the paperwork, to pick the best of the rest. Trying to 'define a good indy' is one thing, but even if you find one, it doesn't mean any car from him will be faultless. What matters more is whether his warranty is honoured if needed.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Ryanfuego

Reviews from previous customers. Their background and image.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - pd

I agree there is loads of rubbish about I just don't know any main dealers these days who will retail anything over about 4 years old and 50k miles. In some cases even that is too old / high mileage for them. They just don't want the hassle of older stuff which needs work and/or may have comeback. It is not what they are setup to do.

All this stuff gets sold on one way or another. Sometimes by an all auction policy, sometimes direct to favoured traders or sometimes they have their own trade-only selling platform. The one thing they won't do is sell it direct to the public unless they sell it on to and via a sister used car specialist setup and even those don't want much over 6 years old.

Unfortunately most dealers (main) don't have any choice anyway. Their disposal policy is dictated by group HQ and they have to follow it. On top of that manufacturers are very fussy about what, how and where cars are sold. They don't want their shiny new stuff and approved used stuff presented on a forecourt or anywhere near a 2009 75k hatchback from another manufacturer and no sensible main dealer is going to risk their franchise for a £3k Hyundai.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - SLO76
"I agree there is loads of rubbish about I just don't know any main dealers these days who will retail anything over about 4 years old and 50k miles. In some cases even that is too old / high mileage for them. They just don't want the hassle of older stuff which needs work and/or may have comeback. It is not what they are setup to do."

Must be different in other regions. Certainly up here in central Scotland most main dealers retain older part exchanges if they're of retailable quality. Even huge chains like Arnold Clark rutinely stock cars up to 11-12yrs of age if they're good. Though it does tend to be less complex run of the mill motors than anything complex and trouble prone. The large dealer I used to work for sends nothing to auction that runs, they've a separate trade dealership that sells anything from £295 to £4,000. This is where I cut my teeth on selling motors and developed my love of bangernomics. I always loved the freedom that comes from buying a good cheap motor instead of saddling yourself with a never ending lease or finance deal.

Edited by SLO76 on 04/10/2017 at 15:57

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - pd
The large dealer I used to work for sends nothing to auction that runs, they've a separate trade dealership that sells anything from £295 to £4,000. This is where I cut my teeth on selling motors and developed my love of bangernomics. I always loved the freedom that comes from buying a good cheap motor instead of saddling yourself with a never ending lease or finance deal.

Hardly ever see that in the South East. Most main dealers scowl if a customer parks a 12 year old car on their forecourt having come to buy a new one let alone retail it. I honestly don't know of a single main dealer which would touch such a car.

Some do have their own used car outfits but even then I'm not sure they'd go as old as 12 years. A lot have also tried it,, found out just how cut throat that sector is and quickly given up.

It is sad really, there are so few independent main dealer left who are able to show a bit of initiative. They're all slaves to corporate policy and have little leway to be enterprising.

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - Engineer Andy
The large dealer I used to work for sends nothing to auction that runs, they've a separate trade dealership that sells anything from £295 to £4,000. This is where I cut my teeth on selling motors and developed my love of bangernomics. I always loved the freedom that comes from buying a good cheap motor instead of saddling yourself with a never ending lease or finance deal.

Hardly ever see that in the South East. Most main dealers scowl if a customer parks a 12 year old car on their forecourt having come to buy a new one let alone retail it. I honestly don't know of a single main dealer which would touch such a car.

Some do have their own used car outfits but even then I'm not sure they'd go as old as 12 years. A lot have also tried it,, found out just how cut throat that sector is and quickly given up.

It is sad really, there are so few independent main dealer left who are able to show a bit of initiative. They're all slaves to corporate policy and have little leway to be enterprising.

My local Mazda dealership seems to occasionally sell older PXes, though they are only Mazdas and could very well be cars that they've been maintaining for a number of years, and so are more than happy to offer it for sale on the forecourt. Not all Mazdas though, only 2s, 6s and mainly 3s like mine - no MX-5s or especially RX-8s (not a surprise about the latter as they are not known for their reliability, perhaps the former was due to rust problems for older examples).

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - argybargy

I bought my most recent car from an indy which has been in business on Merseyside for 35 years.

His prices are not the cheapest, but unlike most garages in that category he still offers 12 months parts and labour warranty included in the price of every car, and it does what it says on the tin.

My car is currently with the local Ford dealer having a clutch pack replacement, and the indy has provided me with a loan car for as long as it takes for that work to get done. I can't fault him (other than for selling me a car with known issues, and he insists that its the first Powershift car that a customer of his has ever had trouble with) and will certainly be going back to him for a trade in on that car.

I've done the full gamut of "trader masquerading as private seller", "indy with Portakabin occupying a temporary site and looking to take flight after selling a few dogs", decent indy, backstreet cruddy indy who always prefaces the handing over of the keys with the reassuring promise that it "Drives Well!", but I've yet to buy from a main dealer or car supermarket. The latter I'll forever avoid like the plague, the main dealer experience may come when I retire for good and have a little bit more moolah to throw around.

Edited by argybargy on 04/10/2017 at 16:12

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - eustace

I've done the full gamut of "trader masquerading as private seller", "indy with Portakabin occupying a temporary site and looking to take flight after selling a few dogs", decent indy, backstreet cruddy indy who always prefaces the handing over of the keys with the reassuring promise that it "Drives Well!", but I've yet to buy from a main dealer or car supermarket. The latter I'll forever avoid like the plague, the main dealer experience may come when I retire for good and have a little bit more moolah to throw around.

So how would you define a decent indy? :-)

Any - Evaluating an Used Car Dealer - argybargy

I've done the full gamut of "trader masquerading as private seller", "indy with Portakabin occupying a temporary site and looking to take flight after selling a few dogs", decent indy, backstreet cruddy indy who always prefaces the handing over of the keys with the reassuring promise that it "Drives Well!", but I've yet to buy from a main dealer or car supermarket. The latter I'll forever avoid like the plague, the main dealer experience may come when I retire for good and have a little bit more moolah to throw around.

So how would you define a decent indy? :-)

Well, in my relatively limited experience recommendation is obviously best, and word does tend to get around, locally at least, if a garage is letting folks down on a regular basis. Social media helps nowadays to spread that word, though the picture tends to be muddied by the fact that there's no shortage of disingenuous and downright dishonest reviews.

Longevity in the business is obviously a good thing, as in my choice of garage for my present car, and a relatively comprehensive parts and labour warranty which is longer than the standard 3 months doesn't go amiss.

Not impressed by a forest of flags flapping in the wind as I approach the premises; and the demeanour of the salesperson can either make or break any prospect of a deal. Too slick and you smell a rat, too disinterested and you feel like saying "not really bothered about selling me a car, then?" It helps if they appear relaxed, look you in the eye and when they shake your hand, it doesn't feel like you're wringing the moisture out of a wet lettuce.

Its a tough job that those guys have to impress the car buying public, it really is.

 

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