Buying a new (or used) car can be a stressful scenario. It can keep you up at night, wondering if you’re going to get a good deal, or if you’re going to land a lemon or be convinced to pay more than you want for more than you need.

Don’t worry — take a deep breath. It’ll be okay!

One thing to keep in mind is that there are plenty of different venues to service your car-buying needs. Based on the experience you’re looking for and the type of vehicle you wish to purchase, any one of the following five types of car dealership could be just for you.

Let’s dig a little deeper into why picking the right type of car dealership for you is important.

The Type of Car Dealership is Important

It might not seem like a big deal, but the type of car dealership can drastically change the experience, the types of vehicles available to you, and the price tag attached to said vehicles. That’s why it’s helpful to understand the differences, and what you should expect at each of the various types of car dealerships.

They can be classified into five categories — let’s break them down.

New Car Dealerships

This one pretty much speaks for itself. At these types of dealerships, a relationship with a manufacturer allows them to sell primarily new, unused cars. If you’re looking for a vehicle that hasn’t yet been owned by anyone else, this should be your first stop.

With that said, these types of dealerships often have some sort of used inventory as well. As they accept trade-ins towards the purchase of a new car, they’ll regularly have used cars available. Chances are you’ll be urged to take one of the new cars off the lot, but buying used will also be an option at most of these dealerships. And the best part is that, more often than not, the used cars will be certified pre-owned, meaning they’ve undergone thorough inspection and may also include a limited warranty.

Keep in mind, though, that those extras will cost you extra, which may not be the case at a used-car focused dealership. Still, with new inventory and a customer-focused approach, new car dealerships are an alluring option for many prospective buyers.

Some of the more popular dealerships you can find include:

  • Audi Dealerships
  • BMW Dealerships
  • Chevrolet Dealerships
  • Dodge Dealerships
  • Ford Dealerships
  • Honda Dealerships
  • Hyundai Dealerships
  • Kia Dealerships
  • Lexus Dealerships
  • Nissan Dealerships
  • Porsche Dealerships
  • Subaru Dealerships

Used Car Dealerships

If you’re looking for a used car, independent dealerships seem like the logical choice. They aren’t receiving inventory directly from manufacturers, but will have a wide variety of options available that you likely won’t find at a new car dealership. Many specialize in a particular brand, which can also make your life easier if you have a particular make or model in mind.

While the selection at used car dealerships is often vast, these cars likely aren’t certified pre-owned and may or may not come with a warranty. They also may not provide easy access to specialized mechanics, which could mean having to go elsewhere (or paying too much) for your vehicle to get serviced.

With all of that said, the price tags can be tempting, as used car dealerships generally offer lower prices than new car dealerships.

Used Car Superstore

Selection at used car dealerships is great, but it usually pales in comparison to that at used car superstores. When visiting one of these, you’ll often see lots of used cars stretching as far as the eye can see. The options can be limitless, allowing you to find that perfect fit for you, your family, your pets, etc.

You can also expect reasonable prices at used car superstores, as the focus of these fine establishments is getting sales done quickly and efficiently. Trade-ins are often welcomed as well, allowing you to get credit towards the vehicle you’re hoping to have in your garage in the not-too-distant future.

The primary downside to these used car superstores is the lack of customer service. With a focus on moving cars as fast as possible, you likely aren’t going to be developing a relationship with these types of dealerships. If your main concern is getting the car you want at a reasonable price, though, a used car superstore could be right up your alley.

Buy Here, Pay Here Dealerships

You’ve seen the signs before:

“Bad Credit OK”

“Get Approved Now!”

“Financing Available!”

Buy here, pay here (BHPH) dealerships aren’t for everyone, but they do serve a purpose for those who might not be able to qualify for a loan from a typical lender. Instead, you finance directly with BHPH dealerships, also known as “Tote the Note” dealerships.

While this is a great option for those who have poor credit and can’t get approved at other dealerships, these in-house loans carry abnormally high interest rates. The selection is also generally limited, as most of the options available are of the “budget” variety. Then again, most of the customers who rely on these types of dealerships usually aim for affordability rather than luxury.

All negatives aside, approval is nearly guaranteed. So if financing a car by other means isn’t an option, BHPH dealerships are the way to go.

Online Car Dealerships

As the online age has unfurled, online car dealerships have popped up to service those looking to buy their next vehicle virtually. On top of convenience, these online car dealerships offer tremendous variety and the ability to have vehicles delivered to you.

While they lack the personal touch of in-person dealerships, they give buyers the ability to search through heaping piles of listings quickly, using filters to help them find exactly what they’re looking for. A long list of features, vehicle history and other important information are at the buyer’s fingertips.

Once a vehicle is selected, it can be delivered to the buyer’s location for a test drive and further consideration before a final decision is made. So instead of having to visit a dealership that may be miles away, the experience arrives at your doorstep.

Online car dealerships are a great idea, and one that has benefited many as the online car market continues to expand. However, it is worth noting that not all online car dealerships are as trustworthy as others — which can be said for just about any of these types of car dealerships. 

Make sure to do your research before buying a vehicle over the internet.