Auto dealers, both new and used, were in the top 15 - out of 1,700 - industries for both inquiries and complaints to your BBB Serving Northwest Florida last year. By highlighting an industry each month that had the most activity last year, BBB hopes to proactively provide the information that consumers seek from us as the leader in advancing marketplace trust.
A car is second only to a home as the most expensive purchase many consumers make, so it’s important to make a smart deal.
When buying a new vehicle:
- Examine your budget, and think about what car model and options you want. Doing your research means you’ll be less likely to feel pressured into making a hasty or expensive decision. BBB recently partnered with J.D. Power, allowing consumers to compare vehicles online and find a BBB Accredited auto dealer all in one convenient place (start with www.bbb.org/jdpower; click on the “Check with BBB” logo).
- Test drive the potential vehicle on different types of roads. Drive long enough to check the acceleration, braking, steering and stability. Turn off the radio during the test drive so you can hear the car, wind and road noises.
- Learn the terms to help in negotiations:
- Invoice price is the manufacturer’s initial charge to the dealer. (However, dealers often pay less than the invoice price).
- Base price is the price of the car without add-on options.
- Monroney sticker price is required by federal law and shows the base price, the manufacturer’s transportation charge and the fuel economy. Only the purchaser may remove these labels.
- Dealer sticker price is the Monroney sticker price plus the suggested retail price of the dealer-installed options.
- Beware of add-ons a dealer may attempt to include before finalizing the sale, including conveyance fees, extended warranties, service contracts and “wrap-around” warranties, credit insurance, advertising, and other packages.
When buying a used vehicle:
- Shop around. A franchised dealer that sells both new and used vehicles may be a promising source for customers willing to pay more. Be wary of transient used-car sales operations: unscrupulous operators tend to move frequently. Don’t overlook banks selling repossessed vehicles as a potential source. If buying from a private individual, get the vehicle’s service records, references and records of original purchase.
- Regardless of where you purchase the used vehicle, have it thoroughly inspected by your own (BBB Accredited) mechanic before purchase.
- Do a thorough inspection and test drive. Look for leaking fluids and rust on the body of the vehicle. Check the condition of the tires and test the suspension by pushing down hard on each corner of the vehicle. Look for upholstery in good condition and make sure there are no musty odors inside. Even when the engine is cold, the vehicle should start easily. Have a helper observe as you drive, checking to make sure all exterior lights work properly, looking for exhaust smoke when accelerating, and making sure the front and rear wheels travel precisely in line.
- Remember that in Florida, sales tax must be paid on the sales price and the vehicle must be registered, licensed and titled in the state.
For additional information and advice you can trust when shopping for a new vehicle, start with bbb.org
or call 800.729.9226.