It's quite possible that purchasing a vehicle is the second most expensive acquisition you will ever make, next to owning your own home. With such a large amount of money needed for a vehicle purchase, a smart investment would include doing your research on not only the type of vehicle you want, but also the dealership you want to patronize.
When researching local car dealership, word-of-mouth is an invaluable resource. When someone you know and trust has had a good, or bad, experience at a local dealership it will help to point you either towards or away from said dealership.
If your best friend went to Buddy's Cars (for example) and had a great experience and walked away with a great deal, you are much more likely to want to give Buddy's Cars a chance to earn your business, right? Whereas if your friend went to Grumpy's Autos (for example) and had an unfriendly salesperson who would not bargain with them on the price of the vehicle, you are likely going to be uninterested in giving Grumpy's a chance.
Once you have narrowed your auto search down to the make and model you desire, it is then easier to narrow down your choice of dealerships because of the types of cars they offer. Whether you're looking for a new or used car, find a dealership that specializes in the type of car you want. They should not only have the largest variety in-stock, but they should also be the most knowledgeable about that particular vehicle.
Negotiating the price of a vehicle is torture for some people; for others it's a natural high to get a great deal. Whether you enjoy it or not, negotiating is a big benefit to the customer when purchasing a vehicle. If the dealership is not willing to come down on the price of their inventory, simply find another dealership that will. Sometimes negotiations take multiple times back and forth from the salesperson to their manager and back to you until you can all agree upon a final price. There really is no reason to pay full sticker price on any vehicle, new or used.
Do your research before car shopping to see what the car you are wanting is worth. If you have a trade-in vehicle, check out sites like http://www.kbb.com or www.nadaguides.com to find out what amount you can expect to get for your trade ahead of time. It helps to have a final amount in mind that you are looking to spend for the new vehicle, with or without a trade-in. Many dealerships have websites that show their current inventory automatically, so you can know what they have in stock before you physically visit them.
Financing options are important to any consumer who is going to need financial assistance with purchasing a vehicle. You can either be prepared by getting pre-approved from your own financial establishment (a bank or credit union), or you can go through whatever financing options the dealership offers. Many dealerships have relationships with local banks and credit unions that will help you get the car you want. It's a nice benefit when dealership offer several financing options to choose from.
Finally, each dealership and really each salesperson at each dealership has their own personality. You will feel most comfortable with someone you fall is trustworthy. If you do not get along with, or feel assured by, your salesperson or dealership, there are most likely plenty of other dealerships that are hungry for your business and will treat you well. You are the ultimate decision-maker, and you have the right to make whatever choice you want. Purchasing a vehicle can be done in one day if that's how you want to do it, but if you would rather start by simply looking around and doing some window shopping, no one should be able to force you into making a rush decision. You will be happiest with a vehicle that was a well-planned purchase from a dealership that was respectful of you and your budget.