Here’s How Strangers on Dealer Rater and Yelp Can Help You Get a Way Cheaper Car Loan

In the old days, you’d have to hope someone you know bought a car recently if you wanted a good referral. Otherwise, you’d cross your fingers and hope for the best auto loan at your local dealership. Fortunately, times have changed and you can get referrals from people you’ve never met — while sipping coffee in your slippers.

While constant social media updates and instant access to global news are the bread-and-butter of the Internet these days, online car dealer reviews have quietly changed consumers’ auto shopping experiences. An auto dealer’s reputation can now be confirmed within minutes on the Web, as previous customers describe how great or awful their experiences were.

Here’s how strangers on the Internet can help you get a way cheaper car loan.

How to Find Quality Car Dealer Reviews

Unfortunately, some businesses resort to paying for positive reviews. In fact, research firm Gartner expects 10 to 15 percent of social media ratings and reviews to be paid for by 2014. Here’s what to look for in dealer raters to make sure the reviews are authentic and can be trusted.

The More Reviews, the Merrier

A large volume of reviews will limit your risk of being misled. For example, one Chrysler car dealer in the New York City suburbs has 98 reviews for just one of its sales associates and several hundred reviews overall on the site Dealer Rater. Chances are slim the dealer paid for all, or even a majority of those reviews, meaning they’d give you an accurate picture of that particular lot.

Look for Consistency in Car Dealer Reviews

We’ve all read suspicious customer ratings. You know, those that seem more like advertisements than true car dealer reviews.

For example, one review of a New Jersey dealership on Dealer Rater reads:

  • “(Employee) was very professional and pleasant. She offered several alternatives and suggestions to fit my schedule. I felt like a VIP and that my car was as important to her as it is to me. From the moment I walked in until after I picked up the car and drove away, I felt assured that the work would be done professionally and completed when promised.”

That could be genuine, but it sounds a bit promotional. And, I noticed an unusual amount of positive reviews came fairly recently, particularly after (in one of its responses) the dealership mentioned it had just learned of the particular review site.

On the other hand, most other reviews of the said business were unflattering, to say the least, and included the following comments from customers:

  • “Complete scumbags works here”
  • “These peo[p]le are the worst”
  • “Can’t believe they are still in business”

And, those were mild compared to some of the others. Get the picture?

Find a consistent theme and that’ll probably be how your experience goes at a given car dealership.

Find the Path of Least Resistance

With the abundance of information at your fingertips, find the dealers in your area that offer the most low-pressure, level-headed sales associates. You’ll want to bargain with someone who doesn’t play hardball – someone who understands you aren’t a millionaire and that its common to demand a reduced price on expensive purchases. Find reviews that indicate the sales associates at a given dealership fit that mold to save yourself a headache and some money. It may also pay off to see if they are open to negotiating rates on dealer financing.

Choose High-Quality Review Sites: Dealer Rater, True Car or Yelp

I’ve found to be the most comprehensive car dealer review site. Yelp car dealer reviews are another solid source, as the site actively combats fake reviews.

Other sites to check out include, and

And no, I have not been paid by, nor am I affiliated with, any of the mentioned sources.

Strangers on the Internet are not limited to spammers and stalkers. There are plenty of honest consumers who will gladly share their experiences to help shoppers like you get the best possible deal on a vehicle, as well as the car loan to finance it.

Look for a plethora of reviews and find a consistent theme. Find dealerships that seem to have reasonable sales associates who won’t drain every penny from your wallet. Then, bring a duffel bag to carry all the money you’ll save as you drive off in your new car!

(Image: Alan Gore)

  • Ryan Leslie


    Thanks for the kind words. We take the authenticity of our reviews very
    seriously and actually have multiple layers of fraud prevention in place. We
    don’t usually publish this number, but close to 25% of the reviews we receive
    never make it out of the fraud filters. It isn’t a perfect system though and we
    think your advice is great, read enough reviews to get a feel for patterns of

    I thought it might be interesting to your readers to hear how DealerRater got started as it really mirrors what you are writing about in this post. Our founder was car shopping and had decided on a particular model. He knew exactly what he wanted and went to the dealership closest to his home to make the purchase. The short version is he had an absolutely nightmarish experience. It was so bad he almost gave up on that model entirely because of how poorly the dealership treated him. Weeks passed and he decided to take one last look at a different dealer a little further away but this time he was prepared for the “dealership games.”

    As the story goes, the experience was wonderful. It was nothing at all like what had happened a few miles down the road. He bought the car on the spot and thought to himself, “There has to be a way for consumers to know which dealerships are good to deal with and which ones to avoid” and DealerRater was born. That was 10 years and over a million reviews ago! DealerRater’s goal has always been to provide a place for consumers to virtually connect with other consumers for an honest appraisal of the dealership and their staff. Just like financial services providers, not all dealers do business the same way. There are some really terrific dealerships out there that are working hard to change the way cars are sold and make it a pleasant experience for consumers from shopping, to financing, to servicing their vehicle. They really do want “customers for life!” Hopefully by reading the experiences of other consumers, your readers can pick a great dealer in their area that will be attentive to their needs.

    Great article and thanks again for the kind words,

    Ryan Leslie