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5 Differences Between Independent & Franchise Used Car Dealers

What’s the difference? Independent vs Franchise Car Dealerships

By Tom Catuosco

When you’re looking to buy a used car from a dealership, you have two choices. You can buy from an “independent” dealership or a “franchise” dealership. Independent car dealerships and franchise car dealerships each have strengths and weaknesses when compared with each other.

Independent Car Dealers - These are used car dealerships that don’t have agreements with any particular car manufacturers to sell certain makes of vehicle and they won’t feature the name of any particular manufacturer in their name. They’ll usually have names like “Bill’s Quality Used Cars” or “Great Deal Auto Sales.” Since they’re not linked with any specific car manufacturer, independent dealers don’t sell new cars and will offer a large variety of used cars from many different makes.

Franchise Car Dealers - These are dealers that have the authorization or “franchise” from certain automakers to act as an agent in selling their vehicles. Franchise dealers can be easily spotted because the dealership’s name will usually contain a car brand’s name in it -  “Franklin Sussex Hyundai”, for example.

Here are the differences in buying a used car between the two types of dealers -

Vehicle Variety - Independent car dealers will typically have a much bigger selection of used cars to choose from. Franchise dealers that also sell new cars typically don’t put as much focus on the used cars they offer.

Financing - Franchise dealers usually have lower interest rates when it comes to financing and it’s done through through their manufacturer’s financial services arm - GMAC or Ford Motor Company Credit, for example. Independent dealers’ interest rates are often higher, but they are also more likely to offer financing to people with less than excellent credit, making it easy for someone with a checkered credit history to finance a car that would be turned down at a franchise dealer.

Vehicle Age - Used cars at franchise dealerships are usually later models. Independent dealers may offer late models, but also typically have a selection of cars that are older than you would find at a franchise dealer.

Price - Prices for used cars at franchise dealerships are often higher than at independent used car lots. Since the inventory at independent dealers is usually a bit older than at a franchise dealer, you’re more likely to find cars for lower prices.

Vehicle Service - Most franchise dealerships have their own service departments with technicians trained to work on the brands of new cars that they sell. That can be a good thing if you’re buying a used Honda from a franchised Honda dealership, but doesn’t matter so much if you’re buying a used Chevy from the Honda dealership. Most independent used car dealers don’t have service departments to fix your car after you buy it. However, there are plenty of good, independent mechanic shops around to fix your car, so it’s not really a big deal.

So, those are five differences between buying a used car from an independent dealer and a franchised dealer. Each has pros and cons. You should check out each kind and see what’s right for you.You can also check out used cars for sale HERE.


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