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About Trusted Dealers: The Safest Place to Buy a Used Car

It might be easier than it used to be, but buying a used car is still one of the most stressful purchases you will make. A good starting point is to understand the different kinds of places you can buy a car from and which represents the safest option.

While you’re here, it’s worth knowing that of all the online car retailers, Trusted Dealers is the safest place to buy a used car. We don’t say that purely as a marketing gimmick. It’s based on the fact that the vast majority of our cars are sold by main dealers.  Yes, you can find cheaper cars online, but our members are committed to the highest standards of customer care in the industry. Not only do we hold them to account, but they belong to the trade body – the National Franchised Dealers Association. They offer an independent conciliation service in the unlikely event that you aren’t satisfied with your purchase from a franchised dealership.

Main Dealers

Main dealers are dealers which are approved by the manufacturers themselves, and are the safest place to buy a used car. Only main dealers are allowed to use the manufacturers’ logos on their forecourt. If you specifically want to buy a Kia for example, your starting point should be your local Kia dealership. Often these are just named according to the town where they are based: Kia Stockport, or Kia Stevenage etc.

If a manufacturer has approved a dealership to carry its name, it means the staff are trained by the manufacturer. The sales team in a BMW-approved dealership know far more about the cars they sell than a dealer which isn’t bran approved. The same goes for the mechanics: they are trained by the manufacturers. That means that all the cars they sell are subject to mechanical checks by people who really know their onions.

In addition, the manufacturers expect that people using their logo will meet certain standards in customer care. A company like Ford check the performance of dealerships regularly. If they feel a company isn’t giving good enough service to its customers they can remove their seal of approval.

This is why main dealers (sometimes called ‘franchised dealers’) represent the gold standard in car buying. Main dealers are the only places you can buy new car.

Typically, they will have much bigger and better showrooms in certain areas of a town or city. You may know a road near you where there is a cluster of car dealers: a Ford showroom, a Toyota dealership, a Renault and Nissan shop and so on.

Generally, these sorts of car showrooms are owned by dealer group. Dealer groups are what they sound like: groups of dealerships owned by the same company. This means that they also have bulk buying power which enables them to get cars from manufacturers at a good price. It also means that they normally have agreements with reputable finance companies who can offer the biggest range of buying options.

Because of the standards they are expected to uphold and the expensive facilities they have, main dealers are rarely the cheapest place to pick up a car. They generally have an excellent idea of the value of a car, understand what any part exchange you have is really worth and can offer a variety of finance options.

Independent Dealers

Independent dealers are more the kind of local car dealer you probably have near you. Often they do not specialise in a particular brand or type of car and will simply buy and sell any car. Some of them have well-deserved local reputations, built up over many years of good service to local car buyers. Sometimes they have excellent generalist mechanics or a good body shop. In many cases they are family owned or associated with an individual.

Because they don’t have manufacturer approval they are generally cheaper places to buy a car from. They don’t have to meet certain standards, and don’t have the expensive facilities of a main dealership, they can offer fairly equivalent cars somewhat cheaper than a franchised dealer can.

However, without manufacturer approval, standards between independent dealerships can vary a lot. One dealer might have excellent understanding of the cars they are selling, and another might not.

If buying from a franchised dealership is a little out of your price bracket or safety isn’t your top priority, then buying from an independent dealership should be done with a little forethought. Ask other people about their experience of buying from them, or seek out online reviews. If you are mainly interested in servicing or repair work, we recommend checking the Independent Garage Association.

Good independent garages will have been established for a long time and have a good reputation. You should be warier of new businesses which have cars that appear to too good to be true.

Private Sellers

Private sellers are just people who have decided to sell their car themselves rather than going through any kind of dealer. Sometimes they advertise with a bit of cardboard in their window and their phone number, or sometimes will advertise online through sites such as, eBay, or Gumtree.

In general, this is the least safe way to buy a used car. Normally, people don’t understand what they are selling. They may not have maintained their vehicle properly, or may simply not know what is wrong with their car. As an example, a person who’s been using their car to commute to work just a mile from his house genuinely might not know about problems that only become apparent on a motorway journey.

In particular, it is also best to be cautious about buying from relatives or friends. While they might give you a great price, the chances of them really knowing the value or condition of their car is pretty low and if something goes wrong it can cause pretty serious personal rifts.

There is also the ever-present problem of fraud in private selling. People may not actually own the car they are advertising online. This is a type of crime known as ‘car cloning.’ Criminals will get the details of a genuine car, copy the photographs and details, then advertise it online at a much cheaper price. Sometimes they will ask for a deposit to be placed in an online ESCROW account which is actually fraudulent. In extreme cases people are asked to meet in a remote location for a cash purchase and then physically robbed. Sometimes, cloning is used to sell stolen cars or cars used in other crimes under different guises.

Thankfully, such cases are relatively rare, but we recommend never taking part in any transaction like this alone and checking a car’s provenance thoroughly with the DVLA.

Trusted Dealers

Some of the biggest names in motor retailing in the UK have come together to offer a website that offers minimum standards that no other website can offer, in the form of our 10 points of difference.It also means that together we can drive down costs, ultimately meaning cheaper used cars for car buyers in the UK.

Buying from a Trusted Dealer is the best way to guarantee your peace of mind when buying a used car and protect yourself from clocked, stolen or damaged cars.All Trusted Dealers can look after you before, during and after your purchase. This means you are always welcome to test drive our cars and that we are able to help arrange finance and service plans to give you many happy years of motoring.

If you have any feedback please feel free to contact us.


11 Cardale Park
Beckwith Head Road

Tel: 01423 506272


201 Great Portland Street

Tel: 0208 128 4226