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Best Used Car Dealership in Columbia, Maryland

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Best Used Car Dealership in Columbia, Maryland

Finding a well-used car dealership near Columbia, Maryland can be a bit of a challenge given the number of options car shoppers have.

Recent supply chain challenges have made used cars an even more hot commodity, and have driven prices up and supply down for people who are just looking for a vehicle to get around. Buying a used car is a pretty important decision for most, as their car impacts their ability to get to work and school, preferably without burning too much gas or needing much maintenance. The purpose of this article is to discuss the types of used car dealerships you will find around Columbia, Maryland. We’ll review the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of dealership so you can decide which one is best for you.

You’ll discover that some dealerships have the kind of selection and support you want, and some might fall short in some ways.

Types of Car Dealerships in Columbia, Maryland

Any given area like Columbia, Maryland can have a variety of car dealerships.

The first ones you think of might be a flagship manufacturer store like Ford of Columbia which has the big white and blue Ford symbol or Toyota of Columbia, You’ll find used trucks for sale near Columbia at dealerships like those because Ford is known for trucks. You can also find cars for sale near Columbia, Maryland at independent dealers, where you might find a stronger mix of vehicles. Different dealerships certainly offer different strengths.

Independent Used Car Dealership near Columbia, Maryland

Independent used car dealerships can be quite unique. Why? Because they can operate by their own standards, which is often a good thing. Independent used car dealerships don’t have a manufacturer setting specific guidelines for how they look or operate – which curiously often actually leads to some benefits for independent dealers.

Advantages of independent used car dealerships

A wider variety of brands

Independent car dealerships are perfect for people who aren’t specific to a particular brand of vehicle. Sure, you can love Ford or Toyota and still go to an independent dealer, but since an independent dealer doesn’t have new cars, their entire lot and store are dedicated to helping you find the right used car for you. You could see any make or model of vehicle with a larger selection. Also, the salespeople can’t push you sideways into thinking about a lease that benefits the dealership more in the long run – because they don’t offer new cars.

Financing opportunities

Whether you have been building your credit for a long time or are just starting out and want to improve your credit score – or your credit score isn’t great, an independent used car dealer can often help you. Independent dealers have connections with multiple types of lenders and serve all types of credit. People who are unsure about their credit or who know they need a subprime lender should strongly consider an independent dealer to advocate for them.

Local support

Most independent dealers can offer better support – and are more local. A bigger dealership is often owned by a larger company, and getting in touch with someone to help with an issue isn’t easy. Most independent dealers live in town and support the city they are selling cars in.


No Certified Pre-Owned

An independent dealer cannot offer certified pre-owned vehicles. This is good and bad news. A certified pre-owned vehicle offers an additional warranty and a thorough inspection, per manufacturer guidelines. Does the additional warranty and inspection come at a price? Yes, it does. You’ll pay a bit more for a certified pre-owned vehicle – with the potential that the warranty covers issues down the road. Independent dealers still inspect vehicles and show you what they fixed and found.

Franchise Used Car Dealerships near Columbia, MD

A franchise car dealership sells both new and used vehicles. These dealerships are more of your traditional dealer. A franchise car dealership near Columbia, MD shouldn’t be hard to find – as they tend to occupy the same busy street with big signs.



Dealerships tend to have at least a decent reputation – and they tend to be known. That’s why they put logo stickers on your car and advertise on bus benches – people will know where you shopped. Many dealerships also push for a carefully crafted image that may or may not have much basis in reality. We’ll help you put a different perspective on the very clean-looking dealership around the corner: Look them up on Google, Yelp, and other review sources and see what you really find in detailed reviews.



Franchise used car dealerships tend to focus on their original brand. A Chevrolet store tends to carry more than a few used Chevrolet vehicles. If Chevrolet doesn’t fit your taste, then the local franchise dealer might not be a good spot for you to shop.

Price Gouging

We’ll be very real here: Sometimes prices are a reflection of the market. Higher prices might not be the dealer’s fault specifically, but they already paid a bunch of money to get your attention and get you in the door – now it’s time to offer you less for your trade and offer confusing numbers to make you give up and buy whether or not it makes sense to.

Expensive Financing

Dealers rarely attempt to target the poor credit tier – and when they do, it’s more so for a small used car that manufacturer-sponsored banks like. Just wait till you see the APR offered by a dealer and you’ll be looking for an independent dealer soon.

Carmax near Columbia, Maryland

Carmax is a national chain of used car commercials – er, we meant dealers. Admittedly, they make some things easy.


Big Selection

CarMax can be plumb full of used vehicles of all makes and models. As an independent dealer, this can be great for people who haven’t picked a make and model. In general, it helps to have a big selection of cars versus a small one.

Standard Warranty

CarMax actually offers a warranty and a satisfaction guarantee. They advertise it. They are big enough to support it. Read the fine print though, please.


Don’t like negotiating? CarMax is good for that. No awkward back and forth on price. Could be a good thing, right?


No negotiating

A lack of negotiations and a one-price store can be a bad thing for some car shoppers. Stores say they price their cars to market, but the market moves very quickly and sometimes car dealerships don’t. Presenting them with a printout of another store with a lower price does nothing. It gets you a rehearsed speech about how they offer competitive pricing. We know. We’ve heard it.


CarMax reported record profits last year – all while supporting an at least multi-million dollar ad campaign. How do they go from losing money to earning money? Through you. A one-price store exists because people think it’s convenient. In reality, they protect profits given away by their own staff. Also, for the record, profit isn’t a bad thing. All car dealerships continue to provide good cars and services because of profit.

Limited Finance options

CarMax has its own finance options. Sure, you can bring your own finance to pay for a vehicle – but that partially assumes you are able to quality and know what you want.

Online Used Car Dealership

Vroom, Carvana, and Shift are online car dealerships that bring a vehicle to your home or work. Sounds cool? It is, in some ways.



The selection of used cars offered by an online dealer is impressive. You can have a vehicle driven by transport from a different state – so you can find the exact make, model, and color of vehicle you want. If you are willing to pay for it.


Buying a car online?

You know that healthy skepticism you first had when you bought something used – or even new, online and you paid with a card and hoped for the best. While they have return policies, it’s just hard to feel very confident about buying a vehicle over the Internet. Look at reviews and weird stories about Vroom and Carvana. It won’t take you long.

Limited Finance

Online car dealerships are not really designed for people with poor credit. Most of their vehicles are $15,000 plus and they have fairly high APRs for the purpose.

Best Bad Credit Used Car Dealerships in Columbia, MD

Financing a vehicle can be tough when you have less than perfect credit. You might not be able to get the vehicle you want without coming up with a down payment or paying too much interest on a loan – if you qualify.

Dealerships that Accept Bad Credit in Columbia, MD

These are the kinds of dealerships that work with bad credit, and how they help you buy a car.

Independent used car dealers

Independent used car dealers are the best choice for bad credit. They have vehicles in the right price range that keep banks interested in financing without pushing you into a huge monthly payment. Access to multiple lenders keeps interest rates – and your monthly payment, competitive.

The franchise used car dealers

The franchise used car dealers might try to shift you into a lease, a new car, or into an unfavorable loan with a higher APR than you want. They’ll also have a lot full of vehicles that are above the price range for most poor credit customers, but they’ll try to help.

Carmax for bad credit

You could do worse than CarMax. They have plenty of used cars available, and you can more easily bring your own financing.

Online car dealers

You are dealing with two things with a Vroom or Carvana. They don’t have lenders accustomed to bad credit – and you won’t be able to see or try the car out before you buy. Is it possible to buy a car from them on bad credit? Yes. Is it worth it? Questionable.

Trust Auto Has Your Back

For the best used cars near Columbia, Maryland; Trust Auto is your go-to used car superstore.

We carry everything from luxury sports sedans, to compact SUVs that are perfect for communing in busy Columbia traffic. Once you find the vehicle you love, our in-house financing center will help get you financed, even if you’re in the process of rebuilding your credit. Every vehicle we sell is inspected and comes with a complimentary CARFAX report. Can’t make it in? We offer nationwide shipping on every car, truck, van, and SUV we sell.

Don’t forget about our amazing selection of commercial vehicles, including vans, heavy-duty trucks, car carriers, box trucks, and much more.

If you need a vehicle in the Columbia, Maryland area, Trust Auto is your first and last stop.