3520 1st Ave N Billings, MT 59101 406-252-4585

Car Dealerships Through the Years

Navigating today’s auto market can be challenging for a number of reasons. 2021 saw a shortage in microchips essential for producing new cars, making new models in short supply and inflating prices significantly. This also brought a boom in the used car market. How did we get here? While the pandemic played a big role in today’s rapidly changing market, it is also important to understand the history of new and used car dealerships, and how their business has responded to changes in the market over the years. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we have supplied Billings, MT with used cars, trucks, and SUVs since 1981. Through various changes in the market, we have adapted our business model and consistently provided what our customers needed. 

How Did the Car Lot Start? 
The first automobile was patented by Karl Benz of Germany in 1880. Up until World War II, automobiles were largely a luxury item, with 50% of the global supply being produced in France in 1903. At the end of WWII, soldiers returning home to the United States and Europe brought a huge influx of demand for new cars. This era is commonly referred to as the “car boom”. This is effectively when the modern “car lot” began. In 1958, there was legislation introduced requiring dealerships to place a sticker on every vehicle with a suggested retail price and a list of features it is equipped with. With this invention, customers could browse car dealership lots, comparing prices and features with ease – effectively transforming the car shopping experience.

How the Economy Has Changed Car Dealerships 
Setbacks like supply shortages during WWII, the fuel crisis of the early 70s, and the great recession of 2008 have forced car dealerships to adapt and change their approach, based on the consumer needs. During the 1970s fuel crisis, many manufacturers saw rising material and production costs, forcing them to reduce the number of models they produced, and increase their prices. Since this both limited the selection for consumer, and raised the price per unit, dealerships responded by introducing the concept of leasing. This helped customers afford the vehicles they wanted, and kept dealerships afloat until fuel prices and production costs returned to normal. Over time, leasing also increased how frequently consumers purchase new vehicles – from every 5 years, to every 2-3 years. This inspired car companies to ramp up production and expand their model lineup.
The recession of 2008 hit many auto manufacturers hard, forcing some well-known American brands to be discontinued, and major manufacturers to seek government bailouts. Auto Dealerships felt the pinch as well, with 4% of the approximately 20,000 dealerships closing in 2008. This resulted in great consolidation of local dealerships, where you might find competitive brands being sold by dealers under the same ownerships. This trend has carried into today, and is common to see in many small-town economies that wouldn’t otherwise support multiple car dealerships.

Carrying Past Knowledge into Today’s Market
Quick to pivot according to changing consumer demands, today’s auto dealerships have responded to the need to have all of their inventory and product information accessible online. By making shopping and comparing new and used vehicles all possible within an online catalogue, car dealerships help maintain their customer loyalty and gain new clients. In the case of used car dealerships with continuously changing inventory, this is an exceptionally helpful tool to keep track of any vehicles you are interested in, and look out for new options as they come in. As the United States auto market continues to grow and change with the times, the very best car dealerships will adapt to provide the best selection and service possible.
Steve’s Auto Sales is Billings, MT top-choice for quality used cars, trucks, and SUVs. Our sales staff has in-depth knowledge on all the latest models, brands, price points, and more to help you make the most informed purchasing decision for your needs. Combine our impressive inventory with competitive prices, affordable interests rates, and a commitment to quality service, and you can trust the entire car buying process will be easy from beginning to end. Want to learn more? Call us today at 406-304-5513, browse our used cars for sale, or stop by our showroom at 3520 1st Ave N Billings, MT 59101.

Used Car Checklist Documentspaperwork, Insurance

Used Car Checklist: Documents, Insurance & Transfer of Ownership

So you have made your final purchasing decision. How Exciting! Now that you are ready to purchase and drive home in your new-to-you vehicle, there are still a few steps to take care of. Various documents from both you and the seller will be necessary for a legal sale of the vehicle, including the vehicle’s title, proof of insurance, driver’s license and more. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we are proud to be one of the best sources for used vehicles in Billings, MT. Our staff of experienced professionals can help you every step of the way, from selecting a vehicle, to driving it off the lot. Here are some key documents to remember when purchasing a used vehicle.

What You Should Bring
Purchasing a used car, truck or SUV may seem simple, but there are various pieces of documentation you must bring to prove your eligibility. First a foremost, you need a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance. Once you have shown them both of these items, you need to bring a form of payment. For most buyers, financing will be the preferred payment method, meaning you will have to bring in a credit score, recent pay stubs and even a list of references. From there, you can select your preferred financing, with most dealerships offering in-house financing services with competitive interest rates.

What the Dealership Should Take Care Of
While some of the items involved in a used car purchase are intended for the owner, a lot of the process will be taken care of by the dealership. First off, the transfer of ownership or title is most often taken care of by the dealership. A completed application for Certificate of Title or Registration is necessary, along with paying a small title transfer fee. Additionally, make sure the dealership in question is performing a current smog check on the vehicle, has a full damage disclosure and an updated odometer reading, in case it has changed since the vehicle was listed.

At Steve’s Auto Sales, we are one of the best Billings car dealerships for used cars, trucks and SUVs. Our unmatched selection, friendly staff and competitive pricing make us the top choice for local looking for the biggest bang for their buck. Want to learn more? Give us a call at 406-384-5514, or browse our great inventory here.

Used Car Checklist Engine Bay and Undercarriage

Used Car Checklist: Engine Bay and Undercarriage 

It’s the perfect car for you. The look, the brand, the features—everything about the used car you found online screams “This is the car for me!” Before you make the final purchasing decision on any vehicle, you must consider the condition of vital components you cannot see at a glance, such as the engine bay and undercarriage of the vehicle. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we offer an impressive selection of used cars, trucks and SUVs, and are one of the leading car dealerships in Cody, WY. Here are some details on what to look for in these vulnerable areas of the vehicle.

Engine Bay
Upon opening the hood, one of the first things to check for is the functionality of the hydraulic struts. Many engine hoods use a manual prop method, but if yours relies on hydraulic struts, it is vital these are in perfect working order, and will not fail and potentially injure you when looking under the hood. Next, once you are looking at the engine, do a general cleanliness inspection. Does it look like the engine was inspected and worked on regularly? Look out for any dust and dirt build up, and any obvious damage to any of the engine components.

Once you have finished that, look at the core supports along the fenders and front, near the grill. Make sure these pieces are straight and not bowed. Any bent core supports could indicate the vehicle has been in an accident and was rebuilt. If you do notice any damage that was disclosed to you, make sure to inspect the area that was repaired, and look out for any additional damage not previously mentioned. Vital components like the frame can often be bent in an accident, and are not replaced due to high costs. Finally, make sure to check the vehicles fluids, including the oil levels, washer fluid levels, coolant levels are all in check, and any leaks that may be occurring are identified.

The undercarriage of your vehicle can be one of the best place to find indicators of a leak. Leaks in coolant, transmission fluid, oil and other fluids are detrimental to the proper functionality of your used vehicle. Use a flashlight to check around the transmission, the oil pan and radiator to determine if there is in fact a leak, and which system it is coming from. You should never buy a car that is leaking unless the owner promises to mitigate the issue before purchase. Beyond just leaks, the condition of the undercarriage can often show hidden damage to the bumpers, fenders and side skirts that goes un-noticed on the outside of the vehicle. A crack at the bottom of your plastic bumper is not often possible to fix, and would require an entire replacement bumper. While small cracks can be tolerated, shock and stress from everyday driving could cause the crack to grow and more significantly damage your vehicle.
Make the smart buyer’s decision and source a used car from Steve’s Auto Sales—one of the best car dealerships in Cody, WY. Start the journey to your dream car by giving us a call at 406-384-5514, or check out our extensive selection today! 

Used Car Checklist Exterior

Used Car Checklist: Exterior

A used car can be a great way to achieve the brand, features, capabilities and reliability you want, without paying the premium price of new. Browse the numerous online databases available from used car dealerships in Bozeman, MT, and you are bound to run into Steve’s Auto Sales. One of the top used auto dealerships in Montana, we are proud of our extensive selection and knowledgeable sales staff. Before making that final purchasing decision, there are a various parts of the vehicle you should inspect. Here are some tips on thoroughly inspecting the exterior of a used vehicle.

A Car Wash and Nice Pictures Won’t Fix Damage

The exterior of the car is one of its biggest selling points. Our eyes immediately catch the design and overall appearance of the vehicle, and judge it mainly from a distance. Even if the vehicle in question appears to be in great shape, look closely. Check the lower parts of the bumpers, side skirts, mirrors and lights. Make sure every regulatory reflector is in place, and no structural damage is being hidden from view or painted over.

Check the Paintjob

Do a close-look at the vehicle’s paint job from front to back. Is the reflection clear or cloudy? A quality paint job from the manufacturer should have a reflective finish, versus many of the after-market paint jobs performed by auto body shops and salvage yards. If you notice a section of the vehicle seems to have a different quality paint job than the other, make sure you ask the owner if the vehicle has been in an accident and rebuilt. If the original owner failed to report this, steer clear. This could mean the repairs were performed with little oversight into quality and longevity, and could even compromise the safety of the driver. Additionally, look for any blistering or bubbles in the paint. This could indicate an area of rust that was painted over, and could potentially have structural failure.

Wheels and Tires

A common place some overlook, having quality wheels and tires is essential for the vehicle’s function. Make sure the tires have the proper Psi, tread, and that the curb has not scratched the wheels too much.
At Steve’s Auto Sales, we are proud to be one of the leading used car dealerships in Bozeman, MT. From rugged SUVs, to fuel efficient compact sedans—we provide the selection and brands customers want most. Want to learn more? Give us a call today at 406-384-5514, or visit our website to browse our impressive inventory. Our friendly staff is eager to find you the perfect used vehicle for your needs.

Used Car Checklist Interior

Used Car Checklist: Interior
One of the most feature-filled areas of any vehicle, inspecting a car’s interior can involve a comprehensive list of cosmetic and functional components you should check. Many things may pop out at you right away, while others you may not think of. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we want to bring you that comprehensive list to help you examine the various used cars in Bozeman, Montana with confidence.

You have selected what you think might be your dream car from the outside. Time to look inside! Here is a comprehensive checklist of things to look for in a used car interior:

  • Seats – Ensure there is no cracking or tearing in the fabric, and that all manual or electronic seat adjusters function properly.
  • Carpets – Inspect all carpets for soft spots and water. A soft spot could indicate rust in the undercarriage of the vehicle, and water could indicate an interior leak.
  • OBD2 Scanner – Whether you own one, or are borrowing one from an automotive retailer, it is important to check for any past engine failures that may have been cleared from the warning lights. If you notice a P1000 code, it indicates someone cleared the check engine light. Make sure to ask for an explanation if you notice this code.
  • Gauges – Electronic or analogue, make sure when you start the vehicle that all warning lights briefly flash and turn off relatively quickly. Make sure the odometer reading matches the listing, all gauges are reading the proper oil and fuel levels, and the RPMs are being read correctly when you rev the engine.
  • Air Conditioner and Heat – Vital to the comfort of your vehicle in hot and cold weather, make sure you turn on the heat and AC to full blast. Test how long it takes to heat up or cool down and the amount of air flowing out. A proper system shouldn’t take longer than a minute to produce warm or cool air.
  • Electronics – Broad in its definition, it is important to check any electronic items in the interior for failure. Make sure the infotainment screen or radio is fully functioning, the climate controls all respond to your commands and any other system components are functioning as designed. Additionally, check all power mirrors, windows and sunroofs to make sure they all meet the mark.

Selecting the perfect used car can be a challenge! Trust Steve’s Auto Sales to provide the best service, quality and selection of used cars in Bozeman, Montana and beyond. Interested in checking some out? Give us a call at 406-384-5514, or browse our inventory here.

Used Car Checklist Test Drive

Used Car Checklist: Test Drive
Now, for the fun part: The test drive. Depending on the vehicle you are shopping for, this may or may not be a thrilling experience, but probably the most fun you will have during the car shopping experience. Keep vigilant, though! While you might be caught up in the acceleration, drive height, interior features and styling—there are important mechanical components you need to observe before purchasing the vehicle. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we specialize in selling used vehicles in Billings, MT, with a great selection of the latest cars, trucks and SUVs. Here are a few things to look out for when going for a test drive.

Acceleration Response
When you put your foot down on the gas, does the vehicle respond the way you want? You want a vehicle that responds to your daily driving needs, so test it through as many different driving scenarios as possible. Feel free to also test the cruise control to make sure this feature is working as well.

Handling and Suspension
Provided you do so safely, test the steering response, suspension response and body roll by taking the car on some winding roads. Listen for any foreign sounds when pushing the car harder, to ensure there aren’t any hidden issues.

Another vital component to the driving experience, you want to test the brakes in both normal driving scenarios and extreme cases. If the seller gives you permission, try and test the brakes’ performance during hard stopping in an empty parking lot or country back road. While you do not want to do this frequently, it is important to know they will not fail in extreme stopping conditions. Additionally, any wobbling or shimmying in the car could be a result of bad brakes, even if they do stop safely. Make sure to ask the owner the last time the brakes were replaced, and where. It is generally a good rule of thumb to get all service records when transferring the title, so you know of any future repairs you may want to anticipate.

This is a big one. A faulty transmission could easily total a used car. Luckily, spotting a faulty transmission is pretty easy. First, if you notice any fluid leaking from the transmission casing upon your initial undercarriage inspection, bring that up with the owner right away and see if there are any plans to repair the leak before sale. Once in the driver’s seat, listen carefully as the car accelerates. What you want to hear is a smooth shifting of gears, with some cars being nearly silent in operation. If you notice jolting, pausing or unnatural fluctuations in RPM rates, these could all be signs of a faulty transmission that is slipping.

At Steve’s Auto Sales, we specialize in the sale of used vehicles in Billings, MT and beyond. Our vast selection of cars, trucks and SUVs are perfect for nearly any budget and feature list. Knowledgeable and experienced, our staff will help guide you the entire way through the inspection, test drive and buying process. Is it time to upgrade your old car? Call us today at 406-384-5514, or browse our inventory here

What Questions to Ask a Used Car Dealer

What Questions to Ask a Used Car Dealer

Buying a used car can be confusing. You might ask yourself ‘How can I know I am getting the best deal? Will this car last as long as it should? How was it taken care of?’ To get the answers you need, there are a few things you should ask of the seller. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we are happy to answer any and all of your questions relating to our selection of used cars in Billings, MT. Here are some examples of important questions we feel you should ask of any used car dealership:

How previous owners? It is important to know this information to get an idea of how well this car was maintained. Generally, you don’t want more than 3 owners per 7 years, as each owner poses a potential risk of treating the car poorly or not maintaining it properly. 

What is the vehicle history report? Any accidents on file? If your vehicle was in an accident, it is very important that you know the severity of the damage and the repairs that were performed on the vehicle. If the repairs were not done properly, it could compromise the reliability and even safety of the vehicle. In addition, the vehicle history report should show all the times it was repaired or brought in for routine maintenance.  

What inspections were done on this vehicle before it was put up for sale? For the safety and reliability of your car, you want to ensure that the car dealership you are buying from performed all the necessary inspections. This includes checking the oil, suspension, coolant levels, tire tread, and other common issues, depending on the type of vehicle being inspected. 

Was there any maintenance or repairs done on the vehicle prior to sale? Beyond just an inspection, it is important to know of any maintenance or repairs done by the dealership before sale. If there were any major issues, such as a transmission or timing belt repair, make sure the dealership can offer you a detailed account of how severe the issue was and what parts they used to fix it. 

In the market for used cars in Billings, MT? Steve’s Auto Sales has the inventory of used vehicles you need. We are one of the leading car dealerships in Billings, MT due to our quality and service. Give us a call today at 406-384-5514, or browse our selection here. 

How to Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle From a Dealer

How to Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle From a Dealer

Are you ready to upgrade your car, truck or SUV? While there are several great offerings for new vehicles on the market, the best value you can find when shopping for a vehicle is on the used market. Get the features, tech, and brand name you want, at a price that is far less than it was new. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we have an expansive selection of used cars for sale in Billings, MT, and are one of the top car dealerships in the area. If you are looking to buy a pre-owned vehicle from a trusted dealer like us, here are some important things to know. 

One of the first things to consider when shopping for a pre-owned vehicle is what make and model will best suite your needs. For example, a family of 5 may want a minivan or large SUV, while a couple that has just retired may be just looking for a reliable and safe sedan. Whatever your needs may be, find a category and start exploring options. 

Once you know what you want, it is important to know what you can afford. This goes beyond just the estimated monthly payment. Look at the interest rates, insurance costs, reliability ratings and the cost of parts. Some cars may unfortunately have a reputation for low-reliability and costly maintenance. 

Unless you are prepared to purchase your vehicle in cash, you will want to make sure you choose a trusted financing service or auto loan. Since some deem a used car sale more risky, you need to make sure your interest rates on the loan do not spike above what you can afford. With a trusted partner like Steve’s Auto Sales, you can trust that you will get the best possible financing options available to you. 

Interested in learning more about the used car buying process? Call Steve’s Auto Sales today at 406-304-5513, visit our website to browse our used cars for sale, or stop by our showroom at 3520 1st Ave N Billings, MT 59101.  

How to Finance a Used Vehicle

How to Finance a Used Vehicle

So the time has come to upgrade your vehicle. You know the perfect brand, year, model, and mileage for your needs. What is next? Unless you are prepared to pay the amount in full the day you drive off the lot, financing options are hear to help you obtain the vehicle you need affordably. At Steve’s Auto Sales, we are one of the top car dealerships in Billings, MT, Bozeman, MT, and Cody, WY, offering selection and pricing that cannot be beat. Before you sign the final papers and drive off with your new car, here are some tips on financing your vehicle. 

Like we previously mentioned, unless you are prepared to pay for your vehicle in cash, you are going to want to become familiar with the financing options available to you. One of the first things to become familiar with is your credit score. With a good credit score, you are more likely to be approved and take on lower interest rate loans. For those with a credit score that could use some work, it may be slightly more difficult to find a bank that will loan you the money at an affordable interest rate. 

Another way to help ease your interest rate burden with a low credit score is to purchase the car with a co-signer on the loan. If your co-signer has a good credit score, you can significantly lower your interest rates, and build your credit with every payment completed. 

If you are tired of shopping around for the best interest rates, Steve’s Auto Sales is dedicated to providing affordable financing and low interest rates to our customers. Take the headaches out of going through a credit union or bank, and help streamline your entire used car buying process. Interested in learning more about the used car buying process? Call Steve’s Auto Sales today at 406-304-5513, visit our website to browse our used cars for sale, or stop by our showroom at 3520 1st Ave N Billings, MT 59101.  

What to Look For When Buying a Used Truck

What to Look For When Buying a Used Truck

Pick up trucks are some of the most versatile vehicles on the road today. From towing heavy equipment, to hauling a crew of 5 and all their tools—trucks are used everyday to broaden our capabilities and make tough jobs easier. If you are in the market for a used truck in the Bozeman and Billings, MT, Steve’s Auto Sales has you covered. We keep an inventory of high quality, safety inspected used trucks that area ready to take on whatever job your throw at them. 

When buying a used truck, it is always important to consider what you are going to use the truck for. If this truck is going to be used for towing, hauling heavy weights, and a crew, you should consider a higher-powered diesel crew cab truck. Oftentimes fitted with dualies in the rear, these heavy-duty trucks are designed for daily use on a construction site, farm, or other tough work environment, and will hold up accordingly. 

Looking for a lighter truck for weekend projects? A smaller V6 or V8 powered gasoline truck might just do the trick. Available in single or crew cabs, these trucks are most common with the everyday consumer, and are built to last for many years to come. One of the most popular models in this category, the Ford F-150, is the top-selling vehicle in America. Additionally, medium sized offerings such as the Toyota Tacoma are popular for outdoors enthusiasts and handymen alike. 

Whether you are looking for an everyday work vehicle, or just something to use for yard work and renovations, a used truck from Steve’s Auto Sales is the perfect choice for those shopping in the Bozeman and Billings, MT area. We offer an ample selection of used trucks for a variety of intended uses. Call us today at 406-304-5513, visit our website to browse our used cars for sale, or stop by our showroom at 3520 1st Ave N Billings, MT 59101.