Understanding Your Dealership Network: Five Essentials

To run a dealership effectively, gadgets must be networked together to share resources and information. However, networks are challenging concepts that even tech experts find intimidating. The five major parts of your network are covered in this article, along with the common problems they cause:


WAN versus LAN










1. WAN versus LAN


The devices connected in a single dealership location make up your local area network (LAN). Computers, printers, switches, routers, and one or more servers are common components of a dealership LAN. Devices are connected over a “wide” area, such as between a central site and a remote location, through a wide area network (WAN).




The majority of networked devices use an Ethernet connection, often a Category 5 cable connected to a switch of some sort. The typical dealership setting no longer has many of the old twinaxial connections, but there are more gadgets connecting wirelessly. For a dealership, wireless connectivity has several advantages. (For further information, see the prior article Going Wireless.)


Addressing 3.


An individual IP address is assigned to each device on the network. The only exception is when a device joins the network by means of another device (some printers join the network by means of a print server or PC). Both static and dynamic IP addresses can be manually or automatically established. In big networks, dynamic IP configuration is simpler and more popular.


DHCP, or Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, is used to assign dynamic IP addresses. As a result, a machine can be automatically configured without the network administrator’s involvement. Additionally, it contains a central database where all the computers linked to the network are recorded. This prevents two devices from unintentionally having the same IP address set up. A SonicWALL is frequently used as the router or firewall that manages DHCP and assigns IPs at a typical dealership.


Network printers, routers, and PCs that perform a specialized task, such as operating as a gateway device for an online or electronic parts catalog, all require static IPs, which must be manually configured by a network administrator.


4. Firewall

According to a set of rules that are tailored to the environment at your dealership, a firewall either permits or prohibits network transmissions. It permits permitted communications to pass while guarding against illegal access to a network. The SonicWALL serves as the hardware firewall in a typical dealership network. A hardware firewall has the benefit of providing protection between the local network (LAN) and the outside world (WAN), where the majority of threats originate.


There are other personal firewalls that run on software, such as the Windows Firewall.  Some antivirus programs, such as Norton 360’s suites, also have a personal firewall component. On your PC, these often run locally. Each PC is separately protected, which is an advantage. The biggest drawback is that personal firewalls might occasionally block or obstruct genuine network activity.


In general, support advises deactivating personal PC firewalls if they are obstructing valid traffic, such as preventing you from sending an invoice via email or obstructing images in units. If you decide to use personal firewalls on your PC, you might have to manage or configure the firewall to permit related traffic.




Sharing information and resources, such as printers or parts catalog files, is one of a network’s key advantages. It takes skill to allow access to those who require it while limiting access to others who do not.


Lack of access, read, or write permission to a directory or file might cause problems at a normal dealership. For instance, certain applications require complete access to files in the IBM (client access), and IFS directories on PCs and servers (enterprise systems). Keystone might not update without these permissions, or you might run into problems uploading photographs to units.


Software-based firewalls and the higher standards of security included in Windows 10 and Windows 11 might both result in permissions problems.  If the System and IBM folders do not have full access and permissions provided, managed networks and domains may also experience problems. If there are any problems with permission, the support staff can assist.

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