Once was enough!
But five different dealerships?
It's unavoidable. Each dealership needs to pull your credit at some point or another to offer you precise pricing. Some will assume you're Tier One. Some have multiple Tiers.
To make it worse, not only do dealerships run their credit with their own bank, some will even request rates using your information from multiple banks!
Guess what though?
It doesn't really matter how many times you pulled your credit.
Let me explain...
The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows car shoppers a two week window, where as long as the institution pulling your credit report is associated with a car buying purpose, you're okay!
The credit bureaus know that it's impossible to run your credit once and be done. They don't punish you on your credit report for shopping around for the best rate.
In fact, I would even suggest running your credit at another dealership if you are skeptical of the first dealership having given you the best interest rate!
It does NOT matter if you run it once, or ten times, as long as you are running your credit at a dealership for the purpose of an auto loan/lease approval, WITHIN a 2 week window, your score will not be burdened with multiple inquiries.
What to do if you will not be buying within two weeks? Don't run your credit at all!
Many dealership finance managers will be able to give you an idea of what your credit history and profile will earn you based on their own experience.
If you absolutely do not need to run your credit, Don't! If you do, don't worry about how many times you do it, but do it in a 2 week window!