As exciting as it is to buy a new car — err, at least one that’s new to you — the process of finding and purchasing any vehicle can be a headache. No one enjoys a high-pressure salesman breathing down their neck, trying to get them to drive home a car that’s just not what they’re looking for. Thankfully, there are plenty of websites aimed at the conscious carbuyer, all of which are lined with everything from midsize sedans to all-terrain pickup trucks.
These virtual lots allow you to swap the salesman and pressure-laden environment for a comfortable chair, while still providing all the necessary information regarding each car’s condition and history. But the question remains: Which site is the most competent and void of scammers, crooks, and the like? Read on to find out.
Few sites surpass AutoTrader.com when it comes to advanced search tools. Like most sites on our list, Auto Trader’s initial search lets you choose the make, model, and price of your desired car. It also lets you filter your results based on fuel economy and a host of other specifications. For instance, do you want a car with an intuitive navigation system? How about a sedan with four doors and keyless entry? Check the box for either option and let the results come to you. AutoTrader.com even gives you the option to search for a Business Elite model Chevy or GMC commercial vehicle.
Simple and straightforward, CarsDirect is all about the basics. You can search for used cars within a specific area based on body style, price, make, or model. Search results include offerings from both dealers and owners, with an option to view your desired car’s Carfax report. CarsDirect also lets you save your favorite cars and search history when deciding between different vehicles, and each search result provides a slew of images detailing the selected cars’ condition. Submit an inquiry about the particular make or model you’re looking at, or choose whether you’re looking for special financing. There are links to car dealers’ websites, as well as comprehensive maps with directions to each dealer’s location.
Hemmings is a classic car collector’s dream. The site is a blast from the past, reveling in everything from 1960s Chevrolet Impalas to Studebakers from the 1930s, while offering tools for locating specific parts or services pertaining to a car you may already own. The site offers a daily newsletter, an updated blog, and several other resources aimed at the classic car owner. It even touts an online storefront where you can buy diecast models, apparel, books for collectors, or wall calendars. If that wasn’t enough, Hemmings is also an excellent resource for supplementary buying tips and links to upcoming local auctions.
Autolist may look similar to other sites here at first glance, but it has a leg up on the competition when it comes to mobile connectivity. Although the Autolist website is attractive and easy to use, it’s the accompanying mobile app for Android and iOS that makes it a standout. The intuitive software allows you to quickly scour the databases of other shopping apps, as well as various dealership websites. It also provides helpful information, such as how long the vehicle has been on sale, how its asking price has fluctuated over time, and what its Carfax report looks like. For those who prefer to shop for their next ride while on the move, this may be the resource for you.
If you’re looking for a bargain, CarGurus is your best bet. Why? Because CarGurus ranks ads based on dealer reputation, when applicable, and price. The site then goes a step further to educate buyers with information about a vehicle’s true market value. That way, you’ll know whether now is the best time to shop, or if you need to expand your search area. You can also see how long a vehicle has been listed on the site, and how its list price has changed over time. This gives you negotiating power on cars that have been listed for a while, or lets you know when it’s too soon to ask for a big price cut.
If you’ve ever used sites like Kayak or Sky Scanner, AutoTempest will be right up your alley. The site combines search results from eBay Motors, Cars.com, AutoTrader, CarsDirect, and others, casting an all-encompassing net over a smattering of other used car sites on our list. AutoTempest’s home page also features buying guides, checklists, and advice, as well as tips on negotiating and how to avoid purchasing a lemon, among other topics. The site even provides specific guides for a selection of car makes and models, along with comprehensive car reviews and a compilation of frequently asked questions. The site even saves search results for easy access later, while offering several suggestions for top-notch shipping services.
The Kelley Blue Book is a car buyer’s best friend. It provides accurate estimates on what your car is worth, how much you should pay for a used car, and a deep selection of used and new car listings. You can browse top picks and tips, calculate a monthly car payment, and even compare several cars. Expert and consumer reviews are also available, along with options for finding local dealers and checking your credit score. You can even browse an assortment of awards pages, giving you a way to quickly peruse the best of the best.
Although it’s easy to search by make, model, and year using any of the aforementioned sites, there’s no harm in concentrating your search. If you’re looking for something specific, don’t be afraid to check out the online car owner and enthusiast groups associated with what you’re seeking. If using Google, tack on “forums” or “owners club” to whichever vehicle you’re searching for. Whether it be classic Porsches or cars from the late AMC brand, there’s a community for almost every car out there. Browsing the classifieds section on these sites only increases your chances of finding what you’re looking for.