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Wednesday, February 1st
TrueCar has traditionally been a high finisher in our ratings for buying used cars. But recently, they've been outpaced by some of their competitors. This service no longer gives you a free vehicle history report, and some site users have had big frustrations with dealerships not honoring the TrueCar price quote. You can still use TrueCar to get a reasonable overview of what's for sale near you and to do pre-purchase research, but you'll get more overall from a higher-ranked platform.
Have you seen a Carvana delivery truck or "vending machine" near you? This is probably the online-only used car buying service with the most visibility. Thousands of people praise Carvana for being fast, easy and affordable, with plenty of cars to choose from and a 7-day money-back guarantee or exchange. And yet, not everyone comes out a happy camper here: we found lots of complaints describing extremely delayed deliveries, missing paperwork, and vehicles that should have failed inspection but were sold anyway. It's definitely caveat emptor here, but you might wind up with a used car you like.
No matter what, your first step should always be research. You should determine exactly what's going to fit your needs (or your wants!). Do you have a particular make and model in mind, or are features going to be king regardless of manufacturer? Whether you're all about safety or you feel the need for speed, it's well worth your time to dig into the details of price, reliability and availability, especially when used car inventory is at an all-time low nationwide.
Fortunately, there are many websites that help you do just that - and then make it possible for you to find your perfect new-to-you ride. Some of these platforms even let you buy your car online and have it delivered right to your house. Before you start worrying about the safety of such vehicles, rest assured that most companies selling used cars will include a detailed, independently-verified history report right in the car's listing.
You can see how many owners it's had, any accidents reported, and sometimes the service history detailing oil changes and other routine maintenance. Buying used cars online is a huge time-saver too: you don't have to make a long drive to a dealership hoping they'll have something on the lot that you'll like, and you can avoid a lot of the "pushy salesperson" experience.
Most sites that sell pre-owned vehicles also have tools for determining how much you can afford and prequalifying for financing - which is one less thing you'll have to do in person (assuming you don't take the 100% online route from the get-go).
Which site should you use for buying used cars? There are a lot of similarities among them, and among the highest-rated services you can choose fairly freely without worrying about missing out. But, here are some things to consider about any used car website you're looking at:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best online services for buying used cars. We're confident that this information will help you get your next pre-owned set of wheels at a price you'll love!
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