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When people need to buy a vehicle, many prefer to buy a used - or "pre-owned" - car. Why? You may be familiar with the idea of depreciation, or the loss in value of an item. According to the experts, the simple act of driving a brand-new car off the dealer's lot leads to a depreciation of as much as 11% of the car's value.
For that reason, buying a used car is often an attractive option for those customers who don't mind having a vehicle with a few miles on the odometer. Of course, buying a used car also comes with several considerations that you won't find when purchasing a new vehicle.
Thursday, August 5th
When shopping for a used car, you probably hope to get the lowest price available without having the pressure from salespeople trying to push you to make a purchase. You can find all of that and more when you start your car-buying process at TRUECar.
Using their website to buy a used car is easy. You can start either by choosing the brand you prefer, or by clicking on the "Shop Used" blue button on the page. Once you've entered the make and model you want, along with your zip code, you'll be taken to a results page showing all of the matches in your local area.
You can use the drop-down boxes on the left-hand side to further refine your search, according to the following options:
Those results can be further sorted by price, distance, mileage or year. We love that, right from that list, TRUECar makes it easy to see which vehicles are most competitively priced - look for the words "Great Price" or "Good Price", along with a dollar amount underneath the price that says how far below market the vehicle's price actually is. Also, you can easily access a vehicle's history by clicking on the "Free Carfax Report", which will tell you if the pre-owned car has been in an accident or has had any other type of damage, along with its ownership history.
When you click on a particular vehicle for more information, you can opt to email the dealer to get more information, schedule a test drive, and receive a finalized price quote. Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of the page: there you'll find the TRUECar Market Price Analysis graph, showing you the average paid for similar vehicles in your local area and helping you to determine if your chosen car is priced well.
If at any point you need help, check the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to see if a TRUECar representative is available via online chat. Or, you can call their toll-free number as well.
TRUECar also impressed us with their requirements for dealer certification. All of their 11,000+ certified dealers - just shy of 20% of all franchised dealers in the US - have affirmed their commitment to transparency, truth, and fairness in their business practices. Additionally, TRUECar partners with AAA, American Express, USAA, and more; during the process of filling out any customer information, be sure to indicate if you are a customer of one of their partners to see if you qualify for additional discounts, though they may apply solely to new car purchases.
Finally, if you are a car buff in general, be sure to check out TRUECar's blogs. For instance, their Insights blog discusses current trends in auto sales, shopping trends of Millennials compared with Baby Boomers, and much more. Those links are almost hidden away at the bottom of the main TRUECar site.
TRUECar offers everything used car shoppers could want when trying to find their next vehicle: the ability to see a wide range of cars in their local area without having to provide contact information first, a solid reputation demonstrated by their partnerships with household-name companies and an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau, and a network of dealers that strive to provide a trustworthy shopping experience.
We give TRUECar our top rating and recommend that you consider their services as you buy your next used car.
With a name like Cars, it's no surprise that they are a solid resource when looking to buy a used vehicle. Although they do not offer any guaranteed pricing or discounts when using their service, what we love about their website is the anonymity they give to people using their site.
Many used car websites require you to enter your contact information in order to see detailed pricing on the vehicles that interest you - and we all know how that winds up with phone calls and emails from eager salespeople who want to convince you not to miss out on a hot deal, "available today only!" The Cars site asks you to enter the make and model of the pre-owned vehicle you want, along with a zip code and a desired search radius - and that's all!
Your results page will then show you exactly what is in inventory within the distance you specified. You can sort by price, year, distance, photos, and date listed; also, you can filter by several parameters such as exterior color, trim, drivetrain, and more. From there, it's completely up to you: you can see a vehicle's details, including the VIN number and how many people have viewed that particular car in the last 30 days, or you can request a free CARFAX report detailing the vehicle's history.
If you decide you'd like to contact the dealer, click on the green "Check Availability" button and enter your name, email and ZIP code (phone number is optional) to be connected with the dealership. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the vehicle listing: there you'll find reviews of not only the car but of the dealer itself, along with links to further information about the make and model year of the used car you're considering.
You may also be interested in the News section at the top of the Cars website. There you can find the latest car news and reviews, get information about top auto shows, and even get help for first-time car buyers if you need it. We also like that Cars has a resource for Service & Repair that includes safety and recall notices, Car Maintenance 101, and links for finding a service center if your pre-owned car needs an oil change or other work.
We recommend that you check out what Cars has to offer when you're ready to buy a new car. With an "A+" rating as an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau, helpful resources for car buyers, and a no-contact-required method of browsing vehicles available nearby, Cars easily earns a high rating among used car websites.
If you want a flashy used car website with lots of images and features, Autotrader may not be what you're looking for. But, if you want to see pre-owned vehicle prices at your local car dealerships without having to give away your contact information, Autotrader is a smart choice.
To find your next used car, select the make, model, and price range on the main Autotrader page, and enter your zip code. (Hint: if you only want to see used vehicles, you'll need to click by the magnifying glass where it says "More search options" and then click on the box that says "used" and/or "certified" under the Condition heading).
Your results page will show you all of the special offers available at your local dealerships (though they tend to be for new cars only, even on the used car search page), along with all of the vehicles that match your search criteria. You can further sort your results by price, distance, and year, and the left-hand boxes allow you to select exterior colors, trim, and more.
Once you select a vehicle, you can see in-depth information such as the VIN, an extensive list of features, warranty details (if any) and more. On the left-hand side of the page, you'll see the contact information for the dealership: phone number, address, website, and, for some dealers, a link to their online chat. You can also email the seller/dealership directly and ask any questions you may have or request contact. Shoppers can get as much information they want before reaching out to the dealership; many used car websites make customers provide their contact details in order to see available prices.
If you're still in the research part of the car-buying process, don't miss the links at the top of the Autotrader site. Not only will you find resources for loans and insurance, but the Car Research & Reviews drop-down will help you compare vehicles, see the latest articles and expert reviews, and even calculate what you can afford.
Another factor in Autotrader's favor is their reputation. At the time of our review, they maintained an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau, along with an accreditation spanning more than 16 years. Customer reviews express a high level of satisfaction with the prices and customer service they received through using the Autotrader site.
We feel that Autotrader is a very good choice for those who prefer not to be contacted by local dealerships but still want to see current pricing for the pre-owned car they hope to buy.
CarsDirect is quickly becoming a well-known name in the used car marketplace. Finding your next pre-owned vehicle using their website is a relatively smooth process. From the main Used Car page, you can either enter your preferred make and model along with your zip code; or you can shop according to body style or price.
Once you've selected your search criteria, you'll be taken to a list of results in your area (the default distance is 50 miles). You can sort that list according to price, mileage, distance or year, and the left-hand navigation lets you further filter those results by color, drive type, and more.
When you select a vehicle that interests you, you'll be taken to a page where you can see any available photos, get a free CARFAX record check, get a detailed list of all the car's features, and see any additional comments provided by the seller. Then, when you're ready, you can use either the provided contact form or the dealership's details to reach out and find out if the vehicle is still available or ask any other questions you may have.
Two features we felt were missing from the CarsDirect site, compared with other used car websites in our review, were pricing discounts/incentives and a way to know if the dealer price is a good deal. CarsDirect doesn't give the shopper any way of knowing of the given price is above average for the area and for the condition of the vehicle, and there are no perks offered for using the site to find a pre-owned vehicle.
Also, in our opinion, CarsDirect has mixed results with respect to their reputation. The site has been rated as the #1 site for buying new cars online by PC World, Time, and Forbes, which is a good sign. We also found customer reviews praising the quality of the information offered on the CarsDirect site, which they said helped them to get the best price at their local dealer.
On the other hand, CarsDirect's parent company (Internet Brands, Inc.) had no rating or accreditation with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review. This definitely doesn't mean that CarsDirect isn't trustworthy, but there are many competitors that have both a good rating and an accreditation with the BBB.
CarsDirect does earn points for the research information offered on the site. One of the tools mentioned most often by happy customers is the ability to compare cars. This allows you to determine which vehicle provides the most value for your money with respect to features, safety ratings, and other characteristics. Particularly if you're not exactly sure which used car you plan to buy, this can help you make a well-informed decision.
Edmunds began as a newsstand publication in the 1960s and has come to be a household name when it comes to all things automotive. If you're looking to buy a used car, the Edmunds site might help you get a great price.
From the Used Cars page, select the make and model you're looking for and then enter your zip code. (Or, if you prefer to shop by car type, click on "Shop by type".) From there, you'll be taken to a results page that shows all of the available pre-owned inventory in your area; you can sort those results by distance from your location, lowest price, or lowest mileage.
On the left-hand side of the page, you can also filter your results by price range, year, or mileage; click on the "Advanced Search" link for more options. When you've selected a vehicle that interests you, you'll see more details about the car and dealership, along with links to get a free CARFAX vehicle history report or an insurance agent.
We also saw that certain dealers participate in a special offer program called "Used + Perks". While the offers vary, many of them include benefits like a $100 gas card. Unfortunately, that was as far as we were able to go. When we went to enter our name, email address, and phone number to get the special offer and its details, we got an error message asking for a valid email address. We tried several accounts (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) but had the same issue every time. As a customer, you can still contact the dealership directly if you find a vehicle that interests you, but it looks like you'd probably lose the Used + Perks offer if you can't get the site to accept your email address.
That was hugely disappointing, especially since Edmunds offers several resources that other new car sites lack. We especially like their True Cost to Own calculator, which can be found under the headings for both New and Used Cars. This gives you an estimate for what to expect over five years with respect to depreciation, taxes/fees, financing charges, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and repairs.
Edmunds also has a fantastic wealth of additional resources, from Tips and Advice to Car Videos and Forums for true aficionados. All of those can be found in the Car Research section in the upper right-hand corner of the site.
We have hopes that, in the near future, the site difficulties we experienced will be resolved and we'll be able to move them much higher in our rankings, because of Edmunds' great site features and solid reputation in the automotive community.
If you love the automotive industry, you definitely should check out the Web2Carz site. Designed primarily as an online automotive magazine, you can get current all of the hottest trends in the industry, from limited-edition vehicles to reviews of the most "green" cars on the market.
Web2Carz also can connect you with services beyond buying a new car. Using the navigation at the top of the page, when you hover over "Car Shopping" you'll see a list on the right side of the drop-down. That list includes:
Using the Web2Carz site to find your next pre-owned car is easy. Either from the top navigation bar or the area on the left-hand side of the main page, click on the tab that says "Used Cars" and choose the make and model, your ZIP code, and the desired search distance.
Your results page can then be sorted by distance, price, year, mileage, and CARFAX report details. Unfortunately, the Web2Carz site does not have the capability of filtering those results further according to desired characteristics like interior and/or exterior color, trim, or drivetrain.
When you've found a vehicle that interests you, you'll be able to see any available photos and basic details about the car's features. Instead of putting a list of those features right on the vehicle page, Web2Carz has a "Show Vehicle Options" button that will pop up a list of what's included - we admit that, initially, that wording made us think it would show us all of the options available for that make and model of car rather than the features specific to the car we were looking at. Similarly hidden, you can get a free CARFAX vehicle history by clicking on the VIN.
Unlike most of the sites we reviewed, Web2Carz doesn't give you detailed information about the seller/dealer. In order to find out where the car is, to ask any further questions, or to find out if the price has changed, your only option is to fill out the contact form on the right side of the page. We definitely would like to see Web2Carz be more forthright with dealer information, to keep them competitive with other used car websites.
We do like that Web2Carz maintained an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review, as an accredited business since 2009.
Web2Carz's rating could improve if they provided clearer information on the details of the used cars they are presenting as well as the dealerships/sellers offering them.
Automotive's website declares that "buying smart starts here", and the amount of information they offer car shoppers is definitely evidence of that statement. From the very first page, you can start your car research with news, reviews, and buying guides.
To begin the process of finding a pre-owned car, go to the Used Cars section of the website. You can then enter your preferred make and model, along with your zip code, and there's an optional checkbox if you'd like to see certified cars only. Alternately, you can search used cars by state, by manufacturer, category, or year.
Since most shoppers tend to have an idea of the make and model they want, we went that route in our review as well. From there, you'll be taken to a results page listing all of the vehicles that meet your criteria. You can sort that list by distance, price, year, or mileage, and the options on the left-hand side allow you to further filter the results by year, trim, price range, mileage, distance from your location, color, and more.
We found the process of looking through specific results to be a little awkward. When you click on a vehicle that interests you, you can see a few more details including the dealer, the VIN and a link to a free CARFAX vehicle history report, and additional photos. But, if you continue to scroll down the page, it blends immediately into the next vehicle in the list while also scrolling the results list across the top of the page.
There was also very little information about the dealer offering each vehicle -no dealership name, website or other contact information, unless it happened to be included in the photos of the vehicle itself - and the only way to find out more is to fill out the contact form on the right-hand side of the page.
On the other hand, we like that Automotive gives car shoppers a wide variety of tools to choose from. In the navigation at the top of the page, be sure to check out the Features & Advice section, along with Tools and Tips. There you'll find help with auto financing, tips for insurance, Editor's Picks and car comparisons, and much more.
First, there may not be a warranty on a pre-owned car. The typical warranty is three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. So, if the vehicle you're considering has passed one of those thresholds, you may want to pay for a separate warranty to cover any surprise repairs that may happen in the future.
Also, you'll want to check the history of the vehicle you hope to buy. It may have been in an accident, had flood damage, or some other incident that may not be visible on the surface. There are a number of free services that allow you to get the full report associated with the car you're looking at.
Finally, be sure to check if there are any manufacturer recalls that haven't been addressed with any used car you wish to purchase. Whether you buy your used car from a dealer or from an individual, there's no guarantee that they've taken care of the repairs necessary to fix the problem, which could be dangerous.
Shopping online for a used car makes it very easy to see what's available in your local area without having to drive to multiple dealerships and car lots. Most websites for buying pre-owned cars are relatively similar: enter the type of car you're looking for, along with your ZIP code, and get quotes from dealers in your area that may have your vehicle in stock.
So, what factors should you keep in mind when choosing the best website for your used car purchase? Consider these three criteria:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Used Car sites available today. We hope these reviews will get you behind the wheel quickly in a vehicle that will last for years to come!
Select any 2 Used Car Sites to compare them head to head
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