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      July 20, 2019

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Autotrader vs Cars Direct

To help you find the Best Used Car Sites, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Autotrader and Cars Direct.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Used Car Sites, please Click Here

Buy Your New Car with True Car Today! 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.

Continue reading below reviews

Best Reviews

2019

Used Car Site Reviews

3.5 stars
Autotrader

AUTOTRADER Visit Site

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.

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3.5 stars
Cars Direct

CARS DIRECT Visit Site

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.

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Continued from above

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:

  • Information. Will the website give you details that can help you with your decision? Will you be better-informed with respect to the costs of owning the vehicle you choose? Do they offer other details on current trends in the automotive marketplace?
  • Price. Does the site offer you a way to get the best possible price for your car, either through a discount or through a relationship with a network of trusted dealers? Or does it just tell you where to find the car you want while leaving the haggling up to you?
  • Extra Services. Can the site connect you with resources for getting auto insurance, an auto loan, or other relevant products and services?

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!

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