How were things the last time you bought a car? Did you spend hours plowing through listings on Craigslist? Or maybe you lost half a day driving from one automobile dealer to the next trying to find the best deal. And how about those sales people that just wouldn’t let you get out of their showrooms? Or if you’re looking for a special vehicle maybe you spent hour after hour going through the listings on eBay.
Well, thanks to the Internet you can now find a car to buy just sitting at your computer. And depending on which website you choose you should be able to find that dream car in just a few minutes and save money to boot.
This website promotes itself as offering the maximum in price transparency. It will allow you to see what others paid for a car that interests you so that you’ll know whether you’re getting a fair price. TrueCar also says it can help you maximize your savings because it allows you to access thousands of factory incentives and dealer incentives including what it calls “exclusive incentives” that are available only through TrueCar and that will save you even more money.
The way this website works is your first choice is to Shop New or Shop Used. You can then choose either brand or body type. For the sake of the example let’s assume you want a new SUV. Click on Body Type, select SUV and you’ll be presented with a list of all the automobile makes that have SUVs.
Again, for the sake of an example let’s say you choose Jeep. TrueCar then displays the seven SUVs offered by Jeep. Select Cherokee, input your Zip Code, choose 4-wheel drive and you’ll be rewarded with a list of all the Jeeps that satisfy those criteria along with their manufacturer’s suggested retail prices. Find one you like such as the Latitude, click on it and you can then pick your exterior color.
Finally, you’ll be given a choice of option packages. Select one, click Done and TrueCar will show you its estimated price, which in this case would be $26,610 versus the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $30,880. If you’d like to buy this vehicle TrueCar gives you the option of signing up for TrueCar dealer pricing. Do this and you will then need to provide some additional information to get what TrueCar calls its Guaranteed Savings.
This website is simpler to use if you already have a good idea of the car you’d like to buy. With cars.com you start by selecting New, Used, Certified Pre-Owned or All. The next step is to pick a brand, a model type and the maximum price you would be willing to pay for the automobile (or you can leave it blank)
To show you how cars.com works we selected New, Jeep and then Cherokee. We stuck with No Maximum Price and selected dealers within 30 Miles of our ZIP Code. Pressing the Search button took us directly to a listing of new Jeep Cherokees with prices and dealer names. This list included a new 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk at $44,034 and at $42,534 – depending on your choice of dealer. We also found a new 2016 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk for $40,754. There was also a link labeled Special Offers. When we clicked on it we learned there was $3250 in bonus cash available and we were given the opportunity to see what our monthly payments would be.
This website’s promotional line is Buy Smarter – Discover, price and buy the car that is right for you. It allows you to first choose a make, a model and a year. We chose the Jeep Cherokee and the year 2016. Clicking on edmunds.com’s Go button took us to a page that promised $3901 in savings based on the Trailhawk with options. It also displayed photos of eight TrailHawks with pricing and the opportunity to Compare Dealer Prices. We selected a Trailhawk at $35,469 and then clicked on Compare Dealer Prices. edmunds.com next displayed a list of three dealers near us and displayed an average price paid of $32,144. If we had chosen one of the three dealers and typed in our name, email address and phone number we could have then gotten what Edmunds calls a Price Promise and Guaranteed Promise from that dealer.
Which of these websites is best?
All three of these websites have their strengths, Number one is that they’re all free to use. But if you haven’t already chosen a particular make and model then your best choice might be TrueCar because you could use it to sort of browse and quickly check out several different makes and models before honing in on one. For example, if you are interested in getting pricing information quickly on sedans, you could choose that body type, click on Ford, then the Fusion S model and quickly see an average price paid of $20,634. Go back a few clicks, choose Chevrolet, pick the Malibu LS model with a standard engine and you would see the average price paid was $22,447. The short of it is that TrueCar.com might be best for people who are still in the process of determining the make and model they would like to buy. Plus, It’s the only one of the three websites that shows what people actually paid for that make and model.
In comparison, both cars.com and edmunds.com are easier to navigate and use if you’ve already chosen your dream car. As an example of this, edmunds.com makes things very simple because all you do is choose a brand and a model, type in your zip code and you’ll immediately see photos of the cars available at the dealer nearest you along with their prices. It also gives you the ability to choose the trim, interior and exterior colors and has a category called Special Offers.
edmunds.com works about the same way in that you can begin by selecting an automobile make, model and year. You will then see vehicles matching your criteria at dealers near you and again with prices. edmunds.com also gives you the opportunity to “Build Your Fusion” by choosing the trim, miles per gallon, colors, packages and optional equipment. One of the things we liked about this website is that it displays Other Vehicles to Consider and will give you an appraisal as to how much your car might be worth as a trade-in.
You could make automobile buying much easier using any one of these websites or, for that matter, all three. Regardless of which one you choose you’ll be able to walk into a dealership knowing what it is you want to buy and how much you ought to pay for it. This should definitely make your car buying experience a lot easier and much more pleasurable.