As exciting as it is to buy a new car — err, at least one new to you — the process of finding and purchasing any vehicle can be quite the headache. You wouldn’t be surprised to find a sleazy salesman breathing down your neck as you peruse the lot’s selection, trying to put you in a different car at every turn. Given the aforementioned situation, or a similar scenario thereof, it’s no wonder nobody enjoys perusing Bob’s Used Car Emporium for a new set of cars under such stressful conditions.
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Thankfully, the internet boasts a bevy of virtual car lots, lined with everything from mid-size sedans to all-terrain pickup trucks. The sites allow you to swap the salesman and pressure-laden environment for a comfortable desk chair, while providing you with all the necessary information regarding each car’s condition and supposed history. The question remains though, which site is the most competent and void of scammers, crooks, and the like? Here is our top selection of the best used car websites for bettering your online shopping experience — no cheesy slick-backs included.
Contrary to what the website’s ridiculous commercials make you believe, navigating to Cars.com won’t lead your conscious to manifest itself as a second head on your body. Rather, the site is a deep and extensive resource for anyone shopping for a used car. Filters allow you to search based on make, model, and the highest possible price for any used or certified pre-owned car in your area — and once you find your desired car —the website provides quick links to the car’s various Carfax reports. Moreover, you’re given the option to instant message the dealer or owner directly if they’re currently online, or simple email the if they’re not. Cars.com’s simple navigation and robust resource selection make it one of the best for first-time buyers.
Few sites surpass AutoTrader.com when it comes to advanced search tools. Not only does the site’s initial search let you choose the make, model, and price of your desired car akin to most sites on our list, but you can also filter your results based on the type of car you want, its fuel economy, exact specifications, or a variety of other notable features. For instance, do you want a car with an intuitive navigation system? How about a sedan with four doors and keyless entry? Then check the requisite box for either option and let the result populate. AutoTrader.com even gives you the option to search for Business Elite model Chevy or GMC commercial vehicles at any given moment.
Nadaguides is the official website of the National Automotive Dealers Association, but it features private party listings as well. The combination of the two gives the website a very versatile pool from which to draw, and it includes cars, motorcycles, RVs, boats, classic vehicles, and even manufactured homes. Despite the impressive amount of information, Nadaguides is still an intuitive and user-friendly shopping tool. Interested parties can search by make, model, body style, price, and even fuel efficiency rating, and the website also offers a comparison service that can pit up to four cars against one another. In addition, Nadaguides includes a monthly payment calculator, a vehicle record search, and a car loan approval resource
While not strictly a used car website catered for finding a ’95 Geo Metro, Hemmings is a classic car collector’s dream. The website provides a worthwhile blast from the past, reveling in ’60s Chevy Impalas and Studebakers from the ’30s, while additionally offering tools for locating specific parts or services pertaining to a car you may already own. Hemmings also offers a Daily News Letter, an updated blog, and several other resources for the classic car owner to use in addition to standard search functionality. The site even touts its own webstore where you can buy diecast models, Hemmings apparel, collector car books, or a 2014 wall calendar. For the classic car enthusiast, Hemmings is an excellent resource for car classifieds, complete with supplementary buying tips and links to upcoming local auctions.
Simple and straightforward, CarsDirect is all about the basic. You can choose to search for used cars within your provided area based on body style and price or make and model, thus filtering available options only within your region. Search results include offerings from both dealers and owners, with a bundled option of viewing your desired car’s Carfax report. CarsDirect also allows you save your favorite cars and search history when deciding between different makes and models, and each search result provides a slew of images detailing the selected cars condition. Furthermore, you can submit an inquiry about the particular make or model your looking at, or choose whether you’re look for special financing. Links to the respective car dealer’s website come standard, as do comprehensive maps providing you directions to the dealer’s location.
Autolist looks similar to other entrants on our list at first glance, but it has a leg up on the competition when it comes to mobile connectivity. While the Autolist website is attractive and easy-to-use, the Autolist app is one of the most popular used car resources currently available for Android and iOS. The mobile software allows you to scour the databases of other used car apps, as well as dealership websites, thus incorporating a melange of makes and models. 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 on the go, this may be the resource for you.
Bring-a-trailer may be the best kept secret in online car buying sites. Like a few of the services on this list, BAT is a specialty search engine. In other words, don’t expect to find Toyota Camrys on here. The backbone of this site is an enthusiast community with a particular taste for cult classic and rare vehicles. There’s only one way to end up on the site, and that’s to submit a vehicle for review. Often, submissions come from those who discover a clean or unique car on Craigslist or another site. If the BAT moderators are impressed, they’ll put together a listing for the vehicle with the owner’s permission. At that point, the vehicle owner has the option to set a reserve price before opening the auction (like eBay). This structure enables some killer deals for collectors, and some solid profits for sellers. Oh, and it’s a great way to kill an entire day’s productivity. Talk about a win-win-win!
Carvana is one of the new kids on the block in terms of online auto sales, but the brand is making a name for itself with its unique user experiences and clever marketing strategies. Carvana launched back in 2013 as one of the few companies to offer a true digital-to-driveway dealership in Atlanta, one that allows customers to search for, finance, and arrange delivery of their cars without ever leaving their home. Last year, the brand launched the world’s first car vending machine in Nashville, Tennessee, which lets adults feel like kids again by “buying” their car with an oversized coin. They must purchase their vehicle online, of course, but the delivery experience is like no other.
Regardless of your online shopping expertise, there’s a good chance you’re at least somewhat familiar with eBay. That said, eBay motors is no different than any other of the site’s services, allowing you to easily shop for used cars such as coupes, trucks, sedans, and fuel-efficient offerings in addition to specified makes and models. The site lists whether each resulting car is from a classified advertisement or part of an online auction, and like most other facets of the site, each seller is coupled with a feedback score and rating to assist you with the proper purchase. The seller also provides vehicle information and a history report, along with the desired price and various shipping options. If a certain car doesn’t have enough information to make you feel comfortable, you can quickly find another make or model, or opt to sell your own for something a little pricier.
If you’re looking for an honest bargain, Cargurus is your best bet. Why? Because you can’t buy your way into a better ranking or position. Both dealers and consumers can list a vehicle, and Cargurus ranks ads based on dealer reputation (if applicable) and price. Cargurus then goes a step further to educate buyers with information about a vehicle’s true market value. That way, even if every listing is competitive, if all are still overpriced, you’ll know now’s not the best time to shop, or you need to expand your search area. You can also see how long a vehicle has been listed on Cargurus 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.
It’s often difficult to wade through the sea of garbage populating Craigslist, but that doesn’t mean the site can’t be an excellent resource. Even with a less than desirable search function, there’s no better option when it comes to local shopping. The site grants you access to thousands of different cars, whether you’re looking for local dealers or merely owners in your area, with the convenient ability to sort pages based on location. If you live in Sacramento fir example, you can peruse the cars+trucks section within Sacramento-specific Craigslist page for vehicles exclusive to that area. Like most items found on Craigslist, you need to be weary of the seller and item in question, but the site remains typically offers the most versatile selection of vehicles on our list. Plus, it’s one of the few sites where bartering and trades remain a viable option.
If you’ve ever used sites like Kayak.com or Sky Scanner, then AutoTempest is right up your alley. The site combines search results from eBay Motors, Cars.com, AutoTrader, CarsDirect, and others, casting a 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, detailing negotiating tips and how to avoid purchasing a lemon among other topics. The site even provides specific buying guides for a selection of car makes and models, along with comprehensive car reviews and a compilation of frequently asked questions. Moreover, the site saves search results for quick access later, while offering several suggestions for top-notch shipping services for shipping any vehicle you might buy.
CarSoup.com is yet another familiar used car website, though it also allows you to price and sell any used car you may have. The website recognizes your respective location, providing the top daily deals and budget-based specials currently offered in your idea, while additionally showcasing a laudable assortment of buying guides, advice, reviews, and previews to ensure you make the right decision when buying a car. If you’re just beginning your search for a used car, CarSoup.com also offers a collection of top-10 lists spanning a variety of topics. Said lists range from highly sough topics such as “The Top-10 Most Loved Vehicles” and “The Top-10 Most Affordable Cars for 2014,” to more niche lists such as “The Top-10 Spookiest Sounding Cars.” It’s not a vast departure from other online services on our list, but CarSoup.com still offers a dependable set of tools with a used car selection to match.
CarMax.com may look nearly identical to the CarSoup, AutoTrader, and CarsDirect websites that came before it, but the site exclusively searches its own CarMax lots across the country. That being the case, CarMax is essentially a national dealer, as opposed to one working with independent owners and dealers alike. The site offers a “no haggle price” intended to present you with an offer it deems to be a fair low price up-front, thus eliminating the need to negotiate with a salesperson. Regardless, a team of dedicated technicians runs each vehicle through a rigorous 125-point inspection, and CarMax works with multiple financial institutions to offer tailored financing even when you purchase a vehicle through the site.
The Kelley Blue Book is the ultimate car buyer’s website. They offer pinpoint 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 quickly browse their top picks and tips, calculate a monthly car payment, and even compare several cars through KBB’s website. Expert and consumer reviews are also available, along with options for finding local dealers and checking your credit score. Like CarSoup.com, you can even browse an assortment of top 10 pages, highlighting the best 10 sedans under $25,000 and the 10 best luxury cars under $40,000, among a bevy of other topics. As daunting as the grocery list of options may seem, KBB.com is one of the best resources for anyone looking to buy a used car given the vast swath of options and in-depth research tools.
This article was updated on April 5th, 2017, by Miles Branman to include Bring A Trailer and Car Gurus.
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