Cars: Buy, Sell, Repair, Maintain and Learn about Autos
Everyone from the greasiest gearhead to the automotive layman will benefit from the Web's easy-to-use resources on cars. Research tools and classified listings abound for the car buyer: for the eager reader, breaking automotive news, commentary, and perspective via magazines and blogs, will keep you entertained and informed. Learn about these resources and more in the findingDulcinea Car Guide.
Next time you're in the market for a new car, treat the Web as your definitive research source. Determining car valuation, reading expert reviews, comparing financing plans, and accessing important safety information takes only a click of the mouse. You have the best chance of making a smart purchase if you have access to relevant, authoritative automotive information.
- The following sites are rich with articles and features to help grow your understanding of the car market. Give each a thorough surf to reveal the breadth of their content.
- BusinessWeek’s Web site has a helpful video with tips for online car shopping.
- Some nontraditional sources have car reviews worth checking out. For instance, Newsweek's "Road Test" reviews a new car weekly, and there are plenty of blogs that conduct reviews independently. For more on auto blogs, check out the “Auto News and Commentary” section of this guide.
- Whenever reading car reviews, it helps to understand the relationship between the reviewer and the car reviewed. Biases can be the result of corporate affiliation or individual preferences.
For auto reviews …
is the online home of Car and Driver
magazine. The site is pretty extensive, with a host of feature articles and multimedia resources, but for your car research purposes its strengths are the expert reviews, buying guides, and road test/comparison summaries. The buyer's guide offers a variety of services. For new cars you can read detailed reviews. For old cars you can access the Kelley Blue Book values, do a free CARFAX Record check, and much more.
is an automotive research Web site with car reviews, price listings, and free quotes. Reviews for new cars are extremely thorough, covering nuts and bolts issues, design, safety and technology, vehicle specifications, and more. Most vehicle summaries include detailed price breakdowns with and without options, photo galleries, and car comparisons. If you're looking for a used car you can check the local inventory by specifying a desired location and model. Unfortunately the resulting descriptions range in quality from moderate to skimpy.
magazine has long been an authoritative source for car reviews and comparisons. Vehicles are subjected to rigorous testing in Consumer Reports
laboratories, and the results, along with other substantial buyer resources, are published in print and online. This site is great for model reviews, pricing and reliability information, and reviews of car tires and accessories. To access Consumer Reports' expert content, you'll need to subscribe ($5.95 per month, $26 per year).
is the site operated by the magazine of the same name. The first thing you’ll notice is the annoying homepage video that you have to pause if you want to shut off the audio. Don’t let it deter you; MotorTrend.com is a quality source of car reviews and research, auto news, multimedia entertainment, community interaction, and editorials.
is one of the world's premier publishers of automotive books. On the site you can browse an impressively large collection of books, sorted by topic, with the option of buying. You’ll also find calendars, DVDs, videos, and posters for sale.
U.S. News & World Report
US News & World Report
created this new, yet very informative site of rankings, reviews and prices for cars. The site is based on the peer analysis that made U.S. News
famous for its college rankings. Use this site to find rankings like, “Best Luxury Large Cars,” and “Best Hybrid Cars.” Also, read an article about U.S. News
’ new car rankings endeavor here
For car valuation information and more …
Kelley Blue Book
(KBB) is the largest automobile appraiser in the United States, and their Web site should be your first stop when looking for the valuation of new and used cars. The site is essentially a buyer's guide, with tools to help visitors determine which car is the best fit, and articles that cover financing issues and how to get the best value from a car over time. The "reviews and ratings" section lets you access KBB reviews.
For auto safety information ...
The National Highway Traffic Saftey Administration
's official Web site has important vehicle safety and driving information. In the "Vehicles and Equipment" section you can read technical service bulletins, access recall information, or get safety advice on items like seat belts, air bags, brakes, tires, and more.
is a site operated by the NHTSA. The site is broken into three sections, which makes finding relevant information simple. In the "Equipment and Safety" area there's information that addresses child seats, electronic stability control, tires, air bags, rollovers, and hybrid cars. In the Five Star Crash Test and Rollover Ratings" section you can review results from these tests since 1990. Finally, the "Defects and Recalls" portion provides visitors with an outlet for voicing complaints or reviewing recall information.v
The Web is a vast automotive marketplace. Surfing online is the equivalent of strolling into a car lot stocked with millions of new and used vehicles of all models, from virtually every decade of automotive innovation. These exhaustive listings will meet the needs of all car buyers, from teenagers looking for wheels on the cheap to serious vintage car fanatics searching for more rare cars to buy. For those who seek to sell a car opportunities abound.
- The Web's largest auto-markets provide very similar services. Most list new cars and allow sellers to buy classified ads for used cars. They offer a variety of research features, like access to reviews and Kelley Blue Book values, and they almost unanimously claim to be the "Web's #1 Resource."
- Most sites charge sellers a fee for taking out a classified ad. Fees vary greatly in size and structure, with some coming as flat rates and others that must be paid weekly for as long as the listing is up.
- Car-makers’ Web sites, which can be found easily via any search engine (or usually by adding a “.com” to the company’s name), can be a useful stop in your auto search. These sites typically have dealer locaters, certified pre-owned car-finders, warranty information, lease plans, and pricing information. Many have a "build your ideal car" feature that allows you to customize every detail of a car, from model type and color to upholstery and dashboard paneling.
- Not sure how much car you can afford? There are a slew of car-loan payment calculators on the Net. Two of these can be found at Edmunds and Cars.com. For more information on what these sites have to offer, see their evaluations below.
- An answer to the age-old question, "To lease, or not to lease?" can be found at LeaseGuide.com. This site is a one-stop shop for all of your lease-related queries. Check out the "Lease Guide" to get started.
is a used car marketplace with a massive listing of over 2 million cars. For the buyer, AutoTrader has research and comparison features, tips and advice, reviews, safety information, financing and insurance info, and guides to help you choose the right car. For the seller, AutoTrader has classified ads and value calculators to help you determine the proper asking price.
is a user-friendly site with an intuitive structure. It's broken down into four sections, labeled: buy, sell, research, and shopping advice. Cars.com makes it easy to find a used car in your area or get a price quote from a long list of local dealerships. They have detailed listings and plenty of articles to keep you informed.
is a car buying and research site with over half a million listings for new and used cars, and a variety of articles on issues related to the purchasing process. CarsDirect's interface is simple and easy to use. Check out the useful buying guides that break down the industry by body-type, explaining what cars excel over their competition and why.
is part of the Autobytel Web site network, which includes CarSmart and Cars.com. AutoWeb's listings differ from those previously mentioned in that they only advertise cars that are for sale by dealers. It provides research tools like Blue Book values, detailed vehicle reviews and summaries, and financing information, like free insurance and loan quotes.
is a car-buying information site that walks car buyers through the entire purchasing process. It has a large “Tips & Advice” section with information on buying, selling, leasing, financing, and more. Edmunds also has appraisal tools like the "true market value" price quotes, and reviews of new and used automobiles.
has new car price quotes, comprehensive used car listings, and reviews. The "Car Research" section takes users from early-stage research like checking invoice pricing reports and rebate/incentive programs, to more advanced features like payment calculators and loan quotes.
is a simple online used car classifieds hub. Cars can be searched by make, model, and year criteria, or by geography. The “Buying Tips” section walks you through a simple 5-step approach to buying a car.
Hobbyists, automotive technicians, and casual do-it-yourselfers will find the Web's auto parts and accessories distributors to be a valuable resource. Whether you're looking to replace a windshield wiper, rebuild a transmission, or locate a hard-to-find part for your classic car, the Web can help you acquire the car parts you need to begin your next project.
- In general you'll find that parts delivery sites have accommodating shipping policies, but double-check before making any purchases, as weight limits and your geography could come into play.
- If you're looking for something small that can be found at a major retail chain, try ordering it from their Web site. Check out Sears.com, Target.com, or Walmart.com for starters.
- Most auto parts retail chains have Web sites that allow you to buy the parts you need online or find a nearby brick-and-mortar location.
For buying car parts ...
is an online car parts seller and D.I.Y. repair center that's composed of a customer support network of nearly 3,000 stores in 50 states. The product list is massive and the site offers a variety of shipping and pick-up options for buyers. In the "Do It Yourself" section you can find maintenance schedules, reliability ratings, recall information, and maintenance tips for many models.
has replacement car parts for a long list of makes and models. In addition to parts, visitors will find tools and equipment to assist with repairs, a variety of cosmetic and operational chemicals and fluids, interior and exterior cleaning supplies, and a “Gifts and Gadgets” area with plenty of miscellaneous goodies.
is a classic and foreign car parts and accessories marketplace. You can search for parts by make and model. Although the listings are pretty extensive, they're by no means comprehensive. If Classic Garage is lacking a part you're looking for they invite you to notify them via e-mail.
stocks all varieties of automotive extras. Car bras, floor mats, mirrors, organizers, seat and steering wheel covers, and much more can be found here.
A number of sites contain information that can teach visitors about the basic systems and technologies that propel automobiles. Once you have the foundation, there are do it yourself online resources you can use to aid you in doing major and minor car repairs and performing regular maintenance. Or, maybe you just need to locate a mechanic.
- Use the following sites to find both practical and technical automobile information.
- In addition to repair information, some of the sites listed below specialize in educating drivers about automotive safety and preparation. If you have questions about using car-seats and seat belts, or are unsure how to keep your car safe through periodic maintenance, visit those sites.
- Auto repair chains like Midas and Meineke have sites that explain the services they offer, list the products they sell, and help you find local branches.
- Two of the bigger nationwide parts chains, AutoZone and Pep Boys, have customer repair information on their Web sites. AutoZone's "Repair Info" section has interactive repair guides for a long list of makes and models. In the Pep Boys "Learning Center" you'll find articles on car care safety, repair, maintenance, and more.
For finding a mechanic ...
, the Internet home of the famous radio show, has a "Recommended Mechanic" locater found midway down its homepage. Extensive results listings include ratings and comments from regular people who've already had their cars serviced by the garage in question.
The International Automotive Technicians' Network
is the world's largest association of professional automotive technicians. The organization’s site is useful for locating members in your area; use the “Repair Shop Finder” on the left side of the page.
The NASCAR Performance Network
is a network of certified mechanics and garages around the country. Enter your location and the nature of the work your car requires, and NASCAR will offer advice on where to go.
For DIY advice ...
How Stuff Works
has a succinct explanation of how cars work. While this article won't "wow" any engineering students, it's a good introduction for the automotive amateur. The site covers how engines work, how windshield wipers work, and various topics in between.
is an auto parts retailer with guides that introduce various car parts with short descriptions. These descriptions outline the primary functions of each part, how it relates to the overall working of the car, and what could result if the part malfunctioned. Check along the bottom of the homepage for more neat features. "How cars work 101" has fantastic illustrated diagrams that explain how the primary systems within cars work. "Animations" has animated diagrams that showing how components like V8 engines and wheel drive powertrains work. "Definitions" is a comprehensive glossary of automotive terms.
is an automotive training Web site written and maintained by automotive technology professor Kevin Sullivan. The site has step-by-step tutorials that explain the scientific and technological principles that contribute to the operation of a car. Also useful is the large categorical links section.
All Data DIY
is an online automotive repair database. Their exhaustive holdings come in the form of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) service manuals, Technical Service Bulletins, recall notices, illustrated diagrams and repair procedures, maintenance schedules, diagnostic charts, and much more. A troubleshooting guide walks you step by step through the process of diagnosing and repairing car problems. Access to this service requires paying a subscription fee of $24.99 for your first car, and $14.95 for each additional.
is an automotive information portal. Through AllData's sub-sites, AllDataDIY.com, AutoZone.com, and ProCarCare.com, visitors can learn how to diagnose and repair malfunctioning car parts, purchase car parts and accessories, and locate auto repair shops in their area. AllData also has an area with information for automotive professionals.
For classic car enthusiasts, the Web is a great forum for interacting with other collectors, conducting research, and buying/selling vintage rides. Of the myriad sites you'll find, first and foremost are the vintage marketplaces, where buyers can browse classified ads for thousands of cars, and sellers can post their cars for thousands of buyers to see.
- There are three primary ways to acquire a classic car online: by responding to a privately placed classified ad, by responding to a dealer's ad, or by bidding at an online auction.
For buying and selling vintages cars …
is the online home of Hemmings Motor News. It's a large information resource for car collectors and vintage aficionados. Classified listings of over 30,000 classic cars, along with 10,000 car clubs and a dealer showroom with listings from over 130 classic car dealers around the country, make Hemmings.com one of the most comprehensive collector car marketplaces on the Web.
is a classifieds marketplace for exotic, high-end new and used cars. Cars can be searched by make or by class. For sellers there are a variety of listings packages.
is the collector car, motorcycle, truck, and vehicle division of the popular auction Web site. EBay provides buyers with a comprehensive protection plan that will ensure you don’t fall victim to scams or purchase a car of misrepresented quality. All the characteristics are laid out plain and clear on the "Buyer Services and Protection" page.
Cars On Line
is a collector cars classifieds site. Despite the site's lackluster design, there are plenty of solid listings and a modest posting fee for sellers. For buyers, there’s a prepurchase inspection service to take the stress out of long-distance buying.
hosts collector auto auctions around the country. The site offers photos from recent auctions, a schedule of events, and a “Showroom” of specialty cars available for sale.
For collector car restoration, research, and more …
The DIY Network
's Web site features step-by-step walkthroughs for over 15,000 projects. In their "Automotive" section you'll find repair and restoration tips for a diverse list of projects including body work, fuel systems, detailing, and brakes.
has a project gallery where visitors can post pictures and recaps of restoration projects they've undertaken. The “Resto Talk Q&A” area is the place to ask questions and get advice.
Car Collectors Market Journal
is published 40 times a year and recaps major classic car auctions. Each edition includes event summaries, car descriptions, and result lists. The website presents abridged editions of the Journal to see if you'd be interested. A subscription carries a steep price of $240 per year, but for the serious collector it might very well be worth it.
Jay Leno's Garage
is the Internet home of talk show host Jay Leno's impressive car collection. At this awesome site Leno personally takes you through each car in his enormous garage. With cool videos, detailed descriptions, and Leno's characteristic wit, there's plenty here to keep you interested and entertained.
is a classic car blog with coverage of auctions, restorations, automotive history, and some cool cars.
Car blogs provide entertaining news through their unique editorials on the daily happenings of the automotive world. The coverage spans a variety of topics, including car reviews, industry news, auto show recaps, discussions of the latest technology and concepts, and commentary on driving culture.
- What's listed below is only a small sample of what's out there for automotive blogs. If you like what you read and want to find more, there are a few methods you can use. First, try using a blog search engine like Technorati. Once at Technorati, do a search for terms as general or specific as you'd like the blog to be, such as "cars" or "Fords."
- Bloggers recommend the other blogs they read in lists called "blogrolls," generally found in the margin of a given blog's page. If you like what you're reading, you may have similar tastes to the author.
- Most magazines that maintain Web sites have a handful of staff bloggers. If you're a fan of Car and Driver or Popular Mechanics, check their sites to see what their writers are blogging about.
For auto news and blogs ...
is a source for news and quality commentary. It's updated multiple times throughout the day by a team of dedicated bloggers. Interesting posts address the quirky, cutting edge, and downright fascinating side of automotive news.
The Truth About Cars
' team of car-fanatic writers combines car reviews, editorials on the auto industry and market, and podcasts in this blog.
posts unanimously showcase extreme, cool, bizarre, and hilarious cars from around the world, complimented by some truly entertaining writing. More than just a blog on cars, the site includes social commentary on automotive-related issues.
has weekly car reviews, auto show coverage, motorsports news, and weekly features. The site also has discussion forums and blogs.
keeps readers current on wide-ranging auto topics. After reading a few posts commenting on the seemingly dismal state of the American car industry, you’ll see why the site’s tagline reads: "A Car Blog. Only Angrier."
is a thorough automotive news and information site. It has cutting-edge, user-submitted auto news from around the Web, a large auto-show photo gallery, and videos.
In the interests of the greater good, an army of selfless, gas-price-scouting citizens have made Web sites like GasPriceWatch.com and GasBuddy.com fairly accurate sources for info on the latest local gas prices. On both sites, communities of volunteers submit updated gas prices at local stations, creating comprehensive guides to local gas markets. With prices being as exorbitant as they've been in recent years, there's a heightened need for a resource that keeps you abreast of the lowest prices.
- Since these sites rely on volunteer "spotters" to submit prices, there's no guarantee the figures are up-to-date, although most are accurate by a couple days.
- If you find the following sites to be useful, consider becoming a spotter. Next time you're driving past the local gas station, note the price and submit it the next time you're at your computer. The more active these communities are, the better the information, and with better information comes the chance to find lower prices.
Gas Price Watch
's goal is to help you find the lowest gas price. Search by zip code or address and get a ranked list of gas prices at stations in your area.
is a community-based gas price finder that monitors fluctuating gas prices in regions around the United States and Canada. Simply click your location on the map and select your county, and you'll be taken to a customized local gas-price homepage showing the cheapest user-submitted gas prices in your area. Other than gas price listings, there are gas charts that show the movement of average prices over time, gas price maps that show all the prices in a given geographical region, a message board, news headlines, and more.
The Energy Information Administration
provides a chart of U.S. Retail Gasoline Prices. The chart shows the average weekly gas prices being paid by citizens around the country, making it easy for you to find out whether you’ve been getting a good deal or, well, hosed. There are breakdowns by region and major cities.
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