Buy a Car the Web Way
When buying or leasing a car, impulse is your enemy. Given the financial commitment required to buy a car, a purchase not shown proper consideration could leave you regretting your decision for a long time. Luckily, the Web's resources are perfect for getting you the information you need and moving that perfect car from the showroom floor to behind your garage door. For a Spanish-language version of the Guide, click here
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If thoughts of buying a used car conjure up the stereotype of a cheap suit-clad salesman equipped with aviator sunglasses, Hawaiian shirt, greasy hair, and a greasier mustache, the last thing you're itching to do is make a trip down to your local dealership. Relax. Buying a used car has never been easier. With the aid of your trusted friend the Internet, you can exert mastery over the car buying process by conducting vehicle history reports, checking and comparing Blue Book values, and browsing listings until you find the ride that's perfect for you.
- To reiterate a point from the "How do I buy a new car?" section, most quality car Web sites have equally good listings for both new and used cars. For that reason, a number of our Picks from the previous section appear again here.
- When buying a used car, begin by assessing the car's value by comparing the asking price with the Blue Book price. After you've test-driven your potential car, but before purchasing it, be sure to check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and get a vehicle history report.
- A vehicle history report is a record of an automobile's service, ownership, and odometer history. Each car's VIN allows such records to be compiled in a central database and to be accessed when a prospective buyer needs them. For more information on why you should order a report and where the information in it comes from, see the sections at the bottom of this page from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Below we recommend two sites that can give you free vehicle history reports.
- AutoNetUSA has a five-step new and used car buyer's guide you might find useful.
For a buyer's guide ...
The Federal Trade Commission
has this guide to buying used cars. It explains your rights as a consumer, payment options, a breakdown of the loan agreement, what questions to ask, what to watch out for, a breakdown of warranties, and more. It also offers tips on things to consider prior to buying, along with directions on where to go if you have problems.
To learn the recommended value of a used car ...
Kelley Blue Book
(KBB) is the largest automobile appraiser in the United States, and its Web site should be your first stop when looking for the valuation of any car. 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 vehicle history reports ...
provides free vehicle history reports containing service history, number of owners, results of emissions checks, odometer readings, total loss accident history, and more. Simply enter the car's VIN, and CARFAX provides all the valuable information you want to know before you lay out the cash for that used car.
has automotive history reports similar to those offered by CARFAX. To access the free report, simply enter the car's VIN on the homepage.
To buy a used car ...
is a used car marketplace with a massive listing of more than three million cars. 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.
is part of the Autobytel Web site network, which includes CarSmart and Cars.com. Unlike many sites, Autoweb's used car listings only include cars for sale by dealers. It provides research tools such as Blue Book values, detailed vehicle reviews and summaries, and financing information including free insurance and loan quotes.
is divided into four sections: "Buy," "Sell," "Research," and "Shopping Advice." Detailed listings and plenty of articles make it easy to find a used car in your area and do the research necessary to ensure you get it at the right price.
is a sales and research site with more than a million listings for new and used cars and a variety of articles on issues related to the purchasing process.
has comprehensive used car listings. Cars can be searched by vehicle make, model, location, and price range. Get free price quotes on used and new cars, or read about vehicle recalls
on cars dating back to 1983.
is a simple online hub for used car classifieds. Search by make, model, year, price range, or geography, or read the "Buying Tips" section for a simple, five-step approach to buying a car.
Leasing a car is similar in nature to renting an apartment: you inhabit it for a set period of ... read more »
Unless you're sitting on a hefty savings account, buying a new or used car means taking out a loan. ... read more »
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