Used car lots have been part of the American landscape for longer than most living people can remember. The shift to online, however, has shaken up this industry. Despite new technology changing how we search for and buy cars, it’s still estimated that consumers buy about twice as many used cars as new ones in a typical year. With that in mind, here are some smart used car shopping tips for finding the right vehicle online.
What Makes It Easier to Shop for Used Cars Online?
With all the places to shop for cars online, it’s essential to understand what features will make your search easier. Otherwise, you can end up spending time and money finding the wrong vehicle for your needs. Consider these features when evaluating whether a website is best for buying used cars:
- Vast Inventory – The top thing you want to look at when determining the quality of a used car website is the size of its inventory. While you can definitely find a good vehicle on a site without a massive selection, more options increases the likelihood of coming across the perfect one.
- Useful Navigation and Comparison Tools – Buying a used car online is going to be incredibly frustrating if you can’t easily narrow down your search to specific criteria. The tools offered by a website, including side-by-side comparisons and search features, are going to ultimately determine how well you’re able to find the ideal make, model, year, color, transmission, and more. Without this, you’ll needlessly spend time looking at things you don’t need.
- Reviews – This isn’t only important for the car, you also want to be able to vet sellers before making a purchase as large as a vehicle. Having user-submitted reviews is often the best way to accomplish this.
- Vehicle History – No matter if it’s Carfax or something else, you want to be able to see a comprehensive history of a vehicle before buying it. Otherwise, you might end up with one that has sustained considerable but unseen damage, which can cause problems down the line.
- Payment calculator – You want to be able to see whether or not a used car is even within your budget before you spend the time contacting the seller. Having a built-in payment calculator can save you a lot of hassle.
Now that you know some of the most essential elements of the best used car websites, it’s time to take a look at a few of the best ones out there.
Kelley Blue Book: One of the most commonly referenced resources for buying used cars, Kelley Blue Book is one of the first places you should go if you’re on the hunt for a ride. The company has been around for over 100 years, starting from humble beginnings selling just a few vehicles, it evolved into the value assessment guide we know it as today a few decades later. Having a long-term focus on how various data points affect the value of a car is what sets Kelley Blue Book apart from so many other sites. The company was bought by AutoTrader.com in 2010, and continues offering consumers important insights into the value of cars.
Edmunds: In the same vein as Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds has been providing car shoppers essential information about vehicle values for generations. It has been on the cutting edge of providing online car-buying data and resources for over 25 years. The company was even given a Webby Award at the first one in 1997. If you’re looking for a used car website that has all the bells and whistles for simplifying your search, Edmunds is a great place to start.
Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and Other Local Online Classified Services: While drastically different than the first two on this list, Facebook Marketplace is another compelling place to look for a used car online. While you’re not going to get all the data, filtering, and tools provided by KBB or Edmunds, it’s still a large local market for used cars, often sold directly from other individuals. Looking at Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist can be a great way to find a deal on a car, but you’ll want to do additional research on other sites before actually purchasing through one of these avenues.
There are lots of places to shop for used cars online. But ending up with the right one isn’t a guarantee unless you do a bit of work. Starting your search on the right websites can make the whole process go much more smoothly.