very second in the United States an average of 1.26 used cars are sold. That doesn’t include the more than 20 million new cars and trucks sold each year either. The car business is truly oceanic in its proportions. How can you be sure to find the right car for you in a sea of mediocrity? Thankfully the internet helps us narrow down options even for those willing to travel over state borders to find the right deal. However, before we can begin searching it’s important to consider where to begin the search as not all engines prove equal to the task. Today we review the top ten used car buying sites and help you to get a proper lay of the land.
Cars.Com has been around for over a decade and is well known by many auto buyers. It offers excellent results, reasonable pricing, and a good interface. One downside is that it only offers vehicle reports through Carfax and on top of that you still end up paying full price for what we know is an inferior report compared to VINSmart. One highlight is that they feature a section dubbed Repairs and Service that can really help those who are striving to maintain their ride.
True car was supposed to set a new example in terms of showing you a special value of what a car is worth on the current market in your particular area. The trouble is that to get that info requires time, it isn’t instant and you have to submit your personal information to receive it. The pricing they do show seems pretty average. They recommend AutoCheck for their VIN history reports but offer no discount on their $25 price tag.
Autotrader is in many ways the mold that many of these other companies are copying. They’ve got slightly higher than average pricing than most but deals can still be found when you really dig in. Like some of the other options, they have a feature that gives you an instant offer on your trade-in vehicle. While not as complete a report as we recommend you do get a Carfax report for free on each vehicle.
The Facebook marketplace is still developing and growing so we expect it to improve over time. As of this writing, there are few options at all. Each vehicle listed does have a “Buyers Guide” that you can click on to get additional info on what to look for. Aside from that, the pricing is all over the map and communication is spotty depending on who you’re dealing with. No options here to get a vehicle history.
CarGurus is growing and its pricing model is pretty reasonable. We were surprised by their “Questions” section that might as well be an extension of Yahoo Answers. While the selection is growing, it’s not amazing yet. You do get a discounted AutoCheck report should you want one but keep in mind that’s still twice what we charge here at VINSmart for a superior report.
This is my personal favorite for one simple reason. You can get the most results in the shortest time with a ton of wonderful little adjustments to ensure you’re getting exactly the results you want. Don’t want a front-wheel-drive model? You can tell it that. Want to be sure you get a specific package in a car? You can tell it that too. The downside is that it is simply aggregating results so once you find the car you’re going to have to use whatever features are listed on the site where the car actually resides.
Welcome to the wild wild west of car buying. There’s no telling what you’ll find out there and there’s no promise that you’ll find anything in your area. Depending on the way you search craigslist it can be incredibly slow going too. When used skillfully you can find deals but buyer beware.
eBay is almost as rough as craigslist with a couple of optional benefits. First, eBay is a mediator should something go wrong during or after the sale. Second, they do offer a vehicle history report for $10, but it only lasts for ten days. Aside from those positives, it’s a total free-for-all.
Carvana has car vending machines. That snags people’s interest. What’s unfortunate is that you pay through the nose when you go with Carvana. While you can find some deals, they are few and far between in my experience. Good things that I can say about Carvana are that they offer a free Carfax report, as well as delivery of a vehicle. In addition, should you find the vehicle you want in a Carvana that’s in a state near yours, they’ll offer you a flight credit to go pick it up yourself should you fancy that.
Carmax has a lot going for it. The only major downside is their pricing is typically over the average. They do offer an in house vehicle history report. In addition, they will deliver a car to you just for the test drive portion of your interaction. They will never sell a car “AS IS” so everything you get from therm will have some sort of warranty behind it.
Research is key here. While you can’t determine a used car value by VIN number alone it is an integral part of the equation. High-quality reports like the ones we offer aren’t subject to change and alteration so they maintain the highest level of consumer confidence. Ultimately you can be sure that if you see a good service history in one of our reports, it’s accurate, and indicates a car that was loved.