There have been a lot of changes going on in the retail automotive industry recently that make it more confusing than ever to buy a vehicle. Things like government tax incentives, special APR’s, bank approvals, trade values, and (of course) getting a good deal - can drive a person mad. Thankfully, there are many tools available online that help shed some light on the subject. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of the best used car websites (as well as new) to make finding cars, trucks, and SUVs for sale as simple as ever.
Let's look at each in detail, and how they might help you with your search:
Are you someone that loves driving a new, or “new to you” car, but hates going through the buying process? You’re not alone – but thankfully, there’s AutoDigg. The minds behind this Austin based automotive startup had one thing in mind – take the hassle out of the equation. No longer is it necessary to spend hours, days, or even weeks going from one lot to another searching for the right vehicle. You can also leave your haggling hat at home, why? Because AutoDigg makes it easier than ever to get a good deal.
Here is how the process works:
- Select your car preferences.
- Your car preferences are sent to all local dealers.
- Receive competing offers at comfort of your home.
But wait, one of the best things about AutoDigg is that your contact information is kept private. Instead of getting dozens of e-mails, texts, and phone calls, all contact is done on their innovative platform. Dealers can view your request and share matches from their inventory in real-time. Instead of negotiating in-person where they have more control, you can work things out before ever leaving your home. Dealers can also see competing bids, incentivizing them to stay as competitive as possible. Once you accept an offer, your contact information is released to the dealer with the winning bid to schedule your viewing.
Best for – Getting a low price on a specific new or used model, through a reputable dealer, without being harassed.
The folks over at CarGurus have been in the game a long time. And it shows in the quality of their site. Whether you have a car for sale or are more interested in finding cars, CarGurus has you covered. They claim to help shoppers save thousands of dollars off of market prices for cars for sale in their area. As well as pairing them with dealers with solid reputations. If you find a specific unit that catches your eye, they even have a price-tracking tool to alert you when/if the price drops. Additionally, you can also view how long a specific unit has been listed for sale, as well as any price cuts along the way.
Worried about whether you qualify for an auto loan or not? CarGurus takes the what-if from the equation. By providing a free, pre-approval tool to help save you time at the dealer without harming your credit score.
They also provide a tool for determining if the price you’re asking, or the price you’re paying, is fair or not. Simply enter the Make, Model, Year, and Trim level of your vehicle, as well as the Zip Code you’re in, and CarGurus will produce a list of values.
Best for – Getting a bargain on a used car at a reputable dealer.
Most of us know of eBay, but not everyone knows it’s also a helpful tool for buying and selling vehicles. eBay Motors is a browsing category that stretches nationwide. It allows you to search for any make or model, and bid against other buyers to (hopefully) secure a fair price. You can search by make, model, transmission type, number of cylinders. As well as body type (convertible, coupe, hatchback, etc.), and type of seller (dealer or private seller).
Should you be cautious about buying a car from someone halfway across the country you haven’t met? Of course, but thankfully, eBay has a rating system that helps divide the honest sellers, from the ones that are not. Regardless, you should always do your research before buying a vehicle online. And you should always inspect it before finalizing a sale.
There are a few ways to buy, including making an offer, joining in a bidding war, and agreeing to a “buy it now” cost. Whichever way you choose to secure a value you’re comfortable with. It’s always advised to compare your price against sites like Kelly Blue Book or NADA Guides. There’s even a price watch tool that will alert you if a specific vehicle gets near a range you’re interested in.
Best for - Finding a specific vehicle, including classics, performance, or projects.
Do you ever wish you could skip the negotiation step when buying a car? Well now you can, with TrueCar. TrueCar partners with over 16,000 dealers nationwide. And offers its users a rock-bottom price on any vehicle of their choosing. Simply browse through a TrueCardealers inventory. Select the model you’re interested in, and print out a certificate that you can exchange in person. Worried about the price changing? Don’t - because with TrueCar, the price you see, is the price you pay, without any hidden fees.
How do you know you’re getting a low price? Because TrueCar examines what shoppers in your area paid for similar models. Allowing them to produce the lowest possible average. How often is this analyzed? Daily. Meaning that at any time, you’re getting the lowest market price available. Dealers can also see how they stack up in comparison. Allowing them to adjust their pricing if others in their area are lower.
TrueCar also offers several free tools on their site. Like a loan VS lease calculator and model comparisons. There’s even a mobile app if you’re on the go.
Best for - Shoppers looking to skip the negotiation part of the process.
Carvana is unique in that they not only offer competitive pricing on over 10,000 cars, trucks, and SUVs across the nation. But they will deliver them straight to your door as well. Not only that, but they also provide their own financing options. This means you can browse through their inventory, select a car you like, apply for financing, and have it delivered, all in one place. Does it get any easier than that? There are a few drawbacks. For one, their pricing is non-negotiable. So, although you won’t get ripped-off, you likely won’t secure the absolute lowest price either. That’s the price of convenience though right?
The other thing is that they only sell pre-owned vehicles, so if you’re in the market for new, you’re out of luck. Why does this matter? It doesn’t unless you’re dealing with some inequity with your trade-in since there are no new-car incentives to assist.
You’re not required to use their financing if you prefer to secure your own. But if you are in search of an aggressive lender, they work well with sub-par credit. At the end of the day, if you’re after a simple car buying experience possible, Carvana is a fantastic option.
Best for - A one-stop-shop experience without leaving your home.
CarsDirect features a ton of expert advice on which models are hot. As well as the current incentives that are available on them. You can browse nationwide on either new or used. Simply enter the make and model, and CarsDirect will help you locate one in your area through their network of dealers. Not sure which model to choose? They offer many ways to search. Including by monthly loan payment, monthly lease payment, and best deals.
There’s a reason CarsDirect frequently ends up on lists of the best websites for buying used cars (or new). If you’re someone who wants to feel good about a purchase. CarsDirect provides all the info you’ll need to make an educated buying decision.
One of the best things about CarsDirect, though, is their ability to help secure an auto loan. Their network of lenders is standing by to offer the lowest rates around, regardless of your credit standing. Meaning that if you have bad credit, no credit, or fantastic credit - you have options with CarsDirect. Once you’ve filled out a quick app, in under 24-hours, you can browse the options available to you and start shopping.
Best for - Those with poor credit and those who are new to the car buying process.
NADA Guides is likely the most well-known, most well-respected website for buying used cars. They provide new car services as well but are mostly known for pre-owned. The great thing about NADA Guides is that just about every dealer in the country uses them to price their vehicles. Why is this helpful? Because it allows you to view similar pricing data, which is a great resource when it comes to haggling for a good deal.
Simply enter the model data of the vehicle you’re interested in, and NADA gives you the retail, trade-in, and loan amounts used by dealers nationwide. Lenders even use NADA when determining their loan values.
It’s important to note, though, that NADA is meant to be a guide (thus the name). While retail amounts may be very close to what dealers list their units for. Trade-in amounts can vary depending on the shape of the vehicle. They also offer things like side-by-side comparisons, dealer quotes, and can assist in finding cars for sale in your area.
Best for - Ensuring you’re getting a fair deal, as well as a fair trade-in value.
Kelly Blue Book is like NADA Guides in that they help you determine vehicle values. But they feature more robust services when it comes to finding cars for sale. At the moment, there are almost 4-million cars listed on their system. And if you like, they can even help you sell your own. Another way KBB stands out is they offer a service like TrueCar. They partner with dealers across the country and provide an “instant cash offer” price that you can bring in to secure the amount.
KBB isn’t just about buying and selling cars, they also help with repair pricing, maintenance schedules, and recalls. Other tools include model reports, a payment calculator, loan services, and extended warranties. They even offer information on how to safely sell a vehicle, including how to create a decent ad.
If you’re having trouble sorting through all the info available online meant to assist with buying a car. Stop worrying because KBB has everything you could ever need. And one of the best things about them is that their services are totally free. They have been around since 1926, and it shows in the quality of the data and services they provide.
Best for – Basically anything involved in the car buying and selling process.
Autolist is massive, and if you’re looking for a vehicle, any vehicle, Autolist will tell you if it’s out there. You can search using categories like pickups under $10,000, sedans under $5,000, or fast coupes under $15,000. Autolist doesn’t have its own inventory. Instead, it works like a travel booking site. By searching through all the different pages available. Meaning that instead of spending hours, days, and weeks going from one page to the other and setting alerts left and right. You can simply search through Autolist.
Another reason this site is so popular is because of the information it provides. When searching for a vehicle, you’ll be able to see things like the number of days it’s been on the market, the average number of price drops, and a CarFax report.
Looking for a specific price point? Not a problem, Autolist shows vehicles in any price range, including under $1,000. They also offer guides to assist with the buying process and reviews on specific models.
Best for - Finding a specific car using a single site, in any price range.
No list of “best websites for used cars” would be complete without mentioning the infamous Craigslist. While some sites are better-looking, more comprehensive, and even more reputable. Craigslist basically started it all. For this reason, it’s earned a spot on our list. Remember to always do your research before buying off Craigslist, not everyone is as honest as we’d like them to be. Sites like NADA and KBB are great for ensuring you’re paying a fair price, and CarFax can be used to check the history.
For a few tips on buying a vehicle off Craigslist, check out this article here. Following these basic guidelines can help ensure you don’t run into any issues before, during, or after a sale.
Best for – Buying a used vehicle, at any price point, and possibly getting scammed (shop safe).
There you have it, the best websites for buying used cars, as well as new. Gone are the days your parents once described. No longer is it required to go from dealer to dealer searching for a specific vehicle. Nor is it needed to haggle for hours over a few hundred dollars.
Shopping for a vehicle doesn’t have to be a bad experience. And if you use the tools available through the sites listed above, you’re sure to have a little more luck. Happy hunting, and remember to do your research before choosing a vehicle, including how much you pay for it.