How to Find the Best Price Online for a Used Car

The way you shop for a used car online is changing.

In the past, a shopper might have used the online Kelley Blue Book or NADA appraising tools and then felt like he or she had done enough research to hit the road and shop.

While those indeed are valuable tools, there’s been a technological breakthrough that can help the good online car shoppers become great ones. It’s called the CarGurus DealFinder. Use it in your next used-car search, and it could save you thousands of dollars.

What makes DealFinder different, and where can you find it? Keep reading to find out.

When the time comes to shop for a used car, please don’t be the person who leaves home without doing the proper research. Whatever dealer you end up at will have a car that catches your eye, but you’ll spend too much for it and end up with a vehicle that may not suit your needs. (But the dealer sure will adore you!)

Know your budget before visiting a car lot

Before you ever leave the house, decide what your budget is. It might sound incredibly obvious to say that, but skipping this step can lead to your emotions later justifying an extra 5 grand that your wallet can’t cough up.

If you decide that spending $10K to $13K is your limit, start researching cars online that might meet your needs and fall into that price range. Trust me, they are out there!

Starting at Kelley Blue Book and NADA is a fine way to get a general idea of car values, but keep in mind that NADA is a dealer’s association, and KBB gets its prices from dealer-generated reports. Dealers have an interest in buying low and selling high, so it’s possible you could run into inflated dealer retail prices and low-balled trade-in values on those sites.

When it comes time to actually search listings, DealFinder, found exclusively in CarGurus’ used-car listings, can help give a better idea of real-world average list prices on the car you’re looking for. Not only does the site have over 1 million used-car listings, but each one is compared to the national average list price for the same make and model with similar mileage. That gives you an immediate insight into which cars are a good value and which might require some negotiation to slide into your price range.

Once you find a car that meets your needs and is priced within your budget, you can contact the seller directly and arrange your test drive, and you’ll be fully prepared to negotiate a price you can feel confident is fair!

Feel free to share your used-car shopping tips or war stories.

-tgriffith

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  1. May 6th, 2010 at 13:44 | #1

    CarGurus DealFinder compares the price of each listing in its search index with the historic national average price for that make/model/trim with the appropriate mileage to determine if a car is a good or bad deal. The national average price is determined based on historic pricing information that CarGurus has collected from various historic data sources.

  2. panayoti
    May 6th, 2010 at 12:40 | #2

    I’d be interested to know how DealFinder compiles the average used car listings for price. I see that it is tied in to Vehix and I suspect that the average price is somehow compiled by them. Is that pretty accurate?? If so what methodology is used to compile that average price?? Some sites and publications use the values gleaned from auction houses and various iterations of that while others use a more supply-demand based model for ascertaining the values. Would you suspect that the model used in DealFinder would be as accurate for used cars as it might be for new cars?? Might you know how Edmunds compiles its values?? I’d be interested in your overview of who better serves their customer base. Kelly, Nada, or Edmunds?? As you have mentioned earlier, all this is pretty subjective and the consumer is always better served when armed to the teeth with as much information as possible.

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