If you’re thinking about buying a used car, odds are good that you’re already sweating the salespeople, the hassle, the expense, the worry, and the potential buyer’s remorse that comes from getting a secondhand vehicle. It shouldn’t be that way. We believe that buying a used car should be fun, breezy, and exciting. You should be able to have fun doing it, get the deal you want, and a car you love. Period. We’ve found that the best way to do that is through doing your used car shopping online. So that you don’t get screwed out there in the great digital marketplace, we’ve found the 8 best car shopping websites possible that specialize in used cars.
Related Reading: The Best Antique Shops Online and In Person
We wanted to make sure that the websites featured didn’t benefit from selling bad products to unwary consumers and they offered as many options and built-in research features as possible, so that you could just hop on, look around, and find everything you needed without having to keep a whole fistful of browser tabs open. If you’re looking to buy, sell, trade, or just compare, these are the simplest places to do it:
Fans of automobile auctions who are looking for a dealership that brings in all the best facets of wholesale stores and mixes it with quality customer service will dig AuctionDirectUSA. They have a few brick-and-mortar outlets already, so you can just go to them if you prefer; which makes it easier to get service or satisfaction if you have a problem with a purchase. They’ll give you a CARFAX report, which saves you money if you’re doing research, and they aim for no-haggle pricing that reduces the strain of negotiation. Their prices are reasonable, and their willingness to take trades, offer financing, and do deliveries makes them an easy choice, even if you might be able to find cheaper prices elsewhere.
Kelley Blue Book’s website is ideal for hunting down new cars, but the sheer tonnage of research materials available make it a great place to shop for used cars, or just check out deals you find elsewhere. Being able to check a car’s worth right from the homepage lets you know the price you should be paying so that your negotiations can go more quickly, and you don’t find yourself overpaying for a lesser vehicle. It’s been rolled together with AutoTrader.com since they are both subsidiaries of Cox, the cable and media conglomerate. The merging with AutoTrader has enhanced KBB’s sales floor while also bulking up AutoTrader’s research abilities.
Meant primarily for comparing vehicles, CarGurus has a strong presence with local listings from both dealers and individuals. It’s an easy way to compare and contrast any two cars or trucks to determine what has the most value for the money. Test drive reviews from average consumers help tell you about the cars you’re looking at before you ever set foot in the dealership so you can know what to prepare for when they put the keys in your hand. A VIN lookup report will give you a sense of how much you should be paying for any car, making this useful to have open on your phone or tablet even if you using the site to shop.
Hands-down the largest seller of automobiles online, AutoTrader is usually the place to start simply because they have the biggest inventory. Often you will find other websites linking their sales through AutoTrader, so rather than search through secondary sources, just get the goods right from the tap. When they were slapped together with Kelley Blue Book under the Cox banner, their ability to check on cars expanded exponentially. While other sites might have more features, you’re not going to top AutoTrader for having the biggest, broadest selection of cars anywhere on the internet.
Cars.com is owned by the largest newspaper publisher in the United States, the Gannet company. This gives the whole site a feel much more like an independent news organization or a classified section that is meant to help you find what you are looking for rather than line their own pockets by foisting off merchandise that you don’t want. They’ll help you estimate car repair prices, aid you in selling your car through their website, and comb through to find local listings for the car you want. New car buyers can also choose their dream loadout for a car and get a quote, just in case you want something to work towards.
The trouble with buying a used car off a locally-focused website like Craigslist is the type of people who frequent classified ads. While most of them are decent, it’s much harder to trust them. Facebook, for all its fake news flaws, has actually managed to make a smart, friendly, easy shopping experience where you can learn a little more about a seller before considering their products. Similar to ebay, a seller has a reputation to consider, and can quickly be blacklisted should they attempt to scam, hustle, boondoggle, or swindle anyone shopping with them. The ability to leave comments on a seller and warn others away, or invite them in all work in favor of the Market. You can also see the type of person they are, whether they seem like a responsible individual or have a bunch of pictures on their page with them passed out beside a bong.
The official National Automobile Dealers Association, this site is as good for new cars as used, since they focus heavily on dealers, but offer private listings too. On top of cars, you can get boats, RVs, survival vehicles, and mobile homes, to name just a few. Best of all, the user interface is among the best out there, making the job of coming through the immense range of listings something that any point-and-clicker can do. If you’re unsure of what you want, this will help direct your search so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.
BAT (bringatrailer.com) might have a homespun, tongue in cheek name, but they’re serious about selling speciality cars. To join, you must prove yourself to be a car enthusiast by submitting a vehicle for review. Rather than finding a Camry for your kid’s sweet 16, it’s built by car people, for car people. As much a community as a place to find vintage, unusual, rare, and specially built models, when you want weird, or just want to talk to some like-minded gas-breathers, here’s where you go.