Where is the best place to research my next car, truck or SUV purchase?

Posted Saturday, May 06, 2017

Where is the best place to research new cars?

Truecar, Edmunds.com, kbb.com, Costco Auto Buying, there are so many different companies that all offer advice for buying a car, and they all make roughly the same promise: “We can save you the most money.” But what’s the difference between them? How can I really get the best price on my new car?

Kbb.com, Edmunds.com, etc. These websites are the most impartial when it comes to offering you information on a new car. They make their money from dealer-advertisers who pay to show up on their page in the form of both banner advertisements, as well as being listed for customers to get a quote on a car. Dealerships pay either a monthly fee, or pay per lead they receive from these websites. As a consumer, you go through their step by step process to build out the car equipped the way you want. The website will offer you their advice as to what is a fair price in relation to retail and invoice, but it’s up to you to contact a dealership, negotiate a final price, and verify if that vehicle is actually available. Therefor these websites are great to get a frame of reference on pricing for your new car, but by submitting your information for a quote, you are subjecting yourself to being contacted by a number of dealerships all vying for your business. Many will give you a straight forward price quote, but some will not, instead calling and e-mailing you in an effort to bring you into their store.

One thing to look out for: In my years working for large franchised dealerships I’ve seen many customers get frustrated based on the information they learn on these sites. Not that the information is bad, or wrong, it’s just incomplete. While these websites generally have a complete list of options, they have no way of verifying what combination of options manufacturers are actually building. So while the website might show you can get a DVD rear entertainment system with cloth seats, in reality the car maker may not be building any equipped that way. This oversight can mislead consumers into thinking they can buy something they can not, and often times ends up causing confusion, frustration, and wasted time.

The lesson here is to proceed with caution. It’s not that the websites are trying to mislead you, it’s just that they don’t have all the details. If you want information on a specific car that’s actually available to buy, you will need to contact a dealer, and submitting your information with these sites puts you in as a ‘lead’ in various dealer systems, subjecting you to calls and emails from them.

Truecar.com has a new feature, where they partner with various dealers to include their specific inventory on their site, allowing you to get a live price quote on a vehicle that’s actually sitting on the lot, one you can actually drive to the dealer and see, test drive, or buy and take home if you wish. Unfortunately Truecar is one of the most expensive companies for dealers to partner with, and as such, typically only have one dealer partner in each local market, meaning you’re only seeing a small fraction of the cars that are really available.

Truecar.com also charges a large fee to the dealer for each sold customer, meaning the dealer has to allocate some money out of their profit to pay Truecar for their service. This means there’s less room to discount the vehicle for you.

So, where do I go then? To be fully educated, we recommend viewing information from various different sources such as kbb.com, Edmunds, etc. Just be aware that what you’re seeing isn’t necessarily indicative of the best selection, or the best possible price. To confirm availability and pricing, you will need to talk to a dealer.

Is there a better way? We think so! Here at Petrol Auto Sales we offer a brokerage service. A brokerage service works for you, the customer, to negotiate the best possible price, and search inventory nationwide to find you the exact car you’re looking for. If you don’t want to subject yourself to harassing calls and emails by dealers, contact us, and let us show you the benefits of using an auto broker. We will do all the negotiating for you, secure you the best possible price, and most importantly save you time. For more information on our brokerage services, see our article on brokers here, or contact us! Happy hunting!