Wednesday, April 13, 2011

WotW: Car shopping online

We've been car shopping lately. Even my little guy has gotten in on the action:

At some point or other, car shopping is a necessary evil for most of us. It doesn't necessarily have to be an evil though -- it would be downright RIGHTEOUS to go car shopping with no budget. Unfortunately, car shopping is one place that I think each of us really must stick to the budget, unless we want the budget to stick to us, right?

So how do you know if that nice dealer on the corner is giving you a good deal or not? We always presume that the sleazy, pushy dealer down the street is trying to rip you off in some way or another, but when the sales person is nice and therefore presumably more honest (because who is nice and then tries to rip you off?)... how do you know what kind of a deal you're getting?

One good place to start (at least according to my dad who has purchased many cars and is always very smart about it) is to know approximately what the car is worth. My car-savvy dad can rattle off about how much you should pay for such and such as long as it has such and such options and mileage and all that. For the rest of us, we say a little prayer that the dealer is honest and then turn to the internet. :)

I use two main sites to find the approximate value of a vehicle, used or new; buying, selling or trading -- NADA Guide and Kelley Blue Book (KBB).

Both sites work basically the same -- go to the site, enter the vehicle information, and get an average value of the vehicle in your area. The value(s) the sites provide are based on information mainly from sellers in your area, combined with some national information and some standard information (such as the monetary value of added-value perks like AC or power windows).

When you're checking the value of a vehicle, check both sites and together you'll get an even clearer picture of what the vehicle is worth in your local market -- sometimes the difference is a few hundred dollars, sometimes a more significant sum.

Both sites also offer other valuable vehicle information -- expert reviews, consumer ratings and reviews, photos and videos, and local searches, among others.

The NADA Guide values are a bit easier to understand, showing you a range of values based on the situation (trade-in, commercial seller, private seller, etc) as well as a break-down of how much the options like AC and power windows add to the value of the vehicle.

However, Kelley Blue Book has an iPhone app, so you can see values and reviews on the go, or at the dealer... or sitting at home in bed. :)

So, the dealer fees may vary and the sales tax is always a jab to the financial centers of the heart, but using the NADA Guide and Kelly Blue Book values as a guide will at least help you know if the base price of the vehicle is fair or if Joe Slub at Get-Em-Cheep Auto really is gouging you. And I'm sure there's an app out there that brings karma to the Joe Slubs of the world, so just leave that overpriced car on the lot and let karma do her job. :)

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of one squirmy boy and the wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She is the proud author of this weekly Wednesdays on the Web (WotW) segment here on Housewife Eclectic and spends the other days of the week blogging about crafts and whatever else comes up at just Lu.

1 comment:

Christina Lee said...

Kelley Blue Book has an iPhone app?!?!?! Awesome thx for that info! Our time will come soon enough!