Remember the days when the car-buying process was only slightly less excruciating than being pulled apart on a medieval torture rack?
You would go to a dealer and be accosted by a chatty, smarmy salesman who would stick to you like chewing gum on a shoe. If you were fortunate enough to find a vehicle you liked, then you had to endure the agonizing back-and-forth involved with negotiating the price.
When the anguishing process finally ended, you would drive off of the lot in your new (or used) car. But instead of feeling satisfied with your purchase, you would want to go home and take a shower – and you still weren’t really sure whether you got a good deal or not.
Thankfully, the era of car negotiation is on life support – and is about to flatline completely. Today, there are so many online tools available which help you get all of the information you need about the vehicle you’re looking for (much like shopping for auto insurance quotes over the Web). As a result, modern car buyers are walking into dealerships armed with prices, option packages, and other data which remove the need for haggling and dealing.
Here are five such sites:
- Cars.com. You may have seen the commercials where you can pick out the make model, and year of the vehicle you want – and then get a price and a dealer near you where you can get it.
- Kelly Blue Book. This book once held the closely-guarded proprietary numbers by which used cars were priced. But now with a few mouse clicks, you can get access to the same information that the dealers have.
- Edmunds. This site computes the MSRP, invoice price, and true market value of all new cars and trucks – so you can be armed with those figures when you step onto a car lot.
- CarsDirect.com. Perhaps the most versatile site, it lets you pick out new or used cars and accessorize them with the options you want – and changes the target price accordingly.
- Trucar.com. This new site not only gives you MSRP and invoice, but also tells you what the dealer cost is and provides you with a market average price – so you know what a good deal looks like.
The next time you’re in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle, take a few minutes to check out one (or all) of these online tools before you head for the car lot. Although the process still won’t be as pleasant as watching a sunset on the beach with a fruity drink in your hand, it will almost certainly be better than the last time you dealt with a car salesman.