Now that your choices have been narrowed down, it is time to enhance your car shopping knowledge by exploring car buying on the Internet. The web pages listed here allow you to identify what kind of vehicle you want to buy, configure it to your needs and find out the price. From there your vehicle information request can be routed to a dealer to start the process of getting the best price. The dealer will typically email you right back, or call you within 24 hours. It is now possible to complete the vast majority of the car shopping and negotiating process online and through email, with the exception of signing agreements. However you will still be working with a dealership as the auto industry remains tradition-bound with manufacturers and dealers existing in a franchise relationship. How much of the process you can complete online is dependent on how tech-savvy the dealership is.
We offer the following web pages to help you learn more about car buying in the 21st century. It’s an amazing time for shoppers! Included are pages where you can research prices and get quotes and others that offer every step of the purchase process.
Nowhere else on earth can more superior information be obtained. What has occurred on the Web in the way of automotive information provision has overtaken the print marketplace for quality and extent of content. With very few exceptions, all the great car and truck buying information is linked to below.
The data here is organized by major subject category. For example, the MONEY section lists places to find interest rates, apply for a loan or lease, find banks, and obtain credit ratings. Use this article as if it were a bloodhound. Allow it to lead to information you require. Refer to it as often as needed and print out what you find to take along when the shopping starts. These pages will lead to others and it is easy to get lost in the maze of automotive material available. Just come back here to get reoriented. We’ll put you back on the trail of hot information.
Check Your Credit Rating
There are 3 major companies that track consumer credit scores. These companies are TRW, Trans Union and Equifax. You can go to each one to see what your credit score is, or you can use the convenient tool below to fill out one form and get all three.
It is important to know your credit score as it determines the interest rate you will receive. The higher your credit score, the lower the rate you can get. And if a dealership won’t give you a lot rate when you have a high credit score, get your financing somewhere else. But don’t second guess what a high credit score is. These days scores in the mid-500s can attract lower interest rates because the A. the economy has been poor and lots of people have been late on payments, B. many fewer vehicles have been selling and the automakers and banks are competing for business.
- Free Credit Report: Fill out one form and get your credit scores from all of the major providers.
- TRW: Order your report online.
- Trans Union: Order your report online.
- Equifax: Order your report online.
Auto Loan and Lease Rates
It is important to know what the going rates are for leases, loans and refinancing so you can negotiate these rates when you are in the dealership. And, if the dealer won’t give the same rate or better, get your financing elsewhere.
- Bank Rate Monitor
– Gives car loan rates nationally and by state.
Calculators – Compare Loans and Leases
The calculators below help you determine what is the best way to finance your new car or truck and how to save the most money. Once you have know what the price of a vehicle is you can use these tools to determine what the monthly payment will be based on the interest rate and down payment. You can find out whether the dealership interest rate is the best, or not. Or, how much of a monthly payment can you afford. In other words, how much car does your monthly budget allow you to buy? Another calculator will tell you if it time to refinance your car with a lower interest rate. Try out the tools below to see where you can save money.
- What Can I Afford/Affordability Calculator: This calculator helps determine what monthly payment you can afford, based on your personal budget, when purchasing a new car or a used car.
- Auto Loan Calculator: Determine your car loan payment based on your purchase price or find out how much you can buy based on your monthly payment. Change the variables to see how the payment is effected by an increase or decrease in the interest rate or down payment.
- Buy vs. Lease: This calculator compares a monthly loan payment for the purchase of a car or truck to a monthly lease payment. Monthly lease payments are always less costly than loans, but there will be expenses at the end of the lease that you don’t have with a purchase.
- Automaker Rebate vs. Low Interest Loan: Low, promotional interest rates from an automaker can save a great deal of money when financing car or truck. Use this calculator to find out if you save more money by taking the rebate or a low interest rate on a loan.
- Home Equity vs. Auto Loan: This calculator determines if getting home equity loan makes sense as a way to finance your next automobile purchase.
- Refinancing Calculator: Find out how much lower your currently monthly payment can be if your refinance.
Apply for Loans and Leases with Banks and Other Lending Institutions
COST OF OWNERSHIP
A number of factors affect what it costs to own a vehicle. Make sure to budget for the sales tax you’ll pay on a new or used car or truck, the insurance and whatever licensing fees or permits you’ll have to pay for each year.
Sales Tax by State
- Sales Tax Rates By State: The Sales Tax Institute keeps track of what the sales tax is in each state. Here is a handy chart for finding out what it is in your state. Remember, these are the state rates. The rates can differ a little bit county by county and city by city. If counties and cities have their own sales taxes, then they will be added on top of these rates.
License and Registration
- Departments of Motor Vehicles web sites by state.
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners: This site provides a map with links to the websites of the Insurance Commission or Department for each state. Visit the automotive insurance section for you state to learn about insurers. Some states offer a free tool to get price quote comparisons from multiple insurers. Pay the lowest price on car insurace.
Automotive Data and Cost of Ownership Reports
The cost of ownership involves half a dozen factors including the the cost of fuel, insurance, maintenance and repairs, depreciation and interest. Fuel prices affect the cost of ownership the most, for vast majority if consumers. If you drive a lot and commute to work getting a car with the best-possible mileage will be important. You’ll also need to consider that most cars depreciate at the rate of 65%. The more dependable and desirable, the slower the car will depreciate. But depreciation is all about what your car will be worth when you go to sell it.
- U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Ratings Guide: Visit this site to see the fuel economy ratings for vehicles you are considering.
- U.S. Department of Energy Gas Price Finder: Visit this page to find out gas prices in your area.
- U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Cost Calculator: Determine what your fuel costs will be over any given period of time, or number of miles travelled.
- 2013 U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide: Compares all cars based on fuel consumption.
- 2012 U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide: Compares all cars based on fuel consumption.
- 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide: Compares all cars based on fuel consumption.
- 2010 U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide: Compares all cars based on fuel consumption.
- 2009 U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide: Compares all cars based on fuel consumption.
- 2008 U.S. Department of Energy Fuel Economy Guide: Compares all cars based on fuel consumption.
Frequency of Repairs
- Consumer Report’s Annual Buying Guide -
The guides contain “Frequency of Repair” charts. This is a fee-based service worth every penny.
SAFETY AND RELIABILITY INFORMATION
Crash Test Results: Once you’ve narrowed your options, take a look at how the cars under consideration have fared in the crash tests.
- CarSmart.com – Compares safety features, safety test results for up to ten cars, plus other information.
- National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) – Crash test data by year for cars and trucks. Front and side impact tests.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – Crash test data by year for cars and trucks. Frontal offset impact tests.
Recalls and Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs)
- National Highway Transportation Safety Administration Recalls Database – The most comprehensive listing of recalls.
- National Highway Transportation Safety Administration TSBs Database – The most comprehensive listing of TSBs.
- All Data – Complete mirrored listing of the NHTSA data.
Child Safety Seats
- NHTSA – Information about airbag on/off switches.
These sites are everywhere on the web in increasing numbers. They often have photos, car reviews and auto-buying tips as well as pricing and option information. But they were not written for women and they don’t know anything about
the best negotiating techniques. Take the new-car buying tips sections of other web sites with a grain of salt. For help with current negotiation techniques, read the New Car Buying Guide article “Dealing With Dealers: Negotiating A New Car Purchase.”
Packages, Options, Specifications and Viewing Cars
While nothing beats a test drive to help decide which car is the right one, “cyber” test drives (reading about and looking at photos) can help narrow your choices, hopefully, to around four vehicles. With a make and model in mind, go to the “New Car Buying Guide’s List of Automaker’s Websites.” It lists the automakers alphabetically. Spend some time surfing these sites, but remember that they are sponsored by the automakers so they are not very objective. But they are often very attractive and can be both fun and informative.
New Car Buying Sites
Now that you have narrowed your choices, it is time to enhance your car shopping knowledge by exploring car buying on the Internet. The web sites listed here are primarily lead-generating sites. They allow you to identify what kind of vehicle you want to buy and configure it to your needs. That information is routed to a dealer (who may be paying for the sales lead). The dealer will typically call you within 24 hours. Several sites (and this list grows daily) allow you to buy directly off the Web, but the auto industry remains tradition-bound with manufacturers and dealers existing in a franchise relationship. The jury is still out on how direct car buying on the Internet will fare. We offer the following sites mainly to help you learn more about car buying in the 21st century. It’s an amazing time!
These are sites that show awards for a variety of automotive achievements.
- Intellichoice – Best Overall Car Value Awards; By year.
- J.D. Power and Associates – A variety of awards for everything from most appealing to dealer satisfaction.
Find a Dealer
Buyer’s services are organizations that work for the buyer (not the automakers or dealerships), helping to make new car purchasing decisions, negotiate a lease or purchase of a vehicle and get the best price. There are lots of services that claim to be on the consumer’s side, but here is one we can vouch for.
- AutoAdvisor, Inc. – AutoAdvisor is the nation’s oldest,
automobile information, consumer consulting and buyer’s service. Their phone number is 1-800-326-1976.
- Yahoo – Clubs dedicated to your dream car, as well as articles from various newspapers and magazines around the world.
- EWA – A major distributor of automotive-related
materials, offering hundreds of magazines, books, videos and models of classic cars from yesteryear as well as today’s most popular models.
- White Post Restorations – Virginia: Possibly the finest restoration shop in the country, will happily take on your project — for a price.
- Hemmings Motor News – Web site for the monthly publication of roughly 800 pages. Data is not available for free. There is a charge to order drive reports. Publication is for sale on this site.
- Car Collector Trader Online – On a recent visit to their growing site, there were 57,898 ads just for collector cars.
- Special Car Journal – Online source for collector cars and parts. The first month’s listing is free, with a monthly charge for continued listings.
- Extensive maintenance information is available in the “New Car Buying Guide Maintenance Section.”
- Automotive Service Association (ASA) – International organization that works to deliver excellence in mechanical, collision and transmission service to consumers.
- National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) -
Non-profit, independent organization that provides voluntary testing and certification for automotive service
SELL A CAR
- “New Car Buying Guide Classified Ads Section” – Place a free classified ad for a car you want to sell.
- The Find – Place a free classified ad.
DONATING A CAR
- The IRS Document -
Everything you need to know about donating a car and more.
- Car Donation Charities – National Association of Police and Lay Charities. Donation helps comfort children in crisis.
- New warranty companies add themselves to the web every week. For an up-to-date list, visit the
- Warranty Direct – Site gives free quotes and clearly spells out what the warranties include at differing levels.
CONSUMER SUPPORT AND COMPLAINT SITES
If you have problems and want to file a complaint or investigate whether complaints have been filed for a particular company, car or child safety seat, visit one of these Sites.
- Highway Loss Data Institute – is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization. It is dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries, and property damage — resulting from crashes on the nation’s highways. The Institute is wholly supported by automobile insurers.
- Better Business Bureau – Car complaint center.
- NHTSA Complaints Query Form for Cars – Search a database delivering customer complaints and comments about specific makes and models.
- NHTSA – Search a database.
- New Car Buying Guide Lemon Law section – Loads of information about Lemon Laws.
- AutoPedia Lemon Law Information and Sites – A list of states with Lemon Laws.