Car buying can be a real drag, but buying a car today isn't the way it used to be. Rather than spending your whole Saturday test driving and haggling, you can research cars online, look up wholesale prices, find ratings, and even negotiate your purchase so that all you have to do is walk in and sign a check. We've highlighted the 50 best resources for buying a car from research tools to blogs and advice, so you'll be armed to the teeth for your next car purchase.
Car Buying Tools
Use these tools to find out how much car you can afford, check out the history of a vehicle, find safety ratings, and a whole lot more.
- Auto Loan Calculator: Use Bankrate's auto loan calculator to estimate monthly payments and determine how much car you can reasonably afford.
- National Insurance Crime Bureau VINCheck: This free service checks a vehicle's VIN to determine if it has been stolen or reported as a salvage vehicle.
- Carfax: If you're shopping for a used car, you'll want to check Carfax reports to find out if the vehicle has been involved in an accident, been kept up on service records, and more. Most dealerships should offer this report for free.
- Edmunds.com Incentives and Rebates: Often, manufacturers have incentives and rebates available for new cars. Find out what's available right now for the models you're interested in on Edmunds.com's tool.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: How safe is that vehicle you're interested in? Learn about safety ratings and more on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's website.
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute: Another great resource for learning about a vehicle's safety ratings, the IIHS offers safety awards and test results on their website.
- FuelEconomy.gov: Find and compare the fuel economy of new and used cars with this tool from the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Auto Finance Calculator: Should I Lease or Buy a Car?: Allstate's calculator will help you make the decision between buying or leasing a car.
- TrueCar: Want to know the real price of a car? Find out the average of what others have paid using TrueCar.
- PriceHub: Another resource for car pricing, PriceHub shares pricing data for new and used car sale prices.
Car Buying Apps
Use these apps to put car buying power right in your back pocket. They're particularly helpful for looking up information on the fly while you're out at the dealership.
- Find-a-Car: Find-a-Car is FuelEconomy.gov's app for learning about fuel economy, energy and environment, safety, and specifications for any particular vehicle 1984 or newer.
- Edmunds New & Used Cars Search: Find ratings, sale listings, photo and video galleries, pricing guidelines, and much more with the Edmunds app.
- Kelley Blue Book: Kelley Blue Book's car buying app offers great information for researching vehicles including vehicle prices and comparisons.
- Vinny: Quickly scan a car's VIN bar code, and Vinny will calculate a precise wholesale auction price. You can use this information to negotiate a better deal.
- Cars.com: Use this free app to find new and used cars for sale near you, compare different models, view reviews, and save your favorites.
- TrueCar: TrueCar's app shares current market pricing for new vehicles in your area, as well as the TrueCar Price for any window sticker on a TrueCar Certified Dealer's lot.
- Credit Karma: Though not specific to car buying, Credit Karma's tools can help you get to know your credit, including your credit score, so that you're an educated consumer when financing your next vehicle.
Tips, Articles, and Guides for Buying a Car
Everyone has their own tips and tricks for negotiating the best deal, but you can take this advice from the experts. Discover car buying myths, manuals for buying cars, and advice for avoiding the worst car buying mistakes.
- ConsumerReports The Owner's Manual for New Car Shopping: Turn to ConsumerReports for road tests, reliability, owner satisfaction, and more.
- Edmunds.com Guide for First Time New Car Buyers: Edmunds.com lays out nine steps for first time car shopping success. This information is great not just for first time buyers, but any car buyer.
- Understanding Vehicle Financing: The Federal Trade Commission's guide to vehicle financing explains financing options, credit, terms, and how to shop for the best deal when financing a vehicle.
- 10 Tips for First Time Car Buyers: Buying a car for the first time? You'll want to check out this tip sheet from Kelley Blue Book.
- Reddit Car Salesmen: This Reddit thread started by a car salesman has a wealth of advice for car buying straight from the trenches.
- Reddit AskCarSales: Want one on one advice for your next car purchase? Head to this subreddit to ask questions that car salesmen can answer.
- The Value of Buying a Used Car: Cars.com makes a compelling argument for choosing a used car instead of a used car.
- How to Avoid Buying a Flood Damaged Car: Edmunds.com explains how you can uncover the secrets of flood damaged cars and avoid buying one.
- 10 Common Car Buying Mistakes: ConsumerReports explains car buying mistakes that mean big trouble and should be avoided.
- State Lemon Laws: Keep this guide handy in case you end up with a lemon.
- What Are Certified Pre Owned Vehicles?: Learn what it means when a vehicle is certified pre owned and what that can mean for you when you're car shopping or ever buying a CPO vehicle.
- Dealer Versus Private Party Purchases: USA.gov's guide explains the difference between dealer and private party purchases, offering cautions and warnings for car buyers.
- Dealership Internet Departments vs. Traditional Car Buying: Car shoppers who have grown weary of traditional car buying at the dealership have increasingly turned to online car shopping. This guide from Edmunds.com explains the difference and how you can use dealership Internet departments to your advantage.
- 5 Car Loan Mistakes That Cost You Money: Avoid making these vehicle finance mistakes on your next car purchase.
- CarGurus: You can read reviews on research websites, but the active community discussions on CarGurus can help you learn even more about a particular model you're interested in.
- Dealing in Myths: Debunking Common Car Buying Advice: Car and Driver's article explains some of the most common car buying advice myths that don't really work.
- How to Buy a New Car Without Getting Ripped Off: This guide explains how you can buy a new car without getting taken for a ride.
- The Best Way to Buy a New Car: Use game theories to buy a new car with this resource.
- Buying a Used Car? 5 Tips You Need to Know: Financial guru Dave Ramsey shares great advice for making the right decisions when you're car shopping.
Car Buying Checklists
Need a handy list for buying a car? These checklists will help you make sure a used car is in good condition, ace your new car test drive, and purchase a safe vehicle for your family.
- How to Buy a Used Car Without Getting Burned: This used car checklist has 101 points to check out on every used vehicle you're considering. It can be tedious, but following this checklist can help you avoid picking up a lemon.
- Used Car Buying Checklist: Do a pre purchase check on a used car with this checklist from Carfax that covers everything from research to test driving and paperwork.
- 25 Point Checklist for a New Car Test Drive: Bankrate's guide offers 25 important steps you should take to make sure all of your bases are covered before you buy a new car.
- Purchasing with Safety in Mind: SaferCar.gov's guide for parents purchasing a vehicle explains safety ratings, vehicle scores, safety tests, features, and more.
- Steps to Buying a Car in the Digital Age: This infographic walks car buyers through the steps of modern car buying.
Car Buying Websites
Full of resources for buying a new or used car, these car buying websites offer extensive tools, advice, and more.
- Kelley Blue Book: Long trusted as the authority in vehicle pricing, Kelley Blue Book is a great resource for pricing new and used cars, checking car values, and finding reviews and ratings. You can even see vehicle history reports and five year cost to own analysis tools.
- Edmunds.com: Edmunds.com has a number of resources for finding new and used cars, including a car finder, list of rebates and incentives, calculators, trade in values and pricing, car reviews, and much more.
- NADA Guides: Discover car prices, car research tools, car deals, and compare cars with NADA Guides.
- Intellichoice: Intellichoice offers a variety of resources for choosing your next car including awards, values, research, advice, and more.
Car Buying Blogs
These blogs offer regular, thoughtful advice on car purchases.
- Cartelligent: Cartelligent's blog covers buying and leasing, family car buying, top ten lists, reviews, and more.
- Inside Car Buying: Inside Car Buying is a car buyer's advocate, sharing great deals, negotiation tips, and ideas for saving on your next car purchase.
- Best Cars Blog: On the U.S. News Best Cars Blog, you'll see news, deals and advice about cars, including what certified pre owned means and common mistakes made by used car buyers.
- Carvana: Carvana's blog explains the service's unique approach to car buying, as well as advice for buying a new or used car.
- TrueCar Adviser: TrueCar's blog is full of how to guides, trends, reviews, tips, and deals for car buying.