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UK Buying Guides
Want advice on how to buy a car? Check out these resources.
Some buying guides include data - such as reviews and safety test results - on older cars (not just this year's models). Bolded text saying "This buying guide includes information on both new and older cars" in a review indicates that the buying guide on the site contains information on both new and older cars.
The AA > Car Buyer's Guide
This well written and organized guide is very helpful for the shopper about to embark on the purchase of a new or used car and its earlier deficiency in the way you selected the car you wish to look at has been remedied.
Start your selection process using one of the top three links on the right hand side of the page (the fourth link 'Tell me how much my car's worth' is of use to those with a used car to sell) . Once you've finished choosing your car you'll see a ton of information about it including reviews, model summary, emissions and more.
The site also gives a very comprehensive overview of the whole car buying process from start to finish under the Just Good Advice heading. I had earlier criticized the site for not having information on calculating how much you can afford and other financial aspects of car purchasing but that has been rectified. Good work AA!
What Car? Online - the UK's best expert, impartial source of consumer motoring advice
This site is one of the best overall resources on the UK automotive scene. You can go about finding information on your car of choice by a variety of methods. If you know which make and model you are looking to find out more about enter it into the Find A Car Review area in the top left hand area of the main page (note that you can look for reviews on new or used cars).
Information on individual cars is quite complete with specifications and links to test drives, reliability tests and safety data (although these are not always as recent as one would like). The WhatCar? rating system is shown throughout and you can quickly get a first impression of a car from glancing at the WhatCar? ratings.
There is a comparison tool within the review search tool, plenty of good information in the news section and a Help & Advice section with a long list of tips for saving money and streamlining your purchase process. If you are buying a new or used car checking out the resources at What Car? Online should be one of your first steps.
Unfortunately this once very good site continues to have its content whittled down and replaced with more commercial items as a more blatant financial focus takes over. The Buying Guide section has disappeared and information is now somewhat more fragmented than it was previously. Still it has lots of good content for the new and used car shopper.
I guess you could start with the site's Car Search tool that allows you to produce a list of cars that meet your criteria for price range, category and type of fuel. Then you can click on the names of the vehicles in the list you obtain to see specs, images, pricing information and a lengthy review.
There's lots of other good stuff on the site including news, video test drives, information on buying used, a jargon buster and much more. There is a good search tool (upper right hand corner) and interesting forums that hum with recent postings.
AutoLocate New Cars, Used Cars, Used Vans and Car Reviews
A fun and informative site that is much more than just a place to look for a new or used car. Use the Car Reviews link in the left-hand column to access interesting reviews that provide a general overview of the car as well as an anecdotal analysis of ride handling, comfort, design, performance and buying/owning. The review also lists possible competitors with links to their reviews. You can also compare the similar vehicles suggested within this tool.
Use the New Car Lifestyle Search to pin down a list of cars that suits your needs. The new car guide link from the main page (third link from the top in the list in the column on the left) allows you to focus in on one particular car and get a fair amount of information on it (although there are no links to independent reviews or galleries of either static or 360 degree views).
A great feature of the site is the WiseBuyer's Guide to buying a car - access this by going to the WiseBuyer's Buying Guide link in the left hand column. This guide will give you helpful information on choosing a car, deciding on new or used, checking the car out etc.
Buy a Car, Deals on New Cars - drivethedeal.com
This site is listed here but its full review is in the Price Guide category. This site is such a valuable resource for the new car shopper that I decided to list it in this category so that those of you shopping for a new car wouldn't miss it.
You owe it to yourself to check this site out to make sure you are getting the best price on the car you are shopping for. I used this site and came up with a price for a Ford Focus that was only £45 more than the best price from PriceCheck and from £170-£600 cheaper than the other Top 5 sites. To read the review of how the site works go to our review on the Price Guide page.
MSN Cars | Reviews, road tests and news
A well-organized site that allows you to select a specific vehicle and see extensive information about it as well as comparing it across other years from the same manufacturer or with a different vehicle altogether. Although strong in terms of information, including road tests, on new cars a lot of the other tools I would like to see are missing - there is no 'help me choose' tool nor is there an overall comprehensive buying guide on offer.
The Advice & Information link offers some good articles and the message boards are lively (although they seem to be hampered by not having any advanced features like the ability to search using keywords). There are good section on green motoring, buying used and car insurance. Overall this is a good site that could be much better with the addition of some tools and more extensive documentation to help the new car shopper.
AutoExpress - Car Reviews - Car News
This is a fairly good site with one major drawback - after a few pages are viewed you need to register to continue to view the site. I guess it isn't that big of a deal but it irks me to have to divulge personal details just to look at a site. But if you are okay with that then read on (and view on).
There is an extensive Car Reviews section that includes essential specs and a short review of your selected car. It would be nice if there was a direct link into the Crash Test data for the car you're looking up but there isn't - this would be a helpful addition AutoExpress folks!
The search feature (top of the page to the right of the LOGIN | REGISTER link) can assist you in finding data quickly from throughout the site (if you're looking for a road test you're probably better to use the Car Reviews Search - it's the two drop down boxes in the upper right hand corner of the page).
There is an interesting news section, message board, editorial section and used car valuation section (powered by Glass's Guide). Earlier reviews had discovered a car comparison tool and a help me choose tool available to registered users but these seem to have disappeared for any user - registered or not.
This site is a fair one for researching new and used cars. There is an extensive amount of information under the Buyer's Guides tab on the far left. Here you'll find guides to buying new and used vehicles, information on valuations, articles on finance and satellite navigation as well as a search tool for looking for a specific car review.
The 'Search Road Tests' link has both a quick version (that allows you to specify make and model only) as well as an advanced search that will allow you to do pretty extensive criteria setting to come up with a list of cars that suit your needs. Unfortunately I was unable to get this tool to return any results.
Although this site seems to have great promise the truth is that many links dead end by either asking you for money to proceed further or with a lack of information/outdated information (i.e. no specs on various models or specs that are for 2 year old models). Still, this site is worth a look while you're still in the research stage of your car shopping process.
Auto Trader UK - Buy & Sell New & Used Cars
Unfortunately there is no longer a comprehensive 'Buyer's Guide' on this site - instead click on the Buying tab on the far left of the page and then choose which of the headings (What car to buy, Where to buy a car etc) will contain information of interest to you. Earlier I had found a car comparison tool and a 'help me choose' tool but these seem to be gone. There is some good information here but it is scattered all over the site rather than being gathered in a logical pattern. There are vehicle reviews but not a huge number and the car you are interested in may very well not have a recent review.
Previously this was an average site but it has now dipped to only fair in my opinion.
One Stop Car Advice
This metasite has some value for Where Can I Buy A Car Online visitors but is not really that helpful. It's major problem is that it is basically a link site and doesn't offer you any information about the sites that it directs you to. Also there are not really any resources on the site - such as articles, comparison tools or the like - that put it in the league of sites like What Car or The AA.
That said you might find their insurance page helpful as it gives an overview of the different firms offering policies online. Other pages like the Car Audio page and private plates page might also help you find websites offering these services or products.
The 'one stop' concept is a good one however its implementation here is not really a 'stop' but simply a slow down and then a speed up to another site. With a little more thought this site could be very useful and of great benefit but as it is now it is not particularly good.
car source uk - used cars - mercedes, bmw, range rover, ferrari, porsche, volkswagen, vw, audi
This is a below average research resource that could use a little improvement in planning its website - information is here it's just not as easy to find as it should be.
To find information on new cars go to the New car guide (under the new cars heading). Select your make, model and range. You'll get an extensive anecdotal review (which is maddeningly chopped up into too small pieces that load incredibly slowly) and facts at a glance. You'll also see links to photos, safety recalls, manufacturer news and user reviews.
Here's where I find it gets a bit confusing. If you have selected a car where there are lots of different ranges - say for example the Ford Focus - and you click on the photos link you are then shown a list of the entire Ford Focus range (instead of just the model you were looking at). So keep track of what exact car you are looking at or you could get yourself lost in the forest here.
The photo library is a bit of a joke with a single photo of a car and no 360 degree views.There are no tools here - comparison or help me choose tools for example. There are definitely better research sites available.