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Where Can I Buy A Car Online?US Used Car Online Buying Sites Scorecard

The scorecard below allows you to see at a glance how the used car online buying sites we've reviewed operate. If you'd like more in depth information, you can go to the US Used Car Online Buying Sites page where you can read our full reviews of online buying sites (such as Autobytel or MSN Carpoint).

The far left column contains a link to an online used car buying site - clicking on the name will take you there. The criteria in the rest of the scorecard are pretty self-explanatory but if there is something you don't understand just click on the text at the top of the column. If there are sites we've missed or something you don't agree with please let us know.

Name of SiteSite TypeUp Front Price GivenDealer Inventory ShownFinancing Available Through SiteIs Privacy RespectedTurnaround GuaranteeOnline/Live or Tollfree HelpSecure SiteFree Service
AutobytelQNYY NYY1Y
AutoNationBYYY NNN1Y
CarsDirectBYYN YNY1Y
FordDirectBYYY NNY1Y
LeaseTraderBYYN YN/AY5Y

Online Quote Request Method

Only a few of the sites in this category are quote request sites but it's very hard to understand why any are. Despite the fact that you don't want to buy a used car completely online you certainly want to learn as much about it as you can from the comfort of home. Therefore it seems completely ridiculous that there are still a few sites around that do not give you an upfront price on a used car but instead force you to request a quote. Weird (and very user unfriendly).

Online Buying

There are no completely online buying sites for used cars. And we think that this is the way it should be. Used cars needed to be seen, test driven and perhaps even have their history checked. However the majority of sites offer the online shopper a wealth of information on the used cars they have available including upfront pricing, VIN, color and feature configuration, financing information and more.

Site type - B is for Online Buying Site - one that actually allows you to complete most of the buying process from home. Q is for Quote Request Site - one that allows you to request a quote on the car you have selected and then has a dealer (or dealers) respond to your request with a quote and availability information via e-mail or telephone.

Up front price given - Are you shown up front what 'your price' for the car will be or do you have to wait for a price to be relayed to you via e-mail or telephone?

Dealer inventory shown - Can you see what cars are on the dealer's lot without paying them a visit?

Financing available through site - Can you arrange financing through the site rather than through the dealership?

Is Privacy Respected - Does the site respect your privacy by not asking for unnecessary personal information like street address, phone number or birthdate? (You should expect to answer these type of questions if you wish to apply for financing.)

Turnaround Guarantee - Does the site offer a response time guarantee and let you know where you can contact them if the deadline they specify for response is not met?

Online/live or toll-free help - Is there someone you can call or chat to online if you get stuck somewhere in the process or need a question answered?

Secure site - This is scored out of five - 1 point for a privacy statement, 1 point for a secure page for entering personal information and 3 points for a secure page when entering financial information (like a credit card number).

Free service - Is the car buying service free or must you pay a fee? (Sites that charge a fee but then take that sum off the final price of the car are considered 'free'.)

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