How to Research New Cars Online

Avoid car dealerships by doing your new car price research online.

The internet makes it easy to research new cars online, and you can quickly do it from the comfort of your computer or mobile device.

Using new car research services eliminates the need to drive from dealer to dealer and deal with pushy salespeople. And the last thing you want to do is pay too much money on a vehicle you despise driving every day.

Why You Should Research New Car Prices Online?

Dealers thrive on customers that fail to prepare before trying to buy a vehicle. Every day thousands of unprepared people pull into dealerships and blindly attempt to negotiate with professional car salespeople. Playing hardball with a dealer and not doing your homework first is a risky way to buy a car, and most of the time, the dealer will come out on top.

Most dealers will not let you return a vehicle once you’ve signed a contract. They may allow you to trade it for a different car if you get lucky. But if they do, be prepared for a substantial financial loss.

Avoiding this situation is by keeping your emotions in check, understanding how dealers make money, and not buying a car on impulse. Slow down and take your time selecting the right car by doing your research upfront before signing on the dotted line.

There are several different ways to research and review vehicles available to you. You can use the internet to shop or physically go to a car dealership and browse their inventory if you dare.

Another reason you should research is that a car salesman’s primary goal is to “sell you a car right now!” An unethical salesperson may tell you anything and everything to get you to buy a car.

Don’t get me wrong; some salespeople are honest, hard-working people, but some out there will tell you whatever you want to hear to sell you a car. The problem is, you never know who you’re going to end up with, so it’s always in your best interest to do your due diligence first.

I’ve witnessed many people come down with a “buyer’s remorse” case and try to return or trade a vehicle they bought a few days earlier. They believe since they just got the car, the dealer won’t have a problem taking it back. This can’t be further from the truth.

Benefits of Researching New Cars Online

What kind of tools and information can you find from automotive research sites? Here are a few examples of what’s available:

  • Find, search, and compare new cars available in your local area.
  • Request free no-obligation new car price quotes.
  • Free tools such as car loans and ownership calculators.
  • The average price paid amounts for vehicles in your local area.
  • Find the MSRP and invoice prices of the car you’re considering.
  • Find current customer rebate and dealer incentive information.
  • Vehicle reviews, road tests, awards, best and worst car lists.
  • Figure actual costs to own and simplified pricing.
  • Vehicle specifications, features, and fuel economy reviews.
  • Industry car news, manufacturer information, and consumer reviews.
  • Recall histories, maintenance costs, and family and vehicle safety statistics.

Use Free Online New Car Research Sites

Some of the best online car buying tools will allow you to look up anything from gas mileage to towing capacity for a specific vehicle. You can even lookup a vehicle’s measurements to see if it will fit in your garage. I advise starting your search far and wide, then weed out the cars you dislike.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful of cars, you can compare them by price, specifications, safety, or whatever is important to you after completing your research and deciding on a vehicle to purchase. You can request free no-obligation discounted price quotes from these companies also.

I’ve reviewed many car buying websites and gathered the best ones for you below. In my opinion, these are the top sites on the internet to complete your research. They all have the most accurate and up-to-date information so that you can research any vehicle worry-free.

They will answer any questions you may have while researching, reviewing, or comparing different vehicles you may be considering.

If you’re testing the waters, pre-shopping, or seriously wanting to buy a new car, the automotive websites below are the best of the best. They’ll provide valuable information to help you do reliable research to make a good car buying decision.

Once you find a vehicle you’d like to buy, read my section on how to start a new car price bidding war online to guarantee you pay the lowest price.

Important Research Information to Collect

Information you’ll need to research and review vehicles you’re considering:

  • Year, make, model, trim
  • 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Added option packages with added price – Manufacturer and dealer added options
  • MSRP – Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price
  • Vehicle Destination Charge (Critical when figuring cost or negotiating price)

Check if there is an addendum sticker next to the big MSRP sticker. Take note of any dealer-added extras on this sticker and the pricing of said options. You should check if the extras listed on the addendum sticker are installed on the car.

How to Do New Car Research at a Dealership

If you’re the type of person, who needs to touch, feel and smell a vehicle before considering it. You may want to visit a dealership to do your research.

Although you can do this, it can be hazardous for your financial well-being. Car salespeople have an uncanny way of showing how easy it is to BUY A CAR RIGHT NOW!

I’ve personally had people say the following statement to me several times as they were taking delivery of their new car. And, so you know, it’s one of the best compliments you could ever give a car salesperson.

“I had no intention of buying a car today.”

Don’t let a car salesman talk you into buying a car until you’ve done all your homework first! When doing vehicle research at a car dealership, remember you’re there for one reason, RESEARCH!

When a car salesman approaches you on the lot, tell them, “You’re not going to buy a car today; today is just an information day.”

Visit a Dealership While They’re Closed

Some car dealerships are closed at least once a week, usually on Sunday or Saturday. You can use this day to browse their inventory and check prices without fearing being bothered by a salesperson.

You can also go to a dealership after regular business hours but use caution. Some salespeople may be working late and still be on the property. Car salespeople do not like customers coming on the lot close to quitting time. Sometimes you may find them very aggressive or even rude to you around this period.

This can work to your advantage; tell an approaching car salesperson you’re walking off your dinner or wasting time until your movie starts (make sure you have a film in mind cause he’ll probably ask). Ask for his card, and if you need anything, you’ll ask him. If the salesman knows you’re “kicking tires,” he may leave you alone to fend for yourself, and for now, that’s what you’re looking for.

Have a pen and a pad with you and when you find a vehicle you like, write down the information on the Monroney Sticker (The large sticker on the side of the car with all the options and price).

You can also take a picture with your phone or camera. Make sure you carefully focus on the following information so you can refer back to it at a later time.

Visiting a Dealership During Regular Business Hours

Although I don’t advise it until you’ve agreed to a price and you’re ready to test drive the car you want to buy, you can visit a car dealership during regular business hours. Be careful, don’t fall for the hype, and whatever you do, DON’T BUY A CAR!

As soon as a car salesman greets you, be courteous and tell them you’re NOT BUYING A CAR TODAY. Today is just an “information day” for you. Your goal today is to gather information and comparing different makes and models available to you.

The salesperson should be pretty knowledgeable about the vehicles on his lot. Any questions you have, you may want to get answered at this point.

You may or may not want to test drive the vehicles you’re considering. At the beginning of your research, I would advise you not to test drive until you’ve narrowed down your search. However, if you’re the kind of person that needs to touch, smell and feel before making a decision. I would restate to the car salesman you’re not going to buy a car today, but you would like to test drive and compare the vehicle to some of your other choices.

If the car salesman is any good, they’ll still try to make a few attempts to close you while you’re at the dealership. They’ll ask you to buy the car and meet their manager. Please don’t get mad at them; it’s their job. Stand your ground, be polite, and again, let them know you’re just gathering information, and if you decide on their vehicle, you will give them a shot at your business.

When you find a new car or truck that you’d like to buy, write down the information from above. If you find more than one car that interests you, write its information down too. You will use this information later to compare, research and get price quotes online to make a good car buying decision.

About the author
Carlton Wolf is the author and founder of Auto Cheat Sheet.My name is Carlton Wolf, and I’ve been in the car business since 1994, both retail and wholesale. I created the Auto Cheat Sheet to better educate buyers about the deceptive sales practices many dealerships use nationwide. Please understand that not all car dealers are dishonest. However, you never know who you’ll be dealing with, though. I’m willing to share my knowledge and experience with anyone who listens. Keep in mind that I’m a car guy, not a writer.

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