The Insider's Guide to Car Buying ☰ 

How to Research New Cars Online

how to research new cars online.

To keep from paying too much for a new car you should take the time to research and compare vehicles before visiting a dealership. The internet makes researching new cars online easy and it can quickly be done from the comfort of your computer or mobile device. The last thing you want to do is spend a bunch of money on a vehicle you hate to drive every day.

I've witnessed many people come down with a case of "buyer's remorse" and try to return or trade a vehicle they just bought a few days earlier. They believe since they just got the car, the dealer won't have a problem taking it back.

Most dealers will not let you return a vehicle once you've signed a contract. If you get lucky, they may let you trade it for a different vehicle. But if they do, be prepared for a huge financial loss.

The way to avoid this situation altogether is by keeping your emotions in check, learning how car dealers make money selling new cars, 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's a couple different ways to research and review vehicles available to you. You can use the internet to shop available new cars out there or you can physically go to a car dealership and browse their inventory, if you dare.

Read my useful new car buying tips to familiarize yourself with the process of buying a new vehicle.

How to Research & Compare New Cars Online

Take the time to research and compare your vehicle selections before you wander aimlessly into a dealership. Picking a car just because you think you'd look cool driving it, doesn't mean it's the right car for you or your family.

Why Research Vehicles Online First?

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 salesmen. 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.

Another reason you should do your research first is because a car salesman's main goal is to "sell you a car right now!" They 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 there are some out there that 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.

Once you select the vehicle you'd like to buy, you'll want to figure a fair profit new car offer and then determine how much cash down to put towards the car.

Benefits of Researching New Cars Online

There are several free tools and information on the internet What kind of tools and information can you find from an automotive research site? Here's a few examples of what you can do:

  • Find, search, and compare new cars available in your local area.
  • Request free no-obligation new car price quotes.
  • Free tools such as car loan and ownership calculators.
  • Average price paid amounts for vehicles in your local area.
  • Find MSRP and invoice prices of vehicle you're considering.
  • Find current customer rebate and dealer incentive information.
  • Vehicle reviews, road tests, awards, best and worst car lists.
  • Figure true 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 websites will allow you to look up anything from gas mileage to towing capacity for a specific vehicle. You can even look up a vehicle's measurements to see if it'll fit in your garage. My advice is to start your search far and wide, then start weeding out the vehicles 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 you've completed your research and decided on a vehicle to go with. 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 you can do research on 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 just 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 you with valuable information to help you do reliable research so you can 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 (Very important when figuring cost or negotiating price)

Check to see if there is an addendum sticker next to the big M.S.R.P. sticker. Take note any dealer added extras that may be on this sticker along with the pricing of said options. You may want to take a quick look to see if the options on the addendum sticker are actually installed on the vehicle also.

Research New Cars at a Dealership

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

Although this can be done, it can be very dangerous for your financial well being. Car salesman have an uncanny way of showing you just how easy it is to BUY A CAR RIGHT NOW! I've personally had people say the following statement to me as they were taking delivery of their new car.

"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! Once a car salesman approaches you on the lot let them know, "You're not going to buy a car today, today is just an information day."

Visit a Dealership While They've Closed

Some car dealerships are closed at least one day a week, usually Sunday and sometimes Saturday. You can use this day to go browse their inventory and check prices without the fear of being bothered by a salesperson.

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

This can work to your advantage, just tell an approaching car salesman you're walking off your dinner and/or wasting time until your movie starts (make sure you have a movie in mind cause he'll probably ask). Ask for his card and if you need anything you'll ask for him. If the salesman knows your just "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 vehicle with all the options and price).

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

Visit a Dealership During 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 normal business hours. Be careful, don't fall for the hype, and whatever you do...DON'T BUY A CAR

As soon as you're greeted by a car salesman, be polite and courteous, let them know you're NOT BUYING A CAR TODAY. Today is just an "information day" for you. Your goal today is to gather information and browse and compare the 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 them answered at this point.

You may or may not want to test drive the vehicles you're considering. At the beginning point of your research I would advise to not 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. 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 it's information down too. You will use this information later to compare, research and get price quotes online so you can make a good car buying decision.

What to do After Researching New Cars Online

After you've picked a car or cars you'd like to do some more research on. Be sure to visit one of the top automotive research websites such as Car Clearance Deals and Edmunds, to research the vehicles you've picked out.

You can also check prices, invoice costs, resale values, rebates, incentives, safety features, and even get free internet new car price quotes. The more information you get up front during your car buying process will guarantee you years of happiness with your new vehicle.

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Did You Know?

Buyer's remorse is an emotional response experienced by a car buyer during or after the car buying process. Buyer's remorse can be described as feelings of depression, anxiety, fear, regret, or any combination of these.

Most dealerships do not have a three day return policy or cooling off period on new or used car purchases. "Buyer's Remorse" will not be enough to get you out of a vehicle purchase or return a car to the dealer.

The best way to minimize buyer's remorse, or to avoid it all together, is to not rush the car buying process. Take the time upfront to do your research and make sure you buy the right car the first time.

How to Get the Best Price

Have local car dealers compete for your business. Start an online bidding war between dealers from the comfort of your computer.

Get local dealers to compete for your business by requesting free, no-obligation price quotes from the following online companies.

Best Car Pricing
Car Clearance Deals

Competition between dealers is the best way to ensure you get the best price. You win when dealers compete!