The CarsDirect car-buying website in brief:
- Free new & used car price quotes.
- Payment and trade-in valuation calculators.
- Information on new car incentives and rebates.
- Trusted CarsDirect dealers in your local area.
- Easy to use new and used car search tools.
- Many quotes priced under factory invoice.
- Detailed reviews and expert opinions.
- Search new and used cars at CarsDirect.
Overview or CarsDirect
Every car dealership worth working with has an internet sales desk or department. Their job is to help people buy a new or used car online. It doesn't eliminate the need to walk into a showroom, but it does save buyers the time needed to find their ideal car. A particular draw for many people is that negotiations can be conducted by email rather than face-to-face. (Hardly anyone actually enjoys that process, except perhaps the car sales people themselves.)
For car buyers there are a number of websites that help them find what they're looking for. Our CarsDirect review addresses what this particular site offers, its notable strengths and any obvious limitations.
The CarsDirect website
Like its competitors, CarsDirect connects car shoppers with dealers who have the vehicle they want in inventory. It covers both new and used cars, but in addition to listing nearby cars for sale there's information and tools for deciding what to buy, what you can afford and even what your trade-in is worth. They also feature auto industry news and reviews of many vehicles. If you want a single website that facilitates every aspect of the car-buying process, this is a good one to pick.
The Home page makes it really easy. As well as two large green buttons, one for New Cars and the other for Used Cars, there's a menu bar with these options plus New Car Deals, Auto Loans and Video. We'll go through each of these in turn.
Searching for New Cars
Start by selecting a make. This brings up a window where you choose the model you're interested in. There's a picture of each, along with the base price and a note giving you the monthly lease and loan amount. At this stage none of these are final, but they do let you see what's in your ballpark and what isn't.
Click on the picture of the model you're interested in and you're taken to a page of information on it. This includes “Current Pricing Insights” as well as “How to Choose” and their “Expert Review”. There's also a “Price it New” button and a link to a payment calculator.
Select “Price it New” and on the next page you choose your trim level. From here, (via a 2WD or AWD option if applicable,) you land on a page where you select the options you want. (It's essentially the same as the “configurator” tools the car makers have on their websites.) You'll also see whatever rebates and incentives are available.
Once you're done building the car you want it's time to click, “Get Your Price”. This is where the site asks for your contact details so they can send you the requested information. CarsDirect uses the most up-to-date security so you know your information is secure.
Searching for a Used Car
After choosing this option, enter your preferred make and model, along with your zip code, and then “Search”. This brings up a list of cars of this type within 150 miles. There's a tool to search by price, mileage, age and distance, and a comprehensive set of filters for winnowing the list down to exactly the car you want. (Note though that the first few cars shown get a kind of "premium listing," so be sure to scroll down a few lines.)
On every car, clicking on it brings up photos and full details. And again, there's a link to a payment calculator. When you see a car you like, click to “Check Availability” This brings up a form for you to contact the dealer for discounted Internet pricing.
A very cool feature of the CarsDirect site is in small font next to picture of the car, and it says, “Free CARFAX Report”. Click this and you'll see it does exactly what it says: it serves up the CarFax report for that vehicle.
Also, if you see a car you like but you want to keep looking there's no need to write down the details. Just click the “Save” button and you'll be able to get right back to that vehicle whenever you want.
In the same vein, having set up all your filters, you can save them. Just use the “Save Search” button at the top of the car listings. To return to saved vehicles or a saved search just use the links at the top of the page.
The Other Menu Links
To complete our description of the site let's briefly look at those other options in the top menu.
“New Car Deals” takes you to a page of information about great deals. You can search for a specific make and model or by body style, (sedan, hatchback and so on.) There are also links to articles about current deals.
“Auto Loans” will let you apply for a loan right from that page, but there's also information about financing and a loan calculator.
If you prefer listening to reading, “Video” takes you to car review videos. Further down the pages there are more videos with lots of information about things happening in the auto industry.
What Makes CarsDirect Useful
If you haven't realized by now, CarsDirect.com is a well put-together website. The search tools are easy to use and they really help you build and price a new car. Alternatively, they bring up lots of used cars if that's what you want. Plus, the payment and trade-in calculators are very helpful for figuring out if you can actually afford that new ride.
For anyone in the early stages of researching their next car there's an immense amount of information, including detailed specifications and expert reviews. Alternatively, if you think you've found the used car of your dreams, having access to a used car vehicle history report can help you avoid wasting a lot of time.
Limitations of CarsDirect
There's only one real omission that we saw, and that's the absence of any cost-to-own information. That's a pity because information on likely insurance and fuel costs, plus of course, depreciation, is helpful when choosing your next vehicle. (Or if it is there, it's so tucked away I didn't see it.)
The other point to note is that, like other car buying service websites, CarsDirect is really just a matchmaking service. They'll connect you with a dealer who has the car you want, but it's still up to you to agree on a price. In addition, it's always wise to test drive a car before signing on the dotted line. If it's a used car you’re buying, always consider getting an independent inspection bfore buying the car.
Requesting Free Price Quotes from CarsDirect
Requesting a free price quote on the CarsDirect website is simple and easy. Once you've decided on the new or used car you would like to purchase or what it's selling for in your area, visit the CarsDirect website.
Select "New Cars" or "Used Cars". Next you will want to select the car you would like to price. Enter the make and model of the vehicle. The next page will show you all the different trim lines of the vehicle you're interested in. Once selected you will want to hit the "Get Your Price" button. You will then need to provide your contact information so they can send the requested information to you.
You may get one quote or several free price quotes from dealers in your local area. It really depends on how popular or rare the car you're wanting to buy is. Once you receive your price quotes, you can take it with you to the dealer to buy the car (after test driving it of course). Or you can use your lowest price quote to play the dealers off each other to get a better deal.
Why request price quotes from CarsDirect?
- Easily compare prices from several dealerships at once.
- Get connected to the Internet department at a trusted dealership near you.
- Easy-to-use vehicle search engine.
- 1 million+ cars for sale.
- Internet volume pricing & discounts.
- Make dealers compete for your business online.
- Shop from the comfort of home or work.
The more pricing information and research you can gather before actually visiting a dealership is always beneficial to you receiving the best deal on your next vehicle purchase.
Closing thoughts on CarsDirect
The way to buy your next car is through the internet. It keeps you from trudging around multiple dealerships, which saves time, offers you more choice, and spares you from negotiating face-to-face. Car buying websites aggregate lists of cars for sale, but some are more useful and comprehensive than others. As this CarsDirect review has explained, their easy-to-use website has everything you need in one place. Perhaps the only problem you'll have is trying not to be distracted by all the photos and information they have!
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Recommended Sites for Online Car Shopping
CarClearanceDeals, Edmunds and CarsDirect are the quickest way to compare new car prices in your local area. These online sites will provide you with free, no-obligation price quotes and the discounts you receive will give you confidence on your next new car purchase. Walk away from the dealership knowing you received a good deal, not hoping you did.