Driving For Deals

Tools to help you save money on your next auto purchase

The average sales price of a new automobile recently topped $33,300, according to Kelley Blue Book. For many auto buyers, however, figuring out whether a car is priced fairly remains tricky. Thanks to a number of online research tools and apps, shoppers can now more easily compare price offers among local dealers and negotiate with more knowledge. Here are four auto-buying tools to check out:

TrueCar (truecar.com)

The company collects a vast amount of data on U.S. auto sales and shows users the average purchase price for specific makes and models in their area and how much that price falls below the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). The service is free to consumers. For example, someone looking to buy a BMW with particular options (such as a sunroof) can find out what recent local buyers paid for that same BMW package. The company works with “certified dealers” who will sell the autos at pre-specified prices, reducing the need to haggle. Dealers pay TrueCar for each sale made through the site.

Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com)

Kelley Blue Book, known for its vehicle valuation guides, has taken a 21st-century turn. Its website and app let users compare ratings and reviews of various new and used autos, as well as collect price quotes from dealers in their area. A tool on the site lets users estimate the value of autos they hope to trade in to the dealer or sell to a private party.

Edmunds (edmunds.com)

The website and app provide expert and consumer reviews of new and used autos and let users compare actual prices and incentives offered by dealers in their area. The Edmunds “True Market Value” tool gives shoppers an approximate idea of how much a particular auto is really worth compared to the sticker price.

eBay Motors (ebay.com/motors)

This online marketplace has become a hub for auto deals. Shoppers can search classifieds and dealer ads for both new and used cars, and bid in auto auctions. Buyers beware, of course: Making an auto purchase online can be riskier than buying through a dealer.