back to articles

Publish Date - December 31, 2018

Author: Dale Peterson

Categories:   Buying & Selling Cars    Vehicle & Buying Research   

Car Buying Research

How to research your next car purchase

Car buying research is important if you are thinking about buying a new car. It's important to do appropriate research before you go to the dealer's lot. When buying a car, you should research car values on your trade-in, using the Kelly Blue Book, as well as the car you are going to buy. Don't forget to research rebates and other incentives that car dealers may or may not share with you. If you are looking to buy a new car and need to conduct your research, you can use the car research tools at

How to Research Cars Online

Traditionally, car buying research involved driving from one dealership the next in search of an affordable car with low payments. Once there, the potential car buyer had no definite way of knowing the car's value or history. With all the high-pressure sales tactics employed by car dealers, you can easily become trapped unless you have done your research. The arrival of the internet has signaled the end of that era. You can now perform car research at numerous web sites that provide "insider" information on the car industry. At you can research a car's value, calculate your car payments and get up to four loan offers all on one website. provides you with both the trade-in value (wholesale price) and market value (retail price) of a used car so that an accurate offer can be confidently made to the car dealer. Often, online car research tools provide car photographs and much more information than one would find in a classified ad. Research thoroughly and widely to avoid making car buying decisions on impulse, and compare the research gathered online to local car dealer websites and local car classifieds for retail pricing.

When researching an car, on the website, you will typically be asked to fill in some search parameters: the make and model you're interested in, your price range, and the region (often based on your ZIP code) where you'd like to shop. You then get a list of cars that fit your buying criteria, along with the seller's e-mail addresses or phone number. Because many of the current sellers are car dealers, most of these specialized sites offer direct links to the dealers' Web sites. Many services also let you place a classified ad for selling your old car, either free or for a small fee.

Should I Research a Car's History?

You should research the history of a used car before you buy. You can piece some of the history together by interviewing the former car owner and looking at the car's service records. You can also buy a car history report from at least two companies that track vehicle histories. Carfax offers fee-based car background reports using information from motor vehicle records, police departments and elsewhere. Usually, for less than $20, you may learn that a car is a repaired wreck or that its odometer had been rolled back. One caution: Never assume these companies find everything. Always have a mechanic check out the car completely. If you're buying from an individual, examine the title document carefully. It might disclose that the car had been classified junk or salvage, or that it was repurchased by the manufacturer under a state lemon-law program. You also should ask whether anyone else had ever owned the car. It is commonly believed that one-owner cars are less risky than those that have had multiple owners. If you are buying from a dealer, inspecting the title can disclose the previous car owner's identity. If so, try to contact that person and politely ask about maintenance, accidents, mechanical problems, and other details.