Finding the right used car online is a lot simpler if you know where to look


012915 SC Finding the Right Used Car Online
Photo: ford-life.com

Nearly 40 million Americans will purchase a used car, truck or SUV this year, many of them customers of Santander Consumer USA.

And most of those shoppers – 95 percent, Google says – will spend time online to find their next car.

But imagine setting out to purchase a pre-owned vehicle knowing that you will be sorting through all the same factors as new-car buyers multiplied by the number of model years you would consider.

And, then there are other issues such as whether to buy a certified or a non-certified vehicle to boot.

Where do shoppers go to do their homework or find a vehicle? Sites such as Yahoo! Autos, AutoTrader.com, KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book), Cars.com, Edmunds.com, AutoBlog and CarGurus are at the top of the list of the most popular car websites, according to this month’s online eBizMBA.

But not all of those websites seem especially well-suited to ready buyers, our research suggests, although about half of the sites we identified are on the eBiz list of the most-popular Web destinations. We started with 22 websites, including most identified by eBiz and a previous study by J.D. Power, and finished with seven that appear to do the best job of pointing shoppers to specific vehicles and sellers.

Here are those seven websites, along with our notes, from a sample search for a certified pre-owned Chrysler 200 (2014 model or earlier) available within 25 miles of a selected ZIP code:

AutoTrader.com – Fairly easy to use. Best selection (184). Dealers identified.

CarGurus – Easy to use. Good selection (141 cars). Dealers identified.

Cars.com – Easy to use. Good selection (136). Dealers identified.

Autobytel – Easy to use. Good selection (120). Dealers identified. Not on eBiz list.

eBay Motors – Fairly easy to use. Good selection (120). Not on eBiz list.

Usedcars.com – Easy to use. Good selection (114). Dealers identified. Features CarMax. Not on eBiz list.

Carsdirect.com – Easy to use. Good selection (113). Dealers identified.

“The Internet is the only place to shop for a used car,” wrote Keith Griffin at about.com. “The primary reason is search capability … It allows you to precisely determine what you are looking for, what price you want to pay, what features you want” and how far you want to cast your net.

Of course, if you’re still researching possible make-and-model choices, other websites may provide a better experience. In a recent survey by J.D. Power research and consulting firm, Edmunds.com (786 points) and Cars.com (783) were rated “among the best” on J.D. Power’s 1,000-point scale, while U.S. News Best Cars (764), Kelley Blue Book (762) and MSN Autos (761) “rated better than most.”

And then when you’re ready to purchase that new or used car, truck or SUV, make sure you check out Santander Consumer USA, which provides indirect financing through 14,000 dealerships nationwide – ask for us among your financing options – or through Chrysler Capital purchase or lease programs or through SCUSA’s direct-to-consumer RoadLoans program.