If you are in the market for a new or used car, these apps will help you shop for the best deal and save money. What I love about these hand-held tools is that you can use them to find a better price than a dealer is offering you even while you are inside the dealership, and use that to negotiate a better deal. Plus, the apps have interactive features that the websites don’t have. They are listed in alphabetical order, and each one has a special neat feature.
AutoTrader.com – The app lets you search for new, used and certified pre-owned cars near you via GPS, or by a particular type of engine or transmission, such as an eco-boost engine or a 6-speed with a sport shift. Cost: free. Neat feature: you can scan the VIN (vehicle identification number) barcode on a vehicle you like to find its history of ownership, or for a similar nearby. The AutoTrader app is available for both Apple and Android devices.
Cars.com – Look for new and used cars for sale in your area, read reviews and calculate estimated car payments. Using the On the Lot tool, you can compare inventory between dealers. Cost: free. Neat feature: Find certified repair centers to have your car serviced, and research fair prices to pay for repairs.
CARFAX: Once you sign up for an account at CarFax.com, you can run a vehicle history report on the car you are interested in buying. The free app is available for Apples and Androids. Scan the VIN bar code or manually type in the 17-digit number. Cost: free with account. Neat feature: Type in the vehicle license plate for a search to make sure the plate matches the vehicle.
Consumer Reports : Another long-time trusted source, Consumer Reports offers an app that is not a classified section or listing of vehicles available for sale. Instead, it is a guidebook on buying a used car. You can look at car ratings and calculate loan or lease payments. Available for Android and Apple users. Cost: free. Neat feature: Ask the Right Questions category gives you sample questions to ask a seller once your have found a car you like.
Edmunds.com – This car guru has long been a go-to for car buyers. The app lets you search pricing and inventory at dealerships close to home. There’s also a calculator to help you calculate monthly loan or lease payments. Cost: free. Neat feature: Get Edmund’s “true market value” to see what a particular model is selling for in your geographic region, and locate a dealer within a specific distance who is offering an incentive deal. Available for Apple and Android devices.
Honcker : Do you want to lease a car instead? Honcker lets you check prices and calculate your monthly rate on leased cars in your area. If you find a car within a 25-mile radius of your location, you can have the car delivered to you free. Cost: free. Neat feature: Honcker runs a soft credit check. Lease transactions can be done within hours, with quick application processes.
KBB.com, also known as Kelley Blue Book – The app lets you search by manufacturer for new cars, and by year for used ones, and includes reviews by both professional automotive journalists and consumers who own or lease the model. Cost: free. Neat feature: There are videos for vehicles that interest you, plus some you could afford, like the 2013 Dodge Viper. Available for Apple, Android and Windows devices.
TrueCar.com – Search for a used or new car and receive a price calculated by what others have paid for the same car. Easy to navigate and more than 12,000 dealers participate. Cost: free. Neat feature: TrueCar scans window stickers at dealerships that are including in their database so you can get a fair market price in your area.
Used Car Search Pro, iSeeCars – Available for both Android and Apple, this app allows you to view millions of used cars and trucks for sale by owners and dealers across the country. Narrow down the search by using a number of search filters including price, 3rd row seats, and even the amount of headroom in the cab. The cars are also listed according to best price, above and below market prices. Cost: free. Neat feature: Email alerts tell you if a saved vehicle price has changed.
Bonus: Do you drive an older car but wish you had some of the new cars’ bells and whistles? Try Augmented Driving. Only available for Apple, this app lets you experience a safer drive with real-time object detection using augmented reality. The app can give you an evaluation of your driving, detect vehicles in front of you or in neighboring lanes, or alert you when you have crossed into another lane. Cost: around $4. Neat feature: Take screenshots or video of your drive and save as an MP4 stream.
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