Look, I get it. If you’re thinking of buying a car, you might feel completely paralyzed by all the choices, and nervous about picking the wrong car. Buying a car is stressful, no matter who you are. While asking your friends and family might seem helpful, the information they share is simply anecdotal. The bright side is that a lot of data and great information is available for you to make an educated choice.
These three sites make researching the best car for your specific needs, comparing different cars, and understanding exactly what to expect from the car you buy – easy!
Consumer Reports is a nonprofit organization that tests and compiles data about all kinds of products, including cars. CR’s testing standards for cars are extremely high, including driving each car they test for an average of 10,000 miles. In addition, Consumer Reports surveys its members multiple times a year about the products (including cars) that they own for their experiences, which informs Consumer Reports data. I use Consumer Reports nearly every single day for overall car information, testing, fuel efficiency, and data-driven recommendations.
Some examples of what you’ll find on Consumer Reports:
- Real-life fuel efficiency data including (and this is incredible!) average annual fuel costs
- Cars that are recommended by Consumer Reports based on extensive testing
- Comparable options to cars you already know you like
- Pricing information, and TrueCar to help with negotiating a car purchase
- Articles on real-time car buying advice, negotiation tips, leasing info, vehicle safety, and more
- New car models and technology reviews
Consumer Reports digital access is available for $10 / month or $39 annually. Many libraries also offer free access to anyone who has a library card, so ask your local librarian for more information on how to access it.
RepairPal is a certification network designed to help the average car owner find a quality mechanic, who charges a fair price and provides excellent repairs and customer service. But what RepairPal’s website has so much more than that, making it an excellent resource for folks that are researching the best car for their budget. Their site is jam-packed with data-driven car research – making it essential for anyone buying a car.
RepairPal can help with:
- Using their car reliability tool, you can determine the average repair and maintenance costs for your future car
- Their reliability tool also offers you comparable options with lower annual costs
- RepairPal’s site has data on the frequency and severity of specific vehicle models
- Finding a mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection after finding the car you want to buy
RepairPal is free to use and easy to navigate – making it an indispensable resource for anyone looking to buy a car.
Having a good understanding of the car that you are buying gives you an excellent advantage, leading to the purchase of a car that’s reliable and will serve your needs. J.D. Power is essentially a data analytics company with a splash of AI that’s best known for car rewards and reviews, making it an excellent place to learn more about your final choices.
On J.D. Power’s website, you can find:
- Comprehensive car reviews from experts and consumers
- Shopping guides covering things from remote starts to the latest vehicle advances
- A summary of the top vehicle awards mostly based on owner reviews
J.D. Power isn’t my first stop for vehicle research, but it’s an excellent, and free resource for cross-checking your final choices.
Once you’ve made a list of your top choices – it’s time to start looking for your new car here.
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