August 21, 2008

5 SITES TO CHECK BEFORE BUYING A CAR

Buying a car is a major life decision - after all, you'll be dealing with this machine daily for years to come - and it deserves some serious thought and research.

Whether you are considering buying used or new, there are several websites that provide lots of information to help you in your car buying process - and aren't trying to sell you their car in the process:

1. Intellichoice -- provides reviews and lots of pointers for choosing a car, including its own value rating (e.g., a 2008 Honda Civic is "excellent," while a 2008 Mercury Milan is "average") along with a target price and an estimated cost of ownership of the car over time. Awards are given each year according to type of vehicle (compact, luxury, etc.) that are worth investigating.

2. JD Power -- a true blessing to the car-shopper, this site has all sorts of great data: car buying guides (what questions to ask, what to look for) as well as studies on environmental impact as well as performance and design). Gives its own ratings for cars in many categories, and allows you to compare vehicles with each other in a table on the screen.

3. Consumer Guide -- part of the HowStuffWorks.Com group, this site gives lots of information, akin to JD Power - but with its own view on what's best. Nice to have different perspectives on a particular model.

4. MSN.Autos -- gives lots of information about new and used cars, including lots of reviews by actual car owners/users; articles on the cars; search help for finding deals near your zip code; etc. Nice first stop in your research process.

5. Kelly Blue Book -- a must-read if you're looking to trade in your old car, or if you're considering buying a used car. The site gives the "blue book value" of your car, and Kelly Blue Book is an industry standard. Lots of other information here, as well -- more reviews, dealer contact info, classifieds, etc.

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