Places to Buy a Car Other Than Dealers
Car buying services will help you get the car you want at the best price possible, by doing the comparison shopping for you. Providers of this service include CarBargains (800.475.7283), AutoAdvisor (800.326.1976), and CarQ (800.517.2277).
Online networks work with a large number of dealers to help you find the car you want in your area. The leaders are Auto-by-Tel, Autoweb, and MSN Carpoint. You enter your information and a nearby dealer contacts you with a fixed, no-haggle price. The one drawback is that most of these services offer geographic exclusivity to dealers, eliminating the competitive bidding among dealers that can lower the cost for you. In general, the prices tend to be good, but not great.
There are also "offline" no-haggle dealers who save you the trouble of negotiating by offering fixed prices. Carmax and AutoNation are the leaders in this area. Again, the main attraction is convenience. But as with online networks, the prices tend to be good but not great.
If you are an excellent negotiator and don't mind a little extra effort, you'll probably do better at a traditional dealership. If you're a terrible negotiator or don't have time to do the legwork, you'll probably do better through an online network or no-haggle dealer.
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