Cars.com vs CarGurus vs TrueCar: Best Car Search Engine
Instead of trying to find cars by visiting one dealership at a time, there are now car-specific search engines online that will let you narrow it down more efficiently. Here are a few of them including a comparison.
You can search right from the main page, including putting filters in for make, model, max price, zip code and distance from you in miles. The site has more than 31 million people visiting it every month, so it’s safe to say it’s one of the biggest search options for car listings on the Internet.
- Read Reviews and Specs-You can read specs and reviews right from the main page with the tab there. This is also something where you search based on make and model.
- Search by Dealers or Service Centers-This is the third tab on the main page, and it basically just allows you to search based on make and distance to you.
- Smart Target Price-This feature from Cars.com gives a reference price of the car you’re looking at. The car price is based on a combination of different factors like demand, suggested price, how available the car is, and other factors as well. You can’t get the smart price for used cars or something exotic. It might also not be available for absolutely every new car that comes up either. The cost disregards taxes, fees, and rebates.
Car Gurus makes it simple to see what cars you searched last, making it a good site to return to again and again with subsequent new searches. The filters on the site are extensive and you can check off boxes for all manner of options such as a navigation system, a sunroof or moonroof, and so on.
- Intuitive Car Search History-It’s super easy to access your last searches through the site since they are listed right beneath the main search window under where it says “Your Last Search.” You don’t have to hunt for it or anything, which is a plus.
- Clear Markings for Deals-One feature that makes Car Gurus good for quick scanning is the little arrow beside each car listing. The green arrow pointing straight up means the site has determined it’s a “great deal.” A yellowish arrow pointing to the site is a fair deal, and the arrows pointing down in red indicate a high price or that the listing is overpriced.
- Wide Filter Selection-You can search for practically anything on the site, including days on market, vehicle certifications, MPG, and even a text search for a particular word in order to find the features you want.
TrueCar focuses on showing you what others paid for a car so you can see where your particular listing ranks on that scale.The site has a lot of modern options like
- Guaranteed Savings-The big feature from TrueCar is where you get a guaranteed price from vehicles that are in stock and on the lot. This isn’t available in every state, so it’s worth checking this online. For states where you can’t get a guaranteed price, you get a “target price” instead, which you then have to negotiate with the dealer. You actually can get a guaranteed price certificate this way.
- Sell Cars in 24 Hours on Mobile-The iOS and Android versions of the service claim that you can get a car to sell in 24 hours through the mobile approach.
- ClearBook-This is available from the main site with a link at the bottom. The new page lets you select your location in the upper right corner of the site, and then choose your make and model. The ClearBook approach will then analyze millions of different listings to tell you what the value of your car is in comparison to your area. That way you can come up with a fair selling price. It helps to keep people from trying to cheat you on the value of your car.
Head to Head
You can use an email form under “contact Us” which is in the purple box at the bottom of the page. There’s also a variety of phone numbers down there for Cars.com as well. There’s even a list of all of the main players in the company and customer support so you can get a better sense of who you’ll be talking to in general.
If you click on the orange question mark in the bottom right corner of the site, you can access a quick way to send messages to customer service on the site. This is the “send us a message” box that pops up when you click on it. There’s also a contact link in the bottom right where you have to say whether you’re a dealer or not.
TrueCar has phone options available for customer service at 888-TrueCar until 9 PM EST on weekdays and until 7 PM EST on the weekend. The contact link page for the site also lets you send a form email to get help with your customer service inquiries if you want as well.
As far as searching power goes for Cars.com, it will generally show you the top dealers within 50 miles or so of you if there aren’t a lot in your depicted range. Cars.com offers discounts through Promocodewatch, Promocodes.com, and Vouchercodes.com.
Car Gurus have the advantage of making it easy for you to quickly scan listings based on their arrow feature. The listings with arrows pointing straight up are the ones with the best deals. This part of the listing will also tell you exactly how far below the basic market value each listing is. Easy scanability makes your job easier, after all.
The guaranteed price certificate is the main draw of TrueCar. The site claims that the average amount to save this way is over $3000. You can print out your certificate and walk into the dealer with it in order to get the deal the site makes for you. This isn’t active in every state in the nation though. Some states will only give you a “target price” instead.