Use your smartphone to help you buy your next car

So you want (or need) to buy a car and you’ve decided on a used vehicle. Being smart about your buying options means doing your research, but life is busy. Sometimes, you have to take stolen moments between innings at your kid’s baseball game to check out reviews of the SUV that was next to you at the red light on your way to the game.

That’s when you turn to your smartphone and your trusted car-buying app.

In today’s market, there are almost too many apps from which to choose. Which one is going to get you the information you want on the vehicles that interest you? More importantly, which one is the easiest to use?

All great questions. I, of course, have my favorite. Rather than simply touting the virtues of the one I use, I thought it only fair to try out several that get rave reviews online. Here’s what I discovered:

  CarMax App

I’m a fan of CarMax. I like their no-haggle pricing and I particularly like the fact that I can sell them my car without the pressure of buying one from them. Their app is well thought-out and pretty straight forward. You can register and create saved searches and receive alerts about vehicles you like. One of the best features – you can access a full vehicle history report. You can search the inventory of CarMax dealerships nationwide, but you are limited to CarMax dealerships only.

 

  KBB (Kelley Blue Book)

I like KBB.com for a lot of things. It is a regular site for me in completing almost any vehicle research. Their app is simple to use, but in some ways, I feel like it is a work in progress. The look is utilitarian and with almost every click you get a pop-up, which is a bit annoying. But, two things will make me keep and turn to the KBB app regularly – KBB’s reputation and being able to determine my existing vehicle’s trade-in value based off current market pricing.

 

  TrueCar

Personally, I didn’t like this app very much, although others seem to like it a lot. It is less intuitive than some of the apps I tried. I was guessing which icons to click to get to where I wanted to be and, overall, it requires more clicks and swipes than other apps. I’m sure that, once you get an account set up so that it remembers your preferences, it’s an easier process. To grab your phone and quickly check on a vehicle you like, however, it’s cumbersome, at best.

 

  CarGurus

Still my favorite after having tested the above apps along with a few others. This is my go-to car shopping app and I was surprised it didn’t make the “top-10” lists that I read online. First-time users will have no problem finding what they’re looking for the first time they open the app. And, as a user becomes more familiar, they can start using additional features that allow them to filter results, save searches and much more.