Any recommended car buying/pricing resources?

10yr old car just totaled. I remember there used to be a free service that gave pricing information before it was bought by dealers and nerfed. Any recommended new places to get actual sales data pricing info?

For used, the best I have is access to a commercial NADA for auction / retail values. I think TrueCar is the website that I remember when it first started, but I think it’s owned by dealers now.

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Don’t have any specific sites to recommend but my advice is to always use temporary phone numbers and email addresses when requesting quotes from these sites. Otherwise, you’ll have dealers calling you constantly even after you tell them you own a brand new car.

Also, Internet quotes are often valid and almost as good as you could get going through “the grind”, but there are dealers who will layer on pack options that are in addition to the quoted price.

Good luck!


Yes, Truecar sure isn’t what it used to be. If you are looking for a commonly found model, I used a method that I found on Fatwallet that worked perfectly. However it backfired when I used it to look for a semi-rare model. This worked well for me in 2011, so I’m not sure how it would do in today’s market. Here is exactly how I got a car that was in the lowest 3% of Truecar’s estimated prices.

  1. Two weeks before the end of the quarter, I phoned every Honda dealership within 2 hours (that was our limit) and got the email address of the internet sales manager. If they did not have an internet sales manager, I got the email address of their fleet sales manager.

  2. At 5:00 a.m. on the last day of the quarter, I bcc’d each of those email addresses with the following:


    I will purchase the following car by the end of business on March 31, 2011:

    2011 Accord Sedan EX
    Automatic Transmission
    Cargo Net
    Exterior color: Alabaster Silver Metallic
    Interior color: Gray

    The cargo net is not an absolute requirement. However, the remaining
    features and color are required. Please be sure you have this car, or can
    get it quickly through a dealer trade.

    My zip code, for tax calculations, is xxxxx. I will pay for the car
    with cash. Please provide an out-the-door quote by 3:00 p.m., as I will
    purchase the car this evening, and there may be some drive time
    involved. Also, please provide your phone number so that I can call you
    once I receive the quote.

    To be fair, I am requesting pricing from various dealers. I do not wish to
    waste anyone’s time, so please be sure to obtain any required approval from
    your manager before quoting a price.

    Thank you, and good luck.

    Honking Goose


So how many dealers did you email and how many got back to you?


I can look up actual dealer auction sale prices by year make model submodel. I usually lookup Ebay prices on sold cars I’m looking at buying.

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I sent it out to 10 dealerships, with slightly over 50% replying. One was undeliverable.

The two lowest quotes were significantly lower than the rest, but were within 50 bucks of each other. The lowest of the two was also the first to respond, and waited 10 minutes past closing for us to get there. It was by far and away my best car buying experience ever. When I tried to do this with a vehicle that had very limited availability, it backfired horribly.

I suspect that manufacturers and dealers have a found a way to limit the success of what I did. Back then, I had to call all of the dealerships to get their internet sales manager’s email address. Now, I suspect you can find it on the dealership website.


You’re right about that, but I also suspect every floor salesman calls themselves “internet / fleet sales manager.”


This is a great tactic, but I would never do it on the very last day of the month or quarter. I would get the ball rolling several days before the end to give you and the dealer some wiggle room. Plus, I want a good inspection and test drive of the exact car I’m going to buy. That’s not going to happen late in the day on the last day when you’re trying to get a deal done.

I think he was buying a brand new car (a 2011 model in 2011), so this didn’t apply.

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Unless its a demo car or has been sitting on the lot for a long time. I might actually be crazy and end up buying the exact same car that was totaled.

Maybe not a test drive since mechanical issues are covered by warranty, but you definitely have to inspect. Lots of new cars have dents, dings, scraped wheels, paint issues, and dirty interiors.

TrueCar used to be a good resource until they were bought out by a bunch of dealerships. So, not a good resource, IMHO.

My goal is always to try for 20% off MSRP. It will depend on how badly I want the car.

It was a new car, freshly washed, and it was covered in flood lights. I inspected it, and because we were in a hurry (2 hour ride home), he sped through the required Honda spiel.

I was pretty impressed by the dealership and the salesman. I almost felt bad asking, but had to ask him if the tank was full - it was. That salesman has sent an email on the anniversary of the purchase every year. Although this seems like basic salesmanship to me, no other car salesman has done it.

My father bought his Toyota from the insurance company after being totaled – THRICE. He finally sold it after being totaled the third time. :disappointed:


That too actually. But I WAS previously meaning a used vehicle of the same exact build but different nameplate.

It seems like 1/3 of the estimate (~$2k+) is blending paint, 1/5 is the trunk lid (which may be available in great condition at a local car yard for ~$100). And I think assumptions of possible damage unseen without opening the trunk. I surprisingly got it open. To my untrained inspection, damage seems confined to the bumper, bumper cover, trunk lid, and piece of metal between trunk lid and bumper. The floor of the trunk has no buckling visible. And <$1500 salvage value seems a low risk. The appraiser just looked at it in my driveway. I may take it by a few places for estimates sans paint-matching. My only concern is thaty theres no safety/hidden damage. And unknown regarding title. The adjuster told me it still has a clear title and won’t be marked salvage if I retain it, but I’m not sure about that.

What’s the story on the backfire?

Don’t buy new, use the CarGurus app to check prices on 2-3 year old used cars with low miles. I used it extensively last year when replacing my old convertible and ended up getting a 2015 CR-V with 25k miles from Carvana. I could have gotten the same deal I got from an Ocala FL dealer but mine was local.

Saved around $10k vs. new on the exact color of the EX-L trim I wanted.

I got my last car from Carvana as well. I initially used them as a baseline when talking to local dealers with a similar car, expecting to get something better when talking face-to-face. But all the local dealers ended up with a gap to wide to close, and driving 2 hours for the hope of possibly maybe saving a few hundred dollars wasnt worth it.

More related to this thread, Carvana has a “we’ll buy your car” page on their site, where they make a relatively firm cash offer for your car. While not definitive, you could use that to gauge an approximate floor for what you should expect to pay for a specific car. Or at least as a baseline for how good of a deal you are getting, since the Carvana price is essentially a standing offer to anyone selling that car.

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First time I’ve rented with Enterprise is now with the rental while looking for a vehicle. All their cars seemed to smell like smoke, though… :confused: